A Shocking New Study of Dire Wolf (Canis dirus) DNA Redux

June 6, 2023

I first published this blog article in January of 2021. I wanted to reblog it but found the last 4 paragraphs and a reader’s comment had vanished from the article. I have no idea why this happened. I almost always write my articles in a notebook before I type them up, and it took some time, but I found the notebook I wrote this article in, and I have now retyped it.

Dire wolves were one of the most common large predators of Late Pleistocene North America, and sub-fossils of this species are common, but scientists have had difficulty finding specimens with enough intact DNA to analyze.  There are thousands of dire wolf fossils excavated from the La Brea Tar Pits in California, but this DNA is contaminated with tar and can’t be used.  There are also many specimens of dire wolf fossils from Florida, but the humidity there causes DNA to deteriorate and become unusable.  However, Angela Perri, a zooarchaeologist from Durham University, made a concerted effort to find dire wolf specimens with enough viable DNA to study, and she found 5 specimens.  Labs from Australia and England analyzed the DNA from these specimens and came to a stunning conclusion–dire wolves were not closely related to gray wolves (Canis lupus) as most paleontologists had assumed, and they were not really even wolves.  Instead, they were the last in a lineage of now extinct ancient canids.

Mauricio Anton’s depiction of an interaction between dire wolves and timber wolves. Genetic evidence suggests dire wolves had short red coats.

The genetic study determined the ancestors of dire wolves diverged from the ancestors of gray wolves at least 5.7 million years ago. The closest living relative of the dire wolf is the African jackal (C. mesomeles), but the ancestor of that species diverged from dire wolf ancestry 5.1 million years ago. Interestingly, jackals can interbreed with wolves, but the study of dire wolf DNA found no evidence of interbreeding between gray wolves and dire wolves. Apparently, the 2 species had been geographically isolated for too long for them to recognize each other as possible sex partners. This study casts doubt on my hypothesis that an extinct ecomorph of Beringian wolf was a gray wolf/dire wolf hybrid.

Paleontologists assumed dire wolves were close relatives of gray wolves because their anatomy was so similar. Dire wolves had broader skulls, bigger teeth, shorter limbs, and were more robust; but otherwise they were much alike. This similarity can be attributed to convergent evolution.

Canids originated in North America, but the ancestors of gray wolves, coyotes, and jackals colonized Eurasia and evolved separately from dire wolves whose ancestors remained in North and South America. Dire wolves ranged from Alberta south to Peru and from California east to the Atlantic Ocean. Dire wolves appear suddenly in the fossil record 200,000 years ago. Most paleontologists believe they evolved from Armbruster’s wolf (C. armbusteri). Dire wolves were adapted to live in climates ranging from temperate to subtropical. Scientists weren’t able to sequence the entire genome of the dire wolf, but they may have had shorter more reddish hair than gray wolves and probably preferred warmer climates. Ancestors of gray wolves and coyotes crossed the Bering Land Bridge about 20,000 years ago and overlapped with dire wolves for 10,000 years. Gray wolves co-evolved with humans and learned to fear man. Dire wolves never learned to fear man, and likely could not compete with humans. I think this explains their extinction, while wolves and particularly coyotes continue to hang on.

The authors of the new study think dire wolves are so different, they should be given a separate genus–Aenocyon. One of the first paleontologists who looked at dire wolf bones assigned this name to dire wolves, but it fell from fashion because of the misinterpretation that dire wolves were close kin to gray wolves. Turns out, he was right; later paleontologists were wrong.


Perri, A., et al

“Dire Wolves were the Last of an Ancient New World Canid Lineage”

Nature 591 (2021)


The Giant Short-Faced Bear (Artodus simus) was not as Bizarre as Originally Thought

June 1, 2023

I first published this article in February of 2015, and it has 852 views. This is another fact in my book that needs to be revised. This article highlights a study that determined giant short-faced bears (Arctodus simus) did not have unusually long legs, and their faces were not particularly short. The last sentence of this article also needs to be revised. A new study found scimitar-toothed cats ate as much bone as lions.


