Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza October 15, 2014 Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza Carrie Vaughn A Wild Cards story. The Girl in the High Tower October 14, 2014 The Girl in the High Tower Gennifer Albin A Crewel story. Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch October 8, 2014 Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch Kelly Barnhill An unconventional romance. Daughter of Necessity October 1, 2014 Daughter of Necessity Marie Brennan Tell me, O Muse, of that ingenious heroine...
From The Blog
October 14, 2014
A Category Unto Himself: The Works of China Miéville
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October 10, 2014
Don’t Touch That Dial: Fall 2014 TV
Alex Brown
October 10, 2014
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Reread: Part 1
Kate Nepveu
October 7, 2014
Shell Shock and Eldritch Horror: “Dagon”
Ruthanna Emrys and Anne M. Pillsworth
October 3, 2014
The Bloody Books of Halloween: William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist
Will Errickson
Showing posts by: Brian Switek click to see Brian Switek's profile
Jul 31 2014 9:00am

Ten Awesome Prehistoric Crocs

Kaprosuchus Primeval

All of today’s crocs look more or less the same. Alligators, gharials, crocodiles, and their cousins are all armored ambush predators that spend much of their time lurking in rivers and swamps. But the greater group to which they belong—the crocodylomorphs—evolved in dramatically-different ways. There were dinosaur-hunters, short-skulled herbivores, and marine hypercarnivores, just to name a few, within the group’s prehistoric ranks. If you’re looking for inspiration for a monster or fearsome creature from another world, prehistory’s crocs can be excellent muses.

[See you later, alligator...]

Apr 8 2014 12:00pm

Ten Fossil Creatures That Look Like Aliens

Considering future scientific discoveries, the geneticist J.B.S. Haldane wrote “the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.” But that statement applies as much to the past as the future. As paleontologists continue to chip away at the fossil record they are continuing to find organisms that no one ever could have ever expected. And if life on Earth can be so strange, what might these creatures mean for different evolutionary paths taken on other planets? As you go about inventing fauna for your own sci-fi worlds, here are some mind-bending critters to keep in mind.

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Mar 21 2014 11:00am

Ten Tyrannosaurs That Ruled Before T. rex

Leaing Laelops Charles Knight

Tyrannosaurus rexis awesome. What’s not to love about a 40-foot-long, nine-ton predator with jaws that could crash down with over 12,800 pounds of force? And with “tyrant lizard king” as a title to boot, it’s no wonder that the Cretaceous carnivore has dominated our imaginations as the ultimate dinosaur.

But ol’ Tyrannosaurus was just the last and largest of a greater family of tyrants. In the 100 million year history of tyrannosaurs, there were crested hunters, giant fuzzballs, and dwarfed species that strode through Arctic snow. Bone by bone, these strange species are filling out the history of dinosaurian royalty.

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Feb 7 2014 12:00pm

Ten Fossil Mammals as Awesome as Any Dinosaur


Dinosaurs are great. They dominated the world for over 170 million years, and one line has survived to the present day as birds. But they’re hardly the be-all and end-all of prehistory. In the wake of the mass extinction that wiped out the non-avian dinosaurs, prehistoric mammals proliferated into a variety of astounding forms that were just as fantastic as those of the dinosaurs they succeeded. Instead of letting them be persistently overshadowed by dinosaurs, it’s time to give fossil mammals their due.

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Feb 5 2014 11:00am

Nine of Your Relatives That Ruled Before Dinosaurs

If not for the world’s worst mass extinction, the Age of Mammals might have started much sooner.

Before the dinosaurs, for a time spanning 298 to 252 million years ago, landscapes across the planet were dominated by our distant predecessors and relatives. These were the synapsids—animals previously called “mammal-like reptiles” until paleontologists realized that this common term was all wrong.

These strange and unfamiliar creatures—adorned with sails, saber-fangs, and weird skull ornaments—were protomammals that were almost totally eliminated by a catastrophe that dramatically changed the course of life on Earth. Get to better know your distant relatives in this list of 9 synapsids that ruled the Permian world.

