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T.Rex and Daffy Duck

It is hard to believe that a bat and a blue whale are of a kind. But in establishing kinship, the differences don't matter -- they're both mammals because of certain similarities. This is Jack Horner's point in my short item today about a new paper saying that birds and dinosaurs had different types of lungs. It's the similarities that establish that birds are a continuation of the dinosaur line; differences don't refute that, even if some scientists insist otherwise.

This may seem a little esoteric, but I think it provides a glimpse of a broader issue: It is not necessary to tie up every loose end in order to establish that a theory is fairly robust. Moreover, the existence of a loose end is not evidence that the theory is false. It is merely a reminder that we are not omniscient creatures.

Here's the piece:

There is compelling evidence that birds are dinosaurs. Both have hollow bones and hard-shelled eggs. Pelvis, wishbone, wrist bone, three-toed hind foot -- they're strikingly similar.

There is also evidence that dinosaurs sat on their eggs, just like birds. Specifically, birds are believed to be descendants of a type of dinosaur known as maniraptoran therapods.

But as with all orthodoxies, there is dissent. Two scientists at Oregon State University have published a paper in the Journal of Morphology arguing that dinosaurs did not have bird-like lungs.

"No known therapod dinosaur could possibly have ventilated a birdlike lung," said zoologist John Ruben, who co-authored the study with colleague Devon Quick.

They researched the skeletal-muscular structure supporting the air sacs that enable a bird to breathe. No such anatomy is known in therapod dinosaurs, Ruben said.

"It's far more like that the two groups share a common ancestor and for at least some period of time evolved in parallel," Ruben said. The birds-are-dinosaurs model is popular because "it allows people to think that somehow velociraptor sprouted feathers and flew off in the sunset and now is flying around your back yard."

But Jack Horner, curator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies in Montana, said the criticism is based on a misunderstanding of how we can tell species are related.

"Differences don't matter," Horner said. "It doesn't matter how many differences there are between birds and dinosaurs because there are hundreds of similarities."

There is no other animal in the fossil record more closely related to birds than therapod dinosaurs, he said, and the hypothesis is based on hundreds of characteristics.

By Joel Achenbach  |  June 15, 2009; 11:58 AM ET
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It seems to me that this important point, that differences don't matter, can be taken beyond biology all the way to sociology.

Posted by: Yoki | June 15, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

"It's far more like that the two groups share a common ancestor and for at least some period of time evolved in parallel"

Does anyone really want to say that's incorrect?

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 15, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Well, technically. Should be "more likely" not "more like."

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 15, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I just can't believe there's someone named Jack Horner. I hope the curator of paleontology at the Museum of the Rockies in Montana gets a corner office.

Posted by: -TBG- | June 15, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I think the main quibble is when the two lines diverged.

I personally side with the guys who think birds and theropods split off much earlier than currently thought.

This doesn't invalidate the idea that they're the most closely related group to birds known, living or fossil.

Although that's how it often sounds after academic disputes go through the pop science wringer...

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 15, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

*rubbing hands with glee over the therapods because they're fun* Thanks, Joel, for the cool update regarding the lungs.

I ran into a loose end big-time just this morning, in a far-too-brief conversation with Kate Wellspring, collections manager of Amherst's Museum of Natural History. Museumn's closed today to the public, but Wellspring was working.

She said that my cousin F.B. Loomis was one of the worst notetakers of all the paleontologists in the short history of paleontology in the United States. AAARRRgghh!

She said researchers had come to Amherst to attempt to study Loomis's writings, journals, field notes and there's zip, nada. The researchers leave empty-handed. A man of action, not of words, apparently. Perhaps more of a Roy Chapman Andrews, an Indiana Jones-type figure. *laughing*

Neat Amherst website mentioning that Massachusetts was once connected to Morroco--and showing that Connecticut was pretty much equatorial at one time and the Connecticut River Valley was a tear of sorts when the land masses began to separate.

Posted by: laloomis | June 15, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

T. Rex and Daffy Cuck
Bombs and Bugs Bunny

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | June 15, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Like this passage very much about Wyoming geologist J. David Love, from John McPhee's "Rising from the Plains":

As a graduate student he had to advance his reading knowledge of German, which he did over campfires on summer field work in the mountains of Wyoming. One book mentioned an inscription above a doorway at the German Naval Officer's school in Kiel--an unlikely place for a Rocky Mountain geologist to discover what became for him a lifelong professional axiom. As he renders it in English: "Say not 'This is the truth' but 'So it seems to me to be as I now see the things I think I see.'"

Posted by: laloomis | June 15, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Morocco. Eyes are exhausted, having spent too many hours recently reading about the gilded dinosaurs...

Posted by: laloomis | June 15, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Good afternoon, all.

Wish I'd been around for the Football Movie discussion. I think the best football movie is yet to be made. Probably the Brett Farve story, to be called "A Passing Fancy."

Um, did anyone mention "Leatherheads" with George Clooney and John Kras-- Kraz--Krsi--Jim from the US version of "The Office?"
Never saw it, though I was kinda interested to.

Well, of course a T. Rex and a canary have different lung systems and mechanisms. One has chest muscles and systems for flying and for long endurance at altitude. The other is for processing the odd brontosaurus roadkill as a giant all-you-can-eat buffet. Sorta like the Golden Skillet but without trays and sneeze guards.


Posted by: -bc- | June 15, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

To me, the precise taxonomical relationship of dinosaurs and birds is less important than whether or not the underlying theory advances scientific knowledge. For there have been many provocative theories proposed in science that fail to stand up to rigorous examination, yet have still been worthwhile. Consider the so-called “Gaia Hypothesis” that, in its most extreme form, views the planet as some sort of living entity. Now while this theory has lost a lot of its luster over the years, it has led to a greater appreciation for feedback loops and many other unsuspected linkages whose existence might not have been as seriously investigated if it hadn’t been for this theory.

I mean, would scientists have so closely compared avian and dinosaur lungs if these scientists weren’t actively trying to prove, or disprove, the notion that T. Rex and Daffy are, indeed, kissing cousins?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 15, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Besides, of course, biology is messy. There are always lots of variations and retrograde evolutions and similar things. Anything having to do with life tends to resist the same kind of hard conclusions that characterize many aspects of the physical sciences. Which is why I have always felt that the so-called "life sciences" are actually, by far, the most difficult to understand.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 15, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Amazingly on-topic:

I just saw Tommie Tierney, an Irish stand-up comic whose routine includes bits about both T-Rexes and ducks (and in particular, the love-making techniques of ducks pantomimed very graphically). The act is funny but very, very, very NOT SAFE FOR WORK.

