The Scout Report -- Volume 26, Number 13

The Scout Report -- Volume 26, Number 13
April 10, 2020
Volume 26, Number 13

General Interest

Theme: Paleobiology

Revisited

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General Interest

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The Road to Apollo: An Interactive Journey
Science

Perhaps you have heard the expression "chasing the sun," but what about "chasing the moon?" Thanks to The Road to Apollo: An Interactive Journey you can do just that. This resource is an extension of PBS's American Experience and offers a companion to a three-part film produced by Robert Stone that premiered on July 8, 2019. Viewers are invited right into the action, clicking through informative panels that break down the history and significance of the first man on the moon, from the Sputnik shock in 1957 to the inception of NASA to Apollo Missions 1, 8, and 11. The journey includes the politics, physics, and people involved in the moon landing, a world-changing experience watched by over a fifth of the world's population on that fateful day in July 1969. Readers interested in watching the entire documentary can do so on the PBS site. [EMB]

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Queer Digital History
Social studies

The Queer Digital History Project (QDHP) is "an ongoing effort to document pre-2010 LGBTQ digital spaces online." The website is maintained by Avery Dame-Griff (Lecturer of Communication Studies at Gonzaga University), who recognized that as our technological world evolved, many of the "ad-hoc spaces" created by and for the LGBTQ community became under-recognized. In response, the QDHP launched its mission: "logging queer history online, one site at a time." Under Browse Collections, readers will find the collections maintained by the Project: The Queer Digital Community Catalog, Primary Documents Archive, AIDs Info BBS, and Archived LGBTQ Yahoo Groups. The Community Catalog Map tracks the over 40 locations from which cataloged items were collected. The map can be sorted by tag, item, or location. The Mapping TGNet page contains a similar mapping structure specific to "one of the first independent international transgender communication networks." The Transgender Usernet Archive, LGBTQ Web History Research Results, and Queer Yahoo Groups Preservation Project all house resources specific to each project. [EMB]

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Stories of Our City
Social studies

"Real stories from real people around the world," make up the foundation of Stories of Our City. The resource is on a mission to collect and share these stories "in an effort to cultivate community and global understanding." The narratives featured on the site are encapsulated in short podcast-styled episodes (usually around 10 minutes in length). Readers can find the episodes on Apple Podcasts, or via the link above. Following the link, readers will want to check out the Stories page, which catalogs tales using an interactive map pinpointing where each story is from. Clicking on a location leads users to the associated narrative, each including an image and the audio recording of the story. The narratives span the globe — from San Antonio, Texas to Suakoko, Liberia —- and invite listeners to virtually step into a stranger's shoes. Whether it is learning about the "magic of music," or "unconventional love stories," the tales collected on Stories of Our City demonstrate our global "common humanity." Finally, the site features a Highlighted Story that stands out to the storytellers that curate the resource. [EMB]

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Scientific Writing Resource
Language Arts

Motivated by scientists' reputation for ineffective writing and convinced that writing skills are beneficial to science careers and the community at large, Duke University's Scientific Writing Resource aims to shrink "the gap between the public and academy," through improved writing skills. The resource, which is intended for graduate-level students, hones writing skills through three lessons: "Subjects/Actions," "Cohesion/Emphasis," and "Simplicity." Each lesson walks users through concepts and examples, concluding with a worksheet to test your knowledge. Lessons are intended to take less than an hour to complete and are designed for either classroom settings or individual learning. Those looking for additional content on effective writing will want to check out the Extras menu (on the left-hand side), which houses sections such as The Next Level (with bonus lessons on passive voice, dangling modifiers, and the ever-popular em-dash) and a checklist for "Revising Your Manuscript in 7 Steps" (under Smart Revising). The More Resources section links to several other books and articles that may be of interest. The site was created by Nathan Sheffield, a professor and researcher with "a passion for scientific writing." [EMB]

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Children's Book-A-Day Almanac
Language Arts

Curated by book enthusiast, editor, and publisher Anita Silvey, Children's Book Almanac is a "daily love letter to a book or author." Reminiscent of a daily tear-away calendar, the website highlights and reviews a children's book each day of the year. In addition to the brief book review, features include an excerpt from the book and Silvey's personal thoughts on her selection, which may include "backstories of how our classics came to be." Silvey's picks are mindful of a variety of audiences. For example, graphic novel enthusiasts may enjoy her selection of Captain Underpants, while history buffs may be delighted to find Anne Frank: Her Life in Words and Pictures. Readers new to the site may want to click on the "Find a book!" box (located on the left-side panel of the site) to view archived book selections. There are plenty of ways to browse the archives, as selections are categorized by age group, subject, book type, author/illustrator, and date. The site offers much more than daily book selections — other content includes "events, trivia, and celebrations for every day of the year." [EMB]

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Theme: Paleobiology

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The Paleobiology Database
Science

Guided by the mission of "revealing the history of life," The Paleobiology Database welcomes researchers, educators, and developers to explore a "public database of paleontological data that anyone can use." Supported by the National Science Foundation and "maintained by an international non-governmental group of paleontologists," the site offers a wealth of information waiting to be discovered. Users can browse the database at the link above or download the data to peruse offline. Clicking on the "Explore" button on the home page brings users to the interactive map. Have a question about what you see? The Help and Walkthrough tabs at the top of the map page provide examples and a YouTube tutorial that explain how to filter and search the data and how to navigate the toolbar on the left-hand side. Educators may enjoy the Lesson Plans and Activities section (found under the Resources tab, accessible from the site's landing page), which includes classroom activities that use the database as a launching point to learn about geology, geography, and paleobiology. The Resources section also includes web apps, data tools, and tutorials to maximize your user experience. Under the Search tab, users can engage with topics such as "fossil collection records" and "stratigraphic units" by filling out a more detailed "collection search form." The database was first launched in 1998 and is maintained by a Tech Team consisting of Geology and Information Science specialists. [EMB]

