Posts Tagged 'humour'

Coming soon to your screens: Dinosaur Hyperbole

Yes this is the official release of my awesome concept for a new dinosaur series for TV. Like pretty much all other shows it relies on massive amounts of dramatic hypotheses presented as facts or theories that are only vaguely supported by the loosest of interpretations of evidence, but unlike the rest it’ll be totally up front about it. In fact the basis of the show is to produce the most dramatic and hyperbolic ideas possible from the least amount of evidence.

The idea is you start with a rubbish bit of bone – an indeterminate midshaft, skull fragment, distorted track or similar and then have to build up from there top the most extreme extrapolation of ecology, evolution or behaviour. So an isolated condyle could be posited as being the distal end of a giant digit one on a monstrous theropod, which would be a late surviving ceolophysoid, which having knocked around for 100 million years longer that it should must have specialised enormously and thus must have a massively elongate neck used to strike at pterosaurs. The various answers given by a panel are then voted for by the public to find a winner.

It’s great. It’ll be high profile, present the vast majority of the public with even more outrageous dinosaurs than they get already, and with probably no overall loss of accuracy compared to what normally gets on screen. Plus the phone votes would probably bring in a fair bit of cash for research. I’m sure it’ll work and I’m look forward to hearing from the TV companies who’ll be queuing up to make this. Possibly. Still, it can’t be worse than some of the stuff that’s been up there on the screen supposedly backed by ‘evidence’.

10 things I learned last week

Even if you were furiously clicking on all the links to various news sites and blogs that I flagged up last week there are probably a few things you missed which might be of interest:

  1. I am a German researcher.
  2. Jeholopterus was flying 220 million years ago.
  3. Tyrannosaurus killed and ate Diplodocus.
  4. The specimen on which we based our soft-tissue research was only found on Wednesday.
  5. Tyrannosaurus was the biggest predator ever.
  6. Jeholopterus was a pterodactyl.
  7. Tyrannosaurus can also be written as Tyrannosaurus, Tyrannosaurs, T.rex and T-rex.
  8. The smallest pterosaurs were only 25 cm across.
  9. Pterosaurs are dinosaurs
  10. The theropod paper came out on Thursday.

I wouldn’t want people to think I was skimping on details or holding back on things and giving them a false impression of my research since clearly the media have unearthed lots of things that somehow I missed while I was, you know, writing the papers…. Hmmmm.

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Why biology is hard – the physics of cats

The little thought experiment that forms the basis of this post is taken from Professor Charles Marshall via Musings regular Corwin Sullivan and aptly demonstrates why an awful lot of biology is really quite hard to study when compared to the other sciences (most notably physics and chemistry).

Let us consider a standard billiards table (though bar billiards should be recognised as one of the greatest games ever, it is perhaps not the best for this example, and a cannon billiards table might be even better, but so obscure I doubt even many British readers have come across one, anyway…) and on this table lets put three balls in a row evenly spaced across the width of the table. Now, hit each ball in turn gently, aiming straight down the table as evenly as possible (that is, try to make each shot have the same power and no spin). What will happen to the balls? Continue reading ‘Why biology is hard – the physics of cats’


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