And these were some of his cleaner schticks. The really graphic stuff had people walking out. The blue noses didn't know what they were missing.

Did I mention the links were NOT SAFE FOR WORK (that's NSFW for the internet savvy)? Good. Just making myself clear.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 15, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Howdy. Joel said more than he knew with this: "It is not necessary to tie up every loose end in order to establish that a theory is fairly robust. Moreover, the existence of a loose end is not evidence that the theory is false."

In a nutshell, that is the basis of our criminal justice jury trial system. Almost every trial has loose ends and some of them wave pretty vigorously. That doesn't mean a defendant didn't commit the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. People who think a criminal jury trial will get to "the truth" are always disappointed. The truth may be out there, but its ambiguities are alive and well in the courtroom - just as in the scientific lab.

I hope that Jack Horner in his corner office gets plum pie for his bonus.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 15, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Would the fact that Massachusetts was once connected to Morocco be an example of gaia marriage?

Somebody's gotta ask these questions.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 15, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

So if I have this right, in prehistoric dinosaur times Connecticut and Morocco were joined together but tectonic plate shifts ripped Mianus apart. That explains a lot.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 15, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Yet another animal that's not deaf.

I'm confused about the higher Hz waves having longer wavelengths, though.

I was taught Hertz measures frequency, and higher frequency waves have shorter wavelengths. I think they meant to say "smaller than 1.5 M..."

Any help on this, RD or SciTim?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 15, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I've often wondered if man thinks with all the findings and research into our existence, that he will find in the end that man made man? What's the most likely outcome of this never ending research? I like science, and I'm fascinated by it, but often wondered if the end doesn't bring us back to the beginning.

Thanks, Mudge. You got it all. I thought he spoke a mouthful, and more.

Ivansmom, I believe too much is on the line for "truth" to ever come out in a courtroom. That's for television. There's a movie, the "Winslow Boy" , and I can never remember a line correctly, but this lawyer said something like we get right, but not justice. Justice being too hard. I probably have it all wrong.

Posted by: cmyth4u | June 15, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

That's a great observation, Ivansmom. It reminds me that "loose ends" are only important if the uncertainty they might introduce prevents the exclusion of different practical actions.

It's like when doctors want to conduct diagnostic tests far beyond that which is necessary to prescribe treatment.

It might be nice to know the exact form of some condition, but if the answer doesn't change how it is treated, I'll pass on the sampling of the brain tissue.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 15, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I haven't seen that movie, Cassandra, but justice is hard, and we're lucky in the courtroom to get right. As you know, sometimes even that is too hard. Besides, justice can be pretty harsh. One point of the jury system is to temper justice with mercy. If we're lucky, enough of the facts come out to get right, be on the road to justice, grant mercy, and come close in all that to wisdom.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 15, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

But did T. Rex wear a jacket, but no pants, like Donald, or did T. Rex not wear anything, like Daffy? The fossil record will only get us so far in answering these questions.

Posted by: engelmann | June 15, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

I thought T. Rex wore loads of eye makeup and very tight shirts. Bang a gong.

Posted by: -TBG- | June 15, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I read that statement as simply indicating that at that frequency the wavelength is, in fact, longer than a certain length. I don't think they were challenging the fundamental relationship which is, indeed inversely proportional.

There is an interesting subtlety, though.

Frequency X Wavelength = Wave speed in that medium.

Further, wave speed is usually proportional to density. Therefore, the wavelength of a sound wave at a given frequency will change depending on the density of the material through which it travels. (Same deal for light waves and seismic waves.)

This is why the ideal ear size of an ocean critter can be different (and typically smaller) than a land critter.

Physics is, like, everywhere.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 15, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Engelmann, there's photographic evidence that Daisy Duck wore FMPs.

Posted by: LostInThought | June 15, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

'Mudge, in the previous Boodle I was translating idiomatically (or idiot-matically, as the case may be).

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 15, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

The Winslow Boy was a nice little movie--cemented my esteem for Jeremy Northam, even before his dazzling turn in Gosford Park.

Here's the quote:

Sir Robert Morton: I wept today because right had been done.
Catherine Winslow: Not justice?
Sir Robert Morton: No, not justice. Right. Easy to do justice. Very hard to do right.

Thank you for bringing that up, Cassandra. I had forgotten it and in looking it up I also discovered that David Mamet was the screenwriter and director. I had thought it was an entirely English production.

Posted by: kbertocci | June 15, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I'm still having difficulty picturing dinosaurs nesting on their eggs. I mean, that's gotta be one tough egg to allow a 50-ton monster to sit on it.

Also, what is the purpose of nesting on an egg if the creature is cold-blooded?

Of course, I'm still hung up on the very disturbing notion of how T-Rexs even mated. That just has to be one very disturbing mating dance. Dinner and a movie just doesn't begin to explain it.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 15, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Cassandra, personally, I don't think there will ever be an end to our questions, to learning, about ourselves or about this 'verse we inhabit.

If we find that we made ourselves -- well, one could argue that we've always been self-made-men (in the human sense, not the gender-specific sense), but in another sense, I'd find it spectacularly disappointing but hardly surprising.

I'm used to being blamed for everything (just ask my friends and family), why _not_ capital "E" Everything? In my Lifelong Quest to Find Who to Assign Blame For All This, it would be a big time saver to know that I could have looked no farther than the mirror.

Of course, my next Lifelong Quests would be To Compile the Wholly Universal Litany of Excuses and to Figure Out Where It All Went So Very Very Wrong.


Posted by: -bc- | June 15, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Ach. Ich verstehe, Scotty.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 15, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad one of us does, 'Mudge...


Posted by: Scottynuke | June 15, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Many little bits and pieces:

(1) Jack Horner has been a leading light in dinosaur paleontology, at least to the extent that the non-specialist hears about it, for something like 30 years. I'd guess that he's about 15 years younger than Bob Bakker. Bakker came in with the introduction of paleo-engineering as an analytic discipline. Horner is more of a paleo-histologist, concerned with things like the interior structure of bones and analogs to to modern critters -- working from the assumption that certain structural adaptations are forced by lifestyle, physics, and chemistry, more than an artifact of evolutionary history (although evolutionary history controls which adaptations are possible).

