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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
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
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!