Sometimes you just have to wonder how PhD students come up with their thesis topic. Take Ian Gilligan of the Australian National University: he studies ice age climates and … clothing. Read more
It ain’t easy working in the field of ancient DNA, as Alan Cooper of the University of Adelaide will tell you. His lab works on cool specimens such as Neanderthal teeth, bison bones, and moa poo, trying to extract signs of long-gone life. Read more
Conservationists usually like their species of interest to be alive, not dead. But a couple of presentations here at INQUA suggest that the past has much to teach the present. Read more
There’s something inherently fascinating about trackways. Whether they come from dinosaurs, humans, or some other creature, footprints convey a linkage to the past in ways that bones or tools just can’t match. Read more
In the discussion of dried-up Tibetan lakes and marine isotope excursions here at INQUA, one thing has been noticeably lacking: a sense of the bigger-picture context. In his plenary address today, Peter Barrett of New Zealand brought the crowd back to a sense of reality. Read more
After a full session of talks today, the conference breaks tomorrow for a set of all-day field trips. I’ll be off to visit the Undara lava tubes – one of the world’s longest such systems – so no news of the Quaternary for 24 hours or so.
One of the fun things about conferences is stumbling across little gems of presentations – things that may not be earthshattering news, but are just fun to listen to for 15 minutes. Today, Niels Schroeder of Roskilde University in Denmark served up such a little talk, entitled “Tales and Facts: Beowulf and Lejre”.
INQUA organizers have thoughtfully selected the lovely tropical city of Cairns, in the state of Queensland, for this conference. Many attendees seem to be taking the opportunity to bring their families along for some side trips to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree rainforest. And for those poor souls who have to get stuck at the actual conference, meeting planners have sweetened the deal a bit. So far, the Cairns convention center has just about the best convention food I’ve ever eaten (and I’ve eaten a lot – trust me, eating with the physicists in Minneapolis in March was a definite culinary low point).
The first thing you may be wondering, gentle reader, is what exactly is Quaternary research? Simple – it’s anything that addresses the last 1.8 million years or so. ‘Quaternary’ means fourth, and geologists introduced the term to differentiate the period from the earlier Tertiary (third) period of geologic time.