On This Day
1796 – Georges Cuvier delivers the first paleontological lecture.
Paleontology (/ˌpeɪliɒnˈtɒlədʒi, ˌpæli-, -ən-/), also spelled palaeontology[a] or palæontology, is the scientific study of life that existed prior to, and sometimes including, the start of the Holocene epoch (roughly 11,700 years before present). It includes the study of fossils to classify organisms and study their interactions with each other and their environments (their paleoecology). Paleontological observations have been documented as far back as the 5th century BCE. The science became established in the 18th century as a result of Georges Cuvier’s work on comparative anatomy, and developed rapidly in the 19th century. The term itself originates from Greek παλα (‘palaios’, “old, ancient”), ὄν (‘on’, (gen. ‘ontos’), “being, creature”), and λόγος (‘logos’, “speech, thought, study”).
Paleontology lies on the border between biology and geology, but differs from archaeology in that it excludes the study of anatomically modern humans. It now uses techniques drawn from a wide range of sciences, including biochemistry, mathematics, and engineering. Use of all these techniques has enabled paleontologists to discover much of the evolutionary history of life, almost all the way back to when Earth became capable of supporting life, almost 4 billion years ago. As knowledge has increased, paleontology has developed specialised sub-divisions, some of which focus on different types of fossil organisms while others study ecology and environmental history, such as ancient climates.
Body fossils and trace fossils are the principal types of evidence about ancient life, and geochemical evidence has helped to decipher the evolution of life before there were organisms large enough to leave body fossils. Estimating the dates of these remains is essential but difficult: sometimes adjacent rock layers allow radiometric dating, which provides absolute dates that are accurate to within 0.5%, but more often paleontologists have to rely on relative dating by solving the “jigsaw puzzles” of biostratigraphy (arrangement of rock layers from youngest to oldest). Classifying ancient organisms is also difficult, as many do not fit well into the Linnaean taxonomy classifying living organisms, and paleontologists more often use cladistics to draw up evolutionary “family trees”. The final quarter of the 20th century saw the development of molecular phylogenetics, which investigates how closely organisms are related by measuring the similarity of the DNA in their genomes. Molecular phylogenetics has also been used to estimate the dates when species diverged, but there is controversy about the reliability of the molecular clock on which such estimates depend.
1933 – Andorran Revolution: The Young Andorrans occupy the Casa de la Vall and force the government to hold democratic elections with universal male suffrage.
The Andorran Revolution, also known as the Revolution of 1933, was a democratic uprising led by the Young Andorrans (a trade union related to the CNT-FAI) that called for political reforms, universal suffrage for all Andorrans and acted in defense of the rights of local and foreign workers during the construction of FHASA’s hydroelectric power station in Encamp. On April 5, 1933, the Young Andorrans seized the Andorran Parliament. These actions were preceded by the arrival of Colonel René-Jules Baulard with 50 gendarmes and the mobilization of 200 local militias or sometent led by the Síndic Francesc Cairat.
Born On This Day
1869 – Mary Colter, American architect, designed the Desert View Watchtower (d. 1958)
Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter (April 4, 1869 – January 8, 1958) was an American architect and designer. She was one of the very few female American architects in her day. She was the designer of many landmark buildings and spaces for the Fred Harvey Company and the Santa Fe Railroad, notably in Grand Canyon National Park. Her work had enormous influence as she helped to create a style, blending Spanish Colonial Revival and Mission Revival architecture with Native American motifs and Rustic elements, that became popular throughout the Southwest. Colter was a perfectionist, who spent a lifetime advocating and defending her aesthetic vision in a largely male-dominated field.
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1761 – Sybil Ludington, American heroine of the American Revolutionary War (d. 1839)
Sybil Ludington (or Sibbell), April 5, 1761 – February 26, 1839, was a heroine of the American Revolutionary War. On April 26, 1777, the 16 year-old daughter of a colonel in the Colonial militia, Henry Ludington, made an all-night horseback ride to alert militia forces in the neighboring towns of what is today’s Putnam County, New York of the burning of Danbury, Connecticut by British forces.
