Friday, October 30, 2009

Fossil Fact #11!!!!!!!!!!!

Hopefully, this Fact will make up for my hasty tenth Fact as I am covering a complicated topic, with my OWN personal Hypotheses based on what I've read, despite if you deem me credible or not. This time I feel as I have a bit more time on my hands and I can rest easy, but I still would like to get started. However, since this is one of the most complicated topics in Biology, I ask that you pay close attention and NO scanning. If you scan, then you will leave bewildered, so, please take your time. Let us Begin:

Extinctions- Out with the Old/ In with the New-

Please pay attention, readers, and read this Fact verbatum! For a good several centuries, Early Biologists, thought that all organisms that had ever lived on this Earth was still alive,  and no one would have thought that God would be one to let his most precious creations die off. Yet, in the late 18th Century, French Anatomist Baron Georges Cuvier (1769-1823), known by many as the Father of Modern Paleontology, proposed the idea of Extinction.

EXTINCTION?! Why in the history of the World would God kill off His own creations? The answer is known by many today as not the hand of God but Natural Selection, with the great Father taking a backseat to the Universe and intervening as He sees fit. This leads into my next topic of Discussion: "What is it?" and "How does it apply to us today?"

What IS Extinction?!

Extinction, by working scientific definition, is the absence/disappearance of all individuals of one taxa or several populations of several taxa in an ecosystem.  That's extinction, in a nutshell, however, this is still a complicated topic to instruct, so please keep reading.

What CAUSES Extinctions?

Now that we know WHAT Extinction is by working definition, we need to understand what it's role in Evolution actually is...more specifically the "Causes." Unfortunately, many scholars know WHAT it is and it's implications, but WHAT truly causes these mysterious disappearances of populations of organisms remains unknown. That's what this Fact is truly about and I've had an ambition to discuss this recently.

However, we do know that Extinctions are multi-factorial and that not ONE factor can cause extinctions as it's like a Dominoe effect, where one change affects the other factors until the group is wiped out, or at least, that's what is believed to happen, yet when it comes to large extinctions like the extinction of the Dinosaurs, the Permian extinction, and the Pleistocene extinction (A few of which I will cover briefly in a little while, if you'll bear with me.) the factors aren't as forgiving as they are with modern extinctions, thanks to the gap in the Fossil Record.

Extinctions On A Large Scale-

Many extinctions continue to occur today and everyday, despite human (H. sapiens) interaction, but the one's that make the headline news are the global "Mass" Extinctions like the ones Humans are causing or are we? (I'll get to that soon enough.) and the infamous K-T Event.

Here are a Few of the Infamous Mass Extinctions, their Time Periods, Evidence and Possible Factors:

  • The K-T Boundary- 65 million Years Ago- a.k.a. the Extinction of the Dinosaurs- This is marked by a higher concentrated layer of Irridium (rare on Earth, but abundant in meteors) at the boundary of the Cretaceous ("K") and Tertiary ("T")  periods. The "K" for Cretaceous is used as a notation to prevent confusion with the Cambrian and Carboniferous periods. Approximately 68% of all life on Earth was wiped out in this event. The Irridium indicates a definite meteor strike, but was that the finger that fired the loaded gun of Evolution? Possibly, but I have another idea. If one were to go into the Badlands of Alberta, Canada, Outside of Drumheller, you would see some of the best evidence of the end of the Cretaceous. As the Fossil Record shows, the Dinosaurian speciation was down to 12 individual speies of each group around the end of the Cretaceous, yet the the fossils seem to end a few feet below the irridium line, indicating that the meteor strike had not done them in, something else. However, that's not to say that it did NOT wipe them out, but rather, as fossils are extremely rare, some may not have fossilized, so there's really NO way to tell. We KNOW it was an environmental change but the exact combination of the factors is nearly impossible to tell.
The Permian-250 million years ago-The LARGEST Extinction of them all yet NOT the most famous, ironically! In this Extinction, 98% of ALL life on Earth was Obliterated and just vanished. The case is the same for the K-T Boundary, as well as ALL the extinctions in Earth's history.

