Tuesday, March 20, 2007

My new favorite dinosaur

Check this out: it flew, but was a filter feeder. It would scoop up water in its mouth, and then filter it through the hairbrush attached to its lower bill.

Caroline is now into dinosaurs. At long last, something we can deeply bond over. We've been reading this book, recommended by the redoubtable PZ Myers. Our game works like this: We open the book and sit down in a comfy chair. Caroline then whines "Index! Index!" I say, "How would a nice person ask--some hypothetical nice person?" Caroline says "Dada please can we have the index." So we open to the index. Caroline then picks a word at random. I say, "That's not a dinosaur with a picture. You need to pick a boldface number, the numbers that are darker, like one of these." Caroline points to another random spot in the book, and I pick the boldface number nearest that spot. We turn to that page and look at the dinosaur. It's great.

(The lower scull is from Tropeognathus.)

In any case, my new favorite dinosaur is the pterodaustro. It is known from a few individuals found in the '70s in what is now Argentina and Chile. I guess this was too recent a discovery to make it into the children's books of my youth. When I was Caroline's age, my favorite dinosaur was the triceratops. I had decided that all the herbivores were good guys and the carnivores were bad guys, and the triceratops was the toughest herbivore I knew of.

Of course, we adults laugh at the unsophisticated tastes in dinosaurs of small children. The Onion can mock this guy for his rubish preference for T-Rex, obviously the most overrated of dinosaurs. (While quietly giving him credit for his deep appreciation of the stegosaurus, showing his respect for the mysterious plates and his conventional understanding of their purpose. Never say The Onion is only base humor.) I doubt that I would appreciate pterodaustro had I been exposed to it as a child. But now that I am an adult, I am quite confident that it is the coolest dinosaur.*

* According to Caroline's book, none of the pterosaurs are technically dinosaurs. This is not relevant for my present thesis.


Matthew said...

How can you mock a guy for liking dinosaurs? Everyone likes dinosaurs! (says the paleontology grad student...)

Matthew said...

^ I meant, how can the Onion mock a guy for liking dinosaurs...