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Oct. 31st, 2007

JP Raptor

Everything I know about how the world works is now wrong.

I don't know how many of you have already seen this, but T-Rex may have had three-fingered hands.

Jul. 11th, 2007

Big Al

Dinosaurs who chirp.

On a personal note, part of me really does kind of want to go for my biology (or geology, perhaps) degree and go into paleontology. But that part's majorly overwhelmed by the part that is all but screaming LOL BAD IDEA.

Anyway, moving on...

We always picture dinosaurs as roaring, and I'm sure some of them, especially the bigger ones, probably did. But I have to wonder...

Dinosaurs are related to birds. Birds chirp and sing and mimic other noises. I wonder how many dinosaurs did that? Some of them had to have, right? You know, actually, I wonder why nobody's ever written fiction about a dinosaur that mimics the sounds of other animals - possibly to lure its prey. It seems like a neat concept to me.

Of course, we don't know for sure that any such animal ever existed... but it's still plausible. And, I think, interesting to think about.

Jun. 19th, 2007

Three-horned face

Dragons and Dinosaurs.

I do think it's a startling coincidence that so many different cultures had dragon myths before we even knew dinosaurs roamed the Earth long before we did. And I think there's something in a lot of people, an awe of nature and the unknowable, that fuels a lot of the fascination behind both dragon myths and the study of dinosaurs, although someone with both a better understanding of human psychology and a great deal more eloquence than I should probably be left to say it.

Of all the interesting things that can be said about dragons and dinosaurs, though, "Dragon legends prove dinosaurs and man walked together!" is not one of them. I was going to post a big rant yesterday about how Creationist carbon dating is complete bullshit too, but stuff came up and it'll probably have to wait for later in the month week when I don't feel like I'm going to collapse.

Jun. 12th, 2007

Pterosaur

Birds DID TOO evolve from dinosaurs! They did too!

Some scientists say birds not descended from dinosaurs.

My opinion? Crap. IIRC, the protofeathers were pigmented. For Christ's sake, collagen fibers -- what some people are suggesting the feathers were -- are not pigmented. Not ever. >:|

>:| is my 'you are full of it' face.

Also, on the paleontology community, where I saw this linked, someone mentions that the alternate postulate for bird evolution is never mentioned (IMHO, the article should have mentioned it somewhere, it's plenty relevant to the topic at a hand) and someone else agrees with me about the pigmentation.

Admittedly, it's possible that I'm just reacting negatively to a challenge to a long-held established set of beliefs, but the thing is, I really do think the long-held set of beliefs actually has far more merit than the challenge in this instance.

Jun. 10th, 2007

Aucasaurus

Tyrannosaurus: Pack Hunter?

To be honest, I’m surprised that more people haven’t advocated the “Tyrannosaurus and its family were pack hunters” theory before. I mean, I know it has been suggested before, but not nearly enough for my liking. General consensus says Tyrannosaurus was a solitary opportunist, and though that seems to be changing with the scientific community, most laypeople still think of large meat-eaters, especially the tyrant lizard king, as solitary hunters.

Personally, I’m becoming more and more convinced that there's something to the idea that if tyrannosaurs in general and Tyrannosaurus in particular hunted regularly at all (I’m not completely sold on the scavenger theory, but I haven’t totally discounted it either; of course, a scavenger could live in groups as well), they hunted in packs. As much is regularly proposed about Allosaurus, the smaller, distant relative of the Jurassic.

Of course, it’s hard to have definitive evidence of anything when you’re dealing with extinct animals you can’t actually observe and your knowledge of them is constantly changing. Most of the time, what we think we know about dinosaur behavior is composed essentially of educated guesses. But I think there’s compelling reason to believe that tyrannosaurs, like the smaller and more agile dromeosaurids, were pack animals.

Recorded head- and face-biting (link is long, very technical, requires Adobe Reader, but a good read if you have the time and patience for animals’ Latin names) in certain tyrannosaurs actually seems to suggest pack behavior, given that head- and face-biting occasionally occurs in extant animals during squabbles over a mate or dominance in the pack hierarchy.

Of course, such biting could also be indicative of packs or solitary animals fighting over territory, could be indicative of cannibalism or attempted cannibalism, or could even be play that got too aggressive. Although some possibility for intraspecific conflict exists in Tyrannosaurus itself, it’s much less conclusive.

Still, one Albertosaurus site contained the remains of 22 animals, including one very old animal and several juveniles, with few plant-eating dinosaurs around in the area. This seems to suggest that Albertosaurus – a relative of Tyrannosaurus – lived in groups. While not definitive proof that either Albertosaurus or Tyrannosaurus was a pack animal, it's still pretty compelling food for thought.

Tyrannosarus and its relatives may have been ambush predators, considering some people have theorized that they could not run and, given the creature’s size, it would have had trouble turning, would lend credence to the pack theory. While I don’t think it can be said, “The tyrannosaurs were pack hunters without a doubt” – I’m not sure you can say anything not directly indicated by a dinosaur’s skeleton is without a doubt – I do think it’s an intriguing idea that needs more attention.

(I am using my Aucasaurus icon because, though Aucasaurus is not a tyrannosaur, it is another large Cretaceous therapod that may have hunted in packs and so it is the best I can do.)

Jun. 7th, 2007

Brachiosaurus

Big Al game.

I get bored of most online games pretty quickly. Usually, it only takes a couple days for me to realize I'm never going to win get tired of something.

I don't think being an Allosaurus will ever get dull, though.

Jun. 5th, 2007

Big Al

Fast vs. Slow: Changing Sensbilities About Dinosaurs, or whatever else sounds good here.

Kinda of a crappy first post, I know, but I wanted to get some of my thoughts on this in order/off my chest since I've been thinking about it a lot lately.

In the late 1960s - 1970s, there was a Dinosaur Renaissance -- I'm not being melodramatic, that's what it's called -- headed by paleontologists John Ostrom and Robert Bakker. The way people thought about dinosaurs was changing. Fueled in part by the discovery of small, seemingly fleet-flooted therapods like Deinonychus, animals that had always been previously regarded as enormous cold-blooded lumbering morons had to be reevaluated in light of evidence that at least some of them were smart, speedy and warm-blooded.

Essentially, people had to make dinosaurs in their mind's eye smarter and faster than they'd always imagined and think a bit more bird, a bit less reptile.

And now, although the changes people are making to their mental images isn't so drastic as to be called a Renaissance or a Revolution or anything of that nature, we are once again having to update the way we perceive these animals. Not that that should come as a surprise or anything.

The thing is, to me, this time we have to adjust our perceptions of them to regard them as slower, not quite as smart, as we have in the past. A lot of the mental images we have of dinosaurs are incorrect -- either in light of new evidence that contradicts what we previously believed or in light of old evidence that people are being forced to acknowlege was misinterpreted by popular culture.

I'm not actually sure what I just said.

I think what I'm getting at is this, though: The above is all just a really long-winded way of saying that I think it's amusing and quasi-ironic that it was once a big deal that the public had to cope with the idea of small, smart, fast dinosaurs and now the public, who's gotten used to super-faster, super-brainy dinosaurs thanks in part to the likes of Spielberg, is having to cope with the idea that some dinosaurs were kind of lumbering, and that most of the "smart" dinosaurs, like Troodon or Velociraptor, were about as intelligent as an opossum or cassowary. It's not that people before were right -- they got a lot really wrong, and that hasn't changed. But it's... I don't know, interesting, I guess?