May 30th, 2012
atomvincent

Nothing So Beautiful

For most of my life, I have found whales to be utterly fascinating. Their size, grace, and intelligence ignite in me a child-like curiosity and enchantment. I have thus far not indulged this interest on RTNT, but in celebration of our six months in existence, I want to share this small part of myself with you.

Here, I offer a few pieces that illuminate the foundations of my interest in our brothers of the deep, whose minds and lives are at once unknowable and familiar. 

1. Watching Whales Watching Us
A fascinating look at the evolving relationship between man and whale in Baja California Sur, and research into the highly evolved brains of whales.
Charles Siebert, The New York Times, July 2009

2. On the Minds of the Whales
A history of the hunting and scientific investigation of whales across the twentieth century.
Tim Flannery, New York Review of Books, February 2012 

3. The Fall and Rise of the Right Whale
On the (very slowly) increasing population of right whales in the Atlantic and the efforts put forth to protect and study them.
Cornelia Dean, The New York Times, March 2009 

4. Of Man and Whales and Apes
Cetaceans can recognize themselves, use tools, and communicate in structurally complex ways - are they more like us than we have ever considered?
Brandon Keim, Wired, June 2009 

5. The Auditory Life of Sperm Whales
One of Arvind’s early posts from the RTNT vaults, this piece looks at how acoustic imaging is used to investigate the relationship between sperm whales and that other, mythical giant of the deep, the giant squid.
Eric Wagner, Smithsonian Magazine, December 2011 

6. Seeing Whales
A beautiful poem that invokes (among other things) the breathtaking sight of a whale.
Michael Dickman, The New Yorker, January 2008 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on whales (politically, scientifically, spiritually, or otherwise), if you have any to share. At the very least, I hope you enjoy learning a bit more about the largest creatures in our world, and perhaps you’ll find yourself as enchanted by those kings of the sea as I find myself.
- Atom Vincent, Managing Editor 

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March 29th, 2012
arvindsuguness
The Snake Of Your Nightmares
Writing for Smithsonian Magazine, Guy Gugliotta explores the discovery of Titanoboa, a prehistoric snake that grew to over 40 feet in length, and how it has forced Scientists’ to reconsider the nature of prehistoric life:

In 2007, Hastings was inspecting a shipment of fossils labeled “crocodile” and noticed a strange—and very large—vertebra. To his trained eye, it was clearly “not from a croc.” He showed it to fellow graduate student Jason Bourque, a fossil conservationist and reptile specialist.
“That’s a snake,” Bourque said. He delved into the university’s reptile collections and came up with the vertebra of an anaconda. It was smaller but reasonably close in appearance to the fossil. Bloch, Hastings and the rest of the team began ransacking the Cerrejón specimens. Fresh expeditions visited La Puente to search for more pieces of fossil snake. Eventually the team collected 100 snake vertebrae from 28 different animals.
“We’d had some of them for years,” Bloch said. “My only excuse for not recognizing them is that I’ve picked up snake vertebrae before. And I said, ‘These can’t be snake vertebrae.’ It’s like somebody handed me a mouse skull the size of a rhinoceros and told me ‘That’s a mouse.’ It’s just not possible.”

Read the full article here.
// Follow Read This, Not That on Tumblr / Facebook / Twitter //

The Snake Of Your Nightmares

Writing for Smithsonian Magazine, Guy Gugliotta explores the discovery of Titanoboa, a prehistoric snake that grew to over 40 feet in length, and how it has forced Scientists’ to reconsider the nature of prehistoric life:

In 2007, Hastings was inspecting a shipment of fossils labeled “crocodile” and noticed a strange—and very large—vertebra. To his trained eye, it was clearly “not from a croc.” He showed it to fellow graduate student Jason Bourque, a fossil conservationist and reptile specialist.

“That’s a snake,” Bourque said. He delved into the university’s reptile collections and came up with the vertebra of an anaconda. It was smaller but reasonably close in appearance to the fossil. Bloch, Hastings and the rest of the team began ransacking the Cerrejón specimens. Fresh expeditions visited La Puente to search for more pieces of fossil snake. Eventually the team collected 100 snake vertebrae from 28 different animals.

“We’d had some of them for years,” Bloch said. “My only excuse for not recognizing them is that I’ve picked up snake vertebrae before. And I said, ‘These can’t be snake vertebrae.’ It’s like somebody handed me a mouse skull the size of a rhinoceros and told me ‘That’s a mouse.’ It’s just not possible.”

Read the full article here.

// Follow Read This, Not That on Tumblr / Facebook / Twitter //

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