April 15, 2014

3:27 PM | Return to the Jurassic Paradise of Makhtesh Gadol
MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL–This week I’m back in Makhtesh Gadol, that great bowl of Jurassic delights. This is the most extensive exposure of marine Jurassic rocks in southern Israel, and it is highly fossiliferous. This is just a brief report. I’ll summarize the latest finds and ideas later. Today I spent most my time sitting on […]
12:00 PM | “M” is for Mercury
“M” is for the Univex Mercury CC, a fantastic little 35mm camera that took half-frame shots (that is, it got 48 exposures on a typical 24-exposure roll of film). The Mercury has got to be my favorite camera. Ever. It … Continue reading →
8:41 AM | Horrible sauropod skulls of the Yale Peabody Museum, part 2: Brontosaurus; and no, I do not mean Apatosaurus
How can it be? All credit to the Yale Peabody Museum for having the courage to display this historically important object in their public gallery instead of hiding it in a basement. It’s the skull from the original mount of the Brontosaurus (= Apatosaurus) excelsus holotype YPM 1980. Needless to say, it bears no resemblance […]

April 14, 2014

12:57 PM | Holiday in Mitzpe Ramon
MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL–Pesach (Passover) begins this evening at sundown, but essentially the holiday has started today as people prepare for this evening’s family seders. The town has gone very quiet as stores have closed and traffic dropped to almost no vehicles moving. I spent the day walking around the periphery of Mitzpe Ramon enjoying the […]
12:00 PM | “L” is for Land Camera
“L” is for the Polaroid Land Camera. This camera was named after Dr. Edwin Land, who invented the instant picture process that all the Polaroid cameras used. It’s because of him that we ‘shake it like a Polaroid.’ Then I … Continue reading →

April 13, 2014

6:55 PM | In the Valley of Elah
MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL–Simon Schama begins his magnificent series The Story of the Jews at an archaeological site near the Valley of Elah called Khirbet Qeiyafa. He said that the first physical evidence for the existence of the Jewish people was not the Exodus from Egypt (for which there is not a trace) but the structures […]
5:17 AM | Wooster’s Fossil of the Week: An unusual scleractinian coral from the Upper Cretaceous of Israel
Originally this was going to be a mystery fossil for a crowd-sourced identification while I’m here in Israel doing fieldwork, but through the wonders of the internet I finally found a match for the strange fossil above: it is the scleractinian coral Aspidiscus König, 1825 (Family Latomeandridae).  Yoav Avni and I found several specimens in […]

April 12, 2014

6:11 PM | Wooster’s X-ray Lab Hosts Expanding Your Horizons
WOOSTER, OH — What a beautiful Saturday for science!!  Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) hit Scovel Hall again this year, and area middle school girls were able to select “Minerals in My Jewelry” as one of the fun science sessions held around campus.  Meagen Pollock, who oversees Wooster’s X-ray Lab, organized and taught “Minerals in My […]
5:27 PM | Tar Pits Bees Connect California’s Past to the Present
The La Brea asphalt seeps are practically synonymous with megafauna. Sculptures of American lions and scrapping Smilodon draw …
4:30 PM | Seeing the archaeological site of Shivta through a geologist’s eyes
MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL–The tradition we’ve built over the years on our Israel expeditions is to travel to interesting places on Saturdays to take a break from work. Yes, it appears geologists never really stop geologizing, but then that’s not really “work”, is it? Today Yoav, part of his family and I went to the Nabatean-Byzantine […]
12:00 PM | “K” is for Karat, and Kandor
“K” is for the Agfa Karat. It’s also for Kandor, a silly little camera by Irwin Corporation. The Agfa Karat was designed for 35mm film in special ‘Karat-cassettes.’ Later models (post-WWII) did take the standard 35mm film cartridge. The lens … Continue reading →
11:03 AM | Introducing VertFigure, a better name for vcd2svg
Five days ago, I released a program for drawing comparative figures of vertebral columns, such as this one from our neural-spine bifurcation paper. With my idiot computer-scientist hat on, I gave that program the startlingly unmemorable name vcd2svg — the reasoning being that it takes Vertebral Column Descriptions and translates them into Scalable Vector Graphics. In […]
1:52 AM | SE-GSA meeting, Day 2
The Southeastern GSA meeting wrapped up today with a full slate of talks and posters. I spent a little more time in talks today, including several in a Paleontological Society symposium in honor of Richard Bambach. Bret Bennington and Myla Aronson … Continue reading →

