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Stenonychos & Dinosaurs Experienced Climate Changes Before KT



Two interesting mailings from my mailbox...

-
Stenonychosaurus and the Dino Man


< http://www.gpgwebdesign.com.au/dinoman2.jpg >

Jurassic/Cretaceous period. One branch or mutation of the supposedly 

extinct
sauroid race, Stenonychosaurus, was according to paleontologists rema

rkably
hominoid in appearance. Stenonychosaurus was less than 3 m long, and 

weighed
only 45 kg. It was a biped, and could rotate its lower arm to grasp o

bjects
with a three-fingered hand. The eyes were enormous, surpassing in siz

e those
of most modern land animals. The brain was much larger than in living
reptiles and approached that of some living birds and mammals in rela

tive
size. Stenonychosaurus dinosaurs, which probably fed on primitive mam

mals,
embody a widespread tendency for the brain to increase in size throug

h the
history of life. It had possibly greyish-green skin and three-digit c

lawed
fingers with a partially-opposable 'thumb'.
The opposable thumb and intellectual capacity is the only thing preve

nting
members of the animal kingdom from challenging the human race as the 

masters
of planet earth. For instance the ape kingdom possesses opposable thu

mbs yet
it does not possess the intellectual capacity to use them as humans d

o. The
dolphins possess intellects nearing that of humans but do not possess
opposable thumbs or even limbs necessary to invent, etc. Could their 

be an
'animal' which possesses both of these characteristics? The cranial c

apacity
of Stenonychosaurus was nearly twice the size of that of human beings

,
indicating a large brain and possibly advanced though not necessarily
benevolent intellect. Stenonychosaurus has been credited with being t

he most
intelligent dinosaur. Compared with most others, it had a relatively 

large
brain, although the excess brain volume was probably not concerned wi

th
reasoning and other activities that
could be called "intelligence."

Stenonychosaurus had large eyes, slender flexible fingers, and a ligh

t body.
The brain was probably concerned mainly with its highly developed sen

ses,
fine control of its limbs, and fast reflexes, which were used in hunt

ing
small and elusive prey.

In 1982 Dale Russell and R. S_guin (Ottawa) published an article on
Stenonychosaurus. A new partial skeleton had been discovered in 1967 

which
provided the basis of the first
skeletal and flesh restoration of Stenonychosaurus. The detailed work

 of
building the model was illustrated in their paper.







In addition to the restoration, they indulged in an imaginative exper

iment,
posing a question: What might these intelligent dinosaurs have evolve

d into
had they not become extinct near the end of the Cretaceous period abo

ut 64
million years ago? According to researchers such as Brad Steiger, Val
Valerian, TAL LeVesque and others this may actually be the same type 

of
entity or entities most commonly described in 'UFO' and Chupacabra
encounters.


Suppose dinosaurs had not become extinct? While we can merely guess h

ow
extra-terrestrials might look, we have a hint of what intelligent lif

e on
Earth might have been like if the history of life on this planet had 

been
changed just slightly.

What if dinosaurs had continued to evolve? That
ussell, a
palaeontologist at the Canadian Museum of Nature, wondered. Russell
theoretically extended the evolution of the most intelligent known di

nosaur,
a long-tailed forest dweller about five feet tall called Stenonychosa

urus.
This dinosaur was about the size of a kangaroo and lived 70 or 80 mil

lion
years ago in what is now western Canada. It was the smartest dinosaur

 known,
with a larger brain (compared with body weight) than that of any othe

r
animal
on Earth. After forecasting 50 million years of theoretically evoluti

on,
Russell came up with Dinoman, a hairless green-skinned creature (show

n here
beside Stenonychosaurus) with a bulging skull, luminous catlike eyes 

and
three-fingered hands, not unlike some of the extraterrestrials that h

ave
populated science fiction films.
Dinoman is 4 1/2 feet tall and would have a live weight of about 32
kilograms. It's brain is the same size as that of a human of similar
stature,
about the size of a 13-year-old human. It is warm-blooded.







Since the teeth of Stenonychosaurus were small compared with related
dinosaurs, Russell thinks that teeth may have been on the way out fro

m an
evolutionary standpoint. Dinoman, therefore, had none. Instead, the b

iting
edges of the mouth are "keratinous occlusal surfaces", similar to tho

se of a
turtle.
What this research suggests is that the humanoid shape might be a nat

ural
form for a creature with a large brain. The general body of the human

s - two
arms, two legs and a head on a relatively short neck - is no accident

.. It is
the most logical arrangement for a big-brained land-dwelling creature

.. is
shorter than its human counterpart. It's average height would be 4.5 

feet,
about the size of a 12 or 13 year old human. Its weight would be abou

t 32
kilograms (about 70 pounds). Russell has postulated that the dinosaur

 would
have evolved to a toothless state. It would chew on food in a similar

 way
that a turtle chews on its food, with the hardened edges of its mouth

.. The
fact that the Dinoman creature evolves in Russell's scheme to a human

-like
being is not the result of Russell's anthropocentric bias. The genera

l body
form of humans and Dinoman , having two arms, two legs and a head on 

a
relatively short neck, comes from evolutionary necessity. It is the m

ost
logical arrangement for a big-brained land-dwelling creature. The hei

ght and
stockiness of the creatures gets determined by the gravitational
characteristics of the planet that they are evolving on.

-----

http://www.psu.edu/ur/2003/cretaciousclimatechange.html

Dinosaurs Experienced Climate Changes Before K-T Collision
Pennsylvnia State University
January 14, 2003

University Park, Pa. - Climate change had little to do with the demise of
the dinosaurs, but the last million years before their extinction had a
complex pattern of warming and cooling events that are important to our
understanding of the end of their reign, according to geologists.

