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RETURN OF AUSSIE MEGA-HERPS



Tanned, broke, and bitten by _Natrix_ water snakes, stung by scorpions
and (nearly) 'bitten' by a very dangerous 17 cm centipede, I return
from Almeria, SE Spain, home of spaghetti westerns and one of the
greatest American military cock-ups of all time (in 1966, 3 H-bombs
were accidentally dropped on Mojacar).

That besides... as clear from discussion last year on this list, there
is much dispute as regards the size and maximum size of Aussie varanid
_Megalania_. Some insist that _M_ wasn't *that* big, and therefore
terrestrial ectotherms couldn't grow to the largest sizes estimated
for _M_. What if _M_ wasn't terrestrial? It then leaves the
equation. I hear that Ralph Molnar (learning Chinese, BTW) now
suspects that _M_ was amphibious. Though I'm waiting to see what Dave
Lambert can get out of Molnar on this subject, does anyone have any
more info on this about-turn? Apparently, the idea is based on the
presence of a sagittal crest in this animal, a feature
'characteristic' of amphibious habits in lizards.

I note also that the madstoiid python _Wonambi_ (Paul Willis recently
reported material of this suggesting a ridiculously large size) might,
contrary to published restorations, have been amphibious too. This
would make sense in view of the habits of _Eunectes_ and the big SE
Asian wart pythons. This possibility is explored in Kadimakara (which,
thanks to Colin McHenry, I finally own...).

If these animals can be shown to be amphibious, they are not, as has
been implied, models comparable with dinosaurs. Not that I'm
interested in physiology you understand ;-).

THE EARTH ARTICLE

I haven't yet seen any comments on this discussion list pertaining to
Lessem's dino-art article in _Earth_. This might be because I've not
yet got any recent mail. But for what it's worth, I thought the
article was awful and unfair. There were also some technical errors. I
also found it a trifle amusing that, while Lessem heavily criticised
inclusion of integument in restorations, the article includes one of
David Peters' dromaeosaur paintings. His _Deinonychus_ are restored
with propatagia - possibly even more controversial than a feathery
coat!

You made it then Nick..

"Your fleet is lost, and your friends on the Endor moon will not
survive. There is no escape my young apprentice. The Alliance will die
- as will your friends."  (Now that's 100%)

DARREN NAISH