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"Transmogrification event caused by incorporation of alien bacteria!!!"
July 21, 2014 3:43 PM   Subscribe

Alien viruses from outer space and the great Archaeopteryx forgery
"During the 1980s astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle proposed (with his colleagues Chandra Wickramasinghe, Lee Spetner and R. S. Watkins) that the London Archaeopteryx specimen was a forgery, made by pressing chicken feathers into plaster laid about the skeleton of the small predatory dinosaur Compsognathus."
Further reading:
posted by brundlefly (14 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
That cartoon of the dinosaur transmogrification is super. Thanks!
posted by janell at 4:13 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


I learned how to spell archaeopteryx in elementary school. Any time some kind of spelling contest came up, I would propose that word (cause I had it memorized, of course).

I didn't realize there was so much debate on this!
posted by CrowGoat at 4:30 PM on July 21


I love the word "transmogrification" and support any kind of change that can be accurately described by that word. That is all.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:37 PM on July 21 [1 favorite]


I read 'transmogrification' and instantly thought of WoW.
posted by ZaneJ. at 4:41 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


I thought of an upside-down cardboard box.
posted by ckape at 4:46 PM on July 21 [28 favorites]


dinosaurs and other Mesozoic vertebrates had been transmogrified by viral and/or bacterial storms that had rained down on the Cretaceous world from outer space, grafting new genetic information onto the animals

DC and Marvel have led me to believe that we should have dinosaur super heroes as the outcome of this. I feel robbed.
posted by arcticseal at 5:00 PM on July 21


I read 'transmogrification' and instantly thought of WoW.

I instantly think of Calvin and Hobbes.
posted by grobstein at 5:06 PM on July 21 [4 favorites]


I read 'transmogrification' and instantly thought of WoW.

I thought of Calvin and Hobbes, my first exposure to that word...for years, I thought it was a made-up word to represent a childish ornamentation of the word "transform." It still sorta feels that way.
posted by Edgewise at 5:06 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


Disappointing that the theory that dinosaurs were transmogrified by DNA storms is considered bunkum.
Or can it be one of those things that just hasn't been proven yet?
posted by bleep at 5:52 PM on July 21


Or can it be one of those things that just hasn't been proven yet?

Certainly, in the same way my handsomeness and wealth have yet to be proven.
posted by maxwelton at 6:30 PM on July 21


Fred Hoyle is a good example of an actual, brilliant scientist who makes real discoveries and then, later in life, goes completely off the deep end into pseudoscience.

He's a reminder that science is not a vision which you create, but rather a process which you accomplish, slowly, by trial and error.

He lost sight of that, and it cost him his sanity.
posted by Avenger at 6:48 PM on July 21 [2 favorites]


Back when I was young and the world was still on dial-up, I engaged enthusiastically with creationists online. One such was adamant that Archaeopteryx was a forgery - this was before the flood of Chinese fossils, although I doubt that's a material factor.

"Aha," I thought. "I have this online thing. I wonder if..." and went and found the email address of someone who looked promising in the Natural History Museum. I emailed her and said "Look, sorry to bother you, but I have this... dissenter who says that the fossil's a dud. What's the state of the art on understanding its composition?"

She graciously wrote back and said "It's not quite my department, but I have had the honour and excitement of handling the Archaeopteryx. Nobody who has ever had that pleasure could doubt it. It has such exquisite detail, which really isn't conveyed in reproduction, and every subtlety is beyond sublime. It isn't a fake. Nobody could fake that."

One of those moments when one seriously wonders if one made the right career choice...

(I relayed this to my correspondent. He changed the subject, but not his mind)
posted by Devonian at 7:14 PM on July 21 [7 favorites]


I thought of Calvin and Hobbes, my first exposure to that word...for years, I thought it was a made-up word to represent a childish ornamentation of the word "transform." It still sorta feels that way.

Literally just learnt that transmogrification is not a made up word from C&H.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:40 AM on July 22 [3 favorites]


Can't hear that word without hearing the y John Crowe Ransom poem, "Janet Waking".

Truth is, wherever you first learned the word, you'll never forget. It's a great word.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:41 AM on July 22 [1 favorite]


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