Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Another blog

I really enjoy Olivia Judson's blog posts for the New York Times. She's an evolutionary biologist at Imperial College in London, and she's witty, imaginative and seems really smart. Today's post discusses the bacteria discovered in rocks deep below the seafloor, and the possibility that they may contribute to weathering of the crust. She has blogged about ichnofossils, rain-seeding bacteria, and what the world would be like if all genetic mutation stopped. She is given to flights of fancy, like this one on dinosaur mating habits:
"Which brings me to my tyrannical fantasy. I want to take a journey 68 million years back in time to see a Tyrannosaurus rex couple mating. What was it like? Did they trumpet and bellow and stamp their feet? Did they thrash their enormous tails? Did he bite her neck in rapture and exude a musky scent? Somehow, I imagine that when two T. rex got it on, the earth shook for miles around."
Or this one on things that live among pineapple leaves:
"The other day, I went to the supermarket to buy a pineapple. I didn’t select the one that smelled the ripest, but the one with the most impressive leaves: tall, bushy and uncrushed by the journey from Costa Rica. When I got it home, I put it in the kitchen sink, turned on the tap, and watched how the water gathered and formed pools in the spaces between the leaves. And I began to imagine that I was not a human in an apartment in London, but a small frog in a tropical forest, climbing up the leaves of a plant like a pineapple, looking for a pool where I could deposit the tadpole I’m carrying on my back."
Her curiosity as an evolutionary biologist leads her to think about a range of environments, from clouds to the "deep subsurface biosphere." As a geologist, I find lots to think about in her articles. Take a look at a couple yourself. They make for provocative reading, but they're somehow relaxing.

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