Tag Archives: paleontology

The Tanystropheus–at Last!

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Hi, Mr. Nature here, with that Tanystropheus I would’ve shown you yesterday if I’d only remembered to do it.

This was one of the most unusual creatures ever to walk the earth. Supposedly it lived in the Triassic Period–which was less a real thing than it is merely a way for geologists to talk about earth history. Anyway, there are no more Tanystropheuses.

Marvin (I thought it needed a shorter name) was about 20 feet long, and 10 feet of that was just his neck. Marve is often depicted with this snaky neck that can practically tie itself into a sheepshank, but that would have been impossible: there were only 12 or 13 bones in that long neck, severely limiting its flexibility. A giraffe has only seven neck-bones, and you see what they have to go through if they want a drink of water. Marvin’s neck would have been almost as stiff as a giraffe’s.

He’s also depicted, often, as living mostly in the water–probably because scientists just don’t know what to do with him on land. We have no evidence for this. Some of the fossils suggest a lot of muscle in the pelvic area, which would have counterbalanced the weight of the neck. But how this animal actually lived is a mystery to everybody. Don’t be too hard on paleontologists for not having figured it out. There are lots of things in the fossil record that no one will ever figure out.

What did God do with these strange and spectacular animals He created–the ones that aren’t here anymore? Well, frankly, we don’t know: He hasn’t made it known to us.

Maybe someday He will.

New Dinosaur, Same Old Poppycock

I love dinosaurs; always have. So when I saw a report that a “bizarre” new dinosaur had been discovered in Chile ( http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/apr/27/bizarre-jurassic-dinosaur-chilesaurus-diegosuarezi-discovered-in-remarkable-new-find ), I hastened to read all about it.

“New” dinosaurs are being discovered all the time. It’s exciting. This one, Chilesaurus, is neat because it has the skeletal structure of a meat-eating dinosaur (theropod) but the skull and teeth of a plant-eater (sauropod–and sauropods and theropods both belong to a larger group of dinosaurs, the lizard-hipped… but I digress).

OK, Chilesaurus is new. What’s old is the way “science journalists” and the alleged scientists they interview talk about it.

The creature’s odd mix of parts, says the article by The Guardian’s science editor, show “an extreme example of mosaic convergent evolution, where different parts of an animal adapt to the environment along the same path taken by other creatures.” You’d almost think he’d actually observed it. Lemme see, now–my nose is gonna follow this path of evolution, kinda like a tapir’s nose, and my neck wants to follow this other path, like a giraffe… man, am I a mess…

But a real scientist easily outdoes this bit of verbage:

“It shows that dinosaurs were experimenting with a wide range of body types…”

This is a singularly asinine group of words. The dinosaurs were experimenting? OK, first we’ll try this body type, and run it through a couple of tests, and then we’ll try that one…

None of this stuff, including the dinosaurs themselves, has ever been observed by a living human being. There are no records to consult. We have wonderful fossil remains which move us to speculate–wisely, we hope–as to what the animals were like when they were living. But we’re laden down with this old Theory of Evolution that has to be defended at all costs, lest the wise men of the world have to answer for the crimes committed in its name, and they keep shoe-horning the dinosaurs into it.

Maybe if scientists stopped talking through their hats, I might try listening to them again.

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