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Re: The death throes of drowning, version 2

Jeff Poling wrote:

>   It is my understanding that part of the evidence that supports the theory
>of post-mortem contraction of ligaments comes from observation of extant
>creatures.  What I want to know is if there has been similar observation of
>extant drowning victims; ie somebody pulled an animal out of its watery
>grave (human or otherwise) and took note of whether it was in the "classic
>dinosaurian death pose."  If so, did it support or disprove the notion of
>contortion due to drowning?

Drowning will not cause the contraction of the ligaments of the neck and so
will not cause the contortion. Any position the animal takes up after
drowning will be due to chance and to any prevailing current. It is be
possible that the contorted position may be induced by strong currents.
However, such a scenario will be easy to spot since the will be tell-tale
sedimentological indicators (current lineations, sorting, tool marks etc.)
which will make the influence of any strong current obvious. Drowned birds
(especially affected by oil spills) do not show any contortion - in fact
the neck is usually still very flexable, suggesting that there is no
contortion associated with drowning.

>   While I'm thinking of it, somebody mentioned drowned bodies orienting
>themselves to the current.  Is the orientation broadside, so that the head
>and tail are parallel to the current, simulating the death pose, or is the
>entire length of the body parallel to the current?

That depends on the strength of the current. In strong currents the body
will orientate with the long axis parallel to the current, with the head


cnedin@geology.adelaide.edu.au                  nedin@ediacara.org
Many say it was a mistake to come down from the trees, some say
the move out of the oceans was a bad idea. Me, I say the stiffening
of the notochord in the Cambrian was where it all went wrong,
it was all downhill from there.