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15 August 2022
Five books get the Callan mini-review treatment: two novels from Amor Towles, an account of life in prison under solitary confinement, a history of Virginia slavery during the War of 1812, and finally a family account of the discovery of the fossil Hesperornis, a toothed bird, and various associated tangents.
11 October 2019
A moderate mesoscale monocline at Watern Cove, Newfoundland, shows off multicellular animal fossils of the Ediacaran Mistaken Point Formation.
3 April 2019
Here’s a cool little book about the paleobiology, ecology, and behavior of cephalopods: Squid Empire. The author, Danna Staaf, has a PhD in marine biology and –more importantly– a lifelong fascination with squid, octopuses, cuttlefish, and nautiloids. This work is a history of the cephalopod clade – going back into deep time, before the Cambrian Explosion, dwelling on ancestral forms and luxuriating in the ammonites (now sadly extinct — or …
2 April 2019
A book by Nick Pyenson (of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History) details the past, present, and future of whales. Combining paleontology, oceanography, environmental awareness, evolution, and history with personal stories of field work and insight, it’s a compelling tale of modern science on charismatic, mysterious creatures.
20 March 2019
A book review of Paige Williams’ “The Dinosaur Artist,” a tale of international trade in dinosaur skeletons.
18 March 2019
A virtual field trip to examine some deepwater clastic sediments shed off the first phase of Appalachian mountain building, and deformed in the third phase. It’s a lovely day for a field trip to the late Ordovician!
11 February 2019
When Bugs Were Big, Plants Were Strange, and Tetrapods Stalked the Earth: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life Before Dinosaurs, by Hannah Bonner
It has been a while since I’ve reviewed any kids’ books here, but this one was so good that I just have to tell you about it. My son is now 6 and a half years old, and he’s interested in all sorts of natural history topics. Given that I’m a geologist, he’s probably more Earth-science-focused than the average kid, but my wife is a biologist, so he’s got plenty …
19 December 2018
Here’s a kid’s book to consider for the holiday season: The 50 State Fossils: A Guidebook for Aspiring Paleontologists, written by Yinan Wang and illustrated by Jane Levy. It has a simple structure: each state gets a page, and that page is divided into four parts: a map of the state w/ areas highlighted showing where the fossil can be found, an illustration of the organism as it looked when it …
25 April 2018
A visit to a natural sandstone arch (or “bridge” as the locals call it) in eastern Kentucky yields unexpected bonuses, like fossil wood, Liesegang banding, and the honeycomb-like weathering pattern called “tafoni.”