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The True-Life Horror that Inspired Moby-Dick | Past Imperfect

382px-Moby_Dick_p510_illustration1-318x500This month’s Smithsonian Magazine has an excellent article about the true life tragedy that inspired Melville’s novel, Moby Dick. In Melville’s treatment, the story ends where the Essex’ tragedy begins, with the sinking of the whaling ship by a vengeful sperm whale.

The True-Life Horror that Inspired Moby-Dick | Past Imperfect.

Amazingly, this was not the only ship that George Pollard lost at sea. After the Essex, Pollard’s next ship, Two Brothers, also sunk after striking a coral reef near Hawaii. In 2008, the remains of this second ship was found by divers. This remains the only known sunken whaling ship of its era ever found.

mobydick

Not long after this … Ahab Becons.

Although this repeated bad luck at sea kept Pollard from sailing again (ship’s crews are loath to take a Jonah aboard), it did, at least keep him from Ahab’s fate.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2013 in Education

 

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An article discussing early tetrapods in last week’s Science Magazine

I was reading through last week’s issue of Science magazine this evening and discovered an interesting summary of some work done by Philip Anderson at UMass, Amherst. He has been studying how early tetrapods (like Tiktaalik) may have struggled with eating while on land because they still had heads and jaws specialized for feeding in the water. “With fishlike mouths, early tetrapods would have faced a difficult task eating on land.” 1Image

He and others have wondered what these animals ate, where they hunted (land or sea) and how they even managed to get food into their mouths. Sam Van Wassenbergh has studied more modern animals that live at the land/water interface to see how they accomplish the same task and found some interesting strategies. One such example is the “eel catfish, Channallabes apus, catches unsuspecting victims by arching upwards and descending upon prey, trapping an insect against the ground before sucking it up.”2 Van Wassenbergh suggests that this may have been amongst the strategies of early tetrapods as they were adapting to life on land. Van Wassesbergh made a film of this behavior:

References:

1. Pennisi, “Eating Was Tough For Early Tetrapods” Science 25 January 2013: Vol. 339 no. 6118 pp. 390-391

2. Hopkin, “The Fish that hunts on land” Nature, 12 April 2006 

3. Van Wassenbergh S., et alNature440. 881 (2006).

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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First on Land

I found this video on the Ted-ed Site. Since my class is currently reading Your Inner Fish, the story about how the first animals that are direct ancestors of mammals came out of the water, I thought this video on the very first animals to come out of the sea was very appropriate.

Have a look at the video and check out the questions afterwards… you never know, one might show up as extra credit on a quiz…

http://ed.ted.com/on/wAFSbjQj

I hope you enjoy.

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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