Sweet Kitty Needs a Home!

10 06 2007

For anyone nearby (in the New Jersey area) who is looking for a sweet feline friend, Friday afternoon my wife and I took in “Lady Beatrice,” a previously feral cat who was spayed and was going to be released back outside. We were going to foster her until she found a good home, but she doesn’t get along well with out cats Chase and Charlotte, so we can’t keep her here much longer.

She’s 2 years old, a black/orange/brown tortise-shell coat, EXTREMELY friendly (she loves people and is always purring, meowing, etc.), has had all her shots, is spayed, and free to a good home. I’d really love to keep her longer but my cats have been on edge ever since Friday and I can’t keep her in the bathroom indefinitely, so if you’re interested please e-mail me at evogeek AT gmail DOT com or comment on this post. I have pictures should you want to have a look at her as well.





My crazy cats

2 06 2007

Being that I’m uploading oodles of photos, I figured I might as well include two of the cats that my wife and I share our apartment with.

Charlotte

Charlotte has now made a habit of attacking the broom whenever I sweep the kitchen. Normally she’s not interested in dust bunnies, but she always likes to “help” when I have a job to do.

Sleeping

Our cats don’t hate each other, but the older one Chase is a bit of a grump. Therefore it was a bit of a rare occassion to see them sleeping peacefully together, although a few minutes later Charlotte wore out her welcome.





A mummy dinosaur?

21 05 2007

trachy kitty

I know some of you must be thinking “What the hell? That’s not funny.” Well, maybe it isn’t, but I tried my best *runs off and sobs quietly* but I thought I would use an lolcat as an intro to a little paleontology lesson. Maybe this picture will help make some sense out of things;

Trachodon mummy
Taken from “Integument of the iguanodont dinosaur Trachodon“, Memoirs of the AMNH ; new ser., v. 1, pt. 1-2.

If you visit the American Museum of Natural History’s fourth floor, look carefully around the mounted Anatotitan bones; near the looming, tail-dragging skeletons should be a case revealing the remains of a “mummy” dinosaur, the one pictured above. This important fossil was discovered by George Sternberg (son of Charles Sternberg, who accompanied his son on this trip and oversaw the excavation) in 1908 in Converse County, Wyoming. Osborn’s paper, however, notes an even earlier discovery of such skin impressions from a hadrosaur;

First among these integument specimens to be discovered was the famous type of Trachodon mirabilis Cope (Amer. Mus. No. 5730), found by Dr. J. L. Wortman in 1884 and now mounted in the American Museum of Natural History as part of the Cope Collection. This animal is said by Dr. Wortman to have been surrounded by a natural cast of its epidermal impressions, which unfortunately were largely destroyed or lost in the removal of the skeleton from its surroundings. There are only three patches of epidermis remaining from the tail of this specimen.

At the time both Cope’s specimen and Sternberg’s specimen were attributed to the genus Trachodon, but Trachodon is no longer accepted as valid today, but whether the fossils we’re talking about here should be called Anatotitan or Edmontosaurus still seems to be debatable. The Wikipedia entry for Anatotitan sums things up fairly well in its “Taxonomic History” section for this dinosaur, a more in-depth discussion needing a full blog post of its own. For our purposes here, however, I will be calling the dinosaur Anatotitan as that is what the AMNH (where the specimen in question is housed) has deemed fit to call it.

In any event, the “integument” of this specimen (unlike Wortman’s) was carefully preserved by the Sternbergs, allowing scientists to get a detailed look at what the skin of this particular dinosaur looked like in places. While the “tubercles” (or scale-like structures) of this fossil are certainly of interest (I suggest you take a look at the paper and its many photographs/plates for yourself), what most interested me was Osborn’s discussion of the hand of Anatotitan. In the section “Epidermal Sheathing of the Manus,” Osborn describes how the forelimbs of Anatotitan were found encased in a kind of sheath or mitt, which Osborn also mentions preserved the digits were apparently “connected by an integumentary web which was developed even more prominently than in the swimming birds.” This seemed to fit in with the contemporary hypothesis that at least some hadrosaurs were primarily aquatic, and Osborn writes;

The presence of the broad marginal web of the manus and absence of enlarged tubercles either on the dorsal or ventral surface certainly tends to support the theory of a swimming rather than of a walking, or terrestrial function of the fore paddle.

