Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Meet the team! Over the next few days, out team members will login and add their details to the thread so you can see who is responding to your questions. People will reply anonomously and although you will see peoples specialisations listed, often we know about lots of different subjects and so will happily cover for each other.

Meantime, here is your BioBlogger number 1.....

Dr David Hone,
Bavarian State Collection for Palaeontology, Munich.

I am a biologist and palaeontologist working in Munich, Germany. My main areas of research are in cladistic methods - finding out how extinct animals are related to each other (building 'family trees'). I mostly work on dinosaurs and pterosaurs (and some other fossil reptiles), but I also work on African ungulates (grazing mammals. I also work on biomechanics (how animals move) especially of extinct organisms, and on various aspects of macroevolution (how big changes happen across whole groups of animals).

One important area of my work is on 'gigantism' - how and why some animals got to be so big. Some dinosaurs got REALLY big: the picture above shows me (looking a bit fat) with a Brachiosaurus humerus (upper-arm bone) that measures over 2 m long! I have also worked in several zoos and museums so I will also answer questions about them too.

Biology & Palaeontology Qs & As

Your Instructions:

To join in the Q & A sessions, simply click on the most recent post and add a comment. Simply click on the 'comments' button at the bottom of the post and a new window will appear. Then just type in your question, select your identity as 'other' and you can then put in your first name and age if you wish. Finally click on 'publish comment' and it will go up on our board! Our bloggers will periodically login, check the recent questions and then write up a response and post it.

Check back periodically to see when your question has been answered. We hope to reply to every question within a week, but please be patient. The scientists who are blogging for you are doing so on their own time and many of us are often busy. If you have asked a really tricky question, we might have to wait for a specific expert to be free to answer it for you, so give us some time!

If you wish to leave us some feedback, please specifically reply to our very 1st post and mark the comment 'feedback'.

Hello, and welcome to online Biology & Palaeontology Q&A. This is a special site aimed at schools and devoted to providing the best scientific information available to school kids around the UK and abroad. I’m sorry to say that we are not here to do your homework for you, but if you want more information on any aspect of biology ( the study of life) or palaeontology (the study of the history of life) then we are here to help. For now, this is just a test site, if we are successful and this looks to be working, then please let us know! For now we will start with biology (living things) and palaeontology (fossils) but we hope to expand to other branches of science soon. We want to take you beyond the classroom - if you want to know more, then come here to ask us and find out.

Collectively we are a group of over 20 professional scientists, (museum and ecology workers, PhD students, lecturers, researchers, PostDocs and even the odd professor!) who want to help you out. We think that kids don’t always get the access to real scientific information (or real scientists!) outside of the classroom so we are here to do just that. There are lots of sources online already, from Wikipedia and university sites, to people’s homepages and forums. Some are great, many are average, many are terrible – but everything here will be written by a professional scientist who is an expert in your area of interest. These people are willingly giving up their own free time to help you, so please use them to learn and enjoy science, between us we work on dinosaurs, sea scorpions, ecology, biogeography, human evolution, spiders, cell biology, evolution, birds, fish, animal behaviour, physiology, forests, insects, conservation, genetics, worms and plenty more besides.

We believe in being honest: if we (or science) as a whole do not know the answer, then we will say so. If there is a debate on the subject we will give you both sides and the reasons why we may favor one or the other. We want you to enjoy science and to be as excited about life as we are. Simply add a question and one of our experts will post the question and a reply as soon as they can.

David Hone set up the site and acts as a kind of guardian / administrator. If you wish to contact him, please e-mail at: d.hone(AT)lrz.uni-muenchen.de

One last point, this site is devoted to science. That which can be observed, recorded, measured and tested. No one on this site has an anti-religious agenda (indeed several of our contributors are religious) but this website is purely about science, not religion.

Thanks, now ask away and we shall do our best to answer you.