Finally, a science debate in the Kansas state legislature that doesn't make me want to beat my head against a desk.
So, Kansas is apparently in the process of picking a state fossil. The original candidate, named in the House bill introduced on the 24th of January, was Xiphactius audax—best known for being the big fish of the famous little-fish-inside-a-big-fish fossil that resides at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays. Since the bill was introduced, however, there have been rumblings favoring a completely different fossil, the flying reptile Pteranodon.
Two fossils enter the statehouse. One leaves. But it's not entirely clear yet which will be the victor. Pteranodon has a much bigger public profile—it was in Jurassic Park, after all, and has featured prominently in many children's books about dinosaurs. Plus, according to the adjunct curator of paleontology at the Sternberg Museum, high-quality pteranodon fossils are almost exclusive to Kansas.
But, speaking as a former fossil-obsessed Kansan child, Pteranodon wasn't there to comfort me when I realized my state had been underwater for much of its deep pre-history and, thus, that I was unlikely to find a T. rex in my backyard. No. It was Xiphactius audax that dried my tears and made me hopeful again. Xiphactius audax that got me over my first bout with Midwestern inferiority complex. And it was Xiphactius audax—or, at least, its huge, pointy teeth—that gave me a wonderful, terrified thrill every time I went into the basement of KU's Dyche Museum.
Besides, as you can clearly see from the artistic rendering above, Xiphactius audax would totally kick Pteranodon's ass.
Detail of a painting of Xiphactius audax by D.W. Miller.
After years of speculation and wrangling over his remains, Kennewick Man turns out to be closely related to contemporary, local Native Americans after all. Discovered near Kennewick, Wash., in 1996, the skeleton ended up in a tug of war between tribes in the pacific northwest who wanted to bury the remains, and scientists who wanted […]
Our solar system is awesome.
The European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, has been releasing portions of its research to the public for years. This week’s massive 300 terabyte dump of Large Hadron Collider (LHC) data is the biggest yet by a long shot — and it’s all out there, open source, free for the exploration.
You may not love Microsoft Word, but you’ve definitely used it. Other than being one of the most ubiquitous programs on the planet, it’s been the go-to word processing system for more than a quarter-century because it’s as basic as it gets. But occasionally, you’ve got assignments that beg for a lot more options than simple […]
Almost everyone has their smartphone in a case of one kind or another. Beyond simple protection, finding a case that can charge your phone on its own, but doesn’t feel like it’s also adding a couple pounds to the phone’s weight is the tricky part. Billed as the world’s thinnest battery case, the ThinCharge iPhone […]
You never know when new projects, ideas or opportunities can drop into your lap at a moment’s notice. That may require you to learn a new programming language like Python. Or maybe you need a primer on 3D game development. Or you might realize you could use a serious brush-up on iOS mobile creation.Point is, […]