Monthly Archives: February 2009

Best. Fish. Ever.

barreleye

This week researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute broke the news that they had found the answer to that seventy-year-old question – why in God’s name would a fish have giant green tubular eyes that could only see up? It’s not like it could just open its mouth whilst looking in an entirely different direction and hope for the best, given that said mouth is so delightfully wee. The Pacific barreleye, or Macropinna microstoma, was first discovered in 1939, but only until recently has been observed as mangled remains caught up in deep-sea trawls, their upward-facing eyes bewildering scientists for decades.

The above picture was released on Monday by Bruce Robison and Kim Reisenbichler, but has been kept under wraps since 2004, when live specimens were observed for the first time at 600-800 metres below the surface using submerged remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). It turns out the barreleye has a transparent head-canopy filled with clear fluid within which its eyes can rotate forwards, sideways and upwards to view its surroundings and monitor prey. Watch the clip below to see a barreleye outsmart a ROV, and to hear Robison’s unintentionally-charming voiceover.

– bec

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What a Whore

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A team of Australian scientists headed by Doctor John Long of the Museum of Victoria have discovered the earliest indication of vertebrate sexual reproduction, as published in Nature this week. It appears as if internal fertilisation was pioneered by prehistoric armoured fish such as the Austroptyctodus, Incisoscutum, and the Materpiscis attenboroughi, a 380-million-year-old fossil of the latter having been discovered four years ago in Western Australia. This female placoderm was previously believed to have died after ingesting a large meal. It turns out that handful of tiny bones holed up in attenboroughi’s womb actually belonged to a two-inch-long embryo, indicating that this prehistoric shark-thing could well have invented sex. So while all the other fishes were quite content to have their offspring conceived externally, this one thought it would be loads more fun to get mounted. I guess that makes the Materpiscis attenboroughi kind of a whore. And who else had a reputation for being kind of a whore? GINGER.

So then I got to thinking, what would happen if the attenboroughi was suddenly hired to replace her (most likely due to contractual disagreements. Or syphilis), and instead of being marooned with some hot ginger bitch with an inexplicably endless supply of inappropriately lavish outfits, the Professor, Mary-anne and co. got some 380 million-year-old placoderm…

Continue reading What a Whore.

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Wise Up, Mamenchisaurus.

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So I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m probably going to have to start sleeping with a whole lot more palaeontologists at this point because I’m totally not as in with the dinosaur crowd as I should very much like to be. If I was, I would have known about the aptly-named Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week, a blog which, surprisingly enough, posts a sauropod vertebra picture every week. I’m all about niche dinosaur websites, so this eluded me thus far is a mystery. Still, slutty agendas aside, their most amusing post to date features the fused distal caudals from a Mamenchisaurus hochuanensis specimen, Doctor Matt Wedel noting that its publishers have suggested, “the expanded neural canal… (in) the tail club fin thingy served as some kind of special sense organ.” Going on to suggest that perhaps this tail-club acted as a kind of “Pseudohead” not unlike that of the southern California centipede. Only in this case also having infrared pseudoeyes and a pseudomouth made of a giant nerve bundle, which caused it to evolve from being a simple predator-confusion mechanism to a freely-thinking and largely disagreeable appendage which drove the unfortunate Mamenchisaurus to tred in his own feces before ultimately rendering itself extinct. It probably looked something like this:

mamenchisaurus-pseudohead-in-charge1

But okay, Mamenchisaurus, it doesn’t have to be like that. You see the Pokémon? (Bear with me here) They have to exist within a Pokéball’s distance of each other and they get along okay, right? You’ve got a whole 72 feet worth of sauropod body to keep your Realhead and Pseudohead from bickering, so you just need to be more grown up about the whole thing. Like, the Pokémon, they share their battle-fighting duties, so they don’t get all jealous and bitchy with each other to the point where they inevitably drive their entire operation into extinction. And so maybe the really ugly/gaseous ones end up getting less face-time than the cute ones, but no one said anything about this not being a competition based for the most part on looks. No one’s that stupid, Mamenchisaurus.