Mitt
The “mitt” of Anatotitan. Taken from “Integument of the iguanodont dinosaur Trachodon“, Memoirs of the AMNH ; new ser., v. 1, pt. 1-2.

Indeed, because the forelimbs didn’t seem to seem to show a coarser or denser skin covering (and because they were held together in a “web”), it was assumed that such a limb would not work well on land and therefore it must have been an adaptation for life in the water, perfectly consistent with the image of hadrosaurs already in mind. Indeed, the “web” between the fingers was really no such thing, being that webbing exists between the toes of modern birds, not as an enclosing mitten. If the forelimbs really were paddles, we would also have to wonder why the back legs were not equipped with webbing or some other structure to enlarge their surface area during a stroke, especially being that they would be much more powerful and important for swimming. This is all easy for me to say nearly 100 years after this paper was published however, being that I have available to me much more information than Osborn did when he wrote the paper. The superficially “duck-like” appearance of hadrosaurs is hard to overcome, however, and many are still shown slogging through swamps in relatively recent works of paleo-art. For a much more in-depth discussion of hadrosaurs and what their skeletons tell us about their habitats, I heartily recommend Bob Bakker’s The Dinosaur Heresies.





I R in the litterbox, bein a detritivore

18 05 2007

What’s better than regular lolcats? Science-based lolcats! I may have to jump on this meme before it screeches to a halt, so expect some evo-eco lolcat pictures featuring Chase and Charlotte in the near future. Here kitty kitty kitty….





I Can Has Cheezburger?

30 04 2007

I stumbled onto the photoblog I Can Has Cheezburger? the other day and I have no choice but to add it to my blogroll; I’m a sucker for stupid animal photos. Maybe it’s not the most intelligent brand of humor out there, but I just can’t help but laugh at many of the pictures that go up daily.





Deer, cats, and scat; Friday Photoblogging

13 04 2007

It’s Friday, so why not have some fun to round out the week? I haven’t gone to any zoos or museums since February, so I don’t have much in the way of neat animals to show you (but just you wait; I’m visiting the National Zoo tomorrow) but I have a few more “common” specimens to share.

This is my little cat Charlotte; she was the runt of her little but she’s a little ball of affection (and trouble) that likes to sleep upside-down and doing an impression of Superman, at least she was when I woke her up by taking this picture.

kitty

Charlotte also likes to sit in the windowsill and yip and yowl at the birds in the tree outside, and when she gets angry she attacks the blinds (there are lots of little holes from needle canines in the bottom ones).

kitty

Chase is the other cat around here, adopted from friends of ours, and he likes to remind me that it’s my duty to share my ice cream with him whenever I’m enjoying some.

chase share

While petsitting a few weeks ago, I walked along a deer path through some brush and came across these bones. I assume they’re leg bones from a small deer, but I couldn’t find anything else except these partially buried pieces.

bones

Associated with the bones I also found what appeared to be scat at first, but upon pulling the lumps apart I found them to be made up entirely of hair, all that was left of what I assume to be shrews and small rodents. It’s likely that whatever buried the bones also left these, possibly a coyote.

hair

What led me out into the woods in the first place was a small group of deer (with at least one fawn) moving through the backyard. I was able to get reasonably close, although my camera didn’t have enough zoom as I would like and the thick brush made it hard to get a clear shot. Anyway, here’s one of the deer that’s awfully wary of the biped moving awkwardly through the bushes.

deer

That’s all for today, but check back on Sunday or Mondy; I’ll likely have a slew of photos from my trip to Washington, D.C. tomorrow.





Photo of the Day: Fishing Cat

27 03 2007

The first two times I visited the Philadelphia Zoo I couldn’t seem to spy a Fishing Cat, but during my last trip I was lucky enough to see the stout little cat traversing its enclosure;

Fishing Cat








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