17 October 2011

Terrible Lizards and Giant Squids

I spotted this “Raptor Hoodie” in a catalogue last week.

Originally raptors were daylight birds of prey: hawks, eagles, harriers, falcons, and so on. Paleontologists borrowed the term as a suffix for a set of dinosaurs: Velociraptors, Utahraptors, Pyroraptors… One Jurassic Park phenomenon later, and the dinosaurs have totally stolen the term “raptor” from the birds. Is that any way to treat your evolutionary descendants?

In other paleontological news, I checked in on “Giant prehistoric krakens may have sculpted self-portraits using ichthyosaur bones” at io9.com. A geologist suggested that an unusual formation of ichthyosaur fossils was created by a Triassic giant squid arranging them so their vertebrae formed a picture of itself on the ocean floor. Because giant squid used to be that vain.

Good comments sections are all too rare in today’s internet, but I appreciated artiofab’s remark on that story:
I think I speak for the entire paleontological community when I say: This is not what most of us do with our time, honestly.


Glenn Ingersoll said...

Since dinosaurs are the older birds, shouldn't they get precedence?

J. L. Bell said...

I think the “raptor” dinosaurs would be better off with their own name for themselves: RRRRrghrghfgghes!

Why would they want to take the name of a bunch of hollow-boned little twits who don’t even have front claws? (Well, they do get the fun of flying.)

Glenn Ingersoll said...

Dinosaurs had hollow bones. Some of them anyway.

Many had feathers.

Birds are just little dinosaurs.

It's like all that's left of the human race is hobbits and brownies and leprechauns. Which might not be a bad deal.

Chaucerian said...

I found artiofab's comment most reassuring. As far as the suggestion from the first geologist, I keep thinking of the judge's baffled expression and enquiry as he peers down at Cousin Vinnie. The judge's hypothesis is the only possible explanation.