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Newsgroups: sunpro.sci.dinosaur
Subject: Bakker Lecture in SF - review


Robert Bakker was down here today in SF for a lecture and book signing.
I got my copy of "Dinosaur Heresies" and "Raptor Red" autographed.
He really liked the tshirt I was wearing (from the dedication of the new
UCB T-Rex exhibit on Sunday) and wanted me to give it to him on the spot!
He had with him a large 6" Allosaur claw, and a Utahraptor claw that was 
the same size!

This was the first time I had met him.  He is a very engaging and humorous
speaker.  He gave a lecture supposedly titled, "How Evolution Works",
but it didn't seem to be about that all.  It really should have been
titled, "More Dinosaur Heresies", since the talk was organized around
shooting down various orthodox ideas about dinosaurs.  He spent a lot
of time pointing out similarities with modern birds.  The following 
are interesting tidbits from the lecture:

        - Bakker insists that "Brontosaurus" is the correct name, and
          that "Apatasaurus" is wrong.

        - Mentioned new Brontosaur bones have recently been found.  They
          are previously unknown armor plates that Brontosaur had
          on its chest (therefore, all current reconstructions of
          Brontosaur are wrong).

        - Presented lots of data showing that an animal's top speed
          is 10x its walking/cruising speed:

                                Cruise Speed    Top Speed
                                ------------    ---------
          Dimetrodon            1 mph           10 mph
          Elephant              2 mph           20 mph
          Polar Bear/Rhino      3 mph           30 mph

          Based on footprints, T.rex walked at 4.5 mph --> ergo, top speed
          is 45 mph (!)

        - world altitude record is held by a vulture, which was seen
          flying at 36,000 feet... shortly before being sucked into the
          engine of a 747!  The point being, birds have air sacs in 
          addition to lungs that helps them breathe much better than 
          mammals.  T.rex also had several large bird-like air sacs --
          implying that T.rex was specifically well adapted for high
          respiration needed to run fast.  Not to mention that it could
          probably have survived at 36,000 feet :-)
           
        - showed that most of the weight and strength of sauropods is near
          the hind legs and the base of the tail.  The front part of the
          body and neck were very light and filled with air sacs.  This
          makes it *very* easy for it to rear up on the hind legs.

        - In arguing for colorful dinosaurs, he made the generalization that
          animals that:
                1. have color vision and,
                2. have daytime courtship
          are likely to be brightly colored.  I was going to point out
          to him that humans meet both criteria and yet are rather drab
          colored :-)

He actually covered a lot of ground in that lecture.  In the Q&A at the
end someone asked the extinction question.  Bakker reiterated his disease
theory, and pointed out that some very delicate land animals survived,
so it could not have been the meteor that caused it.

-----------
Achut Reddy                     So many fossils... so little time!
achut@sun.com