Saturday, September 19, 2009

Raptorex is a stupid name

Again, I'm sometimes disappointed by the names of new dinosaurs. These days it seems that all the cool names have been taken, and now there's just lousy combinations of old names being thrown together to describe new species. That being said, the Washington Post has an article on the newly described Raptorex.

Now, even though its name is stupid, it's still a pretty cool fossil. It's like naming your kid Lola, who goes on to become an Olympian, or something like that. In any case, here's an excerpt from the article:

The new animal, based on a single fossil smuggled out of China and eventually sold to a private collector, has been named raptorex. It lived 125 million years ago in a lake-dotted region of northern China.

Raptorex had a big head, tiny forelimbs, and a body built for sprinting, just like T. rex. But this fossil is of a young adult dinosaur, nearly full-grown, that at maturity would have been only about 9 feet long, compared with about 40 feet for an adult T. rex, according to a paper published Thursday in the online edition of the journal Science. It would have weighed only 150 pounds. An adult T. rex could reach 13,000 pounds.

This scrambles the picture of mega-predator evolution and raises the question of whether other jumbo dinosaurs also materialized in a pipsqueak version.

The orthodoxy in paleontology has been that T. rex got its peculiar body shape -- the colossal head, powerful jaws, slashing teeth, and comically short forelimbs, among other features -- as a side effect of evolving into a giant animal. The small arms have been seen as a natural trade-off for the big head. The fossil record shows the limbs becoming shorter as T. rex evolves to monstrous dimensions between about 90 million and 65 million years ago, when it went extinct along with every other species of dinosaur, other than birds.

Raptorex, however, shows that having the jaws as the first line of attack rather than the forelimbs worked for bodies at the much smaller scale, and tens of millions of years before T. rex's giant phase. Like T. rex, raptorex had a bite force so powerful it could chomp through bone.

My fiance even thought this name was dumb, and is patiently awaiting the discovery of stegosaurusrex, diplodocusrex and Rexasaurus rex.

Aliens? Montauk Monster

This is a story about a couple of kids who killed an alien, and now don't know what to do about it.

Kinda looks like a little, skinny manatee, or something. Anyhow, it came at them, so they threw stones at it, then took pictures of it - and you can see a video on it here.

In any case, it's weird. Some think it's a naked sloth, or something like that. Makes you wonder why real zoologists don't actually look at the thing, instead of just pictures of it circulating without anything to say about it.

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