A prehistoric predicament repeats itself in The Netherlands! See it for yourself in our Paleo Hall

Dutch anglers were all a-titter earlier this year after a man found a dead pike with a zander stuffed inside its mouth, apparently killed by its own appetite:

BBC image of modern-day fish aspiration

The story was picked up by the BBC (you can read the full article here) and struck one of our fans, Emma Baldwin, as being a little bit familiar.

She recognized the modern-day scenario — of a fish dying in an attempt to swallow a fish of nearly the  same size — because it is depicted in our Morian Hall of Paleontology!

Check out this Mioplosus on display in the President’s Select section of the Paleo Hall. It choked swallowing a Diplomystus:

Fish AspirationIt’s a good lesson: Don’t let your eyes food be bigger than your stomach.

Re-connecting with the past: recent developments in Mongolia

It is summer time and with that comes vacation. Given the current economic situation, most people stay close to home. Traveling to far away places might not be part of our plans. However, that should not preclude us from catching up on what has been happening on the other side of the world: Mongolia.

spot of color
Creative Commons License photo credit: madpai

A recent news release on the BBC website revealed that several crates containing “amazing Buddhist art objects” had been unearthed in the Gobi desert. A total of 64 crates were buried in the 1930s by a Buddhist monk, in an attempt to save historical artifacts during a period of immense upheaval. The monk passed his secret along to his grandson, who dug up some of the boxes in the 1990s and opened a museum. Two additional boxes were uncovered recently, and an estimated 20 boxes still remain buried in the desert.

The Gobi desert is currently also the place where a group of Australians are looking for the Mongolian “death worm”  a creature said to be up to 5 feet long, and able to spit acid. It remains to be seen if this worm actually exists, as it stands, it is part of what we know as cryptozoology.

What is much less controversial and much easier to see is a huge equestrian statue of Genghis Khan located about an hour’s drive outside the Mongolian capital, Ulan Baator. This Texas-size statue, weighing in at 250 tons of stainless steel and standing 131 feet tall is a very visible expression of the renewed interest in Mongolia’s past. A smaller, though still imposing, statue of a seated Genghis Khan can be seen by those who visit the Parliament Building in Ulan Baator.

dsc_0952While the equestrian statue is too large to ever fit in a museum hall, there is currently a copy of the seated Genghis Khan on display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The exhibit, entitled “Genghis Khan,” is on display until September 7, 2009. It relates the story of the meteoric rise of the Mongolian Empire. Visitors will learn how, over the time span of three generations, Mongolian armies overran huge parts of Asia, the Near East and Europe. Objects from museums in Mongolia as well as the Hermitage in St. Petersburg illustrate the story. Maps and interactive computers complete the picture. (Those interested in the death worm will have to await the results of the Aussie expedition.)

Science Doesn’t Sleep (9.8.08)

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Bacteria loves milk.
Creative Commons License photo credit: IRRI Images

So here’s what went down after you logged off.

A NASA administrator insists he backs the upcoming retirement of the space shuttle (leaving the U.S. unable to send astronauts to the International Space Station)  - despite a leaked e-mail to the contrary. Oh – and, the BBC reports that Chinese astronauts (called yuhangyuan) will perform their first-ever spacewalk.

Got bacteria? New research indicates that you shouldn’t be washing your antibiotics down with milk.

Bad news for mathletes: using your brain might be making you fat.

NPR asks: Can physicists be funny? (The answer is YES.) Scientists at CERN are going through improv comedy training to help reassure the public that they’re not about to create a giant black hole that will swallow the Earth.

Arctic permafrost holds twice as much carbon as the atmosphere – making it a potential environmental threat. Good thing it’s not melting at a disturbingly fast pace.

Does the President need to be tech-savvy?