Research haikus

Last month, the Zoology Department’s Dr. David Kelly launched his first book of Japanese short form poetry, Hammerscale from the Thrush’s Anvil. At the launch of the book, David invited us in the audience to try our hand at writing our own haikus.

Taking him up on his challenge, and taking inspiration from his book, a few of us in the School of Natural Sciences have penned our own poems based on our areas of study. We even have a contribution from David Kelly himself!

Trying not to sacrifice coherency at the alter of syllable number was a rather new struggle for most of us, but we managed and, I’d like to think, emerged with a greater appreciation for the poets in our midst. Read on for our science-y foray into the arts!

(Paula Tierney @_ptierney)


Yellow red fish eyes

Maybe that’s a nematode?

No, it is more fish

Paula Tierney


Carbon fixed by plants

Then sequestered in the soil

Helps to keep Earth cool

Matt Saunders


Hoverflies hover

Syrphidae flying over

Gardens of flowers

Sarah Gabel


Monochrome poets

Curved claws etching musky spoors

Into the cold night

Aoibheann Gaughran Continue reading “Research haikus”

Time for the pheasant

Restless_flycatcher04A reminder for the photo competition. We’ll extend the deadline until the 10th June. You can submit one photograph to this album here. Just log in with username ecoevoblog and password is the same. Don’t make it obvious that it’s your image in case it biases the judge. The theme is ‘Fowl Play’. 

Author: Adam Kane, kanead[at], @P1zPalu

No time like the pheasant


Let’s run another photo competition. Starting today and running until Monday 18th May anyone can submit one photograph to this album here. Just log in with username ecoevoblog and password is the same. Don’t make it obvious that it’s your image in case it biases the judge. The theme for this month will be ‘Fowl Play’. Prizes will be determined in due course.

Author: Adam Kane, kanead[at], @P1zPalu

Photo credit:

Still Life Results

flooded_forestWe have finally decided on the winner of the Still Life photography competition. The theme was ‘Changing Seasons’ and first place goes to the ‘flooded forest’ which is our featured image today. As the entries were anonymous we don’t know who submitted the image so please make yourself known and gather up the plaudits you so richly deserve.

Update: Our winner has come forward (see the comments). Congratulations to Aoibheann Gaughran of the TCD zoology department!

Author: EcoEvo@TCD

Still still life

1280px-Japanese_Squirrel_edited_versionOur photography competition is still open to entries (deadline 10th November). Submit one photograph to the album here. Log in with the username ecoevoblog and password which is the same. Remember, don’t give it a name that will reveal the photographer so as to avoid bias. Good luck!

Author: Adam Kane, kanead[at], @P1zPalu

Photo credit: wikimedia commons

Still Life

1280px-Herbst_(MW_2010.11.13.)I thought it would be a nice idea to have the occasional photography contest on the blog. So starting today and running until Monday 10th November anyone can submit one photograph to this album here. Just log in with username ecoevoblog and password is the same. Don’t make it obvious that it’s your image in case it biases the judge. The theme for this month will be ‘Changing Seasons’. Prizes will be determined in due course. I just want to say good luck. We’re all counting on you.

Author: Adam Kane, kanead[at], @P1zPalu

Photo credit:

If you please – draw me a dino…

Imagine you’re stuck in the desert, your plane has crashed and you’re trying hard to fix it. Then a child pops up out of the blue and asks you straight out “If you please – draw me a dino…”. Now let’s say you do as Antoine de St-Exupéry and take up the challenge without asking too many questions. How would you draw that dino? I guess it depends on when you were asked the question.

Let’s go back through the history of drawing dinosaurs. The pictures I grew up with were the ones from Jurassic Park who came directly from the last dino-revolution started by Ostrom and Bakker‘s work (especially with the publication of Dinosaures Heresies, in 1986). This vision was then heavily popularized by the three (nearly four?) blockbuster movies we all know and love…

Since the late 1990’s, the increased availability of formerly highly expensive techniques such as CT scans or synchrotrons, has helped to understand dinosaurs better than ever. Led by new discoveries from vast, previously unexplored deposits, some of the most interesting work from recent times shows an even closer link between birds and dinos than we previously thought (see last week’s Science NOW). So I believe (and hope) that the next generation will grow up with the pictures of dino-chickens and see their lunch time chicken wings as true theropod meat…

It is always really interesting to look at all the work that has been done and presented to the public through dinosaur pictorial art; from the weird/funny starts in the first half of the 19th century to the modern, highly accurate representations of today (the French artist Alain Bénéteau is just one example among many). As a nice example, have a look at the pictorial evolution of the second oldest scientifically described dinosaur: the Iguanodon.

Mantell‘s Iguanodon – 1825
Goodrich‘s Iguanodon – 1859
Harder's Iguanodon - 1916
Harder‘s Iguanodon – 1916
Bekaert's Iguanodon - 1995
Bekaert‘s Iguanodon – 1995
Tamura's Iguanodon - 2012
Tamura‘s Iguanodon – 2012

But here I’d like to emphasize my love for what I think was the “golden age” of dinosaur pictorial art. I obviously want to refer to the work of artists like Charles R. Knight (1874:1953), Zdeněk Burian (1905:1981 – have a look at this awesome online gallery) or Rudolph F. Zallinger (1919:1995). Their beautiful and (for their time) highly accurate scientific artwork was crucially import for bringing palaeontology into the public eye. This “golden age” was made possible by the upgrading of palaeontology to the status of a true science and the general acceptance of Darwin’s theory. Public interest in palaeontology at this time was also fueled by new fossil discoveries from expanding European colonies and the American frontier eventually leading to the most epic palaeo-story ever: the Bone Wars (soon to be seen on HBO)!

I refer to this period (second half of the 19th century and first half of the 20th) as a “golden age”  but that does not mean that it was the peak of palaeontological discovery or interest. Our palaeo-knowledge has never been richer. Dinosaurs are no longer merely unknown beasts from an ageless past. They are now placed in accurate phylogenetic frameworks and are just one of the many extinct tetrapod groups which we can now link to extant biodiversity. However, identifying birds as living remains of the dinosaur lineage does diminish dinosaurs’ mightiness. They are no longer the perfect romantic group of fossils: giant monsters that ruled the earth for over 150 million years before being completely wiped out by a single meteorite that cleared the way for us to evolve and exist. Even if I actively try to fight against this simplistic view of the History of Life, I have to admit that it is the one that brought me into palaeontology, not the chickens I used to keep in my parents’ garden… So, although I have no drawing talent whatsoever, because I think that dinosaurs are still awesome but lacking the mightiness they deserve, I’ll draw that little prince something like this:

A sketch from De la Beche (1930) titled: Dr M[antell] in extasies at the approach of is pet Saurian
This post was inspired by the excellent “Dinomania” chapter of Gould’s Bully for Brontosaurus 1991, by a master’s project done with F.Barbiere, S.Enault and B.Ramassamy and by the excellent blogs which can be found about this subject such as here, here or here.


Thomas Guillerme: guillert[at]

Photo credit

Wikimedia commons