As you all can see, Extinction is a VERY complicated topic and I am already exhausted from typing it honestly. lol! ;P The most important thing to remember is when you hear about Extinction theories and hypotheses, keep in mind that it takes MORE than ONE factor to cause extinctions!!! In fact, ALL extinctions share the same basic trait in common with one another is that they share the same factors for the most part, the ENVIRONMENT, yet the combinations of those factors differ with each one!  I hope you enjoyed and I encourage you to get in touch with experts and ANY of the Open Access Journals, such as PLos One and continue to read up on it if you have ANY further questions! Take Care, Readers! Talk to you Tomorrow!! :)

Fossil Fact #10!!!!!!!

Due to the load of so much on my plate, I'm afraid I'm going to have to speed right through this Fact, if I want to meet my personal deadlines, so let's begin!!!

The Ceratopsians- Horned Champions of the Cretaceous

Possibly the most famous of all the armored herbiverous dinosaurs on Earth, the Ceratopsians were, indeed, some of the most successful and lasting on our childhoods hearts. However, I'm going to cover as best I can and as hastily as I can if I am going to squeeze in two Facts today, with some of the latest research.

What is a Ceratopsian?

As simple as this may sound to most of my "older" readers (by "older," I mean those who have been with me since I started this blog.), there are still a number of folks who may know what they are but, simultaneously not know what they are, if you follow me. Everyone's familiar with them, if they are not familiar with term, like Triceratops, Torosaurus, Styracosaurus, etc. The term "Ceratopsian" is a variation of the scientific family name "Ceratopsida," which means, ironically, "Horned Face." This group has been an obvious success so I doubt I will cover into too much depth into their evolution, as, honestly, I'm completely clear on.

The Ceratopsians were known for their unusually thick and gragantuan "frills" that provided protection for the major arteries in the neck, and held an impressive armory of weapons on the some of the well-known, larger Cretaceous taxa, Triceratops horridus, Torosaurus, and their kin. Though not all had the impressive assortment of weaponry, some had frills whose sheer glance would make any intelligent theropod re-think it's position or just high-tail it out of there!

Ceratopsian Behavior:

Thankfully I need not repeat myself when I discuss behavior from the Fossil Record. This is more of an abstract concept and requires more imagination as, well, people have conflicting views when they literrally look at the same thing. Prior to Paleontologists like Dr. Robert T. Bakker, and Dr. John "Jack" R. Horner, the view of the Dinosauria were big, dumb, lizards. Yet, universally, we see them as living animals with as much an ability to survive as any animal today, if not better. The Ceratopsians were, in my opinion, pretty docile, and would only attack when threatened, as any other animal.  Other than that, very little canbe gained from their remains, no matter how complete, which leads into the next section of this Fact: Anatomy.

A Quick Over-View Of Ceratopsian Anatomy:

Other than being Ornithischians ("bird-hipped," Pronounced, ORN-ITH-SCK-IANS), these herbivores are known for their massive frills. Sadly, new research shows that structurally, these frills' primary function was display, and then defense. I'm not saying that defense wouldn't have been an option, I mean, if display were the primary and ONLY function, then evolution wouldn't have needed a large head crest to show off as other animals do. The ONLY ceratopsian species whose frill is solid bone, was the infamous Triceratops horridus. As stated, if the frills were used for defense only, then evolution would have standardized the design, unless, it was as equipped as necessary to handle the perils and predators of it's particular ecosystem (i.e. The sheep-sized Protoceratops of Cretaceous Mongolia doesn't need to be as well-equipped as the North American Triceratops or Torosaurus.

New research by Dr. Horner of Montana and his colleague, whose name escapes me for the moment, was published in the article in PLos One on the growth of Triceratops horridus and Pachycephalosaurus. According to them, the different taxa for these families were actually growth stages of well-known taxa (i.e. Dracorex hogwartsia, and Stygimoloch were actually growth stages of Pachycephalosaurus, respectively.). As farfetched as this may seem, it seems an even larger changed when it came to the Triceratops. However, no information on the differences in the sexes has been found, even with the detailed studies.

That about wraps up this quick Fact, and I'm sorry if the quality wasn't as expected, but if I wanted to fulfill my ambitions, some sacrifices had to be made. :( Again, sorry, readers.

What does this Weekend Hold for PaleoQuest?

