Our Readers Write to Us (and we respond)

Running online discussion groups needs a big community to keep it running and active. If there's little happening people don't check for news that often and the whole thing falls asleep. Mailing lists are a much better thing in this respect for smaller groups with little spare time like paleontologists who don't spent 95% of their time at the computer anyway. Since new input gets to peoples attention immediately with mailing-lists there are usually very short response times. Digest and Filter techniques improve comfortable handling of increased number of emails. To sum up - I personally doubt online discussion groups will work in a relatively small group like paleontologists.
Emanuel Soeding

I am glad you find my comments helpful. And forgot to add my deep appreciation for the Electronic Journal you are co-running. It is a model for other sciences.

Wishing you further success with the endeavour.


Dr Edmond De Langhe, emer.prof.
Laboratory of Tropical Crop Improvement
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven,
Kasteelpark Arenberg 13
3001 Leuven, Belgium

Giant Jellyfish and PE Staff

Congratulations go to James "Whitey" Hagadorn, whose article on fossil jellyfish from the Cambrian just appeared in the journal Geology. Thousands of jellyfish, stranded in a sandy lagoon in what is now central Wisconsin, have been preserved in 510 million-year-old sandstones. Whitey’s jellyfish discovery not only got mentioned in NewsDay, BBC, AP wire, and was also profiled on the online news service Yahoo!News. What’s more, Yahoo! set up a discussion group for people to post comments about the article:

PE NOTE: No promises as to how long the discussion group will last. . .

In five days, the article had garnered 140 discussion posts. Many of them were completely irrelevant, if not more than a little obscene... But the article also garnered comments ranging from insightful, to critical, to humorous, to just plain weird. (This is the Internet; what did you expect?) At press time, here were some favorite examples:

"Could these jelly fish fossils been left there from the flood of Noah's time, wouldnt that make more sense."

"GOD blew his nose on the beach to fool us silly mortals!"

"The fact is they didnt date this piece through strata or any other means. How do I know?? Because 510 million years is the standard measure for the begining evolutionary scale of life on Earth. Its a commen number used all the time by all that study the earth's age timeline. So my point is simply this.. 510 million years a # used all the time for the begining evolutionary life scale by modern scientists (they date the earths, age i dont know 3.5 4 billion??)... then this fossil is.. TA DA 510 million years old. Wow what are the odds? Clear evidence this fossil is put "into" an existing time line verses actually dating it."

"Nowadays a fossilized jellyfish is a rarity. Used to be, Ed Mc Mahon was ALWAYS on TV."

"jelly fishes dont fossilize, specially in water thats sprawling with bacteria life. This is just a odd rock formation. Bones fossilize, not ooze."

"i like jellyfish they are squishy and gooey in your hands"

"They found it lying right next to...... a peanutbutterfish! Just right before they bonded!"

"it was made of CHEESE"

"A poem for all of you...
I was once a jell fish,
floating like a bee,
till sediment it came along,
and wouldn't let me free.
Now i'm just a big, fat rock,
sitting in the mud.
Mariah Carrey has big guns,
but "Glitter" was a dud."

Well, Whitey, at least we at PE understand you. And we like jellyfish too, even though these haven’t been squishy and gooey since the Cambrian. Today, Yahoo!News, tomorrow The National Enquirer.

Copyright: Palaeontologia Electronica, 31 January 2002