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Thinking in mammoth time

I told a group of students a while ago that we had red pandas in North America until “relatively recently.” Big mistake. “Wait,” one stopped me. “What do you mean by ‘relatively recently?’” Oh, you know. 4.5 million years. I don’t know if paleo cultivates the temporal mind, or if the temporal […]

Can we please stop calling wild horses invasive?

The horse has a complex and fascinating environmental history. Wild horses have become such an icon of the American west that it’s easy to forget that humans introduced them to the continent five hundred years ago, during the age of European exploration. Horses quickly became part of Native American livelihoods and played an integral role in […]

Pollen and the science of failed plant sex

Plants have sex. While flowers, cones, and fruits– basically the vaginas and uteruses of the plant world– feature prominently in human cultures, much of the actual, er, act of plant sex is invisible to us. As northerners dig out from under record-breaking snowfalls and eye the ground for the first crocuses and […]

Climate AND humans? A new study using ancient DNA, fossils, & models contributes to a classic problem in paleoecology

The extinction of the ice-age megafauna is one of the most persistent (and contentious) problems in paleoecology. Since the 1960’s, the literature has been dominated by fierce debates about whether humans or climate change were responsible for the demise of the mammoths, mastodons, woolly rhinos, and other now-extinct megaherbivores and […]