Scientists first described the giant short-faced bear as an unusually long-limbed bruin with a shortened catlike face.  Some proposed this species outran prey, much like a cheetah does.  However, later studies determined it was not a particularly fast runner but was instead built for endurance.  Nevertheless, these descriptions suggested a very bizarre kind of bear.  But now, the most recent and thorough study of the short-faced bear’s anatomy upends much of what was previously thought about this bear. Paleontologists, led by Borja Figuerida, compared skeletons of the giant short-faced bear with those of 56 different species of carnivores including all living species of bear.  In all they looked at 411 specimens.  They believe the giant short-faced bear did not sport much of a different appearance than any living species of bear, though it was very large. The legs were not unusually long.  They claim the assumption of a bear with…

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Southeastern Giant Beavers of the Pleistocene have been Declared a Distinct Species from Northern Giant Beavers

May 25, 2023

A reader just purchased the last printed copy of my book that I have. My blog averages 200-300 views per day, but I think I sold in the neighborhood of just 30 copies of my book. I’m not ordering any more copies, but the book is still available from the printer ($3 as an e-book and $26.76 as a hard copy). https://www.lulu.com/search?page=1&q=Georgia+Before+People&pageSize=10&adult_audience_rating=00 It is also available on amazon.com both used and new. I wrote the book 14 years ago, and much of the information is dated and needs to be revised. Some of this is because of new scientific discoveries. Since I wrote the book, scientists have learned the American lion is a distinct species from the African lion and not just a subspecies. After I wrote the book, I found an article in a really obscure journal by a scientist who determined there was no such species as the fugitive deer. I wrote blog articles correcting this. I also found I used the wrong scientific genus names for the American cheetah and the scimitar-toothed cat. The former should be Miracynonyx and the latter Homotherium. In this reblogged article I wrote about Dr. Richard Hulbert’s study of southeastern giant beavers, and how he recognized they were a different species than midwestern giant beavers.


The giant beaver of the Pleistocene was semi-aquatic like its modern living cousin (Castor canadensis), but it ate different plant foods, and therefore occupied a different ecological niche.  Giant beaver fossils are fairly common throughout the midwest but have also been found at numerous localities in the southeast, particularly Florida.  Scientists formerly thought southern giant beavers were the same species (Casteroides ohioensis) that ranged throughout the midwest and northeast.  The reason for this misconception was the lack of complete skulls in the collections of southern museums.  Skulls of giant beavers were excavated from the Leisey Shell Pits in Florida, but this site dates to the early Pleistocene, and paleontologists thought they represented a species that was ancestral to the late Pleistocene giant beaver, thus explaining the differences in skull characteristics.  However, a complete skull resembling those early Pleistocene giant beavers was discovered in the Cooper River…

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Blueberry and Bumblebee

May 18, 2023

This blog article only has 232 views. I published it in May of 2012. It looks like I’m going to have a bumper crop of blueberries this year, though only 3 of my 4 bushes are still alive.


I have 4 cultivated blueberry bushes.  They usually flower in March, produce fruit in June, and offer lovely red foilage in  fall.  This year, winter ended 2 weeks earlier than normal, and Saturday (May 19th) I harvested my first blueberries.  They were plump from a recent drought-breaking rain.  I made my first batch of blueberry pancakes the following morning.  My bushes give me all the berries I need for pancakes, muffins, and desserts for about a month.

My blueberry bushes flower in February and March.  The bees swarm to them every year.  Without these pollinators there would be no fruit.

Note the bees.  The most common species pollinating the flowers are the southeastern blueberry bees and bumblebees.  The former looks similar to the latter but is smaller.

Two bushes.  Two varieties.  One of the four bushes (not pictured) is stunted and doesn’t produce much yet.