(2) I gotta say -- if you don't take the notes, you may be having fun, but you're not doing good science. I hope that Dr. Loomis kept the critical notes, and that the scholars are disappointed only because they lack the off-topic notes that would better illuminate the man's personality.

(3) I met someone on Saturday who painted a landscape near Mianus. She pronounces it "my annis." Kind of disappointing, really.

(4) Hertz = Hz is a measure of frequency. Higher frequency implies shorter wavelength. Frequency times wavelength = speed of propagation in a medium. All just as RD said, I am just confirming the information.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 15, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

In keeping with our Boodle motto ("Clouds Are Hard"), everyone should be aware that a new type of cloud (the 82st type, as it happens. Quick: name the other 80) is under consideration for formal recogmition. Let us, then prepare to welcome the *undulus asperatus* into the fold.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 15, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Isn't comparing a T. rex to a canary kinda like comparing He PingPing to Bao Xishun?

Posted by: laloomis | June 15, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

SCC: 81st.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 15, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

On the home page, fercryinoutloud...

"Video Q&A | The Duggars, reality TV's other supersized family, talk to Sally Quinn about their marital advice for Jon and Kate Gosselin."

In the immortal words of Daffy Duck (on-Kit!!) -- "Shoot me now, shoot me now!!"

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 15, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Right, Rachel Maddow had Bill Nye on her show Friday night, talking about the cloud formation. I posted a link to it. He was skeptical about it being a new type of cloud, but excited about the possibility, in his geeky way.

Posted by: seasea1 | June 15, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Tim, you may be right on your #2. The field notes for paleontologists such as Barnum Brown for his endeavors for NYC's American Museum of Natural History list only the finds and pertinent discovery information, and read like ledgers. It was others such as Arthur Lakes who painted the watercolors of the digs and who made extensive notes which later proved to be valuable. Marsh hired both the worker bees and the painter bees and not always did the two types of men in the field mix very well...but in the end both men made significant contributions.

Posted by: laloomis | June 15, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Read that sentence again, RD.

It's about giving the context for the lay reader, if you'll see it.

I think "smaller than" would be appropriate, since it would imply that shorter wavelengths scatter more easily, which is true.

How it reads right now, the reader has no information on what Hz means at all, and may think that larger waves actually tend to block easier.

It's not a misfact; it's just sloppy writing.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 15, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

And I am much relieved to know my memory on wavelengths and such isn't wrong. Thanks, RD and SciTim.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 15, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I am in the camp that questions the facile equation "birds are dinosaurs". I am not inclined to question that birds are descended from therapod dinosaurs -- to the extent that I have been handed the evidences and inferences (as received knowledge), the case seems pretty solid. My disagreement is with the notion that birds can be fully classified merely by identifying their ancestral group. By that notion, 'mammal' and 'dinosaur' both are bogus classifications and we must all be identified as reptiles; or, go back farther and declare that we are nought but colonial eukaryotes. At some ill-defined point, I think enough differences pile up that one can declare the emergence of a new species or a new genus or a new order.

Nature did a very interesting experiment 65 million years ago -- it applied extreme stressors to the environment and, among the dominant animal order of the day, the only survivors were what are often called 'the avian dinosaurs.' That seems like a rather specific selection criterion: only those dinosaurs survived that flew, or whose ancestors had flown. None of those dinosaur groups survived whose ancestry included no flying members. My inclination is to consider this selection criterion as indicating some sufficiently large physiological difference between birds and their ancestry that they can be described as a new order. Given that both flyers and non-flyers survived (um, I'm pretty sure some flightless birds survived -- I know that some had evolved by then), it's probably not just the trivial fact of being a flyer at the time of the extinction event. Plus, of course, pterosaurs did not survive (although my memory is that they already were on the way out -- possibly because birds were better at occupying the niche). Bats were not yet present -- or at least, I have never heard of any evidence for airborne mammals at that time. Anyway, I'm willing to allow for a substantially different mode of respiration in birds compared to dinosaurs, if only because the efficiency of avian respiration could constitute one of those subtle but pervasive physiological differences that explains why birds survived when the 'other' dinosaurs did not.

So there.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 15, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Bats are so tiny that their skeletons don't survive well (same for birds' fragile skeletons).

However, bats are one of the oldest classes of mammals; 52 million years old and counting.

There is a hot debate precisely when bats branched off, because it was before any of the modern classes developed-- either from a proto-insectivore/chiroptera clade, or from a larger proto-clade including carnivores, artiodactyls, perissodactyls, and cetaceans.

(Clades are artifical groups formed by cladistics-- analysis of primitive traits. This may or may not concide with actual genetic analysis or fossil record data.)

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 15, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Of course it's pronounced that way, Tim. How have YOU been saying it all this time?

Posted by: yellojkt | June 15, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

You raise a very interesting question, SciTim. If, 65 million years ago, a comet explosion wiped out all the dinosaurs and most other lifeforms, how come birds (avian dinosaurs, or whatever) survived? One would think that a planet suddenly covered in smoke and ash and debris and whatnot would wipe out flying creatures even more selectively than anything else. And generally speaking, aren't birds relatively fragile creatures compared to other animals? (Viz., canaries being used in coal mines because they are even more sensitive to gases or whatever, than humans.)

Also, do we not know that alligators and similar creatures are some 220 million years old, and therefore survived the comet extinction 65 million years ago? And we note they are egg-laying reptiles, yes? So do we know that water-born reptiles tended to survive, while land-based dinosaurs did not? Allighators can survive at relatively low oxygen levels (surely as existed during the Big Boom and after). Do birds do well in low oxygen (one immediately thinks of high altitude)?

There was a sharp increase in the earth's oxygen level 50 million years ago, which scientists think led to the rise of mammals.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 15, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, and ichthyosaurs all died out with the K/T boundary, while crocodilians survived. As far as the mosasaurs are concerned, the displays at the National Museum of Natural History tend to promote ecosystem collapse as eliminating the food supply.

Birds breathe very efficiently. I suspect canaries are chemically more fragile than miners only because they are tiny and therefore need to process a lot of oxygen to maintain body temperature.

Fragility for fossilization is different from mechanical fragility. Sharks fossilize very poorly, but few would argue that they are terribly fragile creatures.

ScienceKid#1 considers that we may have more success in breeding monitor lizards into mosasaur-like animals than breeding large predatory flightless birds into pseudo-tyrannosaurs. It fails to test any useful hypotheses about large-animal predation vs. scavenging, but it would be pretty cool. And scary.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 15, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Come to think of it -- I don't think there were any large marine organisms of the Mesozoic that were derived from dinosaurs, unless you count flightless birds.


