Jul 28, 2014
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H-F Science Pub Reveals Fishy Tale of Sex in the Swamp

The latest Homewood-Flossmoor Science Pub get-together takes a fresh look at the Creature from the Black Lagoon and suggests you count your nostrils.

H-F Science Pub Reveals Fishy Tale of Sex in the Swamp H-F Science Pub Reveals Fishy Tale of Sex in the Swamp

Science-minded gourmets gathered recently at Homewood's to hear one of the world's premier paleontologists lecture on topics such as nostrils, lungfish, creatures from the Black Lagoon and billions of years of life on Earth.

To hear University of Chicago professor and Homewood resident Michael Coates tell it, fish are not getting their just due.

"The fossil record mostly concerns bits of dead fish," Coates told the receptive crowd at Tuesday's Homewood-Flossmoor Science Pub lecture, as many of the attendees were happily dining on fish, mammals or plant life.

Despite the image one gains from reading "a big book of dinosaurs," a great portion of scientifically significant finds are merely "patches of scales," Coates said.

As important and plentiful as other life forms are, if an alien biologist cast a bucket down on Earth for a sample of life, chances are that it would discover a fish.

"But even bits of dead fish can be desperately interesting," said Coates, who titled his lecture "The Incompleat ANGLER or Fishing for Creatures from the Black Lagoon."

As part of the evening's entertainment, Coates showed some video—but did not screen Creature From the Black Lagoon, the 1954 science fiction flick about a "man-fish" who fixates on a curvy human brunette. 
Instead, Coates offered a cinematic preview of two fascinating, if less sultry films. One starred a bipedal lungfish named Alice, wiggling her back appendages. The other featured a "nostril fly-through," courtesy of Coates' colleague John Long, vice president of research and collections at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Coates also dropped the bombshell revelation that human beings have four nostrils, and concluded with the statement that homo sapiens are the real creatures from the Black Lagoon.

Asked afterward by Patch if swamp things yearn for human women, he gave the opinion that it's the other way around—that early creatures came on land looking for an opportunity to pitch a little woo.  

"Why move out of the water? Possibly for reproductive reasons," he said.

Pharmacist Stephanie Salazar, 31, a Homewood resident, said she gave Coates' talk and the  Homewood-Flossmoor Science Pub lecture series two thumbs up.

"This is the third one I've been to, and I'll go again," she said.

A science pub evening can be full of surprises, Salazar noted.

"I went to a lecture about the moon landing, and I was surprised that there were people who didn't believe we'd landed on the moon," she said.

Also in the audience at this most recent lecture were Coates' wife, Melanie Welsh, and their children, Rufus, 16, and Maeve, 13. Welsh, a teacher at Homewood's Willow Elementary School, said her second-graders found her husband's lecture interesting.

"They're excited about the four nostrils," she said.

Homewood resident Ann Oehmen said the "four nostrils" information was new to her.

"I was terribly surprised to learn that," she said.

Oehmen said she'll be back for more science pub, and explained its appeal.

"It's like a college lecture ... where you don't have to pay tuition ... and you're allowed to drink beer."

The Homewood-Flossmoor Science Pub will meet again June 28 at the Flossmoor Station Brewery for "The Dark Side of the Universe" by Dr. Edward "Rocky" Kolb of the University of Chicago. Kolb is the founding head of the NASA/Fermilab Astrophysics Group at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at The University of Chicago.

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