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Who the hell is ‘Prof. Brian J. Ford’? And did he say this in 1900?
April 4, 2012 8:50 AM   Subscribe

Aquatic dinosaurs? Not so fast!
posted by brundlefly (42 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Paleontologist Mike Taylor is putting together a letter to BBC Radio 4.
posted by brundlefly at 8:51 AM on April 4, 2012


Wait, when I was a kid (30-35 years ago), dinosaurs were supposed to be aquatic. Then, during a Renaissance of popular dinosaur research in the 80s and 90s, dinosaurs were taken out of the swamp and given personalities, feathers, the ability to pair bond, and the ability to open doors.

Now we're back to "dinosaurs are so large they must have lived in water."

Wild.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:56 AM on April 4, 2012


Bioengineering has definitively debunked this idea. Turns out that there's no way a submerged dinosaur could breath. They wouldn't be able to inflate their chests against the water pressure.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:57 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Basically scientists and academics should be fitted with klaxons that sound whenever they stray out of their usual field and start talking direct to the media, as crank science usually results.
posted by Artw at 8:58 AM on April 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


KokuRyu: No. We are not back to that. One crank is.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 9:03 AM on April 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


Dear Scientists,

I learned about dinosaurs when I was of the age a young boy gets into dinosaurs and I've more-or-less stopped there, short of a documentary or late night browsing Wikipedia. I plan to have kids some day. By hook or by crook, my kids will go through a dinosaur phase. Can we just sort of take a break from researching dinosaurs until they're done? Considering the fearsome velociraptor of my youth is actually an angry chicken, I'm not sure what's going to happen when griphus Jr. asks me what I know about the herbivorous Tyrannosaurus Rex and the glorious multicolored plumage that it used to distract predators while grazing.
posted by griphus at 9:09 AM on April 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


For his next trick, Ford will make the case that Diplodocus had to walk in trenches all the time.
posted by brundlefly at 9:10 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


griphus, the fearsome "velociraptor" of your youth wasn't downgraded or anything. It was just closer to Deinonychus than anything else.
posted by brundlefly at 9:12 AM on April 4, 2012


Spielberg lied to us, man!
posted by Artw at 9:24 AM on April 4, 2012


Basically scientists and academics should be fitted with klaxons that sound whenever they stray out of their usual field and start talking direct to the media, as crank science usually results.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal thinks you should show them a little pity.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:27 AM on April 4, 2012 [12 favorites]


In looking for the classic Zdeněk Burian Brachiosaurus image, I think I found the original inspiration for Dinosaur Comics: it's this beauty!
posted by benito.strauss at 9:30 AM on April 4, 2012 [11 favorites]


Brian J. Ford has got nothing on the critical insight of Anne Elk.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:50 AM on April 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Tsk next you'll be telling me this documentary is all lies...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:13 AM on April 4, 2012


Considering the fearsome velociraptor of my youth is actually an angry chicken...

The velociraptor was never downsized. Jurassic Park just lied to you.
posted by DU at 10:17 AM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Treeosaur!
posted by Artw at 10:18 AM on April 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why does the Today programme keep ignoring me when I call to them them of my new great interpretation of research in fields where I have no training? I have lots of them!
posted by jb at 10:45 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually, dinosaurs lived in an enormous sea of pudding, on which the dined with gusto.

I know this because I saw it in a dream. Oh, the delicious pudding!
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:57 AM on April 4, 2012


Meanwhile, over at 2000AD...
posted by Artw at 11:02 AM on April 4, 2012


The velociraptor was never downsized. Jurassic Park just lied to you.

Indeed. The beast you know as "velociraptor" existed; it was just called "utahraptor", and hadn't actually been discovered yet when the movie came out.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:12 AM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm disappointed that there isn't video of Mr. Ford being suddenly interrupted by an excited Lee Corso wearing a dinosaur mascot head....cause, man, that's what the lead in implied.
posted by Atreides at 11:20 AM on April 4, 2012


Giant Feathered Tyrannosaur Found in China

Fuckers.
posted by Artw at 11:25 AM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


So when they inevitably re-release Jurassic Park in 3d, do you think they'll digitally add feathers to all the dinos?
posted by Eddie Mars at 12:18 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


... the fearsome velociraptor of my youth is actually an angry chicken...