Posted by: ScienceTim | June 15, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Finished reading another biography of TD Roosevelt (big naturalist/shoot-'em-so-you-can-keep-'em birdwatcher/famous ties to Museum of Natural History).

He died.

Posted by: LostInThought | June 15, 2009 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Are you sure? Did you read the epilogue?

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 15, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Yep *Tim. I'm sure. Big sigh. But at least it wasn't as bad as the A. Lincoln biography "With Malice Toward None" where he dies on the last page, end of story. Nothing about the funeral train, MTL going even farther off the deep end and refusing to leave the WH, digging up the kid, nothing.

Posted by: LostInThought | June 15, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Also, a sharp decrease in the levels of carbon dioxide, Mudge. This helps trigger respiration rates-- think of how dizzy you get when you hyperventilate-- that's because the carbon dioxide levels in your blood drop drastically.

Studies with carbon dioxide levels indicate that higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere would trigger the growth of larger, but less nutritious plants, forcing herbivores to be large enough to eat a ton of fiber to get the digestion necessary. A low metabolism would be helpful too (voila, huge dino herbivores).

The problem is that huge species just go extinct very easily, as they have a lower effective population size.

We're all arguing why dinosaurs went extinct, but we forget the palezoic mammals were really huge too, and they went extinct like that, too.

Elephants are the one remaining megafauna genus, and they've evolved a lot since those days-- and they, too, face extinction from smaller mammals that kill 'em and take their food and change their habitats.
Unlike their mammoth cousins they also have adapted to hot weather by use of bigger ears, trunks, lack of fur, etc-- and great memories.

Maybe it was the same for the dinos, just minus the technology of humans.

Between temperature and atmosphere changes, increasing numbers of small animals passing on diseases and eating their eggs, etc, it wouldn't take much to crash population numbers.

The best argument for classifying birds as distinct from dinosaurs, in my opinion, rests on their brain size.

Crocodilians have a relatively more advanced brain than other reptiles, and have true cerebral cortexes.

Crocodilians might have survived because they had the wits to duck danger.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 15, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

May I brag to my imaginary friends?

After almost two years away from the gym (lack of gumption, among other things), I put on the gear and went. All I did was 10 minutes on the treadmill at 2.5 mph, but it was a nice start. The lower back didn't act up and the knees were reasonable (I wear neoprine knee braces when I'm doing this). I didn't do any weight training, because I have to get evaluated by the house PT first and then get a trainer to work up a program. I expect all this to happen in the next couple of weeks.

So, I'm feeling pretty good (well, to tell you the truth, I'm feeling a wee bit smug and *very* proud of myself). I so want to get the semblance of a strong body back, and this is the way to do it.

You may now go back to your dinosaur duties. In whatever language makes sense.

Posted by: firsttimeblogger | June 15, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Congrats ftb. You have reason to be proud.

Posted by: LostInThought | June 15, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

We all know how Hyannis is pronounced. Note the double 'n.' Therefore, we know how another New England spelled with one 'n' should be pronounced.

I have made a definitive pronouncement.

Posted by: rickoshea0 | June 15, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Yay, ftb! I'm going to count on some inspiration from you.

Posted by: Yoki | June 15, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

Yet another announcement: I joined the senior center for the free gym. (I lied about my age after the woman at the desk asked me if I were old enough.)

Posted by: rickoshea0 | June 15, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

You go, ftb! I'm still waiting for the pain in my tushie to go down enough to jog again.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 15, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

I liked the idea that some dinosaurs reached such enormous size in part because they had super-efficient bird-style lungs.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | June 15, 2009 6:33 PM | Report abuse

I think it was lots of fern fiber and gut gas myself, Dave.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 15, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Eeewww, Wilbrod.

Actually, to tell the truth, one thing that never fails to make me smile is to be watching dressage, the horse all polished and moving beautifully, but expelling a little "poot" at each hoof-beat.

Posted by: Yoki | June 15, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

I always thought that was how the horse kept time, Yoki...

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 15, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Oh! Maybe. I always thought it was the propulsion-system.

Posted by: Yoki | June 15, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Hello boodle! We hit 80 degrees today in Our Fair City, the first summery day since last August. A group of kids from our youth program went fishing for a couple hours this afternoon and everyone caught at least two. The champ caught 9 fish.

Off to back boodle and catch up on the news.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | June 15, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Doing a drive-by, since I'm in the field right now...

To go all technical, Horner is talking about the difference between synapomorphies and apomorphies. Synapomorphies (or shared, derived characters) are novel features found in two different species. These tend to indicate that the two species share a common ancestor; that's why they share the feature). Some characters appear to be synapomorphies but really aren't; instead they evolved convergently. Systematists, paleontologists, etc. get the big bucks (!) for figuring out which is which.

Apomorphies, on the other hand, are novel features that are unique to a single group (they aren't shared with anyone else). These don't generally indicate anything about relationships, instead, they're the features that are used to define a particular taxon. An apomorphy of modern birds is the fusion of the bones of the hand; another may be the unique lung. But as Horner said, these essentially tell us what make something a bird, not what it evolved from.

As for the Cretaceous extinction, a lot of the points raised earlier in the boodle are the same points that the folks that work on this extinction are looking at. In particular:

Why all pterosaurs but not all birds?

Why theropods/flightless birds (there were flightless birds, but apparently none survived the extinction).

Why all the marine reptiles except turtles?

Why all large animals, regardless of their taxonomic group?

Why mosasaurs, but not monitor lizards (close relatives)?

Why were calcareous phytoplankton apparently hit harder than silicious phytoplankton?

Why did flowering plants mostly do well, but not a lot of other plants?

Why were ammonoid cephalopods completely wiped out, but not closely related nautiloid cephalopods?

These questions probably don't all have the same answer.

Turns out, extinctions are complicated. No one seriously questions anymore whether or not an impact occurred at the end of the Cretaceous or that it was a major factor in the extinction. But, as with most things, the initial simple explanation turns out to only be the beginning of a much more complicated story--it's the thing that hopefully gets us looking in the right direction, and asking the right questions.

Posted by: Hopeful_Monster | June 15, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

H_M, excellent point about asking the right questions.

"42" seemed like a simple answer.


Posted by: -bc- | June 15, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Hopeful Monster! I feel smarter now than I did before I read your comment. Thanks.

Don't know anything pointy, but I *do* know that in legal research, the first thing is to determine what the right question is.

