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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Swimming Dinosaur in the Kem Kem Beds: Spinosaurus didn't Dance the Can-Can but Sailed Along in the Water


     Spinosaurus, a large, swimming, fish-eating dinosaur of the Cretaceous period had a large sail on its back. It has been described as the "biggest, baddest predator to walk and swim on earth" by National Geographic.




        In the above reconstruction from Davide Bonadonna for National Geographic, Spinosaurus or "spine lizard" is shown in two poses: catching a fish underwater and straining its head above the water. As a fellow swimmer, the second pose is unrealistic. Straining its neck like that is an untenable swimming position; when turning its head it would surely keep its head closer to the water or else visit the dino masseuse frequently.

         Spinosaurus spines and the flesh in between the spines creating the sail are one of the biggest mysteries of this bigger-than-Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur (over 50 feet long) discovered in the Kem Kem beds of Morocco:





     The long spines protruding from the vertebrae are up to eight times the size of the vertebrae themselves:




     Various hypotheses for the sail's purpose are a thermal regulating structure, a device for sailing in the water, a place for stored fat, and a structure for showing interest in mating. It may have also served a combination of these functions. I just don't understand what the flap is all about . . .;-)

     The head of Spinosaurus includes a jaw which does not handle torsion well:







      What a colorful creature ;-):





And, my, what big teeth "Mr. Big" had:



      Those teeth could sink into 8-foot lungfish, 13-foot coelacanths, 25-foot sawfish, and similarly outsize turtles also found in the Kem Kem beds.

      The National Geographic link describes the discovery of the bones as well as the recreation of the dinosaur's body for an exhibit opening this month in D.C.


       What's your idea for the Spinosaurus sail function?

       Are you dancing the can-can about the Kem Kem find?

Swimmingly,

Steph




The Fort on a cold, fall night. Waugh!







36 comments:

  1. I dunno, Steph. That spinosaurus’s second pose seems to be the way humans look (and, perhaps, Maizie looks) when we do the dog-paddle. (BTW, one must never paddle one’s dog… Just say, “Bad dog!”)

    This whole “sailing and sauring” subject puts me in the mind of soaring-bird “wattles.”

    Spine lizards would park themselves below an coconut or fruit tree and proceed to oscillate their torsi and dorsi (like Chubby Checker doing the Twist), in the process creating such wind gusts that the fruits would fall to earth (Isaac Newton-like).

    Then they would feast, chomping on their fruity windfall with their jaws that did not handle torsion well.

    LegoSpinelessLizard

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    1. Hmmm. Maybe so. I like the twisting and turning of the flapsail to knock down coconuts and other fruit concept.

      We are out observing the blood orange lunar eclipse. Quite remarkable. And Maizie is up for any excuse for a walk.

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  2. Moon behind clouds this morning.

    As for Dimetrodon on roids, I say the sail is just for picking up girls, like a peacock's tail or a 50's pompadour.

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    1. What if you are a girl? Do you still have a sail? Or just a brown/gray one perhaps?

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    2. Then you'd get a smaller one, I'd guess. Although I realized I'm not on solid ground here. And I'm not accusing anyone of sail envy, yet.

      Here's an interesting discussion of this subject.

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    3. jan, that link was a great find. Thanks.

      Given that the sails are most likely some sort of signaling device, perhaps sexual, it could lend a new meaning to asking another to go parasailing. . .

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    4. The back story (pun intended) of Irritator challengi, another spinosaur, includes having to clean man-made additions from the actual head skeleton discovered in Brazil. Some speculation about the Irritator being a female version of the Moroccan find has spurred far too many irritating female jokes ;-). Irritator has a much smaller sail.

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  3. What kind of toothpaste would you use to clean those big teeth, do you suppose?

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    1. Not sure about toothpaste, but I bet they used a fishbone or two for flossing.

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    2. jan,
      The answer to your question is this toothpaste, which is my candidate for the worst brand name for a toothpaste (or any product, for that matter) in the history of branding.

      The spinosauri’s use of this oral dentifrice is especially helpful to modern archaeologists who perform radiocarbon dating on spine lizard fossils, which retain residual traces of radioactivity even after all these millennia.

      Steph,
      After spine lizards brushed with Doramad’s all they had left to floss was gums.

      My former boss, the prelate in charge of the diocese where I live, did not use a fishbone for flossing… But he used a “bish-phone” for bossing.

      For more insight and discussion on this and other toothpaste brands, visit this Friday’s Puzzleria!

      LegoRinseAndSpit

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    3. Lego, Doremi instead of Doramad? ;-)

      How can you even be prelate? Postlate, I get but prelate?

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    4. And then there are the patients who complain about their prostrate problems...

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    5. I never do.. .

      Just watched "Prairie Home Companion" for the first time. It was quite different from listening only on the radio.

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  5. While not a sail per se, I like this picture of a camel-mounted Google Street View device, recording the views in the Arabian desert (in case your GPS leads you astray?).

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    1. Striking photo. And just look at all that sand!

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    2. Yeah, no shortage there!

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    3. I'm not really into conspiracy theories, but just as soon as the US surpasses Saudi Arabia in crude oil production, what's the next shortage that rears it's ugly head? Just sayin'....

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    4. Er, sand, I get it (just had a nap). Getting up at 4:15 a.m. to see the blood orange moon seemed like a good idea at the time. . .

      Seriously though, water is a much bigger deal since we actually must have H2O to function (We could get by on much less in the hydrocarbon department).

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  6. Replies
    1. Yes, what a remarkable family. Choreographing your way out-wow! The photograph of Geoffrey and Leo is striking in its intimacy and sharing love of the arts. Leo is one fortunate human being.

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  7. We had a splendid dinner at The Fort tonight. My Philly Smith friend, her daughter, and I feasted on Roasted Bison Marrow Bones, known as “prairie butter” to the early pioneers, this delicacy was Julia Child’s favorite. Served in the bone with crostini. Oh my!

    Someone at The Fort has our kind of humour. Here's the description for Rocky Mountain Oysters:

    "Small bites battered and fried to a golden brown and served with a tangy “cocktail” sauce."

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    1. OK, I'll lay off the sail envy quips, if you hold off on the battered balls...

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    2. It's a deal. Just glad you didn't get testy about it.

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  8. My son's European friend thinks Americans overuse "amazing" and "awesome." After listening to our local NPR pledge drive off and on this weekend, I agree. I almost called CPR to say "If you say 'amazing' one more time, I am taking back my pledge."

    Both words are so overused they are nearly meaningless. There are so many other superb words.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. As I alluded to over at AESAP, “awful” would be an amazing alternative to “awesome.” It’s a word ripe for reclamation!

      Merriam Webster Dictionary 10th Edition:
      awful
      ‘o-fel
      adj
      1. : inspiring awe
      2. : filled with awe…
      3. : extremely disagreeable or objectionable ...

      LegoOffal

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    3. Astounding!
      I mean ... outstanding!
      I mean:
      http://cyberhymnal.org/htm/b/e/beforeje.htm

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    4. Awfully good stuff. Thanks, Lego and Paul.

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