Friday, July 19, 2013

The Liebster Award and Other Things Interesting

It's amazing how busy a summer can be for an unemployed college student. I haven't done half of what I intended when the spring semester ended, but I can't say my time has been wasted. As is my usual this time of year, I have spent a majority of the past two months playing babysitter for my sister. For the uninformed, four kids make reading difficult, especially when the book in question has dinosaur pictures in it. Luckily, I have managed to get some learning done and feel that I'm ready to springboard into some of the more brutal material.

Since I have more fun stuff to talk about, I won't spend much time on details about my reading, but I'll hit the main points. Up first, I finally managed to find the time to get through Dinosaurs Under the Big Sky by Jack Horner( My nephew and youngest niece really enjoyed sitting in my lap and asking me questions about all of the pictures. This effectively caused me to give up on my reading while at their house, but I digress. While I enjoyed most of this book, I found the sections detailing fossils found in the various formations to be systematic and tedious. The section I found to be most informative was the final appendix that detailed skeletal structures and commonly used directional references. This was definitely helpful for the two papers I read this week.

Due to my growing interest in pachycephalosaurs, I decided to check out the latest work from Dr. Joseph Peterson and company regarding potential head-butting behavior( Some Googling was required but I managed to understand most of the material when I was finished. I didn't draw any conclusions from the paper, but I did appreciate the amount of time put into researching the nature and location of the dome lesions. Without more of the skeleton though, everything just seems like a guess. If I got nothing else from this paper, at least my reading of it reminded me of a classic commercial and led to this Twitter hypothesis from Dr. Peterson:

For the sake of being thorough, here's the ad, courtesy of the good people at YouTube:

The other paper I chugged through was the new publication regarding the most recently named centrosaurine, Nasutoceratops titusi, courtesy Dr. Scott Sampson and a plethora of other folks, including Dr. Andrew Farke( What I gained from the paper, other than a few (re: a lot of) new words, is that Nasutoceratops is the first piece in a much bigger puzzle. I appreciate that it represents some level of confirmation for the idea of provincial dinosaur behavior during the late Campanian, but until more information comes to light, I shall remain guarded. Despite my caution, I anxiously await future discoveries from the region that can provide more insight on the subject.

I think that the most important thing about the two papers I read is that I had no problem accessing them. Praise The Duke for open access! (Yes, I mean John Wayne. Has a nice ring to it.) Admittedly, as a student currently enrolled at MSU-Bozeman, I have access to most of the popular life science publications through the library reserve, but tapping that well is laboriously inconvenient and most people don't have that luxury. If science is meant to better society, than society should be able to read what science has to say!

I know that the title of this post leads off with something called a Liebster Award, but I was compelled to put that off until the end. I don't feel like explaining exactly what it is, but since Dr. Penny Higgins, vertebrate paleontologist/geochemist/Western martial artist/mom/chicken farmer, nominated me for it, I'll let her post explain the details: (She blogs a lot of interesting stuff. I strongly suggest keeping tabs.)

Now that we're all caught up, I'll start by pointing out that I won't be nominating others for this award, as the blogs I read tend to have a large following as it is, and to be honest, I don't feel like picking any. The other two parts, eleven factoids and answering the questions, sound like fun, so I'll play.

11 Interesting Factoids About Me as Determined by Me
  1. My sense of smell is limited due to a sinus infection I had in 2001.
  2. I've all but stopped reading fiction because I need to catch up on a lot of science.
  3. I don't like the taste of coffee, but I drink it anyway.
  4. I have been a Chicago Cubs fan for so long that I don't remember why.
  5. I have nine plants in my apartment, but I only bought four of them.
  6. My roommate is a hedgehog named Spock Leonard Nimoy Prime.
  7. I still own a VCR, just in case.
  8. I am a mediocre whistler.
  9. The Old Spice Guy, Isaiah Mustafa, follows me on Twitter.
  10. Nearly half of my freezer space is occupied by Girl Scout cookies to be rationed out over the next year.
  11. I absolutely refuse to ever wear shorts or sandals.
11 Questions as Posed by the Nominating Party and Answered by Me
  1. Got any hobbies? What do you do when you have a day to play around?--I read science books and watch movies. I really am that interesting.
  2. How about pets? Anything more exotic than dogs or cats?--As stated above, I have a hedgehog.
  3. Sports: Watch or participate? Or neither? I follow hockey, football, and basketball, but I love baseball. Would play if I could.
  4. Original Star Wars (Episodes 4-6) or new Star Wars (Episodes 1-3)?--The ONLY Star Wars (4-6)
  5. What part of the world would you most like to visit?--I've seen enough of it. Any future travels are bonus.
  6. Do you think there is life in other parts of the universe?--Given the size of the universe, the odds seem pretty good, but I don't expect to see any of it.
  7. What’s your favorite season?--I'll go with summer because frostbite will jade a person.
  8. If you had the chance, would you go back to school to study something new? What?--Vertebrate Paleontology, because construction engineering is a joke.
  9. What’s the strangest thing you have sitting out in your dining room?--Nintendo Entertainment System with Legend of Zelda and Kirby's Adventure.
  10. What’s your favorite type of music?--Older country.
  11. If you could go back in time, when and where would you visit?--I would take a camcorder back to Maastrichtian Wyoming and get conclusive evidence regarding T. rex feeding habits and the purpose behind the domes of pachycephalosaurs so people would stop asking about it.
I hope this brief insight into my last month of randomness has been pleasurable and I plan to cobble together some more thoughts in the near future. The Dino Shindig in Ekalaka is coming up, featuring some cool paleontologists and a field expedition day, so I'm sure I'll come up with something for that(Details here: Thanks to Dr. Higgins for the award nomination and helping spread my admittedly bizarre signal and thanks to everyone that took the time to read this whole thing. You all are awesome and it has been and will continue to be my genuine pleasure. Here's a song to close this thing out:

Notes: I don't know what all I'll be reading or blogging about over the next couple of months due to my unpredictable schedule, but I will most definitely find it interesting. As per usual, I appreciate feedback and/or suggestions in the comments or via Twitter.

Twitter handles: Dr. Joseph Peterson - @JPTaphonomy, Dr. Scott Sampson - @DrScottSampson, Dr. Andrew Farke - @AndyFarke, Dr. Penny Higgins - @paleololigo, Old Spice Guy - @isaiahmustafa

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