April 11, 2014

4:32 PM | Cretaceous fieldwork around Mitzpe Ramon
MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL–Today Yoav and I worked on the outskirts if his hometown. This was a field trip that began in his garden and then we wandered into the hills behind his house, eventually circling this little city to return to his house. About half the journey was along the cliff of Makhtesh Ramon, so […]
12:03 PM | “J” is for Jiffy
“J” is for the Jiffy Kodak The Jiffy Kodak is a fairly common camera with a pop-out front that took roll film. Many of the Jiffy Kodaks have an art-deco flair. The Jiffy Koday Six-20 took 2.25 X 3.25 inch … Continue reading →
7:44 AM | So this is where capers come from
MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL–Early Wednesday morning Yoav had a special mission to perform before we began our fieldwork. He had been asked by a botanist to get a sample of a new species of plant endemic to Makhtesh Ramon. The botanist needed it for a DNA study to confirm the species designation and link it to […]
3:00 AM | SE-GSA meeting, Day 1
Today was the first full day of the Southeastern GSA meeting. As I expected, running an exhibit booth has put a bit of a crimp in my ability to attend talks, even with Ray, Christina, Ashley, and Brett all helping. … Continue reading →

April 10, 2014

4:57 PM | Field trip to the lesser known makhteshim at Har ‘Arif
MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL–We’ve talked a lot about makhteshim in this blog, with so much of our geological work located in Hamakhtesh Hagadol and Makhtesh Ramon. A makhtesh is essentially a breached anticline, usually with a single drainage running from it. There are two small makhteshim at Har ‘Arif that are rarely seen because it takes […]
1:00 PM | “I” is for Instamatic
“I” is for Instamatic, Kodak’s camera for 126 cartridge film Instamatics arose with the advent of 126 cartridge film. The cartridge made loading and unloading the camera very easy.   Reference: McKeown’s Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th … Continue reading →

April 09, 2014

10:48 PM | Geological Society of America Southeast Section meeting
This evening is the opening reception of the GSA southeast section meeting, which is being held this year in Blacksburg, VA at Virginia Tech. VMNH will have a big presence at the meeting; the entire Paleontology and Earth Science departments … Continue reading →
5:50 PM | A mission in the Cretaceous of southern Israel
MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL–Today Yoav and I set out to solve a mapping dilemma concerning the boundaries of the Upper Cretaceous (Cenomanian) En Yorqe’am Formation in the Negev and, eventually, the Judean Desert to the north. It involved a bumpy ride deep into some of the most beautiful areas of the country, and it produced all […]
1:00 PM | “H” is for Hit, and for Haeg
“H” is for Hit, and the Ernemann Haeg Hit cameras are very small film cameras first marketed under the Hit name. Hit cameras are adorable little cameras, originally made by Tougodo Optical of Japan. They were popular in the 1950s. … Continue reading →
8:47 AM | Middle-Earth gets a geological makeover
As if J. R. R. Tolkien wasn’t brilliant enough with his creation of Middle-Earth, it appears that using his numerous maps and illustrations provided, supplemented by observations from within the texts themselves, a geological reconstruction can be achieved! I recently came across this old article from the Proceedings of the J. R. R. Tolkien Centenary […]
5:52 AM | Taxidermy photobombs of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History
Visiting relatives in Texas, just like last spring. Very distant relatives. And this happened: Here’s the culprit, with his sidekicks Monorail Badger, Trashbag Tortoise, and Kas-Tor, Last Beaver of Krypton. A disreputable bunch. The victim. Some call him the Winter Cervical. He was fast, strong–and he had a metal arm…ature. Meanwhile, in the back:

April 08, 2014

9:39 PM | Old Photos Revive Dinosaur Chase
On the fourth floor of the American Museum of Natural History, hiding in plain sight, there is an …
3:32 PM | Cretaceous echinoderms are today’s stars
MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL–There’s a joke in the title, in case you didn’t notice! I was on my own for my second day of fieldwork in southern Israel. I revisited yesterday’s outcrops of the Upper Cretaceous (Coniacian) Zichor Formation, taking more time to plot out future section-measuring and fossil-collecting sites for students. I was also able […]
2:36 PM | A Triassic afternoon in southern Israel
MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL–This afternoon I walked through the spectacular Middle Triassic sections in Wadi Gevanim on the southern side of the Makhtesh Ramon structure. I will be on a fantastic trip this Thursday to a little-visited Triassic section farther south, so I wanted to refresh my memory of these units. The above image is looking […]
1:00 PM | “G” is for Graphic
“G” is for Graphic: The Graphic 35 from Graflex The Speed Graphic from Graflex is a camera that recalls the past. This was a common press camera, that took images on large plates.   Of course “Speed Graphic” begins with … Continue reading →
8:45 AM | Macroecology – scaling the time barrier
This was originally posted at: http://blogs.egu.eu/palaeoblog/?p=1178 If there was ever an overdue discussion in palaeontology, it was how we reconcile the differences in time scales when looking at different periods in our history. This is becoming increasingly more important as scientific … Continue reading →

April 07, 2014

3:58 PM | A Wooster Geologist is finally warm enough
MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL–When I left Wooster on Saturday morning it was 34°F and overcast. It was sunny and an astonishing 84°F when I arrived in Tel Aviv on Sunday afternoon. That additional 50 degrees felt very good indeed after a winter of polar vortices and late-March snowstorms. I’m now based in the Ramon Suites Hotel […]
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