Dinosaur LIPs

The word “dinosaurs” in the title is a little misleading.  Experts say that lots of mammals were also around during the Cretaceous geologic period that ended 65 million years ago.

But mammals, even the carnivorous ones, were way down in the food chain.  Dinosaurs  owned that world . . . until an asteroid crashed the party.

Today scientists are learning that large-volume volcanism might also have contributed to the K/T extinction.  But these investigations raise as many questions as they answer.

Continue reading Dinosaur LIPs

The Socorro Magma Body

Sandhill cranes only dance during the winter at New Mexico’s wildlife refuges.

Volcanologists and other Earth scientists do their thing year-round at one particular reserve:  the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, located a few miles north of the city of Socorro, New Mexico.  It’s sits some 70 miles south of Albuquerque and about 50 miles east of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Very Large Array.

The boffins aren’t installing seismometers at Sevilleta to monitor birds.  They are trying to learn more about the second-largest collection of magma ever found in Earth’s continental crust.  This underground magma sits just 12 miles  below the nature reserve and other nearby areas. Continue reading The Socorro Magma Body

A more effective writing focus

After posting that Chapter Four draft here, I went back through Mauricio Antón’s Sabertooth. This time, I realized that he had written the sort of book about ancient cats that I want to write (although I am focusing on all cats): a very informative one that makes these beautiful animals come alive and shows how they lived and died during ancient terrestrial epochs that were sometimes quite tumultuous. Continue reading A more effective writing focus

“The First Cat” – Chapter Four Draft Excerpt

Margaykat_Leopardus_wiedii

One of the biggest questions about cat evolution is why the earliest true cats were built very much like their most advanced representatives. That beautiful shape appears in the fossil record right from the start.

Cat-loving laypeople are okay with this mystery. We know that shape is part of a cat’s essence, and you can no more pin that down than you can a drop of water. Like mountain streams cutting through granite, cats go where they will, when they will, no matter how the rest of the world does things.

So, instead of wondering about the why of it, let’s instead look at what experts are learning about the first stages in the evolution of cats. Continue reading “The First Cat” – Chapter Four Draft Excerpt