Posted by: Yoki | June 15, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Well, got one thing fixed, now it's something else. Always something to do. Just stopped by to say good night, boodle. We got a sprinkle here today, but nothing to alleviate the heat. My flowers are still hanging on, and they're just beautiful. Have a good evening, my friends. Where's Moe?

Night, boodle. Sweet dreams.

Posted by: cmyth4u | June 15, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Kbert!!! Thanks for giving me the right information. So glad to hear from you. I hope life is good, and family the same. It seems I can't remember anything these days. I forget everything. Take care, Kbert.

Posted by: cmyth4u | June 15, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

I think of the French/Belgian paleontologist Dollo who studied the fossils of Bernissart in Belgium for decades and devised the term ethological paleontology, from which are derived paleobiology--how an organism relates to its environment, fields more akin to zoology and botany, and biostratigraphy, akin to geology.

If the environment changes rapidly (possibly culminating in mass extinctions), survival would depend on what changes (air, water, land, chemical) and to what degree. Also availabity and abundance or scarcity of food stuffs: flora, fauna and proteins. Carnivores vs. herbivores. Couple that with each organisms structure and ability to adapt and survive by bettering the competition by outwitting them and/or surviving the competition by brawn, a better set of choppers, ability to outrun, longer forearms with a better claw. Also locomotion--whether land, water or air or a combination such as the amphibians, defense mechanisms. Advantages obtained through genetic adaptations.

Posted by: laloomis | June 15, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

There's just something lovely about the phrase, "expelling a little 'poot.'

Posted by: -TBG- | June 15, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Hopeful Monster"
Some characters appear to be synapomorphies but really aren't; instead they evolved convergently. Systematists, paleontologists, etc. get the big bucks (!) for figuring out which is which.

LL: How do paleontologists tell, discern how these novel features evolved convergently? The minutest of details in the fossil skeletons? Similar evolutionary pressures, environments? Similar genetic codes?

Posted by: laloomis | June 15, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

ScienceKid#1 really appreciates Hopeful_Monster's commentary and is busy schooling me right now. When I was kid, I was a dino-geek; but I have never even come close to the ScienceKid's mastery of cladistics synapomorphies (a word I have only just learned) and apomorphies (another word I have only just learned). A very educational evening.

Time to go watch an episode of Arrested Development.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 15, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Basilosaurus is dead,
poor Basilosaurus lies dead.
'Twas found in the Sahara's sandy waste
(Sandy waste!)
Seemed like a scaly beast,
though on milk its babes did feast,
now we know that it's a mammal and a whale!
(and a whale!)

- ScienceKid#1

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 15, 2009 9:10 PM | Report abuse

I meant to say "cladistics and synapomorphies".

Also, the ScienceKid is concerned that the lines ending in "waste" and "whale" were supposed to rhyme (tune is "Poor Judd is Daid" from "Oklahoma").

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 15, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

:) TBG.

Posted by: Yoki | June 15, 2009 9:23 PM | Report abuse

I think I had a friend back in college in the late 60s who did apomorphies. Me, I never touched the stuff. Just some, yanno, Maui.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | June 15, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Catching up on the afternoon. In response to ScienceTim's earlier post, I must say that I admire reptiles greatly and would be honored to be classified among them. Of course, when those practicing my profession are not grouped with sharks, reptiles are a close second - as in the classic, "Why did the lawyer stop for the snake on the road?" "Professional courtesy." Risible indeed.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 15, 2009 9:33 PM | Report abuse

A man went to a brain store to get some brain to complete a study. He sees a sign remarking on the quality of professional brain offerred at this particular brain store. He begins to question the butcher about the cost of these brains.

"How much does it cost for engineer brain?"

"Three dollars an ounce."

"How much does it cost for programmer brain?"

"Four dollars an ounce."

"How much for lawyer brain?"

"$1,000 an ounce."

"Why is lawyer brain so much more?"

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 15, 2009 9:35 PM | Report abuse

More backboodling. First, hearty and sincere congratulations to firsttimeblogger on your gym visit. That is the hardest one and I'm still where you were before you went today. However, I did spend two hours hauling branches from my yard to a brush pile in ninety degree heat, so at least I got some exercise. You have inspired me to do better - and indoors.

I am very glad ScienceKid#1 is considering the possibilities of re-breeding dinosaurs. I'd still prefer raptors to roam the yard, but a mososaur should give any casual shopper pause long enough for me to call 911.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 15, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

*Tim -- have ScienceKid#1 change line three to
"twas Sahara found and way beyond the pale"
(beyond the pale)

"Poor Judd is daid" is one of my favorites -- my roommate and I loved it back in the college days and wore out that part of the sound track record.

You can explain "record" to your kid.

Posted by: nellie4 | June 15, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

A woman and her little girl were visiting the grave of the little girl's grandmother. On their way through the cemetery back to the car, the little girl asked, "Mommy, do they ever bury two people in the same grave?"
"Of course not, dear;" replied the mother, "why would you think that?"

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 15, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Frostbitten, we went from freaking cold spring to hot summer in the space of a day. No one has the air conditioners up and running and boy do we need them. In short, more hot dry stuff coming your way. And if by chance the air is humid, well, you have my moisture. Could you send it back by mail? I'll pay the shipping.

Thanks Mudge for the cloud picture. I think I have seen that sort of clouds once before.
I would have been about 14, and we were picking tomatoes, potatoes and whatever else was out in the garden. I remember it not so much for the clouds but for my youngest sister, who at 4, thought the sky looked scary. We teased her horrendously and the only reason I remember the day and the clouds is because it was the day she got her little girl nickname.

Posted by: --dr-- | June 15, 2009 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Please congratulate ScienceKid#1 on her song, and tell her not to worry about the rhyme scheme - though nellie's suggestion works well. I recognized it right away. Very clever.

Jumper - punchlines please!!! I am everyone's favorite joke audience because I seldom remember the punchlines correctly. Of course that means I am the world's worst joke teller.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 15, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

ScienceKid#1: Her? Him? sorry if I offended the person in question. I guess I assumed that something so clever was probably of female origin. My deepest apologies to male Boodlers, including ScienceTim, to whom this clearly would not apply. Just to be safe, congratulate him (ScienceKid#1) too.

Two family favorite jokes which I can remember:

From the Boy (certainly Him), age 4: "Why did the cookie go to the hospital?" "Because he was feeling crumby."

