Friday, 12 March 2010

Some Old Writing

I have stumbled upon a blog I wrote back in late 2007, before my interest in writing emerged and when my knowledge of palaeontology was, shall we say, weaker. I cringed a few times reading it, partly because I consistently spelled theropod wrongly, but mostly due to my odd punctuation choices.

Here it is, my blog which was known as "Big Bad Bizarre Bloggage":

Many of you reading this will be bored very quickly, some may think I am making up names, though a select few may enjoy this blog, however it is meant for myself haha so make of it what you will.

Earlier this week I was on my way to work, it was early morning; I was thirsty and had plenty of time to enter the newsagent's near the bus stop I alight at. Upon entering I decided to buy myself a cheap bottle of water and made my way towards the counter, glancing at magazines on the way. Normally my eyes would be drawn towards a men's magazine, especially if the scantily clad cover model is to my liking, however, a vastly different magazine caught my eye. Staring out from the front cover of National Geographic magazine was an unusual looking pachycephalosaur next to the words 'BIG BAD BIZARRE DINOSAURS'. How could I resist? I did in fact have to resist as I only had enough money on me to purchase a bottle of water, though sure enough, I returned on a later date to buy the magazine.

I read the magazine on the bus home, the magazine itself is very well made, the photography is superb, not surprising as one of their wildlife photographers is Franz Lanting, a favourite of mine; this time amazing me with dynamically elegant pictures of albatrosses. But the article I bought it for I am still as yet unsure about my opinion towards. I will not comment on the writing as it is not my domain of interest (unless grammar and spelling are deplorable). It was the choice of dinosaurs that got my attention, which is what I will talk about here (brace yourselves!).

The article was titled 'EXTREME DINOSAURS', all caps so you know it is a cool article. Most of the dinosaurs' images are computer generated and very interesting to look at. The first dinosaur in the article is amargasaurus, a sauropod from the Jurassic which I had never heard of. Its neck and body are adorned with a double row of spines; the reason it is in this article. This choice did please me; it was both new and suitably bizarre. Off the top of my head no other sauropod comes to mind which is quite as bizarre, and after doing some quick research I can find no other which is more suited, the article was off to a good start.

A turn of the page to see the second dinosaur and a familiar face was staring out at me. It was none other than carnotaurus. I was not expecting to see such a well known dinosaur so early in the article, if at all. Many of you may have heard of carnotaurus as it was the main predatory dinosaur in the aptly named Disney film 'Dinosaur'. Carnotaurus features in this article due to its horns, though the accompanying text talks mostly of its tiny arms. I am a fan of carnotaurus but disagree with its appearance in this article as it is not particularly bizarre, though I am more accustomed to dinosaur appearances than the majority, I would surmise. Most large therapods have arms that are minuscule and apparently without much use, including the mighty tyrannosaurus. The arms of carnotaurus are even smaller proportionally than those of tyrannosaurus, however the only feature that really sets it apart are its bull horns from which it gets its name. I will concede that this is probably one of the best therapods choices, but purely for the fact that therapods permeate the media when the word dinosaur is thrown about, causing them to be considered quite 'normal' in appearance.

The next dinosaur to appear was yet another well known face, this time the dinosaur in question was parasaurolophus. Parasaurolophus has a trombone like crest on its head, which indeed makes it look bizarre to fresh eyes, however it has been seen in none other than the sequel to Jurassic Park; Lost World. In the film it was referred to as 'Elvis' due to its appearance and apparently difficult name, and was seen being captured to be taken to the mainland. As a child I always preferred the closely related corythosaurus, and many other lambeosaurs were endowed with head-crests, though frustratingly I must again concede that the crest atop the head of parasaurolophus is indeed the most bizarre I can find.

My interest increased as I turned the page to the next dinosaur, as covering the better half of 2 pages was a dinosaur by the name of masiakasaurus. Masiakasaurus is a small, carnivorous dinosaur from cretaceous north-western Madagascar. This agile little dinosaur is considered bizarre due to its unusual dentition; its front teeth curl out of its mouth, whilst the back teeth are serrated in the usual fashion. On first glance this dinosaur does not appear to be bizarre, though upon looking at the mouth it becomes apparent that it is indeed unique. I was pleased to have learnt of a new dinosaur, however it would be better suited to an article on 'unique' dinosaurs rather than 'bizarre'.

