Monthly Archives: July 2012

Earthling Bulletin #7

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Sciurumimus albersdoerferi, a new megalosauroid with “protofeathers” may indicate that probably many more dinosaurs had feather-like structures than previously thought. Modified from Rauhut et al., 2012

News

Blog

Art

  • How to Use the Golden Ratio to Take Better Pictures. That’s not an example of art, but a tip to make it. It’s a kinda old post, but I just found it recently and thought it was worth sharing, so enjoy!
  • Microraptor, by Sergio Pérez, modified from a photograph  of an African starling.
  • Hi yo’ eggs, by Julio Lacerda. A Citipati about to be engulfed by a sandstorm.
  • Early Land Plants, by Renata Cunha. An image of what Earth would have looked like in the Devonian, when life started to leave whater.
  • Carefree life, by Keld Bach. A beautiful landscape with nice horses grazing.
  • Giganotosaurus carolinii, by Rafael Albo, a nicely done graphite drawing!

Scientific Articles

(If you are willing to read some of the articles but got no access to them, please contact us and we’ll send you a copy through e-mail!)

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The World Beyond Your Trash Bag

by Piter Kehoma Boll

It’s been a while since I had the idea of writing a post about the garbage problem, but it’s difficult to find the best way to start it, so let’s try to simply talk and see how it flows.

Some months ago, as part of a field activity, I visited with some colleagues and a professor some places intended to manage waste. At first we thought it would be a boring day seeing garbage everywhere, but it wasn’t boring at all. In fact it was very enlightening.

After that day, I can say for sure that we have no idea about the horror caused by our garbage. We are used to simply throw our waste in the trash bag and let the truck take it away, just as it would miraculously disappear and everything would be fine. Well… that’s not what happens.

We visited a landfill in the city of Campo Bom, which has a population of only 64 thousand people and receives about 50 tons of waste every day.

Garbage accumulated in the last hours. Beautiful, huh? Photo by Piter Kehoma Boll.

The place was full of vultures and herons scavenging the waste. Photo by Tiago Finger Andreis.

A recycling plant operates with the landfill where about 40 workers sort the garbage on a conveyor belt, but only about 4 to 6 % is recycled.

Conveyor belt where the garbage is sorted. Photo by Tiago Finger Andreis.

The rest is sent to the landfill where it will be buried, leading to many potential impacts to the environment, including soil and water pollution due to the leakage of contaminants, as well as by the solid residues themselves. It can also pollute the air by releasing methane from the decay of organic material and cause injuries to wildlife.

The landfill already full. This waste will never be recycled. Photo by Piter Kehoma Boll.

All those impacts could be greatly reduced if most of the waste material could be reused. So we may ask why so little of it is recycled. Well, in part it is our own fault because we don’t care so much about the way we discard our waste.

Most people simply throw everything together. Organic and inorganic waste are not set apart and, even when people separate fruit peels from plastic, they still mix a dirty plastic container with remains of yogurt with paper and other stuff, causing the organic remains to flow over other clean materials and many times causing them to become unfeasible to recycle.

Recycling, however, faces many other challenges. Many materials are not designed to be recycled, so the most common forms of “recycling” don’t include the reuse of the material for the same purpose, but rather to another. For example, most white paper is recycled to become paperboard and not new white paper. It does, of course, reduce the amount of raw material necessary, but not always targeting the most critical points.

That’s why recycling is connected to the other 2 Rs in the 3R concept: reduce, reuse, recycle. We should try to use less resources and buy less things (reduce), but once we acquired something, we must try to use it as many times as possible (reuse) and, after not being able to go on using it, we got to find a purpose other than throwing it away (recycling).

I’m telling all this stuff and you are probably thinking that you hear that all the time. Yeah, maybe, but I wish everybody visited a landfill someday to see with their own eyes the tragedy that we are causing to our planet due to our unbridled consumption of resources.

To finish, I would like to share an interesting graph that was presented to me by Meika Jensen from MastersDegree.net. It deals with the problem of ocean pollution, something directly related to waste management. Take a look:
Ocean of Garbage

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Filed under Conservation, Ecology, Pollution

Horrible Dinosaur Expos: Via Brasil

By Carlos Augusto Chamarelli

Hey everybody, once again things are a little slow on my side because I couldn’t decide what my next article would be, because what I was going to talk about proved to be rather polemical within EN, so until then here’s a little something to general amusement and despair.