From the Boy and Ivansdad, about age 3 (referencing a Star Wars character which guarded Jabba the Hut): "Knock knock." "Who's there?" "Pig." "Pig who?" "Pig with an axe."

My own personal favorite, I think from Lewis Carroll but am not sure:

"Why is an orange like a vest?" "It has no sleeves."

I used to ask the Boy, "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" and when he said "I don't know, why?" I'd laugh and laugh.

That's all I've got.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 15, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

dr! So good to see you. I was talking about you and my other knitting boodlers yesterday while visiting an old friend who is a devout knitter. Worlds colliding and all that.

Posted by: -TBG- | June 15, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

dr-I suppose with 59% humidity we could spare some moisture to send your way. Looks like we aren't due for any more scorching weather until Saturday, that is if you call 81 scorching which folks around here do. Didn't put the AC in the window at all last year, and hope to manage without it again this year.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | June 15, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

"My other knitting boodlers"...? you know what I mean...


Posted by: -TBG- | June 15, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

dr, your heat is heade our way for the end of the week, only it will be hot and sticky by the time it gets here, low 90's with the humidity - just in time for our annual 4 day music fest. The festival alternates between cool rainy weather and uncomfortably hot weather - never seems to be a happy medium, but it is a great event, streets closed and filled with outdoor patios, four or five stages of live music encompassing many different genres, Salsa and Latins dances on the street, a parade, carnival and this year a crafters marketplace. They have a supervised bike corral now to encourage people to ride their bicycles downtown, as parking is usually crazy and in good weather the crowds are large.

Posted by: dmd2 | June 15, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

It will be 100 degrees (F) here tomorrow and Wednesday. That's why I hauled branches today. I'll be in my nice air-conditioned office working during the remaining afternoons this week.

I should have answered my last riddle: "Because Poe wrote on both."

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 15, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

I knew exactly who you meant, TBG. Did you invite your knitterly friend to the Boodle?

Posted by: seasea1 | June 15, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

dmd-must be the weekend for music fests. The park across from the hip urban loft hosts a Jazz Fest this weekend.

I wonder what the 50 most looked up words from the boodle are, bet they're much more difficult than the NYT list. Apamorphies, synapamorphies...barely a day goes by that my vocabulary is not enriched.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | June 15, 2009 10:23 PM | Report abuse

FYI, this coming Sunday is Father's Day. I'm guessing many of you have dads of some sort in your lives, no? (Hint, hint.)

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | June 15, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Last Sunday I told Mr seasea "Happy Father's Day"...then I wondered why there was no mention on the Boodle, and then I realized it's this coming Sunday. Hope my kid remembers...

Posted by: seasea1 | June 15, 2009 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, we took Ivansdad to the book store and the electronics store (and the women's shoe store, but that was really a side trip) this past weekend. Everywhere, we asked, "Is there a Father's Day present for you here?" We cannot buy electronics of any kind for Ivansdad unless he is present and approves, since he knows more about them than we do (for those counting, the Boy is next in the knowledge line and I am last). We have all kinds of gadgets and doohickeys and acquired a lawn tractor last year, and he seldom wears ties, so we're stumped.

I offered to get him a rabbit of his very own. This did not go over as well as I had hoped. Of course I would never acquire a second rabbit. I believe at this point Beatrice believes she is the only rabbit in the world, making her supreme Queen of the obviously superior species, and we are put here to serve her. It would be cruel to disabuse her of this notion.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 15, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

I love ScienceKid#1's song!

Telling synapomorphies from apomorphies is usually very difficult, and sometimes impossible. The standard, cladistic way is by parsimony analysis; who is most similar? So, for example, for Species A, B, and C suppose the following is true:

A and B share character 1
A and C share characters 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6

The most likely scenario is that A and C are most closely related to each other, because they have 5 characters in common while A and B only have 1, and A and C have none. So how do A and B come to share that character? Very likely it's a convergence.

(Note: there is a possible alternative in this example. Character 1 could be a primitive character found in the common ancestor of A, B, and C. In that case, the character is lost in C but retained in A and B, making "loss of character 1" an apomorphy of A. In fact, in this particular example, the alternative is the "more parsimonius" explanation, because it requires fewer "evolutionary events".)

Besides looking at the distribution of the character in question across taxa, there are often subtle differences in convergent characters that are otherwise very similar. Perhaps the structure is formed from a different set of bones in each, or perhaps the characters have a different underlying genetic basis (in living critters), or maybe there is a set of fossils for each lineage showing directly how each species evolved the similar feature independently.

Posted by: Hopeful_Monster | June 15, 2009 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Father's Day at the Musical Festival is a bit of a tradition here, a good family outing, however, this year we have a graduation Monday that we need to work around. A towel warmer has already been requested for Fathers day. Perhaps a night out to listen to music under the stars Saturday will be good (sans children) - did I mention the beer tents? :-)

Kim - I am seeing what you ment - hair, nails, makeup, alterations.

Posted by: dmd2 | June 15, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

I almost forgot to say howdy to Hopeful Monster and thanks for chiming in, even from the field. I trust the D clan is well.

Time to pour the Boy into bed. A Broadway touring show last night, rowing camp today, and a minor league baseball game tonight - he should be tired even if he doesn't believe it now.

Vaya con queso, all; buenos gnocchis and fondue.

Posted by: Ivansmom | June 15, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

I first heard of cladistics in a presentation by one Gareth Nelson in 1973. I figured his stuff about phylogenies of fish made sense--for fish--but would never work with the muddled evidence and abundant polyplody and hybridization (resulting in "reticulate evolution") typical of plants.

Turned out the guy (and a jerk name V.R.Ferris who chain-smoked on a stage clearly labelled "No Smoking") had more going for him than I thought.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | June 15, 2009 11:02 PM | Report abuse

seasea1, thanks for putting Father's Day in a nutshell for most of us Dads.


Posted by: -bc- | June 15, 2009 11:02 PM | Report abuse

SonofG is heading down to these parts tomorrow. Busy day ahead. Caught a bit of "Walk the Line" tonight and just can't get this ditty out of my head. covered by NRBQ:

Posted by: -jack- | June 15, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

...and just because Johnny Cash was so great:

...that the Dead covered the same song. Garcia is in fine form when he solos.

Posted by: -jack- | June 15, 2009 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Hopeful_Monster, have you ever studied the movie "Labyrinth?" I love all the stage business with the hands and door knockers, and then the puzzle-setter admits, "i've never understood it!" Hee hee. That is me.

