Daily Archives: October 6, 2009

Cycad Sex

I’ve always had a fondness in my heart for cycads.

Encephalartos princeps

Years ago, while working in the Ituri Forest (in what is now the Congo), I kept hearing of a particular place in the forest, where the Efe Pygmies would occasionally but not often go for various reasons. Over time I asked about this place, and eventually made arrangements to visit. My first trip to what was known as the Kakba was a very long and difficult walk from a camp that was already about a day into the forest from the villages, where our research base camp was located. On approaching the Kakba, it was obvious to me that the habitat we were in … rain forest … was giving way to something else. The trees, for one thing, were more sparsely leafed out. We were in the middle of the “little dry season” and it seemed that as we climbed very subtly in elevation, we encountered areas where there was little or no groundwater, and the underlying granitic basement rock was right on the surface. The rain forest trees were still present, but more spread out and clearly water stressed.
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Rapid Resurgence of Marine Productivity After the Cretaceous-Paleogene Mass Extinction


The course of the biotic recovery after the impact-related disruption of photosynthesis and mass extinction event at the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary has been intensely debated. The resurgence of marine primary production in the aftermath remains poorly constrained because of the paucity of fossil records tracing primary producers that lack skeletons. Here we present a high-resolution record of geochemical variation in the remarkably thick Fiskeler (also known as the Fish Clay) boundary layer at Kulstirenden, Denmark. Converging evidence from the stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen and abundances of algal steranes and bacterial hopanes indicates that algal primary productivity was strongly reduced for only a brief period of possibly less than a century after the impact, followed by a rapid resurgence of carbon fixation and ecological reorganization.

Interested? Confused? I’ve written up a more brain-friendly version of this at Surprising Science.
Continue reading Rapid Resurgence of Marine Productivity After the Cretaceous-Paleogene Mass Extinction

Free Windows Upgrade only $17.00!!!

Welcome to Bizzaro Land, computer users.

Since June 26, retailers and computer manufacturers have urged shoppers to buy computers already on store shelves loaded with the much-maligned Windows Vista operating system because they would qualify for a free upgrade to Windows 7 when it was released in October. As it turns out, Mouse Print* has learned that some computer purchasers will be asked to pay shipping, handling and other junk fees that total between $11 and $17 to receive their “free” upgrade disks.

The story is here.

Intelligent Design Documentary

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The debate over Darwin will come to California on October 25th, when the Smithsonian Institution’s west coast affiliate premieres Darwin’s Dilemma: The Mystery of the Cambrian Fossil Record, a new intelligent design film which challenges Darwinian evolution. To view a trailer and clips from the film, please visit www.darwinsdilemma.org.

Darwin’s Dilemma will be screened at 7 p.m. on Sunday, October 25th in the IMAX theater at the California Science Center, with a post-film discussion featuring Darwin skeptic Dr. David Berlinski, author of The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions, and leading intelligent design scientist Dr. Jonathan Wells, biologist and author of Icons of Evolution. The screening is sponsored and hosted by the American Freedom Alliance.


No Strangelove Ocean

An important finding was reported last week in the same issue of Science as the new studies of Ardipithecus, and unfortunately, overshadowed by the news of the 4-million-year-old hominid. This finding may turn out to be even more important because it relates not to the evolution of a single species, but to the recovery of life in general on Earth following one of the greatest catastrophes ever….

Read the rest as surprising science.