Another turn of the page saw a dinosaur which has become well known to the public in recent years, the now infamous spinosaurus. Spinosaurus was the main dinosaur in the third instalment of the Jurassic Park trilogy and proved its might by snapping the neck of a tyrannosaurus, the most well known carnivore in history (but not the biggest, that title belongs to giganotosaurus). I am not particularly a fan of spinosaurus; it was portrayed very inaccurately in JP3 in my opinion, which leads me to be biased against it. They made it appear larger and more ferocious by pitting it against a juvenile tyrannosaur (the one from the previous film?), when in fact it would have probably stayed well away from other large predators, perhaps frequenting watery areas and dining on fish often. Or possibly scavenging, as well as hunting smaller prey. Its close relative baryonyx was indeed a pescivore. It was also supposed to have evolved over the course of about 5 years in-between the films, which is ridiculously implausible. However it is quite well suited to this article, though a better choice may have been ouranosaurus; a duck-billed dinosaur with a proportionally large sail on its back, definitely less well known and definitely bizarre.

The next dinosaur lined up for me to read was a pleasant surprise, my favourite stegosaur tuojiangosaurus. This stegosaur from china was chosen due to the spikes on its shoulder, which are what sets it apart from other stegosaurs. Stegosaurs are well known, though they are still very bizarre and tuojiangosaurus is no exception. I had not learned a new dinosaur here, but it is one I would probably have included myself, a turn for the better it appears.

Another dinosaur I knew of appeared on the next page, though I had never fully appreciated it before, this article surprisingly brought it to the forefront of my attention. This dinosaur goes by the name of deinocheirus, aptly named due to its huge arms. If in proportion to related therapods, it would have been one of the largest therapods to have walked the earth. However, most palaeontologists appear to believe that the arms belonged to a much smaller creature with 'outlandishly long arms'. This would certainly make it a dinosaur of bizarre appearance and it is deserved of the article.

I wrongly chuckled with amusement at the name of the next dinosaur, it is called nigersaurus. I was fully aware that it was named after Nigeria, however, it still amused me to throw an extra 'g' in. On first glance I could not tell what made nigersaurus so unique, as again it was its dentition which sets it apart from other sauropods. It had a very broad, straight edged muzzle, like a hoover, ideal for 'mowing' low lying shrubbery. It had 600 teeth, tightly packed, with up to 100 in operation at any time, the rest being replacements in case of damage to others. This dinosaur is quite fascinating, especially when studying evolution, though it did on first glance appear to be an average diplodocoid.

The star of the front cover was the next dinosaur to grace the pages of the magazine, the pachycephalosaur which had drawn my attention. When I saw the front cover I was reminded of stygimoloch, though with less dome to its skull. Stygimoloch always amused my puerile mind as its name means 'horny devil'. The dinosaur in this magazine however was slightly more bizarre and is known as dracorex, which means 'dragon king' (like burger king but with larger portions). This dinosaur pleased me, despite my pretentious fastidiousness towards the article. Its head is enough to make anybody do a double take or two, as with most pachycephalosaurs, plus I learnt a new dinosaur, which is always a bonus.

The article pleased me even more with the next dinosaur, the tiny epidendrosaurus. Epidendrosaurus is considered to be the smallest dinosaur, it is another therapod, though this time it is not a huge beast that would strike fear into all; it is in fact the size of a sparrow. Some palaeontologists believe it may be an infant, though it is not its diminutive stature which makes it bizarre, it is the elongated finger it carries on each hand. Its third finger on each hand is twice as long as the other 2 digits combined, which is certainly a very bizarre sight. It is believed this finger was used to probe holes in trees for insects, like the modern aye aye lemur, which would certainly suit its small size. This dinosaur definitely sparked my interest and I would like to know more about it.

Right after I had proclaimed my love for epidendrosaurus I came across styracosaurus. Styracosaurus is a ceratopsian, and a well know one at that, which explains my disappointment. Styracosaurus was in fact one of the first dinosaurs I owned a toy of. Amusingly the manufacturers of the toy gave it the teeth of a carnivore. I sadly no longer own this toy, I have kept most dinosaur memorabilia from my youth, however I most probably consigned it to the dustbin when I was old enough to decide that any anatomically incorrect toys must be removed from the house, and serrated teeth on a herbivore are blatantly incorrect. It is indeed bizarre, but then personally I would have chosen maybe monoclonius, though probably pachyrhinosaurus, due to its bizarre nose. *Sigh* can't have everything.

Styracosaurus was the end of the article and where I end this ramble. If you have read this far please let me know, it was probably an effort for you and was certainly an effort for me, mostly done because the internet is refusing to work. There were only 2 more articles which included dinosaurs, one was about a photographer who tracked down the arms of deinocheirus to photograph, the other was a snippet about 2 programmes on the National Geographic channel, which I watched of course, guanlong is certainly an interesting dinosaur.

One final note, I was very surprised not to find therizinosaurus, probably one of the most bizarre dinosaurs to have ever walked this planet of ours. Do a search for it and see what I mean.

You stay classy San Diego.

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