As you can guess from the title, this post is about a dinosaur expo, a terrible one at that. See unlike other countries paleontology as a whole in Brazil is rather lacking, so dinosaur expos are hard to come by. Good dinosaur expos are even harder.

I do remember one exceptional expo that took place when Jurassic Park was first released in Brazil, but it’s possible I thought because I was 4 at the time and dinosaurs were awesome no matter what, but I don’t have many memories of it. Specially because the huge, roaring animatronic beasts terrified me. To this day I’m not entirely sure if it was Dinamation’s exhibit, and I’m still unable to find the photos we took there (where I remember always appearing with a cringe of sheer terror mixed with marvel).

So after that everything went downhill because every dinosaur expo I came across ranged from “kind of bad” to “crap”. And no, I’m not being harsh, “crap” is the perfect analogy for some of them. Really.

That being said, let’s take a look of one which I actually bothered taking pictures of. This one took place in Shopping Via Brasil (which seemingly sprung out of nowhere) in Irajá, Rio de Janeiro, in 2011 I believe.

Not picture because I just took photos inside the thing: the ugliest Velociraptor right at the mall’s entrance, the huge and hideous Tyrannosaurus skull with an actual picture of a Tyrannosaurus skull right behind it (how come nobody looked at it and said “hey, they don’t look like each other”), the entrance ticket with Jurassic Park’s logo and a mini-cinema exhibiting Disney’s Dinosaur…. Yeah

How come they couldn’t afford a second one so they could bash heads? What a letdown.

Apart from the deformed and slightly human-like arms, this Stegoceras is not that bad since they actually tried to make the skull have mostly the right shape. Also the atrocity is lessened by what was right next to him: the disembodied neck of a “Camarasaurus” (with the head of a Diplodocus) that stood in the back of what looked like a circus arena….

I like JP style Raptors when it comes to entertainment, but that’s too much.

This is what the Velociraptor at the mall entrance looked like. What can I say? The lack of feathers is the last of the concerns here. How can these even be called “raptors” if they didn’t even bothered to give them the trademark feet claws? I swear I thought they were Herrarasaurus, which would make everything a bit less shameful.

“AAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!”

This one got me by surprise, I would never expect to see Therizinosaurus in such low-end expo. It’s also interesting because unlike the Velociraptors they did used feathers to coat the model. Very badly, but feathered nonetheless. Maybe he has such aghast expression because he know they stole the zebra-therizinosaurus idea from either Luis Rey or that CGI model from Dorling Kindersley. I’m guessing the latter.

If they had another and made it hairy they could pass it as Coelodonta.

I’ll never understand why they put an rhinoceros in the exhibit… Wait, that’s Styracosaurus? Yipes, moving on…

Mammoth: the Tenontosaurus of the Pleistocene.

What you mean Ice Age beasts aren’t dinosaurs? At least compared to the dinosaurs, these are quite tolerable. The mammoth is as good as one can make a mammoth look good when covering it with hair, but the static Smilodon will always remind me of another appalling expo that seemingly consisted entirely of Smilodons scattered in dark rooms lit by pulsating lights and walls covered by palm tree leaves made of fabric.

And you were thinking I was being harsh when I said some were crap.

And there was a crocodile-like Dimetrodon next to them for no good reason.

Can we go back to man-in-suit theropods after that?

No, that’s not the perspective being wonky, this is what this mockery of a Tyrannosaurus looked like in profile. I have nothing to add to this other that the most infuriating part was that…

For a change, there’s nothing dead laying before him.

… There was a much bigger and impressive (and slightly less inaccurate) animatronic Tyrannosaurus right next. This was the last thing in the expo, and with good reason it seems. Even with the huge feet and sounds stolen directly from Jurassic Park, this one was life-sized, which made it best than most I’ve seen…. And look, there’s the hideous skull behind him.

As with other exhibits, this one wasn’t the longest, but thankfully it wasn’t the most expensive, and I could learn a lesson out of it: research about the expo before you go.

I have hopes one day Brazil will once again see a decent dinosaur exhibit like the one I barely remember, but until then the average brazilian is stuck with sucky depictions while us dinomaniacs can only laugh and facepalm.

Stay tuned for my next article. See ya!

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Filed under Paleoart, Paleontology