Friday, April 03, 2009

In Response to a Comment

Someone commented on my previous post and mentioned she is from Argentina.

I just read an article in New Scientist on very big dinosaurs. The biggest so far is Agentinosaurus. (I think I have that spelled correctly.) It is estimated to have been 110 feet long and 80-100 tonnes (176,000-220,000 pounds). According to Wikipedia, the name means "silver lizard." I would have guessed "lizard from Argentina." But silver lizard sounds lovely.

It's a sauropod, one of the big guys with tiny heads, long necks and long tails. Not my favorite kind of dinosaur. But impressive.

Per the New Scientist article, they had bird-like breathing systems, with air sacks as well as lungs. This is more efficient than the way we breathe, since it provides a continuous flow of air into the lungs from the air sacks as well as from the outside; and this would have helped power the huge beasts.

We now know that many dinosaurs -- though not sauropods, as far as I know -- had feathers, probably for insulation, though maybe also for display.

And it seems to me some had the kind of hollow bones that birds have.

Yes, I just checked online. Aerosteon, a carnivorous dinosaur from Patagonia, has a bird-like breathing system and hollow bones.

So all the prerequisites for flight -- a light skeleton, an efficient breathing system and feathers -- existed in dinosaurs before birds flew, and existed for reasons other than flying, probably mostly so the big guys could be seriously big and little guys could keep warm. Wonderful!

The fantasy writer Gregory Frost mentioned years ago that dinosaurs are popular during Republican administrations. An interesting insight. However, as Republicans and conventional politicians in general seem more and more out-of-date and unable to cope, dinosaurs keep getting more modern and efficient.

I wrote a poem thirty-five years ago, after reading an article in Scientific American on the theory that birds were descended from dinosaurs:

Little did I realize
That every summer breeze
Brings the sound of dinosaurs
Singing in the trees.

And in the cool of morning,
When dew is barely dry,
The cousins of Triceratops
Soar across the sky.

Triceratops is dead and gone,
Which proves the worth of might.
Maybe we should put our trust
In music and in flight.


Blogger Eleanor said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:51 AM  
Blogger El Gato Negro said...

We find dinosaurs almost everyday in our southern region. We have even a paleontological park, because there´re places where you walk over the bones!!
Oh, my contry was called argentina because the biggest river was silver^^at least that´s the traditional tale!

8:42 PM  

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