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Re: Dino Feathers

At 12:44 PM 8/2/95, Dinogeorge@aol.com wrote:
>Your comment about cormorants and spreading of feathers to dry reminded me
>that in _Mesozoic Meanderings_ #2 I raised the possibility that
>_Archaeopteryx_ was a cormorant-like diving bird, thus explaining its rather
>plentiful presence in the Solnhofen lithographic limestone along with fish,
>etc. Larry Martin once told me that unlike most modern-day birds,
>_Archaeopteryx_  did not have hollow long bones. This feature happens to be
>an adaptation common to extant diving birds (loons, penguins, cormorants) and
>further supports the diving-bird hypothesis: Too much air in the bones would
>make diving difficult because of water buoyancy.

        Yes, I recall reading that in my xeroxed copy of _MM #2_.  It
sounds plausible, although it's one of those things that'd be difficult to
prove either way.  Most of the diving birds, though, have long, rather
spear-like bills, which _Archaeopteryx_ of course does not.  Also, a long,
wet, feathered tail would make taking back off out of the water a difficult
prospect weight-wise, would it not?

        As for the purported living space of _Archaeopteryx_, often
referred to the islands immediately adjacent to the lagoon, the authors of
_Solnhofen_ pointed out that in addition to the wood and many of the plants
in the lagoon sediments, all the insects there are typical of insect
families that live in wooded areas.  Geologically, they say, that in facies
upstream from the lagoon is just such a wooded area, and that likely the
terrestrial fossils from the lagoon originated there and were transported
via stream to the lagoon.  This sounds plausible to me, although I'd be
prone to ask how a freshwater stream emptying into a restricted lagoon
would effect the supposed hypersalinity in the lagoon itself, which has
been used to explain the deaths of the benthic marine organisms there...

>Regarding the "pt" combination (and also "pn"): My understanding is that in
>the original Greek both consonants are pronounced together regardless of
>where they occur in the word, so it sounds like someone spitting. In English,
>it is normal to drop the "p" at the beginning of a word when it precedes an
>odd consonant; but in my obstinate way, I pronounce the "p" even there. I
>also say "kuh-NIFE" instead of "knife." So if we ever get together to talk
>about pterosaurs or pneumatic tires, watch out for the spray.
>As if that weren't bad enough, I'm also getting into the habit of pronouncing
>_Ceratosaurus_  "ke-RAT-uh-saw-rus," ceratopian "ker-uh-TOPE-yun, and
>_Triceratops_ "try-KER-a-tops." Just a personal quirk.

        As someone else noted, the "P" in front of a word would,
technically, be pronounced, but I don't.  However, in the middle of a word,
esp. if preceded by a vowel, I always pronounce those p's, thus:
"AR-kee-OP-ter-icks."  As for the k's, well...in 3rd grade I had a teacher,
Mrs. Knutson, who insisted that it was pronounced"kuh-NOOT-son."
WhatEVer...!  8-)

        I notice you're still championing the cause to change "ceratopSian"
to "ceratopian" (sans the s)!  I'm sure that, technically, that's correct,
but since the name was formally proposed with the incorrect spelling,
doesn't that make it the official scientific name, even with the incorrect

Jerry D. Harris
Schuler Museum of Paleontology
Southern Methodist University
        (Compuserve:  73132,3372)

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Humorous Quote Is Forthcoming...

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