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RE: If you had a time machine...

"Ashley Fragomeni" <afragome@nhm.org> sat around a spell, did some thankin', 
then penned this query:

> I've always wanted to know what dinosaur
> EYES looked like.
> Round pupil or slit?

If you believe that parsimony works in the case of bird eyes and non-avian 
theropod eyes, then non-avian theropod eyes probably had round pupils, as in 

> Yellow or brown?

Yes.  Don't forget tan, gray, green, black, and my favorite pupil color in 
birds, bright red.  Curiously, a red pupil is most commonly observed in 
predatory birds.  I don't know why.

After revisiting the original question of time travelin' to do some fancy 
observin',  I think I would spend the majority of my time hopping out of the 
time machine in various Cretaceous times, scooping up a sample of soil, then 
jumping back into the time machine and traveling another 5 my and scooping up 
another sample of soil.

The soil biota in a Cretaceous sample may range into the thousands of different 
taxa per square centimeter.  Most Cretaceous soil biota (most of which are 
bacteria) don't fossilize.  The only microbial fossils are pollen, some spores, 
and the occassional cyst.

Culturing a petri dish full of Cretaceous soil microbes from various times, 
plus culturing a couple petri dishes of Cretaceous swamp water biota, would 
likely produce interesting results.

Did anyone know that microbial life comprises nearly 50% of the mass of some 
modern top soils?


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