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Re: [HUMOR: Impossibly Huge Dinos: Mystery Solved!]

   Hey, put in in a paper, publish it, and you might actually be able to
convince some people. You'd have massive debates amoung paleontologists,
movies. Hey, that could be an idea for Michael Chrichton's next Jurassic Park!
You could even make a book out of that, Dinosaur Wars or something. The
terrible Sauropod Empire meets it's greatest challenge, the Carnisaur
Coalition, or something to that effect. These great wars led to their
extinction. Anyways, I'm just beating a dead horse now, so I'll shut up.


Betty Cunningham <bettyc@flyinggoat.com> wrote:
> forwarded from sci.bio.paleontology with permission
> > Impossibly Huge Dinos: Mystery Solved!
> > by Hugh Johnson
> > 
> > Every paleontologist is acutely aware of the problem. Even casual science
buffs scratch their heads over it. The question is this: How do you explain
Sauropods too huge to lug their weight around, and Pterosaurs too heavy to
alight for flight?
> > 
> > I believe I have found the answer in higher physics. I began looking to
physics with the idea that density fluctuations of weakly interacting massive
particles (WIMPs), popularly known as 'dark matter', may have slowly changed
the earth's gravitational constant over millions of years, and that everything
may have weighed less eons ago. Unfortunately, this turned out to be an
unworkable hypothesis, since the outward pull of extra-atmospheric WIMPs would
offset the inward pull of WIMPs orbiting the earth's core or passing through
our bodies. However, it was during my perusal of the physics literature that I
stumbled upon this astonishing set of seemingly unrelated facts:
> > 
> > 1) The controversial Pons-Fleischmann cell -- the famous mechanism of cold
fusion power generation -- resembles nothing so much as a large animal's
gizzard; a flask-like container full of spheroids, bathed in a continually
replenishing watery medium.
> > 
> > 2) Heavy atomic isotopes were more common on earth when the planet was
young. These isotopes included deuterium, the major constituent of 'heavy
water' and the fuel used in fusion reactions.
> > 
> > 3) Helium is a major byproduct of deuterium fusion reactions.
> > 
> > 4) Helium is an inert, very lightweight element, which does not combine
into chemical compounds and which cannot be trapped in the earth's gravity
well over long periods of time. A helium atom, left undisturbed, will always
find its way to the outer fringes of the earth's atmosphere, where it will be
blown away by the faint solar wind. Thus, science has never been able to
explain the presence of helium in deposits of natural gas and other fossil
> > 
> > 5) Sauropods bear a striking resemblance to helium-filled blimps and
> > 
> > With these facts in mind, I now assert -- contrary to conventional wisdom
-- that sauropod dinosaurs were NOT built like absurdly huge "fermentation
vats", designed to digest primitive plants. Rather, they began their
evolutionary odyssey as unremarkable-looking creatures who developed the trick
of producing energy by nuclear fusion. A simple mutation of the gizzard is all
it would take to set them apart from the iguanadons and hadrosaurs. We can
imagine these unremarkable beasts stationed beside a watering-hole, drinking
and urinating a steady stream, drawing energy from heavy water while
fulfilling their modest protein needs with pond scum and bottom silt. Their
necks grew longer to reach deeper water as the heavy isotopes grew scarce.
Eventually, their necks were so long and unwieldy that they could not walk
without lightening the load somehow, and that's when they began storing helium
in their little-used gastrointestinal tracts.
> > 
> > For millions of years, they existed as balloon-like floaters, at the mercy
of the winds. When the weather cooperated, they would hover head-down above
the water, regularly lowering themselves for a drink by expelling helium from
their gas-bag colons. However, the slightest breeze could take them away, and
as desertification spread, with fewer ponds dotting the land, this became an
increasing threat. Obviously, they needed their own propulsion and control, as
sure as balloons evolve into dirigibles. This is where their symbiotic
relationship with pterosaurs comes in.
> > 
> > A one-sided relationship had already developed. The pterosaurs doubtless
began as simple surface-swimmers, diving for fish and jumping up onto the
jutting perch-like sauropod legs when the nose-down sauropods were
half-submerged. The pterosaurs learned that if they stayed on those perches
while the sauropods rose back into the air, they would get a broader aerial
view of the fish, and they could dive with more certainty of making a catch. 
Membranes of skin evolved to give them a wider glide-path on their dives. 
Eventually, the membranes became wings, and the pterosaurs helped the
sauropods to fight the winds, like propellers on a powered balloon, so the
whole symbiotic rookery could remain safely over water.
> > 
> > The one problem remaining for the pterosaurs was their lack of control
over altitude. They grew too big and heavy themselves to provide lift; their
role was strictly propulsion and directional control. However, the sauropod's
stumpy tail provided a perch for one pterosaur to stopper the gas-bag with its
beak, thus controlling emissions. This solution then brought a problem of its
own: Who wants to be the loser sitting up their with his face buried in a
giant anus, while everyone else is out fishing? Thus, the pterosaurs began to
prefer long-tailed sauropods, so that more than one of them could perch there
and take turns with altitude-control responsibilities.
> > 
> > Over time, the sauropod's lengthening tail balanced the weight of its
neck, and the flight angle changed. The pterosaurs abandoned their perches on
the legs and took up positions only on the neck and tail. Aerodynamics
improved vastly as the whole assemblage began to look more and more like a
sleek powered airship. Huge fleets of sauropod/pterosaur dirigibles became a
common sight far inland, as they searched for new watering holes to exploit. 
Watering holes became mere base-camps, as the pterosaurs learned dry-land
hunting skills, and grew increasingly adventurous, and spread a reign of
terror everywhere. But this was their undoing.
> > 
> > Too many times, the pterosaurs pushed their luck, feeling cocky and in
control. They rode their giant flying steeds too far from water. The helium
ran low; the creatures were stranded, all of them too heavy to budge on their
own. And what little helium was left, well, that's what we find in our fossil
fuel deposits -- the graves of those poor misguided aeronauts so long ago.
> > 
> > And that's exactly how it happened. And you heard it here first.
> > 
> > hugh ? semplicesoft ? com
> -- 
> Flying Goat Graphics
> http://www.flyinggoat.com
> (Society of Vertebrate Paleontology member)
> -------------------------------------------<,D,><

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