Posted by: Yoki | June 15, 2009 11:33 PM | Report abuse

Bad, bad Jack putting up youtube links so late at night. I'll never get to sleep for compiling the ultimate Johnny Cash and great covers of Cash playlist.

Nate Silver and the gang at 538 have some thoughtful posts on polling and Iran, including a different conclusion from the WaPo OpEd.

Is it just me, or does it seem like swine flu hysteria spun up a lot faster in the media than has interest in events in Iran?

From the last boodle-no good football movies? What were they smoking?

Toodles boodle and sweet dreams.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | June 15, 2009 11:34 PM | Report abuse

Ha, bc! I meant no disrespect...but our dads are long gone, my kid's grown and gone, so Father's Day isn't that big a deal around here these days. Mr seasea didn't know when it was either...

Posted by: seasea1 | June 15, 2009 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Mudgie, m'deah, you *did* write this, didn't you. Fess up!

Posted by: rickoshea0 | June 15, 2009 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Ed Roth depicted monsters like my vision of the TRex/DDuck morph

Posted by: -jack- | June 16, 2009 12:02 AM | Report abuse

Joke #1: Do you know how may lawyers you have to kill to get an ounce of brains?
Joke #2: The tombstone says "Here lies Fred Jones, an honest man, and a lawyer."

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 16, 2009 12:28 AM | Report abuse

Love the pound of brains jokes. I can do it with engineers.

Posted by: Yoki | June 16, 2009 1:01 AM | Report abuse

Alternate punchline for Joke #1: Those brains have never been used.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 16, 2009 5:46 AM | Report abuse

'Morning, Boodle. Boy, that was some hail storm in Washington Township, Bergen County, in northern NJ yesterday--more than 3 inches of pea-sized hail.

I am vastly amused that in criticizing Obama's policy toward Iran, John McCain on NBC a few minutes ago quoted (actually misquoted) Chairman Mao, "Let a thousand flowers bloom." McCain quoting Mao (I bet unknowingly)? Bwahahahaha.

Today in Nautical and Aviation History

June 16, 1776: The American colonists win their first naval victory of what will become the Revolutionary War when the Connecticut state brig Defence (sic) (Capt. Seth Harding) captures two armed British transports.
1963: Soviet cotton mill worker Valentina Tereshkova, hastily trained by the Soviet government for space flight, becomes the first woman in space. The 26-year-old is launched from Tyuratam aboard Vostok 6, and completes 48 orbits.
1977: Werner von Braun, who led Germany’s V-2 rocket program during World War II, dies at age 65. After surrendering to American troops and coming to the United States, von Braun led the development of America’s first satellite, Explorer I, as well as the first Mercury space launches. He became the most famous rocket scientist of the post-World War II years.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | June 16, 2009 7:24 AM | Report abuse

TBG, we knitters are an mythic subculture slowly working our way to take over the world. Sort of like Canadians.

Last Saturday I spent the day knitting with about 70 of my finest knitting friends, riding across the city on the LRT. It was World Wide Knit in Public Day, and we did (knit in public) and words cannot express how much fun I had.

Posted by: --dr-- | June 16, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Good morning everyone!

At home today with the in-laws to celebrate my son graduating from High School. (Between you and me, there never was much suspense about this.) I think graduating from High School is actually a much bigger deal for students than most parents. The big deal for us will be when he leaves for college. For students, this means the end of a structured life and the beginning of the more amorphous existence sometimes called "the real world." And that can be scary. And often is.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 16, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse

I was just checking the weather for this week, and noticed they had pictures of a hail storm in Sudbury on the weekend - up to 8" in some spots, there are some very good pictures of the strange cloud formations during the storm.

Posted by: dmd2 | June 16, 2009 8:15 AM | Report abuse

'morning all. Poor Iranians. It looks more and more as they are the pawns in a 30 year-long struggle for power between old men of the '79 revolution.

Brooks deconstructs Obama's health plan at

It's rather funny and disrectpectful of the windbags in Congress.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | June 16, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

Have a great day, RD! Congratulations to your son.

It really is a bigger deal than we realize when you stop and think about it. But Daughter was telling me last night that some of her friends were saying that they were sad that Freshman year was over. She said, "What?! I was tired of high school the first day. All I can think is 'three more years?!'"

I will be avoiding the GMU part of the world this week. Traffic is a nightmare during grad week as most of the high schools around here use the arena at George Mason Univ. Especially bad when those graduating are from schools farther away... yannow... the tourists who dont' know the shortcuts.

Thanks for putting Son of G to work this week, jack. Something tells me you're in for an interesting day.

Posted by: -TBG- | June 16, 2009 8:36 AM | Report abuse

If this is real, it is really something to follow...

Posted by: -TBG- | June 16, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Ignatius, as usual, is worth a read on Iran.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 16, 2009 8:50 AM | Report abuse

You are right about GMU traffic, TBG. We all went to that Eye-talian place by the Walmart for dinner last night, and we were afraid we would never get there.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 16, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Good morning boodle! I should be out in the garden but it is still, humid, and in the low 60s-perfect for mosquitoes. My welts already have welts so I'll wait for a bit to see if a breeze blows in.

TBG-Andrew Sullivan has been posting quite a few Iranian twitter feeds. Chilling and inspiring by turns.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | June 16, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Good luck with graduation, RD! And congrats to the son! It is indeed a milestone; there is no looking back.

For Iran: hope and pray, pray and hope. I hope and pray that our President finds the wisdom to do what is right, not meddle but encourage the best, least violent outcome.

The Geekdottir is back from a weekend at her boyfriend's home *down east* as we say in western NC. His mom has been laid off, a scary situation for a person who is a single parent with one son a poor grad student and the other with developmental issues. I'm praying for her, too. As far as I'm concerned, the sooner the economy improves for everyone, the better.

Posted by: slyness | June 16, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

What I want to know is whether the debate between Ostrom and Feduccia over feathered dinosaurs was ever conclusively settled? Feduccia predicted "the theropod [What's the correct spelling, therapod or theropod?] origin of birds will be the greatest embarrasment of paleonotology in the 20th century."

When all else fails, conversation-wise, talk of the weather. We've been in extreme bake mode for at least a week. In the last couple of day the paper reports that we've had the driest 21 months--EVER. The daily temperatures are in a run of 100s, the nights, about 80 degrees. We've had only half of our annual rainfall total. Tender leaves hang like limp green swatches fo fabric from limbs. It's sane to venture out only in the early morning or late at night.

