Tuesday, 30 October 2007

So long and thanks for the fish!

I have enjoyed writing Fish Feet but unfortunately have not been able to keep up with being a new parent and writing up my thesis. While I won't be writing regular posts please feel free to visit for occasional updates to my research and some shameless self promotion:)

For those of you that are still around, Thanks for reading! Sarda

Thursday, 25 October 2007

I was supposed to go see James Watson talk today ...

...and quite frankly I am pretty pissed off that his lectures have been cancelled. James Watson, Nobel Prize winner and cofounder of the structure of DNA told the Times of London that "there is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically." So guess what? Most venues hosting Watson have decided to cancel his forthcoming public engagement talks.

Unfortunately such comments have often been made by Watson and while I don’t agree with him, I certainly defend his freedom of expression. I also don’t think he has a special ‘responsibility’ being a Nobel Prize scientists to censor himself. It is unfortunate that a man with so much knowledge and experience is drawing such conclusions but sweeping his remarks under the rug doesn’t help people. The organizers of events across the country are sticking their heads in the sand. By canceling these talks and making the decision that we shouldn’t be subject to his perspectives, they have denied us the opportunity to see a great scientist and to question him on his views.

Do we discard the great contributions of scientists, politicians, artists, because of their views? Clearly we haven’t. Personally I admire the work of Marie Stopes, known for her contributions to palaeobotany and advancement of women’s issues, but often not remembered for her views on race and eugenics. Another big contributor to my field of work was Swiss-American zoologist and geologist, Louis Agassiz who is known in other circles for his perspectives on racism and eugenics. Sir Winston Churchill, a man who was once chancellor of my own university and also who lent his name to my secondary school, was very vocal about his views on sex, race and the mentally disabled.

Unfortunately, an easy scapegoat has been made of Watson. The man’s contributions to science are a different matter than his personal views. If you’re on facebook and feel strongly about this issue, The Ministry of Love (a reference to Orwell’s 1984), is a group formed in protest of canceling Watson’s lectures.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Boneyard #6

Welcome to Fish Feet, host of the 6th Boneyard blog carnival!

Mysterious Fossils
• Visit The Other 95%, where Kevin and Christopher have composed a beautiful melody about Receptaculites, a problematic Palaeozoic fossil.

• Chris at the Catalogue of Organisms, debates the true nature of the same organism, the enigmatic Receptaculites. Is it a plant or an animal?.

Vertebrate Palaeontology
• Neil at Microecos examines the challenges that faced the first vertebrates which crawled onto land, specifically in regards to developing auditory capabilities.

• Julia at the Ethical Palaeontologist describes an amazing find: a Psittacosaurus Dinosaur Nursery from the Cretaceous Yixian Formation in NE China.

• GrrlScientist at Living the Scientific Life takes a look at features on a Mongolian Velociraptor fossil which reveal that this dinosaur was indeed, feathered.

• Brian Switek of Laelaps celebrates the Golden Age of Paleontology with a comprehensive posting on feathers, nests and dinosaurs.

Human Evolution

• Eric at The Primate Diaries has identifies an original cast member of Survivor, Homo floresiensis, a 3-foot tall hominin cousin that lived on the Indonesian island of Flores 18,000 years ago.

• Kambiz of Anthropology.net discusses Early Homo Postcranial Fossils from Dmanisi, specifically, the cranial remains.

I’m glad to have hosted the carnival and have enjoyed reading all of the great submissions! Visit the Boneyard again in two weeks.