Sunday mornings

Usually I use my PowerPoint skills only for evil, like putting together lectures and talks. But sometimes I get distracted. Today, for instance, instead of grading and prepping next week’s lectures on Eugenics and Spine Evo-devo (don’t worry, they’re for different classes), I spent half an hour making this:

A spirited twist on Jane Austen's classic novel.

A spirited twist on Jane Austen’s classic novel. Why am I devoting my life to research and teaching when I could go to where the real money is?

This is surely the project that will land me tenure in a few years.

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Kryptonians’ DNA in the Sts 71 fossil

I don’t love flying. In fact I’m writing this post in a traffic jam on the tarmac of Frankfurt International between a 9 hour and a 5 hour flight. On a related note, reclining your seatback all the way for most of a long flight does in fact make you the worst person on earth.

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Hey, guy, how’s that 10th X-Men movie? What kind of shampoo is that I smell? Why yes, I do work best when I can’t open my computer fully. What a joyous way for us to learn all about each other, new best friend!

A plus of all this airtime, though, is that I can get caught up on recent movies I’ve missed living under the proverbial rock of research and teaching. On the ~7500 mile trip from Kazakhstan to Kanada I got to watch Man of Steel, a new take on an ancient comic. It was tacky and entertaining and there are some interesting takes on biology, but it had a boss paleo surprise.

The best part of the movie is at the beginning when The Gladiator steals a mysterious “codex” as his planet Krypton plunges catastrophically into implosive oblivion. Amid the chaos, Russel Crowe swims through some chamber, and what does he encounter?

The codex? No, it’s…

Sts 71_R lateral1

Sts seventy f*ing one

Sts 71 is my favorite fossil I’ve seen because it looks totally badass (not a scientific reason, but it’s the truth). It comes from Sterkfontein cave in South Africa, dates to probably around 2.5 million years ago, and is attributed to the species Australopithecus africanus.

I realize I’m behind the times here, but in case you haven’t seen the movie but are planning to, then read no further (SPOILER ALERT). In the film, this codex/fossil apparently contains the genetic code for the entire species of Kryptonians (whose resemblance to living humans is so remarkable it requires a statistically impossible amount of parallel evolution). Now, the oldest DNA recovered from a fossil is from a horse that lived about 700 thousand years ago (Orlando et al., 2013). Sts 71 is some 3-4 times older than that, and illusorily contains the genomes of a billion human-like aliens with super powers.

What a badass fossil.

Coming soon: "3.5 million years BC"

Did anybody else read this review of 10,000 BC on Hawk’s blog? I haven’t seen the movie, but some of these so-called reviews he quotes are hilarious/sad/make me want to become a hermit.

P.S. The joke in the title is not mine, it is stolen from Dave Pappano, who is planning a trilogy movie-series poking-fun at the 10,000 BC movie. For more info, read his blog, “Musings From the Ivory Tower” (see sidebar for link) where he will shortly be detailing this filming-plan of his.

P.P.S. Folks (not including zach), we need to post on here more… did you know we got in a minor car accident road tripping to MSU TWO WEEKS AGO? What about the variety of lectures people have attended? (especially the ones I haven’t gone to… somebody please post about those – Buss, Flannery…). If necessary, I can post about more TV shows, but most of them aren’t as intelligent-ish as my last one. Come on, I know you aren’t always taking notes in class!

P.P.P.S. Please note that the last postscript was directed at myself too, so please don’t hate me.