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CAMPING THEROPODS



Well, we just had a total power failure meaning that all network access was
immediately terminated, hence the message I'd been working on for near half an
hour was lost. Hi everybody, it's good to be back, if I am.

I've just watched part 2 of the British TV series 'The Great Dinosaur Trail':
it's basically trying to bring kids 'up to date' and has Chris Packham going all
over the place talking to bone diggers and academics. Some of you may recall
Nick Green, who was round these parts asking lots of questions a while ago. He's
one of their two researchers (I foolishly gave him this list address.. being a
'researcher' for a TV show seems to be involve nothing more than phoning people
and asking them questions). Anyway..

The interesting bit is that Packham is seen wondering round Wyoming with.. well,
guess who. Bakker is even more annoying on shows made for kids as he is so
determined so give the audience WHAT THEY WANT that he talks jibber. I notice
also that in his pro-endothermy crusades, he uses arguments of differing
complexity, pending on the audience. Now, frustratingly, we have Bakker
seemingly using 'raptor' as a synonym for 'theropod': when looking at allosaur-
sauropod-dominated Upper Jurassic rocks, he's talking of raptors doing this,
raptors doing that, raptors killing this, raptors killing that. What made the
show worth watching, however, was that we are told all about Bakker's new dig.
He has a quarry that, reconstructed topographically, appears to have been a
small valley with several restricted routes of entry. Found in clumps throughout
this valley are lower leg bones of _Apatosaurus_, and furthermore lower leg
bones of _Apatosaurus_ that bear theropod tooth marks - and of 'both adults and
juveniles'. On hearing this, I thought immediately of a Pleistocene cave deposit
in Nebraska where mammoth lower leg bones are abundant. It appears that a mother
_Homotherium_ (a plantigrade sabre-toothed cat) bought these bits of leg to her
cubs which were denning in the cave. The inference is that the carnivorous
dinosaurs (referred to, need I say, as.. raptors) were bringing back lower legs
to a single secluded site.

That's the dinosaur bit out of the way.

Does anyone know anything at all about (1) the evolution of the Humboldt
current, and (2) origin and diversification of island-endemic testudinids. And,
yes, another ziphiid species *has* been found. It'll be described soon.

"What do you mean _they_ turned the power off - they're just animals man!"

DARREN NAISH
dwn194@soton.ac.uk