The first thing that may interest you all is that this summer, I'll be coming at you live from Petrified Forest National Park. I'll be working as an intern there for approximately 10 weeks, doing "hardcore paleontology". I will be working with Bill Parker, a vertebrate paleontologist for the park, whom many of you may know from his blog Chinleana, which focusses on issues of the Late Triassic. Petrified Forest is known for it's petrified wood, but the Late Triassic Chinle Formation that dominates the park is also known for it's diversity of archosaurs, both crurotarsan and dinosaur.
|Image by Jeff Marz.|
Something else I just wanted to mention real quick is that last week, I was fortunate enough to attend an event on campus featuring an interview and Q&A session with Richard Dawkins. For those of you not familiar with Dr. Dawkins, he is a famous evolutionary biologist, intelligent design critic, and author. Some of his great popular science works on evolution include The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design, The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution, Climbing Mount ImprobableThe Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene (Popular Science), and River Out Of Eden: A Darwinian View Of Life. I am currently reading Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder, which is the beautiful and rather inspiring thesis of how using science to unravel the mysteries of the universe can be a great source of wonder.
The event on campus the other evening focused on his views on evolutionary biology. Dr. Dawkins is an articulate, intelligent, and witty man. He received both applause and laughter throughout the interview and during the Q&A session, a student even thanked him for inventing the meme. I particularly liked that fact that he advocated for teaching evolution as early as age 7 and that the foundation for learning evolution (like the idea of descent with modification) could be laid as early as 4 or 5. He also suggested a shift in the order in which biology is taught. Many courses start with cell biology and progress towards macrobiology, often ending in evolution and ecology. Instead, he suggested evolution be taught first, which I absolutely agree with because it is indeed true that "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution" (quote by Theodsius Dobzhansky). In all, it was a great evening.