You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2009.

To do: cook something on a piece of this.

It comes from the Khewra Salt Mines in the foothills of Pakistan’s Salt Range.  Within the mine’s tunnels is this little mosque made of salt bricks:



Recommended reading:  “The Salt Range:  Pakistan’s unique field museum of geology and paleontology,” by Shahid Jalil Sameeni


Apis nearctica lived in Nevada about 14 million years ago.


Credit: M. S. Engel/Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci.


The world’s oldest known fossil bee is more like 100 Myo, but this one definitely scoops the 17th-century introduction of Apis mellifera to North America.  Which it wasn’t around to greet.

Every honeybee has:




Columba livia (Latinized Gk. kolumbos, “diver” + L. livor, “bluish”)



We were calling this the Rock Dove before 2004.  It has been officially changed.

Pigeons are adaptable.  Pigeons are smart.

“In a later paper, Watanabe showed that if pigeons and human college students undergo the same training, their performance in distinguishing between Van Gogh and Chagall paintings is comparable.”

I train human college students, and I don’t find that particularly hard to believe.

The rock pigeon is native to southwest Asia, North Africa, and southern and western Europe.  From fossil evidence, they probably started in Asia and worked their way west.  They were first introduced to North America in 1606 at Port Royal, Nova Scotia (source, but it doesn’t say why).

…Well, I like them.

…”fault.”  Get it?

Why does the earth quake in New England?


Seismic hazard map (source)

My #1 earthquake so far.  I was living in a nine-story apartment block in White Center, south of West Seattle.  The first thing I noticed was a crackling noise around the window; then the building rolled like a ship.  I crouched in a door frame, pounded on the floor and shouted “Stop it!”  A girl pelted down the hall in her bare feet, wailing “It’s a earfquake!”  Then everyone streamed into the parking lot.  Many people sat in their cars for hours, frightened that somehow the disaster that had struck our sister city just days earlier had now come for us.

I’m gonna write a fictional textbook this time! There are already so many, but this will be different. This one could be set at the end of the Permian period.

Behind the Game:  Bejeweled.  A history of the bewitching vortex into which I have contentedly shoveled most of my day.

This “Bejeweled” is bewitching, too.

No idea what I’m writing about this year.  But I know that I’m writing, not typing.  Laurasian pumas don’t like it when you type with both hands.

ART Evolved:  Life’s Time Capsule:  Gorgeous synapsids, dinos and more.

Here.  Find out about the taxonomy and distribution of all your favorites.  Look at maps and virtual globes.  palaeontology, cladistics, geochronology.



The Ratel Motel