See, to my mind that doesn't make velociraptors less awesome, it makes chickens super awesome.
posted by lekvar at 12:24 PM on April 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Eddie Mars: "So when they inevitably re-release Jurassic Park in 3d, do you think they'll digitally add feathers to all the dinos?"

They moved a bit in that direction with Jurassic Park 3 when they added quills or something to the backs of their necks.
posted by brundlefly at 12:53 PM on April 4, 2012


Why is science ruining my childhood conception of dinosaurs?!

Is it too much to ask for a dinosaur to be scaly, fucking huge, angry as fuck, with teeth so razor sharp that simply being a herbivore meant death!?! No, science insists on feathers and shit. They're all tiny now and we have cells and recovered documents and blah blah blah.

I'll keep the idea of a dinosaur that I had when I was 8 yrs. old. So fuck you very much Science.
posted by Fizz at 1:11 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Bioengineering has definitively debunked this idea. Turns out that there's no way a submerged
> dinosaur could breath. They wouldn't be able to inflate their chests against the water pressure.

So how did the giant pliosaurs breathe? They weren't dinosaurs but they were similarly enormous Jurassic/Cretaceous reptiles, and they lived in the open ocean.
posted by jfuller at 1:23 PM on April 4, 2012


Or, uh, whales? Don't they breath? Or was I lied to about THAT, too?
posted by flaterik at 1:28 PM on April 4, 2012


Even though you can breathe through a snorkel just fine with your body (and its lungs) just below the surface, if you tried that with a six-foot snorkel it would not work at all.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:32 PM on April 4, 2012


I too am curious about this - on the other hand it's entirely possible that dinosaurs are structured differently from plesiosaurs and whales and paleontologists happen to know this.
posted by Artw at 1:43 PM on April 4, 2012


As Artw points out, those animals have different ribcages.

It's almost as though some creatures were adapted for land life, and some for other environments. And those adaptations were recognizable through the fossil records.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:24 PM on April 4, 2012


> Even though you can breathe through a snorkel just fine with your body (and its lungs)
> just below the surface, if you tried that with a six-foot snorkel it would not work at all.

I couldn't make it work, certainly, but there are others with more talent.
posted by jfuller at 2:34 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


velociraptor of my youth is actually an angry chicken,

What, what? I've been out of the loop.

...Noooooooooo! It's true. :(
posted by Malice at 3:02 PM on April 4, 2012


What's worth noting is that the discomfort many of us feel when we have to revise our mental ideas about what dinosaurs might have been like is, perhaps, a small version of the same discomfort evolution deniers, anti-Vaxxers and climate change deniers experience.

We must accept feathered dinosaurs so we are grouped in with them, no matter how much it hurts to do so.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:17 PM on April 4, 2012


None of those things are cool!

(Though I will use this argument on the "Pluto is a planet" crowd)
posted by Artw at 3:21 PM on April 4, 2012


Our changing ideas about dinosaurs have only made them more cool to me. They're more colorful, active and bizarre looking. I find objections to feathered dinosaurs puzzling. It's like Pluto has been upgraded to super-planet, the scientific consensus is that it's made of pure gold and it's home to a race of hyperintelligent centaurs, but the old-school Pluto fans are ticked off because it's not the Pluto they grew up with.

If it's the toothy monsters you want, they're still there. T. rex is still a bad motherfucker. It just may have looked fancier.
posted by brundlefly at 3:38 PM on April 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Centaurs. SURE. That's what they are.
posted by Artw at 3:40 PM on April 4, 2012


Paleontologists Sink Aquatic Dinosaur Nonsense
posted by brundlefly at 4:52 PM on April 4, 2012


I don't think that a Velociraptor-type beast with feathers is necessarily less scary than any other model.
posted by fredludd at 6:20 PM on April 4, 2012


It looks like it escaped from a dinosaur drag revue.
posted by griphus at 6:26 PM on April 4, 2012


Could "Advanced" Dinosaurs Rule Other Planets?
posted by homunculus at 3:16 PM on April 11, 2012


Don't know about the rest of you folks, but the idea of a brightly feathered T. Rex thundering around in a mating display is totally the best part of accepting that dinosaurs had feathers.

[WHUMP WHUMP WHUMP]
AAAARAAAARAAARGH! OOO! AAAAR! OOO!
[WHUMP WHUMP WHUMP]
posted by IAmBroom at 8:00 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm kinda worried that fire and feathers don't mix.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:03 AM on April 12, 2012


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