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Dr. Neurosaurus
Science

Professor and paleontologist Maria Eugenia Leone Gold started the blog Dr. Neurosaurus to "take paleontology news and break it down so that kids can easily understand." Blog posts are available in English and Spanish, and readers can sort through posts in a variety of ways: by selecting a language preference, selecting an archive date (which includes posts from February 2016 to present), using the search bar in the top-left corner, or clicking on the Recent Posts tab. These posts cover a variety of topics and seek to make complex scientific discoveries accessible and understandable. For example, a September 2019 post turns a research paper on "The Frontoparietal Fossa and Dorsotemporal Fenestra of Archosaurs and Their Significance for Interpretations of Vascular and Muscular Anatomy in Dinosaurs" into a simple metaphor: Some dinosaurs had holes in their skull for "air conditioning." The site also contains information about another one of Gold's projects, She Found Fossils, "a picture book about the history and present diversity of women in paleontology." Readers interested in more of Gold's work can find the link to her research website on the About Me page. [EMB]

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Paleobiology
Science

Published quarterly by Cambridge University Press, Paleobiology features "original content of any length…dealing with any aspect of biological paleontology." Under the Open Access tab readers will find the journal's collection of open-access articles that can be filtered by date of publication. As of this write-up the Paleobiology is on its 46th edition and features 34 open-access articles. Each article record contains an abstract and list of references. Readers can select articles of interest and export citations, download full articles in PDF form, or save articles to their Kindle, Dropbox, or Google Drive. Users can also browse the Latest Issue, or view archived open-access content dating back to the first issues (released in 1975) under the All Issues tab, using the filtering tool on the left-hand side to narrow results to open-access content. Recent open-access materials include "The many faces of synapsid cranial allometry" and "Power, competition, and the nature of history." Readers may also enjoy the Most Cited page, which highlights the Paleobiology articles most frequently cited in other academic publications. As of this write-up, the frontrunner is "Exaptation - a Missing Term in the Science of Form," which has been cited over 2,000 times. Paleobiology's editorial board is led by Editor-in-Chief Mark Patzkowsky, a professor of Geosciences at The Pennsylvania State University. [EMB]

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Tetrapod Zoology
Science

Tetrapod Zoology is part podcast, part blog. The platform is "devoted to discussion, research, discovery, and speculation," about all things tetrapod ("amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, and all of their extinct relatives."). Zoologist Darren Naish and Paleontological Artist John Conway co-host the podcast, which has more than 70 episodes as of this write-up. Listeners may be drawn to the podcast for the witty titles (see "Fat-bottomed Rodents" and "Stupid Successful Frog" for reference), but the humorous commentary and informative discussions on fossils, species, and DNA will keep your attention. The blog has a similar flavor, highlighting discoveries such as glowing birds and lots (and lots) of lizards. Originally launched on Scientific American in 2011, the blog is now housed on TetZoo's own platform and continues to post content relevant to the Tetrapod community. The site also has information about TetZooCon, an annual conference inspired by the work of the blog. [EMB]

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The UMORF 3D Interface
Science

While online collections make exhibitions accessible by allowing users to view their contents remotely, these exhibitions are often restricted to the confines of a two-dimensional image. The UMORF 3D Interface (a project of the University of Michigan's Museum of Paleontology) takes the user experience one step further by employing 3D viewer technology to bring fossils to life. The site includes select models of 3D Invertebrates and 3D vertebrates, which are found under the corresponding tabs at the link above. After reading a brief biography about the species (including its classification and location), users will want to click on the image to navigate to the 3D viewer. The viewer allows users to rotate (using the left mouse), zoom (using the mouse wheel), pan (using the right mouse), and change the center of rotation (using the spacebar) to examine the specimen in an interactive, realistic, and multi-dimensional way. The project aims to create a product that has utility for researchers and educators, as well as general fossil aficionados. To learn more about the goals, methods, and history of the UMORF 3D Interface, as well as the many different individuals who contributed to its success, readers will want to visit the sections under the About tab. [EMB]

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Revisited

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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: Department of Paleobiology
Science

Last featured in the 10-03-2014 Scout Report, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Department of Paleobiology continues to curate research materials relevant to the Paleobiology community.

Founded in 1963, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Department of Paleobiology is one of the world's top resources for information about the biological and environmental history of Earth. Visitors may wish to begin with the About section, which offers a brief overview of the Department of Paleobiology's history, then move on to read about its main areas of focus under Research. This section also highlights key research projects, including "Cerro Ballena" (featuring a photo gallery of field work) and "Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems" (which seeks to understand "how terrestrial ecosystems have been structured and how they change over geologic time"). The site also features an Online Collections Database (accessible via the Collections Overview section), where "over 450,000 specimen records are available through this online catalog." The Department of Paleobiology is extensively staffed by collections, research, and administrative personnel with a variety of expertise who maintain the site, as well as its physical collection counterpart of approximately "40 million fossil specimens."

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