Many people believe that the state is necessary to fund scientific research, especially pure scientific research. In fact a common rebuttal statists make when I advocate anarchism is that we need the state to fund scientific research that isn’t likely to turn a profit. These people believe that private funding for scientific research only happens when the research is like to make a profit. Quite the opposite is true as Jack Horner, one of the most famous paleontologists in the world, explained during his interview on Slashdot:
How will science be funded in the US next?
For a long time the primary source of money for scientific research has been the federal granting agencies (NIH, NSF, DOE in particular). All three of them are facing either budget cuts, budget stalls, or increases in their budgets that do not match inflation. This does not seem to fare well for new scientists or established ones who are looking to further their careers. Where do you see research money coming from next? Alternately, are we looking ahead to a time where fewer people will be doing science because the funding just won’t exist to pay even their meager wages any more?
Horner: Like most researchers in the early part of their careers, I relied on writing grants to NSF, but as these government agencies became more stringent and stingy with funding for dinosaurs and other purely scientific endeavors, I moved away from government funding to private funding, and I think this is where most all research funds for dinosaurs will eventually come from. Private people who have the financial where-with-all and interest in the field currently fund most of the dinosaur collecting, research and exhibitions in the United States. It is up to us paleontologists to make sure we engage the public in all venues, and keep their interest high, if we expect to continue these kinds of studies. The government is much more interested in practical sciences (renewable energy, climate change, medical) these days, a trend I would expect to continue for quite some time.
When it comes to purely scientific research the state has little interest in providing funding. Instead scientists wanting to perform purely scientific research, such as paleontology, have to seek funding in the private sector. What many statists fail to realize is that there are people out there that have a deep interest in purely scientific research and are willing to donate money to its cause.
Paleontology is awesome. There is one Hell of a challenge in digging up the fossils of animals that have been dead for millions of years and trying to piece together their world and how they fit in the wonderful chain of events that we call life.
There has been a gap in the evolution of predatory dinosaurs that was until now unfilled. The remains of a new species were discovered in the famous (for paleontology nears) Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. The species has been labeled Daemonosaurus:
“Various features of the skull and neck in Daemonosaurus indicate that it was intermediate between the earliest known predatory dinosaurs from South America and more advanced theropod dinosaurs,” said Hans Sues, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and lead author of the team’s findings. “One such feature is the presence of cavities on some of the neck vertebrae related to the structure of the respiratory system.”
How cool is that? Let me rephrase, how cool is that if you’re a paleontology nerd?
I’m sure everybody who’s reading right now has seen Jurassic Park. If you haven’t go watch it right now because it is this best damned move ever made. The main protagonists were the velociraptors whom many complain were completely misrepresented. In truth the velociraptor was roughly 3 feet tall and covered in feathers. Of course when the book Jurassic Park was written the portrayed dinosaurs were actually deinonychus but at the time some paleontologists were trying to reclassify the deinonychus as velociraptor. This is actually mentioned by the character Alan Grant in the novel but alas the reclassification was dropped but the movie never correct for this.
So why the long side track? Because I wanted to show off my stupid amount of knowledge involving Jurassic Park. It’s for geek creds, any nerd will understand.
Well it seems Romanian scientists have discovered something more terrifying than Jurassic Parks [movie] portrayal of velociraptors. I present for your pants shitting fear the balaur bondoc. This bastard was a larger version of the velociraptor. Well it’s not that much larger really but it has an interesting feature. Remember those large killing claws the velociraptors had on their feet? This bad boy has two on each feet. That’s like taking it to 11 in the dinosaur world.
Paleontology has always been one of my hobbies and nothing quite as cool as dinosaurs has existed on this planet since their extinction. Needless to say I spend a lot of time reading up on these extinct creatures and one of the debates that’s gone on for a while is whether or not dinosaurs evolved into birds. Well new research is suggesting that dinosaurs and birds evolved from a common ancestor and existed in a state of parallel evolution instead:
Almost 20 years of research at OSU on the morphology of birds and dinosaurs, along with other studies and the newest PNAS research, Ruben said, are actually much more consistent with a different premise — that birds may have had an ancient common ancestor with dinosaurs, but they evolved separately on their own path, and after millions of years of separate evolution birds also gave rise to the raptors. Small animals such as velociraptor that have generally been thought to be dinosaurs are more likely flightless birds, he said.
“Raptors look quite a bit like dinosaurs but they have much more in common with birds than they do with other theropod dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus,” Ruben said. “We think the evidence is finally showing that these animals which are usually considered dinosaurs were actually descended from birds, not the other way around.”
This is bloody cool and certainly sheds some light on my arch-nemesis the velociraptor (Clever girls). Seriously though it’s amazing how the science of extinct creatures is constantly changing and we are always finding out new things about these old buggers.