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Sea Monsters, a rant (long)



Speaking only about what I know at some extent:
Nothosaurs
1) the caption says they have short legs and swum with the tail, which does not seem to me to be the common understanding at least for large nothosaurs.
2) It seems to have hindlimbs shorter than forelimbs (the opposite is true) and anyway front limbs aren't short.
3) they are featured with clawed hands, where in most cases the last phalanx is discoidal not supporting claws.
What it is really comic (or tragic) is that I have been consulted several times by a guy involved in the making of the nothosaur model (no fee, gratis amore scientia) ANYWAY I am much more upset to realize that they have followed NONE of my suggestions/corrections because in such a way my time has been lost twice .
Tanystropheus
1) the caption is simply a load of nonsenses: it seems they copied separate sentences from the obsolete description by Wild and put them together without any logic sense: from the caption seems that the same animal went to land for insects and back to sea for fishes, while originally (and questionably) Wild was referring to two different growth stages.
2) what is a head that snaps down?
3) do these guy know how long is an adult Tanystropheus? five-six meters, how much metabolic energy would be required to re-grow a tail in an animal of such size? How did the poor guy feed in water (if he did so) without the main organ for propulsion? Well, selection may have favoured the appearance of an animal specialized in scaring tanystropheids and feeding on their tails: a lot of meat with little risk. Bah!
And this is only the caption, let's go to the animal restoration
1) As pointed out by David Peters, the animal is a bit too snakelike
2) the front view of the skull is rather pathetic, with that tiny nares and were are the teeth? did they see how long are the teeth of tanystropheus? Did they ever look at a tanystropheus skull?
3) I suppose that the close up n. 3 represents the foot. The sausage-like toes seems not suited for anything in water, if we put T. in water, why its toes aren't webbed?
4) the posture in the "big image" has the limbs gathered close to the body rather than sprawling
5) the base of the tail should have been very wide and flat and then it tapers posteriorly, in the sloppy restoration both characters are absent, it looks like a laterally flattened tail from base to end.
This is really sad. A little amount of entertainment is surely important to gain the attention of the public and so pass the informations without being boring, but this is the demise of divulgation.
Cheers,


Silvio Renesto

At 08.59 11/11/2003 -0500, you wrote:
At 09:26 PM 10/11/03 -0500, Danvarner@aol.com wrote:
Here's the cast of the new BBC presentation. Very nice mosasaur. Maybe needs
more lip. DV

It needs more than that: Elasmosaurus is described as "a dinosaur of the seas"!!! Archelon is called an amphibian!!!! Liopleurodon is said to "dwarf a living sperm whale".... Odobenocetops is said to have lopsided tusks and no teeth (what are its tusks, then? Chopped liver?)!


And these are all from pages called (wait for it)... factfiles!!!!!!

To whom does one complain? Is it worth it?




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Ronald I. Orenstein                           Phone: (905) 820-7886
International Wildlife Coalition              Fax/Modem: (905) 569-0116
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Prof. Silvio Renesto Department of Structural and Functional Biology Università degli Studi dell'Insubria via Dunant 3 21100 Varese Tel. +39-0332-421560

e-mail: silvio.renesto@uninsubria.it