Good plump berries by May 18th.

Blueberry flowers attract several…

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Native American Cannibalism and Dog-Eating

May 11, 2023

I first wrote this article in October of 2012 and it has over 13,5000 views. In the comments section some dumbass claimed my article was “poorly researched” and it contributes to “cultural misappropriation that tribes suffer today.” He also suggested I interview tribe members. First of all, it wasn’t my research. The article is basically a book report of a book written by George Feldman. Second, I’d have a hard time interviewing the cannibal Indians who lived 150 years ago. I doubt any are still alive. Third, cultural misappropriation is a bullshit politically correct term. If someone copies someone else’s culture, it should be viewed as a compliment. Anyone seeing it any differently lives with a stick up their ass.


Last year, I wrote several Halloween inspired essays on topics such as Pleistocene vampire bats, dire wolves and lycanthropy, and the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. (See https://markgelbart.wordpress.com/2011/10/ ) Monstrous extinct animals abound in the pre-history of southeastern North America, and I can choose from  a lot of potentially terrifying topics for Halloween-themed essay material,  but none of the monsters of the past are scarier than Homo sapiens.  Flesh-eating zombies are popular in fiction today.  But the concept of mindless non-entities eating people is laughable nonsense when compared to the true history of live humans eating other humans.  Maybe this is because we assume people have compassion and empathy for their fellows, and it’s shocking when history proves this is not always the case.

I’ve written an irregular series on this blog fantasizing  about how I would live in Georgia 36,000 years BP, if I could bring some modern conveniences back in time with me.  I picked that time because it’s almost certain there…

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Bearzilla: The Biggest Bear in History

May 4, 2023

I first published this article in December of 2012, and it has been one of my most consistently viewed articles with over 67,500 views. The first image has disappeared, but I have discovered that if I try to edit articles this old, they vanish. Since I wrote this article, scientists have decided giant short-faced bears were omnivorous and did not solely live by scavenging other predators kills. The same likely holds true for the giant South American species.


With a massive presence and a terrifying roar Arctotherium angustidens rampaged over South America about 2 million years ago, chasing frightened predators away from their kills and gorging itself on the scavenged meat.  These giant bears reached a weight of 3500 pounds, so to sustain this bulk, they needed to eat approximately 50 pounds of meat per day.  They occasionally captured wounded or sick prey animals, and they likely consumed some vegetable matter, but their primary survival strategy was “kleptoscavenging.”  Like their distant North American cousins, the giant short-faced bear (Arctodussimus), Arctotheriums trotted long distances, covering grand territories, and with their keen sense of smell they could detect the scent of blood from miles away.  They followed their nose to the source and used their great size to intimidate big cats, wolves, and terror birds from the meat those successful carnivores had worked so hard to procure.


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Ants and Cockroaches will Inherit the Earth. Farewell.

April 26, 2023

This is probably the last new article I publish on WordPress. I’m going to send a letter to Automattic Corporation and ask them to share the ad revenue they get from my website, but I do not expect a positive response. Everybody understands the term–corporate greed. If they are running advertisements between paragraphs, they must be raking in considerable revenue, and they can afford to share money with content creators. I will reblog reruns for a while (with a brief commentary), so think of this blog as a television series airing repeats during summer, but the fate of this series is still undecided. I will still write weekly blog articles…I’m just not going to publish them on wordpress, unless they start paying me. Maybe in a year I will publish an e-book entitled Georgia Before People: A New Collection of Eclectic Essays and sell it for $5. If I do, I’ll post a link here. I’ve also contemplated writing my memoirs, but that seems like too much drudgery. My life has not been particularly interesting.