But sure, Pseudohead, it can get pretty boring while Realhead is navigating Rest-O-Body through the Tithonian, giving dead-legs to the carnosaurs and so on, but that’s what hobbies are for. Get an ant farm, knit one of those really long and chunky scarves that no one, not even your parents, will wear ever when you give it to them as a cheap Christmas present because it’s ugly and itchy as hell, or take a cocktail-making course. I don’t know. The possibilities are endless, Pseudohead, just please don’t mope around all day repeating, “I’m bored,” every five minutes because that’s how things end up extinct. You might even enjoy your hobby more than trying to swallow a mouthful of Late Jurassic fern though Rest-O-Body’s tailbone. Think about it.

What? Erm, Broadway, Pseudohead? Well, probably not, because you kind of still have to be present and attached during your time off. Perform showtunes in your bathrobe? Well I guess that would be okay. So long as you do it quietly.

– bec

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Totally Michael | Busted Lips and Balloon Animals

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Music these days can sometimes be all too serious. I get it, it’s a great outlet for one’s political or social voice, and I love that. But sometimes I just want music to be fun. Enter Totally Michael. The Bloomington native was in the country last month touring with SPOD and we managed to catch him opening AND closing for Metronomy during the Sydney Festival. It’s amazing how one guy with a mic, replacing “Shakira, Shakira” with his own name and pelvic thrusting at some nonce yelling unimaginative insults, can make me smile so much. And if you needed more proof of just how totally awesome he is, Michael was kind enough to answer a few non-poignant questions for us. Read on…

Sara – Bec is reaching her quarter life very nearly soon, and I hear this is often accompanied by some sort of ‘crisis.’ While middle-aged men may be seen cavorting with questionable ladies on William Street or hooning around the Northern Beaches in their brand new hot-red less-than-practical-for-a-family-of-five convertible, my dearest Bec shall be re-living her youthful days of rad birthday parties. The theme this year: “Awesome.” And the one thing that could possibly make her Squeee! more than dinosaurs, ponies or even whippets, would be you, singing those catchy-as-fuck songs that you do so well. So, Michael, while we may tell young Bec that this party is for her, we really know it’s all about you. You are the man in charge.

You are the headliner and MC but you need a band to back you up. I know you’re a massive Blink 182 fan, and I can’t get enough of Travis Barker, so let’s stick him behind the drums, yeah? Who else would you recruit for your fantasy band (woops, I almost wrote bang, but you can answer that question too if you’d like to)?

TM – I’d get Katy Perry on some backup vocals. Matt Johnson on some keys. And let’s throw Mark and Tom in there while we’re at it. As for bang……right now I’d have to choose Keira Knightley. Hell yeah.

Sara – Your trip to Australia was your first trip outside of the US (apart from a visit to Montreal, which, by the way is a sick city), how was the experience for you? Where did you go and what did you do there? Who did you see? Was there something here in particular that you did that you totally fell in love with?

TM – It was seriously one of the best experiences of my life. I was in Sydney most of the time, but visited Brisbane, Canberra, and Melbourne. I did a lot of sight seeing. A LOT of pub visiting. Met a lot of rad people. Laughed a lot. I pretty much fell in love with Australia in general. It’s like America, but with way less assholes. And better beer.

Continue reading Totally Michael | Busted Lips and Balloon Animals

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GO FONT UR SELF*

 

Type the Sky | Lisa Rienermann

Type the Sky | Lisa Rienermann

Words. Where would they be without letters? Um, nowhere probably. We’d all be talking in 0s and 1s. And as big a fan of binary code as I am, a world filled only with 1s and 0s would just be, well, boring. Think of all the amazing glyphs we would be missing out in if our only form of written communication was a solitary straight line and an empty circle of no value. And don’t get me started on fonts – Franklin Gothic, Avant Garde Gothic Pro, MT Pop, Alchemy – my life would be so Times New Roman without them. 