Her story was first published in 1880 by local historian Martha Lamb. Her book has the earliest known reference to Ludington’s ride. A later reference appeared in an account of her father’s life published in 1907. Because of the lack of contemporary accounts, one prominent historian has questioned whether these events occurred.
Contemporaneous sources suggest that the patriot army and the town of Danbury, Connecticut, were already aware of the approaching British troops, as noted in The New-York Gazette and the Weekly Mercury, May 19, 1777, which stated, “On Saturday, the 26th of April, express came to Danbury from Brigadier General Silliman, advising that a large body of enemy had landed the day before at sun set, at Compo, a point of land between Fairfield and Norwalk, and were marching toward Danbury. Measures were immediately taken.”
Ludington has been widely celebrated since around 1900. Memorial statues honor her, and books have been written about her. She was honored on a United States Bicentennial postage stamp that was released on March 25, 1975, which depicts her on her horse.
NASA: Astronomy Picture of the Day
The Passive Voice, From Electric Lit: Being a Public Librarian Can Be Dangerous Work, Why Don’t We Acknowledge That?
The Passive Voice, from Medium: I Wrote Over 52,000 Words Last Month Thanks to an AI Writing Assistant
The Passive Voice, From Writers Helping Writers: The Sites I Recommend the Most to Writers
Thye Oatmeal: Last year I released a free game. It’s called Kitty Letter and it’s a word-unscrambling game. You unscramble letters as fast as you can. Those words transform into cats that attack your opponent.
Gastro Obscura: Why archaeologists are brewing ancient beers; Cookbooks that fueled women’s suffrage; How the rage for sage threatens Native American traditions and more ->
By Joe Kunzler, Simple Flying: Navigation Issues Prompt Alaska Airlines Flight Seattle Return Alaska Airlines is suffering from navigation problems at a turbulent time for the airline.
Cision: David Sutton, and I. Blake McKinley, newly released “The Grandpa’s Manual” is an enjoyable look into the blessings that come along with being a grandpa Share Article “The Grandpa’s Manual” from Christian Faith Publishing authors David Sutton, and I. Blake McKinley, is an inspiring discussion of the kaleidoscope of experiences that come along with achieving the title of grandpa.
“The Grandpa’s Manual”: an enjoyable and encouraging discussion of family ties. “The Grandpa’s Manual” is the creation of published authors David Sutton, D-Min and I. Blake McKinley, DDS. David is a loving husband, father, and grandfather who was raised in a military family and spent time as a military journalist in the US Army. I. Blake is a devoted husband, father, and grandfather who grew up in Alaska and spent time teaching mathematics in Alaska schools before going on to practice in the field of dentistry.
By Rebecca Fishbein, Lifehacker: How Not to Care When People Don’t Like You Everyone is disliked by someone. Don’t let it slow you down.
By Corinne Purtill, Quartz: The Five Universal Laws of Human Stupidity We underestimate the stupid, and we do so at our own peril.
Fireside Books presents Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, April 5, 2022
Book Blogs & Websites:
Stump the Bookseller is a service offered by Loganberry Books to reconnect people to the books they love but can’t quite remember. In brief (for more detailed information see our About page), people can post their memories here, and the hivemind goes to work. After all, the collective mind of bibliophiles, readers, parents and librarians around the world is much better than just a few of us thinking. Together with these wonderful Stumper Magicians, we have a nearly 50% success rate in finding these long lost but treasured books. The more concrete the book description, the better the success rate, of course. It is a labor of love to keep it going, and there is a modest fee. Please see the How To page to find price information and details on how to submit your Book Stumper and payment.
Thanks to everyone involved to keep this forum going: our blogging team, the well-read Stumper Magicians, the many referrals, and of course to everyone who fondly remembers the wonder of books from their childhood and wants to share or revisit that wonder. Isn’t it amazing, the magic of a book?