I’m not the first content creator to experience being screwed in the ass by a corporation. Carl Burgos created the Human Torch for Timely Comics (the predecessor to Marvel Comics) in 1939. The original Human Torch, as conceived by Burgos, was an android built by a mad scientist. This superhero was popular for about 10 years. Marvel Comics brought him back in 1961 as a member of the Fantastic Four, but his origin was different–he was a human exposed to gamma rays. Carl Burgos attempted legal action against Marvel Comics to get re-imbursed for his creation, but his lawyers were not as skilled as those hired by the corporation. Judges ruled the corporation owned the rights to the character, not the person who actually created it. To add insult to injury, the original copyright agreement expired in 1966, and Marvel Comics published a story that year with a battle between the original Human Torch vs the new Human Torch. The original Human Torch was killed. Carl Burgos was so upset; he threw all his comic books in the trash. These were likely contributor’s copies he owned that were worth a lot of money, and his daughter tried to retrieve them, but he wouldn’t let her. I’m not as embittered as Carl Burgos. I’m not going to go back and delete all my old articles. But I’m not going to continue participating in an operation with such an unfair business model.

Carl Burgos created the Human Torch for Timely Comics in 1939. Marvel Comics ripped off his creation and would not adequately compensate him. He became so frustrated he threw away all his comic books, despite their value. I’m not going to delete my posts, but I refuse to produce new material for my blog until Automattic Corporation starts sharing advertising revenue with me.

I wonder how long my existing articles will last through history. How long is the internet going to last? My blog might be on the worldwide web available to most of the world for a very long time, perhaps past my death. (Incidentally, no one living in Russia, China, Turkey, or Iran has ever read my blog. It is restricted to the free world.) Maybe scientists looking for some really obscure source or scientific reference will look through my blog a hundred years from now. But the internet won’t last forever. Someday humans will become extinct. A comet impact or a massive nuclear war will wipe Homo sapiens off the earth, but ants and cockroaches will survive. Both have survived previous comet impacts, and ants can survive 150 times more nuclear radiation than humans, while cockroaches can survive 700 times more nuclear radiation than us. Though they can’t survive direct impacts, both can live for years on organic detritus in the surrounding radioactive environment. Humans are not even close to being as resilient as ants and cockroaches.

Cockroaches along with ants may inherit the earth, but in the short time I have left, I will kill any I find in my house. Nailed this one on the back of the toilet while I was drunk and stoned.

Ants and cockroaches will be battling each other long after humans are extinct.

There are over 12,000 species of ants in the world, and they first evolved about 160 million years ago. There are about 4600 species of cockroaches in the world, though just 30 species of them are pests. Cockroaches are even older than ants, having first evolved about 320 million years ago. Formerly, they were thought to have no close relatives, but recently scientists determined they should belong to the superorder Dictyoptera which includes termites and mantids. The American cockroach (Periplaneta americana) is a frequent year-round pest in my house. They occur more often in the warmer months. They are nicknamed “palmetto bugs” and they are large–honestly, I used a sledgehammer to kill one once. Curiously, they are not native to America but came over on ships carrying African slaves. Another species of cockroach (Evrycotis floridana) is also nicknamed “palmetto bug,” but this species is rarely found indoors. I have seen this species outside but not often in the house. It is also a large cockroach. The cockroaches that survive human extinction will likely not be the ones considered pests because they are so dependent upon us for food and shelter.


Howe, Sean

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story

Harper Perennial 2012

Heliothermic Lizards Prefer Savanna Habitat

April 20, 2023

I’ve lived in the same house for almost 30 years, and I have identified just 4 species of lizards that live in my neighborhood–anole, 5-lined skink, sand skink, and broad-headed skink. Lizards used to be more common in my yard, but my cats take a devastating toll on them. There are 2 species of lizards that are considered common throughout the region where I live including 6-lined race runners (Aspidoscelus sexlineata) and eastern fence lizards (Sceloporus undulata). I have never seen a 6-lined race runner ever, and I have not encountered a fence lizard in my neighborhood. I lived in Athens, Georgia for a couple years, and fence lizards were common there. The absence of these 2 species in my neighborhood puzzles me. I currently live in south Richmond County, Georgia on a belt of sandy soil that formerly hosted long-leaf pine savanna, and this should be ideal habitat for them. Today, the co-dominant trees are loblolly pine and sand laurel oak. Since fire has been suppressed here, sand laurel oak often forms closed canopy thickets. Perhaps this reduces the population of these species of lizards because they are heliothermic, meaning they require lots of sunlight to remain active. However, the name of the road where I live is “Piney Grove,” suggesting there was still open pine habitat when the construction industry began building houses here.

