Lost! 200-foot-long Dinosaur

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Jambo! Mr. Nature here, with today’s safari into the incredible. Maybe even the preposterous.

Once upon a time, or so they say, there was a dinosaur–a sauropod, like a brontosaur or Diplodocus–that grew to be 200 feet long. Twice as long as an NBA basketball court. Edward D. Cope named it Amphicoelias. With all the new discoveries, in recent years, of super-sized sauropods all over the world, interest in Amphicoelias has been renewed.

The key piece of this dinosaur was a single vertebra 8.9 feet long. And sometime after 1878… it got lost.

Now, how do you lose a 9-foot-long dinosaur bone? It’s not like it could have slipped behind the couch. What kind of dingbat loses something nine feet long? “I coulda sworn I had it in this closet, with the Christmas tree ornaments…” “It somehow got lost when we moved…” Really!

We still have drawings of this bone, made by scientists who studied it, but who wants to take the kids to a museum to see drawings?

And so a land animal as long as two blue whales laid end-to-end… is lost. Like a spare set of car keys. Like that carefully boxed complete set of 1961 baseball cards that should be up on that shelf in your bedroom, but isn’t. Alas and alas!

We can only hope it turns up in someone’s garage someday.

New Dinosaur Found in Egypt

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Mansourasaurus: note the little armored plates upon its back, a feature not found in the super-gigantic sauropods… so far.

(Thanks to “Unknowable” for the news tip.)

A new dinosaur, Mansourasaurus, has been discovered in Egypt. It appears to be a sort of downsized brontosaur, or sauropod, a bit over 30 feet long.

The find is significant for two reasons. It opened a previously unopened geographical area to the search for dinosaur fossils; and it appears to be more closely related to European sauropods than to others found farther south in Africa, casting doubt on the notion that African dinosaurs were totally isolated from the kinds discovered on the northern continents.

The first news reports were just about useless: the noozies didn’t seem to know what they were writing about. They were citing scientists who called it “the Holy Grail” of dinosaur discoveries, but no one troubled himself to explain why that was so.

I hope you don’t mind a dinosaur story now and then. After writing about Sarah Silverman’s profane and fatuous remarks about unborn human babies, I felt the need for something a little less toxic. We can disregard the Evolution baggage that comes with any dinosaur report, and marvel at the complexity and vastness of God’s creative work.

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.