Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Trilobites on the Small Screen

In March of last year, I blogged about a scientific paper in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences in which several new species of trilobites were named after alternative rock stars of the Eighties.

Now, in the same combined spirit of paleontology and popular culture, I report on a paper in the December 2010 Journal of Systematic Paleontology (abstract here). Stephen R. Westrop, Raina A. Waskiewicz Poole, and Jonathan M. Adrain investigate trilobites from the Cambrian of Oklahoma. (Adrain is one of the authors of the earlier paper.) The following new species are established:

Dokimocephalus stewarti

Dokimocephalus blacki

Stittella beeae

The theme here, which may or may not be apparent to you, is that these trilobites are named after people from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart—Jon Stewart, Lewis Black, and Samantha Bee. (I must admit that I have never watched The Daily Show, which appeals only to a very specific audience of smug young urban liberal college-educated white people.) I, of course, know who Jon Stewart is; I have no idea at all who Samantha Bee is; and I have some idea of Lewis Black from his appearances on other shows, though not much beyond the general impression that at any moment his head could explode.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Trolls and Elves and Hobbits and Sheens

He's lean. He's mean. He's Charlie Sheen.

Every so often a series of unrelated things will come to my attention, and join together in my mind in a way that seems to make sense, if only to me. The most recent occurrence of this phenomenon stems, as does much of our modern discourse, from the strange saga of Charlie Sheen.

We start with John Cryer admitting that he is a troll . . .

. . . at the same time as this discussion of a rare genetic disorder that makes people look like elves . . .

. . . briefly calling to mind Homo floresiensis, an extinct hominid sometimes known as a hobbit . . .

. . . and finally leading us to the theory that The Lord of the Rings may have been based on a true story.