Selfless Science and Bird Watching
Written by Ava   

Terrie Miller is a woman with big dreams in areas of science and animals and she has the projects behind her to prove it.  First up, a glorious weblog called CitizenSci.com in order to help all people realize their true science potential (every single person has a bit of scientist in them, she tell us), to help adults reconnect to nature, and to keep track of all the citizen science projects she's been able to find in retrospect.  

But wait, there's more! Terrie is also a prominent bird watcher, beginning with hawks at the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory and gradually towards other birds, participating in a nest watch, feeder watch and more for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  

While no longer concentrating on her animal site Crittergeek, she is putting some emphasis towards Permie.net, a site about permaculture, the design practice of creating truly sustainable human settlements that cooperate with natural ecosystems.

In the mean time, here at Paw-Talk, we're avidly following her and can't wait to see what she does next!

 
No One Gives Me a Headache Like H.F. Osborn
Written by Brian   

Every now and then I like taking a break from the latest technical papers and conference volumes to read some vintage scientific work. Oftentimes this is an enjoyable experience, I love the history of science, but the evolutionary work of H.F. Osborn is frustratingly opaque. While Osborn certainly was one of the most prominent figures in early 20th century paleontology he cultivated some very odd ideas which he made all the more confusing through his attempts to bring paleontology, genetics, chemistry, and physics together within evolutionary theory.

A good example of Osborn's difficult-to-understand conception of evolution can be seen in his "The Ancestral Tree of the Proboscidea: Discovery, Evolution, Migration, and Extinction Over a 50,000,000 Year Period" read before the National Academy of Sciences in 1935. In this paper Osborn attempted to summarize his research on trends in the evolution of extinct brontotheres and proboscideans (i.e. elephants and their closest extinct relatives), which he believed exemplified two great evolutionary principles;

1. The older modes known to naturalists from the time of Aristotle to that of Darwin, namely, changes of proportion or of degree which we term ALLOIOMETRONS; alloiometrons are governed by the action of the four well-known energetic factors, subject to Natural Selection.

2. Creative changes of kind, the origin of absolutely new characters, which we term ARISTOGENES, new adaptations arising directly from the geneplasm, e.g., the horns of Titanotheres and the innumerable new cones, crests and other elements in the teeth of Proboscideans.

For Osborn natural selection was weak. It could act upon variations but it was not a creative evolutionary force. Instead Osborn thought that new traits, or what he called "aristogenes" were carried along, ready for expression, in the genetic material of the animal and popped up suddenly. In this way there was a sort of