Our generation has grown up with computer word-processing and most are probably oblivious to the hard work involved in creating fonts and types. To us, it is automatic. Just there when we need it. Unless you are a graphic designer or typesetter or typographist, the art of type setting is probably not something you think about. Typography is an old, old art form, dating back thousands of years. The Phaistos Disc, which is argued to be the first movable type printing mechanism, dates back to around 1700 BC, which is like, sometime between the dinosaurs and Jesus. In the past 2300 years or so, typography has come a long, long way. It’s pretty near impossible to escape some sort of type today. Just like STDs on Paris Hilton, it’s EVERYWHERE. Lisa Rienermann even sees it in gaps between buildings (letters, that is, not Hilton’s cooties). 

But, if you’re like me and sick of staring at the 5000 words of Arial in your International Political Economy essay or that lettering on the back of your Nutragrain box is becoming a bit stale, you’ll probably be excited to hear that Peer Gallery in Glebe are putting on a exhibit showcasing nothing but type based artwork. Nothing but pretty, artistic, shiny, colourful looking words. 

Curator Marty Routledge articulates my feelings better than I can:

“Typesetting was once a hailed artform. Today due to our need to evolve we
 restrict our alphabet to be purely functional, legible and often emotionless. This show is going to smash all limitations of everyday type and bring the uniqueness and identity back into type styling. “

The exhibit features Ben Frost,  Joel Birch, Dave Foster, Numskull, Edward Woodley, Roach, Damien Dlugolecki, Andreas Linnell, Josh Roelink, Ques, Mark Drew, Sytak and my favourite Sydney artist/photographer/designer, Beastman

Opening night is Wednesday 25th February. The exhibition also marks the grand opening of the gallery. There will be booze. There will be food. There will be tunes provided by Bad Wives. The exhibition is for ONE NIGHT ONLY!

GO FONT UR SELF* at Peer Gallery 153 Bridge Road, Glebe.

And if you want to learn more about this ancient art, check out John Boardley’s i love typograhpy blog. It’s kinda fantastic.

Ra xxx

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Hehe Sea Creatures!

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Ah sea creatures. How I wish I could cuddle them all and have them tell me their stories. I bet they have lots of stories. Of course I can’t because my clothes would get super-wet and then I’d have to wash them, and I already have enough trouble cleaning up the fur from when I hug alley cats and cats with homes. That shit gets everywhere. Fortunately sometimes sea creatures do awesome things in front of video cameras, which means I can admire them at so much more than the required arm’s length. Wired Science have just compiled a list of their ten favourite clips featuring the world of marine biology, and they span from the adorable to the hilarious to the downright remarkable. Here are my picks:

Got a fat head? Yeah well quit your bitching and do something awesome with it like fitting it through a one-inch hole, like this octopus does with great aplomb:

Think a prawn running on a treadmill is amusing enough as it is? Well The Theme from Benny Hill begs to differ:

Continue reading Hehe Sea Creatures!

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The Day of the Dogue

dogue

 It’s no secret that when it comes to dogs, I have very little time for the wrinkly and bulldog types, being of the opinion that the, “so ugly it’s cute” notion need not apply to animals, because most of them are darling enough as it is. Pity is not an equaliser. However, I still became warm of heart when I learned that the dogue de Bordeaux, a cross between a shar pei and a bullmastiff *shudder,* who have appalling faces but make the most handsome puppies, have just been elevated into the realm of relevancy. At the 133rd Westminster Kennel Club dog show (the Super Bowl of dog shows) last Monday, for the first time the American Kennel Club formally recognised the dogue as a legitimate breed. This historic decision means that not only can they now compete and place in dog shows, they also have the right to vote; attend public ceremonies; and catch the same buses as everyone else. It’s just that they don’t know how to; don’t want to; and don’t know why they would.

– bec

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