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Showing posts from December, 2012

Mammals in Montana: the birth of modern mammal communities

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30 to 20 million years ago in Montana, instead of cows or buffalo, herds of oreodonts munched the vegetation. They shared the landscape with rhinos, packs of dogs, and fierce pig-like entelodonts. This period of time, called the Arikareean, marks the beginning of the modern mammal communities we see today. More familiar animals, like raccoons and beavers, began to replace the stranger groups – entelodonts, hippo-like anthracotheres, and creodonts (an extinct order of carnivorous mammals).
       This changing ecosystem is what I try to understand. We have a pretty good idea of what this time period was like in the Great Plains of Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. We also know much from the rich fossil record of Oregon; but the picture is much dimmer when it comes to the northern Rocky Mountains. Fortunately, in the 1970s, the work of Donald Rasmussen (and others before and after him) brought to paleontologists’ attention the Cabbage Patch beds of Montana. This series of fossil-bearin…

Grad Publication: Emily Grason

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Good news everyone! Emily Grason has had her work on rampaging crabs published today in PLoSONE. Congratulate her when you see her. Here's the link!Now for some colorful background from the woman herself: Alien/s vs. Predator: Rampaging Red Rock Crabs I have a special warm and fuzzy love for our local red rock crabs (Cancer productus). I suppose most people prefer Dungeness crabs, but those people clearly haven’t had to actually handle live crabs.  Dungies are nuts! They’re totally irrational and they just flip out at you in an incoherent manner for absolutely no reason – flailing about with their pointy, pointy legs (1). Rock crabs make sense – sure they can snap your thumb off if you aren’t really paying attention, but you know when they’re going to try. Rock crabs are also more fun to watch.  As part of my master’s research at Shannon Point Marine Center, which is affiliated with Western Washington University, I did a series of experiments where I got to watch rock crabs rampag…

weekend links: sticky stuff