I'm aware of the fact that I personally said that the next post was going to be the tenth Fact, yet I wanted to lay out, more for my benefit, than for yours, how this weekend is going to go for PaleoQuest. First of all, tonight, I will do an unprecedented (well...unprecedented for me, anyway.) two posts sequentially in one day. These two posts are the last two topics on the poll before I delete it. I will still cover the Ceraptopsians and Extinctions, in that exact order, so in a way, it's a paleo bargain. That is this afternoon due to the fact, I want to move on from this little series I'm in for you guys, the readers. Following the tenth and eleventh Facts, I'm going to Live Blog my piece for Art Evolved, which is due November 1st!! Despite the setbacks I have with posting pictures, I will attempt to do my very best with this as this will be my FIRST live-blogging effort ever on this blog. Again, please bear with me. Other than that, there is nothing else beyond that, except for me just posting freely like everyone else on the blogosphere. Anywho, Stay tuned and expect those SOON!!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Blogging For A Year And Still Going Strong.....

I honestly find it hard to believe that I have been blogging for a year! Today is the 1st Birthday of PaleoQuest and my first anniversary as a blogger on the Paleo Blogosphere! Despite the known setbacks due to school, I realized I wanted to share my passion with the world and teach, and I did so, making some great friends on here along the way. Before I share anything about my past year, I want to sincerely apologize for my absence as of late. School, which has been my excuse before and nuissance, proceeds to do just that. Fortunately, I am away for a good cause, which is to fufill my dream of being a Vertebrate Paleontologist, hence the name of this blog. My success is due to the assistance and support of these particular bloggers as I joined their ranks as a young paleo enthusisast and self-proclaimed Amateur Paleontologist. Here is how I got here:

September 2008: Genesis
I decided to join the blogosphere after stumbling onto Traumador's blog through a random search on Google Images on Tyrannosaur infants, which, in turn led me, even more specifically on Traumador's Excellent Jurassic Park film reviews from 2007. My first brief visit fed my curiousity and decided to explore more of the site. And, lo! It wasn't long before I realized I liked his blog and began communicating with him through his comments page and e-mail. Honestly, this little T. rex has been THE best "virtual friend" on the blogosphere a guy could ask for! I owe him a lot!!

September 2008: PaleoQuest-Version 1.0 (Original)
Shortly afterward, I decided to start PaleoQuest. Only this is the version Traumador SHOULD remember. As a fresh blogger, I was merely experimenting with the features of Blogger with simple posts, gadgets, etc. Sadly, I was "booted" out of my first Google address, from a simple, yet ludicrous reason. Since, I could not log back in to my blog, I decided to move on and create this one. Because I could not log back in with my original account, I could not delete it. So, it must be on the blogosphere still: If any of you readers find it or not let me know.

October 2008: PaleoQuest-Version 2.0 (Current):
In October of 2008, I started the one you know today and the one I still use. I have been blogging for approximately ONE year today. I am extremely proud of myself especially considering the fact that school has me on such a short leash. That's basically all there is to this one, except, I met several of my closest "virtual friends" through this version. Here are some of the first ones:

  • Jason "Naveed" Westby-Naveed's Realm- One of my first friends on the blogosphere, Naveed welcomed me onto the blogosphere and began subscribing very early on shortly after Traumador. Shortly after he left a comment on my first Fossil Fact, I clicked his name to learn more about him on his profile. Afterward, I proceeded to his blog and found it pretty cool! His interests are in Cryptozoology, the Paranormal, Science Fiction, and, most importantly Chthulu (spelling?), in addition to Paleontology.
  • Traumador the Tyrannosaur-The Tyrannosaur Chronicles- My first follower and friend on the blogosphere. Like Naveed, he showed me the ropes of Paleontology and blogging. Trust me, he does justice for the Coelurosaurs. He probably doesn't need much introduction, but, still, a little more can't hurt. ;) Affilliated with the Amateur Multimedia Theatre Troupe from Drumheller, Alberta, Canada, Prehistoric Insanity Productions, his blog is a sight and read to behold if one hasn't already.
  • OilIsMastery-Oil Is Mastery- My third friend and follower on the Blogosphere. His blog is more of a multitude of different scientific fields, which the author's main goal is to get his readers to think. Ranging from Physics, to Paleontology, and Geology, even Anthropology, his blog is a good one to visit to get your mind going.
Those are among a few of my influences on the blogosphere, though I can assure you that there are many more as I continued to meet each of them as time went on. Readers, you can look for more of my influences on my blogroll. Anywho, thanks for sticking with me readers and I hope you will continue to stick with me as I strive to reach my goal and complete my PaleoQuest!!

Next: The Horned Champions of the Cretaceous-The Ceratopsians!!