6-lined race runner. They are supposed to be common in Georgia, but I have never seen one.

Eastern fence lizard. My neighborhood in Augusta, Georgia should be good habitat for them, but I have never seen one in my yard. They were common in Athens, Georgia where I lived for a couple years.

A new study attempted to determine ideal habitat for these 2 species of lizards. The authors of this study captured lizards using drift fences at locations over a 42-acre area in South Georgia. They captured lizards from March to May in 2017. Then, they looked at the habitats and abundance of these lizards to find out what kind of habitat they preferred. Both species favor frequently burned savannah with bare ground and grass and without much leaf litter, trees, and shrubs. In forested areas where they both occurred, they did differ. 6-lined race runners preferred areas with more tree stumps where they could sun themselves, and eastern fence lizards preferred areas with more oak trees where they could blend in with the tree bark.

6-lined race runners are found throughout the entire southeast and up the Mississippi River Valley. They eat insects, spiders, and other invertebrates. They belong to the Teixidae family which includes 47 species, mostly found in Mexico and the Southwestern United States. Fossil remains of this species have not been found in Florida, though they likely lived there for millennia. Fence lizard remains have been found in the Florida fossil record, dating from the late-Miocene to the mid-Pleistocene. They belong to the Phrynosomatidae family which includes 9 genera and over 100 species. They also eat insects and other invertebrates. Oddly enough, they run faster uphill than downhill. Fence lizards are currently in an interesting evolutionary battle with invasive fire ants. They feed upon fire ants, but swarming, stinging fire ants can kill a fence lizard in less than a minute. Juvenile fence lizards eat fewer fire ants and flee the nests sooner than adults. When fence lizards consume fire ants, they twitch to shake the ants off and run away before the ants can overwhelm them. They are evolving longer legs, so they can escape the ants more rapidly. Fire ants prey on fence lizard eggs. Fence lizards lay just a few eggs in shallow nests. Maybe fire ants are the reason I’ve never seen a fence lizard in my neighborhood.


Howze, J. and L. Smith

“Habitat Use for Two Heliothermic Lizards on Longleaf Pine Savannahs”

Southeastern Naturalist 21 (4) 2022

Sabertooths (Xenosmilus hodsonae) ate as Much Bone as African Lions

April 13, 2023

A few weeks ago, a reader requested a source for something I had written in an article from 2013. I stated in the caption below an image from the article that a study of 4 flat-headed peccaries estimated they ranged in size from 260 pounds to 360 pounds. (See: https://markgelbart.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/when-sand-dunes-buried-herds-of-flat-headed-peccaries/ ) He informed me most sources on the internet claimed this species was less than 100 pounds. I remembered reading the paper with this information about the peccary size estimate, but I couldn’t recall the title of the paper. The information I stated was very specific, so I’m sure I read it somewhere. I make mistakes, but I don’t make shit up. I spent some time trying to hunt my source down. First, I looked through the reference at the bottom of my article–that reference was hard to find, but I did locate the 50-year-old research paper. There was no size estimate in it. I scoured the internet, but I could not find my source. I cursed my laziness for not being more thorough in referencing sources for my information. The paper is probably in some obscure journal that is either hard to find or just isn’t on the internet anymore. Still, I am certain flat-headed peccaries reached weights of greater than 100 pounds contrary to most sources on the internet. Bjorn Kurten, author of the classic Pleistocene Mammals of North America, stated flat-headed peccaries were the size of a wild boar. Male wild boars can reach weights of 440 pounds. I looked over the contrary sources and found the original error in the underestimation of how big flat-headed peccaries could get. Wikipedia cites the paleobiology data base in estimating the size of flat-headed peccaries. According to the paleobiology database, the size estimate of the type specimen was 60 pounds. The type specimen is the first fossil for which a species is named and is just 1 animal and not the average-size of every specimen of a species. The type specimen may have been from a juvenile. Various sites on the internet then copied the misleading fact from Wikipedia that flat-headed peccaries weighed on average less than 100 pounds, and so now there are a bunch of sources making this incorrect claim.

