Posts Tagged ‘dinosaurs’

Is the medium a monster?

Is the medium a monster?

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

“Dinosaurs have become boring. They’re a cliché. They’re overexposed” – Stephen Jay Gould Dinosaurs have always been inextricably linked to popular culture. Despite going extinct 65 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period they pervade our society. Dinosaur exhibits are the main attractions of natural history museums and outside of this setting, they can be found in films, documentaries, books, toy shops etc. A new discovery of one of these animals frequently adorns our newspapers. Even the word dinosaur has entered our everyday language as a metaphor to describe something as hopelessly outdated. Because of this pervasiveness there [&hellip

When Worlds Collide – Science Vs Hollywood

When Worlds Collide – Science Vs Hollywood

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

Film directors often call on scientific experts to lend some legitimacy to their production. A recent, notable example was that of the theoretical physicist Kip Thorne advising Christopher Nolan on the realism of the physics in Interstellar. I think directors ask for the counsel of scientists in cases where they seek to make a film with at least one foot in reality rather than an outright fantasy.  In Jurassic Park, a more biologically relevant movie, director Stephen Spielberg had noted-palaeontologist Jack Horner instruct the production team of the latest findings in dinosaur biology. The book and film [&hellip

The Biology of Godzilla

The Biology of Godzilla

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

Warning: minor spoilers ahead!   He’s back! Originally a metaphor for the horrors of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in a heavily censored post-war Japan, Godzilla become a cultural icon whose name is known across the world. His latest incarnation is in Gareth Edward’s film which I saw on its opening weekend. And as a biologist I can’t help but watch with an eye towards the plausibility of the gigantic reptile and his opponents. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, like Edward’s previous film Monsters, care had been taken to ensure that the titular creature [&hellip

Seminar series highlights: John Hutchinson

Seminar series highlights: John Hutchinson

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives, Seminars

As mentioned previously on the blog, Andrew Jackson and I started a new module this year called “Research Comprehension”. The module revolves around our Evolutionary Biology and Ecology seminar series and the continuous assessment for the module is in the form of blog posts discussing these seminars. We posted a selection of these earlier in the term, but now that the students have had their final degree marks we wanted to post the blogs with the best marks. This means there are more blog posts for some seminars than for others, though we’ve avoided reposting anything we’ve posted [&hellip

Flatland

Flatland

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives, Research

Why are there no elephants in the mountains? Well, mainly because it’s costly to climb when you’re an animal of that size. A previous study estimated that a 4 tonne elephant would have to eat for 30 minutes to compensate for a 100m climb. Ideas man Graeme Ruxton and his co-author David Wilkinson develop this further in their new paper. They ask whether avoidance of hilly areas is to be expected in general for animals of a large mass such as the sauropods. These are the long-necked dinosaurs that were the largest terrestrial animals that ever existed. [&hellip

School of Natural Sciences Postgraduate Symposium 2014: Part2/4

School of Natural Sciences Postgraduate Symposium 2014: Part2/4

By EcoEvo@TCD | Research, Seminars

On the 20th and 21st of February we had our annual School of Natural Sciences Postgraduate Symposium. Over the course of two days many of our PhD students presented their work to the School. We also had two interesting plenary talks from Dr Sophie Arnaud-Haond (Ifremer) and Dr Lesley Morrell (University of Hull). Unfortunately our third speaker, Dr Fiona Jordan (University of Bristol) had to cancel due to illness. For those of you who are interested in exactly what we work on here at EcoEvo@TCD, here are the abstracts from the PhD student presentations. Check out the TCD website for more details! Aoife Delaney: Eco-hydrology of [&hellip

If you please - draw me a dino...

If you please – draw me a dino…

By EcoEvo@TCD | Perspectives

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 [&hellip

Palaeo-poetry and placental mammals

Palaeo-poetry and placental mammals

By EcoEvo@TCD | Reviews

  Recently Science published O’Leary et al.’s – new load of oil to fuel the burning debate on the origins of placental mammals. Just to be clear: there is an important distinction between mammals in general that includes many fossils from the Jurassic as well as the extant platypus, kangaroo and your grandma; and placental mammals that includes your grandma and the armadillo (but not kangaroos or the platypus) and no fossil before 65Myr. For readers that are not used to the debate concerning the first placental mammal here’s the main question: did the first placental mammals diversify [&hellip

Dinosaur detective stories

Dinosaur detective stories

By EcoEvo@TCD | Reviews

“Being a paleontologist is like being a coroner except all the witnesses are dead and all the evidence has been left out in the rain for 65 million years” Mike Brett-Surman, 1994 I am very much for palaeontology and the enthusiasm for the science today but there was a time when even the mighty dinosaurs were out of fashion. During the 40s and 50s they were thought of as animals who had been destined for extinction, little more than children’s monsters. Perish the thought. That changed in both academic and public circles when palaeontologist John Ostrom and his student Bob [&hellip

Thunder lizards + methane = climate change

Thunder lizards + methane = climate change

By EcoEvo@TCD | Reviews

Mathematics is the language of science and when it comes to biology this is no exception. It’s only when you start researching for yourself that you realise how useful a skill it is. Consider, for example, the mathematical approach that Graeme Ruxton and collaborators bring to their research in ecology and evolution. Ruxton has addressed questions ranging from the foraging radius of vultures to a hypothesis proposing that sauropod dinosaurs produced enough methane, a la modern cows, to affect the climate of the time. The latter paper does seem to ask an intractable question on first inspection [&hellip