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RE: Running around like an Ornitholestes with his head cut off...
I think there is a big problem with these medieval stories: a simple
strangle hold, that is a hold that cuts off blood flow to the brain, can knock
a full grown athlete out in less than 10 seconds. I have a hard time believing
that a person would be conscious for more than few seconds after a beheading,
if at all. That's not a lot of time to read lips and I'm willing to bet the...
ermmm head.. would be in the process of 'passing out' anyway.
> Date: Fri, 16 Sep 2011 09:28:35 -0500
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org
> To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: Re: Running around like an Ornitholestes with his head cut off...
> Hi Jerry,
> I was referencing some books I have on European history, but due to
> concern that some of the stories may be apocryphal they went light on
> the specifics. I can send you the citations if you want (or try to
> dig out their citations) but while reformatting this for my blog I
> found what may be a more relevant discussion online here:
> Granted it's only a discussion with neurosurgeons and a (much) more
> recent set of anecdotes, but I'm afraid the technical literature is
> largely devoid of help on this subject.
> On Fri, Sep 16, 2011 at 7:46 AM, Jerrold Alpern <email@example.com> wrote:
> > Scott,
> > Do you have the sources for those medieval reports of lip readers at
> > beheadings? Were they ever successful? Did any of them record any words they
> > had lip read? In England, beheadings were reserved for the aristocracy, who
> > usually got the chop because of treason. Was this an attempt to learn the
> > names of unindicted co-conspirators?
> > Thanks.
> > Jerry Alpern
> > firstname.lastname@example.org
> > 917-623-1446
> > ----- Original Message ----- From: "Scott Hartman"
> > <email@example.com>
> > To: "Dino List" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > Sent: Thursday, September 15, 2011 1:52 PM
> > Subject: Running around like an Ornitholestes with his head cut off...
> >> Since I'm briefly coming out of list retirement today I wanted to
> >> address the issue of headless chicken running a bit. While the idea
> >> to put it in the show was not mine, David certainly mentioned it to me
> >> and I did not shoot it down (and still wouldn't). I'll grant you that
> >> there isn't much in the professional literature on the subject, but I
> >> think people are thinking of this from the wrong way (i.e., wondering
> >> about the distribution of "headless-running" in birds like it's a
> >> derived condition).
> >> Vertebrates as a group have one of the more centralized nervous
> >> systems among animals (with some arthropods and especially some
> >> cephalopods as the other contestants in the "flexibility over
> >> redundancy sweepstakes"), but tetrapod nervous system evolution in
> >> general is a story of progressive centralization that (so far)
> >> culminates in mammals. Even in humans, with our gobs of ridiculously
> >> calorie-hungry centralized gray matter, we still have autonomous
> >> reactions that don't require the brain to be involved (as anyone knows
> >> who's burned themselves and jerked their hand away before they felt
> >> the pain). That said, we have gone a long way down the path of
> >> nervous system centralization, and if you cut a mammal's head off you
> >> may get some twitching but it won't run around; our limbs literally
> >> cannot coordinate themselves without the brain's involvement (although
> >> morbidly it does appear that the head itself retains some
> >> coordination, if medieval reports are true that people were employed
> >> to read lips for up to a minute after a beheading).
> >> This degree of centralization is the derived condition, not the
> >> primitive one. So I doubt chickens are special here, except in as
> >> much as they more frequently get clean beheadings in the presence of
> >> human observers than most other birds (a quick Google search shows
> >> that turkey's exhibit this as well). This should be true of lizards,
> >> crocs, etc too (diapsids as a whole). With enough experimental trials
> >> I'd fully expect an Ornnitholestes to do a good headless chicken
> >> impression. Now, I'll grant you that this would require a pretty
> >> clean bite on the allosaur's part, and the odds of observing it in the
> >> wild would not be very high. But the sequence was created to be a
> >> surprising bit of humor in a scenario that was possible, not probable.
> >> Given those parameters it seems reasonable enough to me.
> >> -Scott
> >> --
> >> Scott Hartman
> >> Scientific Advisor/Technical Illustrator
> >> (307) 921-9750
> >> website: www.skeletaldrawing.com
> >> blog: http://skeletaldrawing.blogspot.com/
> Scott Hartman
> Scientific Advisor/Technical Illustrator
> (307) 921-9750
> website: www.skeletaldrawing.com
> blog: http://skeletaldrawing.blogspot.com/