While reviewing the literature about flat-headed peccaries, I discovered an interesting new study about the dietary habits of Xenosmilus hodsonae. Xenosmilus was a species of saber-toothed cat that lived during the early Pleistocene from 1.6 million years ago to 1 million years ago. The species was first named in 2001 and is known from fossil sites in just 7 counties in Florida. It was named the “cookie-cutter cat” because a scientist proposed this species took a cookie cutter sized bite from its prey, then sat back and waited for its victim to bleed to death. How ridiculous. No predator is going to cease attacking prey that is struggling to survive. I’m sure Xenosmilus wrestled its prey down and bit through its throat. Xenosmilus was related to the scimitar-toothed cat (Homotherium) but was built more like Smilodon, a robust ambush predator. Homotherium by contrast had long legs and ran down its prey. Xenosmilus’s similarity to Smilodon is an example of convergent evolution when organisms not closely related to each other evolve the same characteristics to adapt to certain environmental conditions. Xenosmilus and Homotherium are classified in the same family as Smilodon–the Machairodontinae–but recent genetic evidence suggests the scimitar-toothed lineage (Xenosmilus and Homotherium) diverged from the saber-toothed lineage (Smilodon) 18 million years ago.

Xenosmilus hudsonae fossil remains are known from just 7 counties in Florida. It was related to the long-legged scimitar-toothed cat (Homotherium) but was built more like the ambush predator–Smilodon fatalis. Both lines of fanged cats are in the same family (Machairodontinae), but they are separated by 18 million years of evolution. Map from the University of Florida Museum of Natural History.

Image of mounted Xenosmilus skeleton from the University of Florida Museum of Natural History along with bones of flat-headed peccary that Xenosmilus chewed upon. Image from the below referenced paper.

A fossil site in Florida known as Haile 21 A is thought to have been a predator den site and not a natural trap cave because just 1 species of megaherbivore has been found here. The site has yielded the remains of 4 predators–Xenosmilus, Smilodon gracilis (the evolutionary ancestor of the famous Smilodon fatalis), Edward’s wolf, and Armbruster’s wolf. 1 of the latter 2 may be the evolutionary ancestor of the dire wolf. The site has also yielded the remains of over 60 flat-headed peccaries (Platygonnus vetus, the evolutionary ancestor of P. compressus). Scientists looked at the bones of the flat-headed peccaries found at this site to determine how much bone Xenosmilus ate. They compared these chewed on bones to those of African warthogs that were eaten by African lions. According to the authors of this paper, African warthogs are about the same size as flat-headed peccaries and reach weights of between 110-220 pounds (note: larger than the erroneous size estimates given by most sources on the internet). They found 85% of the peccary bones had at least 1 tooth mark, and the bones that were consumed or chewed upon by Xenosmilus were similar to those gnawed upon by lions. There were puncture marks on neck bones. Xenosmilus removed much of the shoulder muscles, and they chewed on the soft bones of the limbs and ribs. They didn’t bite into the middle of large bones. Previous to this study, scientists thought Xenosmilus and other fanged cats avoided bone completely to prevent breaking their long fangs. But this wasn’t true. They ate as much bone as lions and more than cheetahs.


