Know your rodents!

Ever since I wrote my 2009 book The Rodent Order for young readers, I’ve been fascinated with these active, adaptable mammals. This excellent chart can help you keep your rodents straight. See the full-sized chart online and find more of the artist’s work at https://albertonykus.deviantart.com/art/A-Guide-to-Rodent-Phylogeny-713227506

Copyright 2017 by Albertonykus

 

The eighth continent?

Does our world have seven continents, as most of us learn in school? Or could it have eight? Some geologists say “eight.”

The eighth continent is Zealandia, in the southern Pacific. About 94 percent of it us under fairly shallow water. The part that is above water is the island nation of New Zealand.

New discoveries show that Zealandia was closer to the ocean’s surface in the past than scientists used to think. It may have been a migration corridor–a way for plants and animals to reach the islands that are above the surface today.

Read more about Zealandia here: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/27/zealandia-drilling-reveals-secrets-of-sunken-lost-continent

 

The “opposite birds”

This big chunk of amber (fossilized tree sap) was found in the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar, or Burma. It contains traces of a bird that died after becoming stuck in the sap almost 100 million years ago. This is one of the best fossils ever found of the “opposite birds”–a group of birds that lived at the same time as the ancestors of our modern birds, but later became extinct. Who knows what other amazing fossils are waiting to be found?

Read more about it here.

Fun books for young writers

Is grammar a dirty word to you? It shouldn’t be. It may sometimes seem hard to grasp, but it can be easier than you think. It can even be . . . fun.

I thoroughly enjoyed writing these two books. They are part of a series called Why Do We Say That?, and they are written for kids who want to step up their writing skills–or just find answers to some puzzling questions about the English language and how we use it.

Me, Myself, and I answers questions such as “How do I know when to say I instead of me?” and “Is it okay to start a sentence with ‘But’?”

How Is a Simile Similar to a Metaphor? zooms in on figures of speech, powerful ingredients that can spice up your writing–or go horribly wrong if you  lose control of them.

Both books, and the rest of the series, will be available in August from Capstone.

 

 

New fossil finds of an ancient relative

Suppose there were two different species of humans alive at the same time? It happened more than once in the past.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-evidence-of-mysterious-homo-naledi-raises-questions-about-how-humans-evolved/

In a southern African cave called Rising Star, scientists have discovered many fossils of a species of human relative called Homo naledi. The skulls and skeletons of this extinct human relative are a strange mix of primitive features and more advanced ones. Many questions remain, and much research waits to be done, but the Rising Star fossils promise to tell us more about how our family tree evolved. One fascinating thing about Homo naledi is that the newly discovered fossils appear to be only about 300,000 years old. That’s a very short time in the history of our species! Homo naledi probably roamed the African plains at the same time, and in the same areas, as our own ancestors several hundred thousand years ago.

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