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Troy and the Grizzly Bear

March 29th, 2020

Anyone seeking distraction can find it in this documentary video, “Project Grizzly.” See Troy Hurtubise in his self-mythic quest to personally build and test a suit of armor that he hopes will let him spend time with grizzly bears. Troy was awarded the Ig Nobel Prize for safety engineering, in 1998, for the work documented here.

Improbable video: Michael Jacksonization, bomb bay door, bird

March 28th, 2020

Michael Jacksonizationbomb bay door, and bird all appear in Improbable Research Collection #102:

Our series of tiny bits-and-pieces videos peeks at improbable research — research that makes people laugh, then think. Here, below, is a skimpy guide to these little videos. We might make some more.

Engineering Challenge: Design a bicycle for a flea

March 27th, 2020

This month’s Engineering Challenge competition: Design a bicycle for a flea.

Please send your completed design, with test results (include a clear, undoctored video please) to:

Improbable Engineering Challenge: Flea Cycle
℅ Annals of Improbable Research

Improbable video: The net, the flea, the duck and its lover

March 26th, 2020

The net, the flea, the duck and its lover  all appear in Improbable Research Collection #101:

Our series of tiny bits-and-pieces videos peeks at improbable research — research that makes people laugh, then think. Here, below, is a skimpy guide to these little videos. We might make some more.

What Chewed on That?

March 25th, 2020

Taphonomic detectives can easily get caught up in wondering what kind of animal chewed on things that deteriorated and decayed to the point where, when those things were found, the remains of those things deserved to be called “the remains.”

A chapter of the book Forensic Taphonomy and Ecology of North American Scavengers, by Susan N. Sincerbox and Elizabeth A. DiGangi, explores many of the many varieties of the who-chewed-that question.

The chapter has this abstract:

Chapter 5 – What Big Teeth You Have: Taphonomic Signatures of North American Scavengers

There are several taxa from vertebrate species of the North American scavenger guild that are important from a forensic standpoint. This chapter presents a summarized account of their habitats, distribution, behavior, morphology, and taphonomic signatures on bone and soft tissue. Case studies from the literature are used to illustrate or highlight particular behaviors or signatures. Distribution maps and photographs of several taxa are included, as are tables that summarize ecological and morphological characteristics of each species such as habitat, dental formula, animal size, conservation status, and typical taphonomic signatures. The taxa and species discussed include canids (i.e., the family that includes dogs), vultures, deer, corvids (i.e., the family that includes crows), crocodilians, opossums, felids (i.e., the family that includes cats), raccoons, rodents, sharks, pigs, and bears.

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