Palaeontology Lectures

Ciao, ragazzi. Sorry for the late notice, but Chinese paleontologist Zhexi Luo is going to be speaking twice today (28 January) about Mesozoic mammals. At noon in room 1534 of the Natural History Museum, Luo will give a talk about aforesaid mammals (this might be intended for students and faculty?). At 8 pm in the 4th floor Rackham amphitheater he will give a talk entitled, “Palaeontology in China: Early Life to Feathered Dinosaurs and the Origins of Mammals.” Everyone who loves life, especially placental life, should attend one or both of these. Sure, this isn’t exactly anthropology, but being paleontological they should be informative and interesting to paleoanthropologists.
On a lighter note, I just returned from Tip-up-town 2008 in Houghton Lake, Michigan, and I can honestly say I learned two important life lessons. First, sometimes spin-tastic carnival rides make terrifying noises–noises that no machine should ever make in any circumstance–when it’s freezing outside. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they imperil people’s lives. More importantly, confidently asserting, “We’re all gonna die” is “not funny,” according to the mother of a bored-looking toddler sitting two cars behind me. Even though I was wrong in my claim, I think some good came out of it. If the lad did in fact hear and comprehend my pessimistic message, having survived the harrowing ordeal he probably has a new appreciation for life, as well as new dose of self-confidence.
Second, in Michigan it is a good idea not to move firewood, because it bugs some people. When I first read this message on a bumper-sticker, I marveled at human language. From a relatively finite number of meaningful sounds, people can construct myriad meaningful words; these words and sounds can further be combined into countless comprehensible conglomerations–even if the final products don’t make sense. The italics are what I originally took away from the bumper sticker. But after doing a little research it turns out the sticker’s message is part of a very important campaign. For Michigan trees are at risk of attack from the horrible Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a voracious green beetle with an appetite for wreaking havoc on unsuspecting wood. Recent outbreaks have revealed the beetle’s expanded its Wood War into the firewood theater. The point: moving firewood will spread the wildfire of EAB infestation. So, if you care about Michigan wildlife, do not move your firewood, even if your livelihood depends on it.

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