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Apr 18 2013 4:00pm

My Beloved Brontosaurus (Excerpt)

Brian Switek

My Beloved Brontosarus cover, Brian SwitekCheck out Brian Switek's My Beloved Brontosaurus, out now! (And enter to win a copy here!):

Dinosaurs, with their awe-inspiring size, terrifying claws and teeth, and otherworldly abilities, occupy a sacred place in our childhoods. They loom over museum halls, thunder through movies, and are a fundamental part of our collective imagination. In My Beloved Brontosaurus, the dinosaur fanatic Brian Switek enriches the childlike sense of wonder these amazing creatures instill in us. Investigating the latest discoveries in paleontology, he breathes new life into old bones.

Switek reunites us with these mysterious creatures as he visits desolate excavation sites and hallowed museum vaults, exploring everything from the sex life of Apatosaurus and T. rex’s feather-laden body to just why dinosaurs vanished. (And of course, on his journey, he celebrates the book’s titular hero, “Brontosaurus”—who suffered a second extinction when we learned he never existed at all—as a symbol of scientific progress.)

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Apr 16 2013 10:00am

Dinosaurs. In. SPAAAACE!

Dinosaurs In SpaceLast week, NASA and MIT researchers announced that they plan to expand the ongoing search for Earth-like planets outside of our solar system. “TESS”—the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite—will search for possible alternate Earths by looking for changes in brightness as planets travel in their orbits between their suns and the satellite’s line of vision. It’s a pretty rough way to find a substitute home planet, but what if TESS really does happen upon an extrasolar body that might be comfortable enough for our species to eventually colonize? Might there already be life on such a planet, and might any of that life look familiar to us? Say, like dinosaurs?

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Apr 5 2013 12:30pm

Cinema’s Best and Worst Dinosaurs

Cinema's Best and Worst Dinosaurs Land Before Time

For as long as there have been movies, dinosaurs have been roaring and stomping across the screen. Gertie the dinosaur was one of the first popular animated characters, and stop-motion pioneer Willis O’Brien had an unabashed love for prehistoric life that he brought to life in silent shorts as well as classics like 1925’s The Lost World and the original King Kong. Jurassic Park later picked up the spirit of these early forays, presenting audiences with what are still some of the most spectacular movie dinosaurs ever. Since the 1993 blockbuster is briefly back in theaters starting today, it’s fitting to look back at a short list of cinema’s best and worst Mesozoic monsters.

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Mar 25 2013 9:00am

10 Dinosaur Myths That Need To Go Extinct

10 Dinosaur Myths That Need To Go Extinct

Dinosaurs are nature’s celebrities. We love them. Many of us, in the near-ubiquitous “dinosaur phase” of our youth, quickly master names like Tyrannosaurus, Diplodocus, and—the challenge of any young fossil fan—Pachycephalosaurus by the time we start kindergarten. But dinosaurs are changing so fast that the monstrous creatures we imagine in our youth become strangers as scientific discovery continues to tweak what we know about them. This disjunction spurs myths and misunderstandings that persist for decades, and often obscure how wonderful dinosaurs truly were. Time to do a little pop culture housekeeping to clear out old assumptions.

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Nov 9 2011 3:00pm

Using Science to Better Understand the Beauty of the Universe: Richard Dawkins’ The Magic of Reality

“Truth is stranger than fiction.” I have always had an affinity for that old chestnut. What our species creates in art, literature, and film is often constrained by the quirks and contingencies of our experiences, and the strange aspects of the natural world create a wellspring that we constantly draw upon when we want to reach beyond reality. Despite the power of our imaginations, Nature still beats us nine times out of ten when it comes to the beautiful, unusual, and bizarre. That is exactly what author Richard Dawkins and artist Dave McKean pay tribute to in their new collaboration The Magic of Reality.

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