Dominguez-Rodrigo, M., C. Egelund, L Cobo-Sanchez, Baquedano, E., R. Hulbert

“Saber-tooth Carcass Consumption Behavior and the Dynamics of Pleistocene Large Carnivore Guilds”

Scientific Reports 12 6045 (2022)


Sorry about all the ads. I don’t make $1 from My Blog

April 5, 2023

I enjoy writing articles for this blog, and it is like a hobby for me. I’ve long been fascinated with paleoecology and studying scientific journal articles, then translating them into layman’s language is rewarding for me. For many years I’ve noticed little insignificant ads at the end of my articles. I didn’t mind. I realize WordPress needs money to pay for the costs of maintaining their platform. (The platform is easy to use and usually works well.) However, within the last few weeks, I’ve noticed a ridiculous increase in ads, and they are placed everywhere–on the header, to the sides, and most annoyingly between paragraphs. When I try to go to my dashboard, I’m blockaded with an ad until I figure out how to get past it. I apologize for the distracting clutter. I don’t make a cent from this crap, but I’m not against making money, so I looked into how I could profit from these ads. I discovered the business model is grossly unfair to content creators.

To even have a chance to make money from advertisements on my blog, I have to pay WordPress $300 annually. Then, they can tack on a monthly charge for each plug-in a content creator chooses. Some of them supposedly are there just to help people write and promote their blogs. I suspect they are a rip-off. . A fairer business plan would be to share ad revenue with content creators.

For the past year or so, my blog has averaged a little more than 7000 views per month. According to google adsense, a science blog with that many views should make $628 per month in ad revenue. I don’t know if that is true, but WordPress is already running google adsense ads on my blog. I enjoy writing this blog, and I don’t do it for money, but it pisses me off that somebody else is making money from my work, and I am getting nothing.

WordPress is owned by Automattic Corporation, a private company that partners with Microsoft. Automattic Corporation was founded in 2006 and is a growing company. They have 2200 employees and are adding employees to their payroll. The company is worth an estimated $7.5 billion. Though it is not a publicly traded company, they offer shares to their employees, and 2 years ago, they bought back some of their shares for $250 million. They’ve recently raised $288 million in capital, so the future seems bright for this company, but they are exploiting content creators. For most content creators who write but don’t own a business selling tangible products, ad revenue is the only way to make money from their blog. Automattic Corporation won’t let content creators collect ad revenue unless they upgrade their blog to a business plan at a cost of $300 annually. An anonymous nerd on WordPress forums told me this fee was how Automattic makes most of their money, and ad revenue was very little. I don’t believe this, and there is no way of discerning the truth because Automattic is a private corporation that doesn’t have to open their books to the public. It may have been true in the past, but the recent increase in ads suggests they are making more and more money from ad revenue, and content creators are about to get screwed in the tukus.

I looked into how much I could potentially make from ad revenue. According to Google AdSense, a science blog like mine with an average of 7000 monthly views should generate $628 per month. I don’t know if this is true–Google AdSense could just be making this claim so chumps will run Google AdSense ads on their blogs. But if it is true, Automattic Corporation should give content creators a percentage of the ad revenue instead of charging them an annual fee. I think content creators should get 80% of ad revenue. I could use $500 a month. In any case Google AdSense is already running ads on my blog, and I am getting nothing.

I planned to keep writing articles for my blog until I croaked or became too senile to manage it. But the thought that a corporation is making money from my work, while I get nothing is intolerable. I have 3 more scheduled blog articles to publish, then I am putting my blog on hiatus at least for the summer and maybe forever. I’m not going to remove my old blog articles. There are around 1000–I’ve written an average of 1 a week for 13 years. I appreciate my readers, and the purpose of my blog was to share my interest, not to make money. Nevertheless, it’s about the principle. I can no longer take part in the corporate exploitation of content creators.