Doom and the dogmometer

One way to understand a really big problem is to break it down into more manageable parts. That’s why scientists use specific, smaller systems to help them grasp the overall health of the planet. The Arctic, for example, is regarded as a bellwether for the catastrophes of climate change that will soon afflict us all, […]

Redux: The Unknown Grizzly

This post originally appeared March 7, 2013. In the mail yesterday I received a grizzly bear skull from an acquaintance and taxidermist in Soldotna, Alaska. Expertly cleaned down to chalk-white bone and glistening, thumb-sized canines, it was the size and general shape of a football, and as smooth as sanded wood. My friend had apologized […]

Not all stories are words, not all maps are pictures

You know those sounds that slip across the senses until they settle, in the brain, on an association entirely unrelated to their maker? Those sounds that seem to almost synesthetically transform one thing into another? The way noise can be brilliant, or color evokes flavor, or a smell touches old dreams? An unspectacular-looking, fist-sized bird […]

Redux: Something About Sharks

Despite the occasional tragic outcome of such encounters—and they truly are occasional relative to attacks by other wild animals—I love meeting sharks in the wild. So, dive in with me as I recall this experience with Emma the tiger shark in the Bahamas. I don’t know that she was as intrigued with me as I was […]

On Taphonomy

Taphonomy is the study of what happens to bodies, especially bones, after death on their way to fossilization. Few remains make it that far, but when they do, taphonomy is the journey through which the biological becomes geological. In life, bones are tissues, despite their rigidity. Calcium flows in and out of the bone bank as […]

Sleep Cute

Most days, my kids pretend that they are other animals. Sometimes they are fantastic beasts—we have a lot of dragons and griffins. Sometimes, they’re creatures that we’re more familiar with, like dogs and seals. But most of the time, they are fennec foxes. I’m not quite sure how they even know about fennec foxes. There […]

Kiss of the Assassin Bug

    I was bitten the other night. I would have taken a picture of the turgid, blood-filled bug that stuck its rostrum inside of me for a liberal helping of hemoglobin, but my girlfriend smashed it with a rock and spattered the thing while I cheered her on. It was hard to resist the killing. Normally, I try and treat other […]

Moby Peep: A Peeps Diorama

I have a bit of a thing about whales. The shelf above my desk at home is full of whale art, and a National Geographic whale poster hangs in a frame above that. Along with that, I have a thing about Moby Dick, which is a book about whales. So when it was time for […]