We hit stage two water restrictions yesterday. All fountains in the city have been shut off for a while now. Local TV weather people predict that if we don't conserve water this week, we'll hit stage three water restrictions by next week--and it'll be only July 1.

I have a proposal. No visitors or travelers should come to San Antonio. Shut down the airport and highways into town. Please stay home. Don't come here for business, don't bring any sports teams here. Don't shower in our town. Don't flush toilets. Don't drink our coffee. Don't create dirty dishes or sheets or towels. Please stay away in droves.

Ag needs water. Livestock need water. We need water.

This message not brought to you by the San Antonio Visitors and Convention Bureau. Please, PLEASE, do not travel to south central Texas.

Posted by: laloomis | June 16, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Reviewing Hopeful_Monster's postings of last night, I infer that the correct spelling is 'theropod.' This spelling is endorsed by Wikipedia (Font of All Knowledge™) and by plain old Googling of the word.

ScienceKid#1 keeps close watch on science news related to dinosaurs (including Science News, available for subscription) and has alerted me to several finds of theropods with feather impressions, particularly a number of dinosaur discoveries in China over the past decade or so. I don't recall the status of feathers in non-theropods. Looks like the birds-from-theropods line of reasoning is not refuted.

Googling "theropod feather" reveals a bunch of informative sites, at the top of which list is a Wikipedia page on feathered dinosaurs. The Wikipedia page mentions several non-theropods with possible feathers or proto-feathers. I am not prepared to research the topic extensively at this time.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 16, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Apparently, "daffy" is akin to "daff" which comes from "doff" from "don off" (as in a hat, similar to "do on" i.e., "don") which arose from Old German "tuan." I make this to be, tenuously, "off his head."

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 16, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Lest there be confusion, I think most of our lawyers here know of my fondness for them, although every time I ask for legal opinion I shortly receive a bill via email. Not to worry, I have my own bankruptcy lawyer deal with them. But nevertheless, I would not want anyone else to believe I have any hostility to lawyers. I even support their inclusion in the august halls of my government. This is akin to my trust in doctors to cure forms of drug-resistant staph which would not exist if not for those doctors.

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 16, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse


Anybody here?

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 16, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I am here, and freshly showered. But with nothing terribly insightful to say about theropods, I fear. Or even Theraflu.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 16, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Awww, you'll make the lawyers blush, Jumper!

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 16, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I'm here, too. Didn't go to work today, got an orthopedist appointment at 1:15.

Posted by: curmudgeon-1 | June 16, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I'm here, but only half-way. (I'm trying to run numbers. Most of them want to jog, or worse, do that mall-shuffle thing.) I ain't know nothing bout birthin no dinosaurs, and I try to steer clear of lawyer jokes (other than to try not to let my inner giggles show on my face).

Posted by: LostInThought | June 16, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I kept wondering if a new kit hadn't been called, but was reluctant to chime in from my work laptop.

@Jumper: The trust you describe also holds for tech people being able to fix problems of their own making. . . Not that I've ever deleted my own account or anything.

Listening to Chris Isaac right now, it's been too long!

Who's up for lunch? I have plenty of grilled salmon left from last night.

Posted by: -dbG- | June 16, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

We are all getting ready for the graduation extravaganza. I keep thinking about my own high school graduation, which was held in the grandstands of the Western Washington State Fairgrounds. It was a spectacular day. I remember my grandfather sitting in the stands and waving madly at another kid who kinda looked like me. His eyesight wasn't what it once was.

Pomp and Circumstance was played, as per specifications, and many a hat, and a few gowns, were tossed. Afterwards, we all marched into the cavernous empty spaces beneath the grandstand, and the crowd erupted into joyful tears. Nothing, I mean nothing, in my life has ever recaptured that explosion of emotion.

I hope my son experiences that as well.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 16, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

That would be Chris Isaak. It really has been too long.

Posted by: -dbG- | June 16, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I've never seen Son of G smiling like he was during his HS graduation.

Of course, the severe case of senioritis that had set in had made the event not seem like such a sure thing after all, so there was much appreciation on his part (and mine!).

I hope your son enjoys the day, RD, and can tolerate the tears and reminiscences that are bound to be experienced.

Posted by: -TBG- | June 16, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Ah, the joys of watching kids walk across the stage. When there are almost 700 of them, it's quite the production. (That was the experience of one of my best buddies on Sunday afternoon.)

High school graduation, I walked across the stage. Undergraduate graduation, we were grouped by colleges and stood up, were declared graduated, and sat down. Masters graduation, I went to the beach instead.

Posted by: slyness | June 16, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Congratulations to your son, RD_Padouk, and his parents, too.

Did anyone mention that today is Bloomsday? I don't know what a suitable tribute to Ulysses might be. Perhaps eating a lamb kidney?

Hope everyone is having a good day.

Posted by: Yoki | June 16, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps a few grafs from an obit about Ostrom hold the answer?

Discovery of the Chinese feathered dinosaurs [mid-1990s] capped Ostrom's career, validating his theories that dinosaurs were active, dynamic animals, and that birds had evolved from small, predatory dinosaurs. Although the Chinese fossils were younger than Archaeopteryx, they showed that small dinosaurs must have evolved feathers long before flight.

Ostrom never became a public figure as did the colourful Bakker. But among dinosaur palaeontologists he was treasured as a father figure and mentor as well as a gifted scientist. He responded graciously to questions from children and journalists. In a posting on the dinosaur mailing list, Taormina Lepore, now a student working on dinosaur footprints Ostrom studied three decades ago, said his replies to her letters when she was nine and 12 had inspired her love of palaeontology.

Tom Holtz, a dinosaur palaeontologist at the University of Maryland who studied under Ostrom, said, "Through his work, and the research he inspired, we now recognise dinosaurs as one of the most successful lineages in the history of the planet, and one which still is present today in the form of birds."

Posted by: laloomis | June 16, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Greetings and Felicitations to Young Padouk! Well done, Scion of RD_P!!! Huzzah! (and so on) :-)

It's somewhat annoying how a doctor's appointment can mess up one's normal Boodling routine... No jogging for me for awhile, the 'ol Achilles tendonitis has raised its ugly head.

*propped-up-in-the-recliner-with-a-thoroughly-iced-down-heel Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 16, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

New kit!

Posted by: -TBG- | June 16, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

*faxing Motrin to Scotty*

*faxing tissues to RD*

dbG, I've got leftover spinach ravioli with pesto cream sauce.

But I got nuthin' on dinosaurs.

Posted by: Raysmom | June 16, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

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