"The terrestrial paleoclimate record near the K-T is historically
contradictory and poorly resolved," says Dr. Peter Wilf, assistant
professor
of geosciences at Penn State. "In contrast, the resolution of K-T marine
climates that has emerged over the last 10 years is excellent. Our work
brings the terrestrial record up to speed so that we can look for global
climate events that occurred for both land and sea."

Wilf worked with Kirk R. Johnson, curator of paleontology, Denver Museum
of
Nature & Science, who provided the data on land plant fossils and Brian T.
Huber, curator of Foraminifera, National Museum of Natural History,
Smithsonian Institution, who provided the marine data.

An extraterrestrial object that impacted the Earth near the Yucatan in
Mexico 65.51 million years ago doomed the dinosaurs and 70 percent of the
Earth's other species, vaporizing itself and the surrounding rocks and
throwing enough ash, soot and debris into the atmosphere to effectively
stop
photosynthesis worldwide. This impact radically altered the natural
progression of evolution. The time of the impact is called the K-T
boundary
and marked the end of Cretaceous Period and the beginning of the Tertiary
Period.

"It could be argued that we are still recovering from that impact and the
mass extinctions of dinosaurs, mammals, insects, plants and sea life that
it
caused," says Wilf, who worked on this project at the University of
Michigan
before coming to Penn State. "For example, not only the dinosaurs, but
also
80 to 90 percent of the Cretaceous plant species, including all the
dominant
species, disappeared."

According to Wilf, there is a lingering minority argument that the K-T
extinction was caused by climate change, but the research team's results,
published in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences, both document the climate changes and show that they were not
the
principal cause.

Wilf, Johnson and Huber first worked to create a finely resolved
terrestrial
temperature record, based on plant fossils, and then correlated that
record
with the existing marine records.

Plant fossils from the one million-year period before the extinction that
are abundant and well preserved in a fine time sequence are found only in
New Mexico and North Dakota. Of the two, the North Dakota sites are
comparably much more intensively collected and studied and enabled Johnson
to collect 22,000 plant fossils of more than 300 fossil plant species.

"Only in the last year, with the publication of an entire volume filled
with
new research results on the Hell Creek Formation in North Dakota, can we
do
this work and tie the plant fossil record there to actual dates in
millions
of years rather than relative dates," says Wilf. Johnson is a co-editor
and
contributor for the Hell Creek volume.

Fossils can be dated relatively by their position in the stratigraphy or
layers of sediment using a simple rule. In undisturbed layers, the oldest
fossils are in the lowest layers and the most recent fossils are in higher
levels. Tying relative dates to real dates is not easy, especially keeping
within the 100,000 year sensitivity available in the marine record, which
comes from the scientific results of the ocean drilling program.

Luckily, the K-T extinction occurred during a short interval in the
Earth's
magnetic pole reversals. Periodically, the Earth's poles switch polarity
making North negative and South positive. Eventually, another switch
occurs
making North positive and South negative. A record of the Earth's
paleomagnetism is recorded in the rocks as they are laid down.

"Three hundred and thirty-three thousand years before the extinction, a
pole
reversal occurred," says Wilf. "Two hundred and seventy thousand years
after
the extinction, another reversal occurred."

Because the researchers have three datable points --the two reversals and
the K-T impact - they could attach ages to the layers and the fossils
within
and correlate the terrestrial and marine data at much finer resolution
than
ever before.

Simply equating the layers, however, was not enough. The researchers
needed
to estimate the temperature of the environment in which each fossil grew.
For the plants, this turned out to be simple, using a method first
developed
in 1915 that is still widely used today.

Modern forests have two types of trees, those with toothed leaves and
those
with smooth leaves. The cooler the climate, the higher the percentage of
species with toothed leaves.

"The presence of palm species also suggests a warm climate as these plants
cannot survive the ground freezing," says Wilf.

The researchers found from the plants that the long, slow cooling that
occurred for millions of years of the Late Cretaceous was broken by a
warming event that began about 66 million years ago and peaked 300,000 to
100,000 years before the K-T collision. The temperatures then returned to
baseline just before the collision and stayed nearly constant before and
after the collision. The plant record agreed strongly with the marine
data,
which comes from ocean coring projects in the South Atlantic, Antarctica
and
off the shores of New Jersey and Florida, and is based on the oxygen
isotope
ratios in the skeletons of marine-shelled micropredators called
Foraminifera. The colder the water, the more of the heavier oxygen isotope
is incorporated in the calcium carbonate of the shells. The sediments that
entomb the forams also record the paleomagnetic reversals around the K-T.

Because the marine data come from four different locations and the
terrestrial data from a fifth, the warming and cooling trends seem global,
according to Wilf. The marine data also show that warm water forams
migrated
from the tropics as far as New Jersey and Antarctica.

While the mean annual temperature in North Dakota today is 43 to 45
degrees
Fahrenheit, during the warmest part of the warming episode, the mean
annual
temperature was from 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The North Dakota site
was
then at the same latitude as Quebec City, Canada, and not only palm trees,
but alligators and turtles thrived too.

"The K-T impact affected the Earth's living things severely and
dramatically, but the climate changes right before the impact, by
comparison, did not," says Wilf. "Understanding the climate and vegetation
before the impact gives us insight into what kind of world the meteorite
struck, and shows us that it was warming, cooling, lushly forested and
otherwise functioning the way it always has done. The dinosaurs were well
adapted to global warming and cooling, but not to giant speeding rocks
from
space."

The American Chemical Society, National Science Foundation and Smithsonian
Institution funded this research.