Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dork Implosion

I have recently been exploring the correlation of food web reorganization and behavioral changes across the Permian-Triassic boundary as a side project. I wanted to give yall the heads-up on my new publication that's coming out in The Journal of Wizarding Ecology entitled "Grindylows: from Paleozoic Pests to Modern Monsters". Here's a sneak peak!

So far my research shows that grindylow population spikes are positively correlated with dinoflagellate blooms. These bioluminescent blooms are caused by nutrient supersaturation that promotes dinoflagellate sexual reproduction. Grindlows feed off the dinoflagellates - they use their sets of small, sharp teeth for straining out the planktonic matter. They also feed off of fish, and the increase in marine fauna death associated with red tides is actually driven by grindylow feeding frenzies. Part of the warnings about the toxic dangers of red tides is artfully laid propaganda to help keep the International Statute of Secrecy and is regulated by the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.

However, the main quandary is the evolutionary history of the gridylowidae before the Triassic, when dinoflagellate cysts first enter the rock record. This is where the research gets interesting. The reigning paradigm insists that pre-Triassic (i.e. Paleozoic) gridylowidae taxa represent a ghost lineage - these organisms existed in the ocean, but were not preserved. Taphonomic biases have pointed towards the lack of reproductive cysts before the Triassic yet presence of the actual dinoflagellate organisms; the cysts are what are actually preserved in the rock record.

My hypothesis challenges this paradigm. While the claim that "absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence" is a valid working hypothesis at this point, my research suggests that dinoflagellates did not evolve until the Early Triassic, and their absence in the Paleozoic rock record is a true signal of absence. Isotope and trace element geochemistry reveals no remnants of dinoflagellate biomolecules, cysts, or signs oceanic productivity.

Therefore, the Paleozoic to post-Paleozoic behavioral transition is correlated with a change in food web structure (e.g., a change in grindylow diet). The Permian-Triassic boundary does mark the largest extinction event known in Earth's history, where approximately 95% of life went extinct. Ecosystem reorganization would be mandatory for the survival of organisms across this extinction event. In accordance with my new hypothesis, the P-T extinction event drove a grindylow dietary change, which then drove a behavioral change. The opening of niches in post-extinction ecosystems spurred the evolution and radiation of dinoflagellates, which became one of the major dietary constituents of the grindylow diet.

The next questions that must be asked in accordance with this research are what grindylows were consuming before dinoflagellate evolution; and why this dietary shift escalated grindylow behavioral problems. Preliminary research suggests that chemical changes in the gridylow diet caused behavioral changes. A change from a silica-based diet to organisms with the chemical composition of dinoflagellates could account for behavioral discrepancies.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Commence Rambling

I'm not really sure why I've started a blog. Generally I make fun of people who blog (behind their backs of course), but this drastic and hypocritical turn of events must be correlated with the fact that I don't want to work on this lecture I'm giving on Friday. I mean, does anyone really care about turtles, crocodiles, and lepidosaurs? Well, if you do, then why don't you figure out whether turtles are frickin' anapsids or diapsids? You'd think that'd be pretty key...

So, as a result of my physical, mental, and emotional block of putting this lecture together, I have turned to cable T.V. for consolation. School work is really having the same effect on me as being depressed - I have to have a background distraction (usually in the form of a RomCom (romance comedy)) to get me through these trying times and help dull the pain. So suddenly I found myself watching the Hallmark Channel. Yes, I said Hallmark Channel. It's pretty much the poor man's (or woman's) Lifetime, and lacks the surprise of an old woman talking about sex and sex toys like O! Television for Women. Not only did I realize my life had reached a new low, but I embraced it like two flightless birds in a courtship dance.

I watched a movie who's title I still do not know unabashedly for 70 minutes, and reveled in its warm glow. There was not even an attempt at putting together one mere lecture slide during this time; there was not even a thought about changing the channel. Luckily, these events are documented by a series of emails to a witness who will remain nameless to protect his or her identity.

Email 1 [7:37pm]: "Help! I'm watching a Hallmark movie! Make fun of me so I stop!!!!"

Email 2 [7:46pm]: "They just got engaged but there's drama between the mothers!!! How is this going to be resolved???"

Email 3 [7:52pm]: "The father from "Step by Step" is in it. ANDDDDDDDDDD an old Shelly Long!!!!!"

Email 4 [7:58pm]: "They live in a Country Club and drive around in golf carts!!"

Email 5 [8:09pm]: "The mothers are going to make the bridesmaids wear pastels...I just know it. AND coffee just spilled on the invitations proofs and the bride-to-be is crying!"

Email 6 [8:19]: "They're postponing the wedding. I think I'm going to cry. They just broke both of their mother's heart!!!"

Email 7 [8:24pm]: "I just made Ramen so I wouldn't miss any of the movie and the commercial breaks are really short."

Email 8 [8:37pm]: "The best man caught the bouquet. I think the best man and maid of honor would make a great sequel!"

And just for clarity, yes all those emails were from me and unanswered; and yes, I did make Ramen so I wouldn't miss any of the movie as I can't see my T.V. from the stove. I'm pretty sure I've just moved into top-ranking housewife status. As for the movie, it was like one of those bad (bad in a bad way...someone out there knows what I mean) romance novels where you don't even get foreplay with a hint of satisfaction.

And as the natural progression of life goes - as demonstrated time and time again in the fossil record - Hallmark has been followed by Love Actually (which I will never get sick of), The Holiday (which you'd think I'd be sick of watching after how many times I went through it in a percocet-induced stupor this summer), a Dirty Jobs-a-thon, a gripping and emotionally stirring Project Runway, and capped with The Karate Kid and a smidgeon of The Jewel of the Nile. Though, I will argue that I can't find fault in my behavior when it comes to Dirty Jobs. Mike Rowe is, after all, the future father of my legitimate children. So long story short, these cable T.V. experiences have lead me to blogging.

Oh, did I mention I'm watching Hello Dolly! right now? Please tell me that moving on to Broadway musicals is a good sign...