Monsters, dead birds and dinosaur stuff

Here are assorted relevant things that happened in March: ahh, what a month. First of all, another sea monster. It's the famous fishy-crustaceany monster thing at Plymouth Hoe Barbican...


Here's a dead Mute swan Cygnus olor I found among all the rubbish during the Chessel Bay clean-up. I have its head.


And here's a dead female Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula a friend gave me. Why do finches so often have those big callouses on their feet? Is this the same thing as the bumblefoot infection that sometimes affects captive birds? Bullfinches are carduelines, most closely related to hawfinches and grosbeaks: I touched on this here if you're interested.


Here's a slide from a talk I gave. In the talk, I planned to cover...


You get points for explaining the relevance of each part of the image. I asked the audience what the object at bottom right is. One person said: "A skull". Yeah, good work Sherlock. Finally, breaking my 'only tetrapods' rule - here's a DEAD GIANT SQUID I photographed at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth. I took the photo on my phone, hence the poor quality. Very cool..


And, now, back to work. I'm working on a book don't you know. It's nearly finished.

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You get points for explaining the relevance of each part of the image. I asked the audience what the object at bottom right is.

I'll settle for trying to get that one point: it's a reconstruction of the skull of that bleedin' imposter 'Eoanthropus dawsoni'. And its relevance? Erm, you used it to draw some cautionary parallells to the 'Archaeoraptor' case?

Yes, Eoanthropus of course. As for relevance, I should add that it's something extremely specific to the dinosaurs of the Wealden Supergroup. In fact, to know the story you probably need to see...

Naish, D. 2008c. Conan-Doyle [sic], Piltdown, and the dinosaur in the well: obscure Wealden dinosaurs and the stories behind them. In Moody, R., Buffetaut, E., Martill, D. & Naish, D. (eds) Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Saurians: A Historical Perspective. Abstracts of Meeting Held on the 6-7 May 2008. Geological Society of London, London, pp. 8-9.

My local museum has a colossal squid...

also, I like the fact that you can add in an offhand "I have its head" without anyone so much as blinking

Various birds get viral infections on feet. they seem to be OK with it. Naturally, they also can get mud on toes.

fishy-crustaceany monster thing

Surely a descendant of Nectocaris....


It somehow took me until last month to see one (dead) for the first time.

"famous fishy-crustaceany monster thing at Plymouth Hoe..."

Know locally as The Prawn, (also it's on the Barbican, the Hoe is the bit round the corner with the lighthouse [unless they have moved the prawn of course])

I was going to say the "exciting new discovery" was a herrerasaurid, for the skull looked rather boxy sort of like what one sees with herrerasaurids, but then I noticed that the figure had a three-fingered hand... So...I'm going to take a shot in the dark and say its either a dromaeosaurine dromaeosaurid similar to Dromaeosaurus itself or a basal coelurosaur similar to Ornitholestes.

Wait a minute, I just figured it out. That's a basal tyrannosaur. A basal tyrannosaur like Eotyrannus!

By Metalraptor (not verified) on 03 Apr 2009 #permalink

I guess giant squid are found to be sapient and of extraterrestial origin. They also kick-started tetrapod evolution, and wiped out dinosaurs as experiment failure.

(Fools Day lag.)

Did you know that sauropods disprove evolution (and the Flintstones)?

Found this comment:;f=1…

from the original:

Gotta love that. I thought the whole dino-neck-blood pressure thing had been worked out, and IIRC, from head and neck orientations, weren't there sauropods who were grazers (or was that shown to be incorrect)?

Just bringing this to the attention of dinosaur enthusiasts.

Admit it. You are totally infatuated with the fossilized skull of JarJar Binx. Shamefully, I might add. Though it's OK with me you get married.

Another differential for those foot lesions in passerines would avian pox.
Bumblefoot or pododermatitis is extremely rare in wild birds - it's mostly a husbandry-related issue in some groups when kept in captivity - although I've seen once these kind of lesions in a juvenile kingfisher captured in a bird ringing session. I have my theory on that. Any thoughts?

That statue is a wonder...if its based on a historical
sighting, I could see it being a mis-identified giant
squid...or, torturing a pun, it could be some bizarre
Australian conspiracy...( Prawn on the Barbican, Shrimp
on the Barbie,Eh, eh? )

I don't suppose the Geologocal Society of London puts
its materials on line? The "Conan Doyle, Piltdown, etc."
article sounds awfully interesting.

By craig york (not verified) on 03 Apr 2009 #permalink

The top left picture looks like (maybe) a diagram of pneumatic air sacs in dinosaurs, while the lower left definitely looks like a herrerasaurid (my first thought), however, it only has three fingers compared to the herrerasaurs five. It could also be a basal three-fingered coelurosaur. Anyway, just thoughts.

You have its head? What are you doing with it?
Is it kept with your collection of red rubber bands? I hope you know that swans (mostly)belong to Her Majesty. So, give it back at once, or there'll be trouble.
What else have you got? No, don't tell me...

That upper right pic, isn't that the complete remains of one of your favorite sauropods?

I would have said Eoraptor but I can't see enough skull in this picture and the femur is too long. Coelurosaurs also have 3 fingers so fit the picture and the femur ratio looks right but again I can't see the skull. No raptor toe so not Dromaeosaurs either. Looks a lot like Juravenator.

By far not complete enough to be Juravenator. It looks like Eotyrannus.

By David MarjanoviÄ (not verified) on 04 Apr 2009 #permalink

doug wrote:

Admit it. You are totally infatuated with the fossilized skull of JarJar Binx.

Ha ha! it is so like that, now I look again.

Darren - the shrimp/prawn/thing sculpture is awesome. I am delighted to have been shown it here, thanks!

Eotyrannus: "Diagnostic medial branch of usual 3-pronged posterior end of nasal is longer than lateral branches; Only 1 sacral is definitely known at present, the most caudal one. It is a definite sacral & has definite pleurocoels."

How con you see the diagnostic material in that picture? What about the elongated skull? I am not saying that it is Juravenator, only that whatever it is would like similar. I can't make out enough diagnostic material to tell what it is other than that it must be a Theropod in Maniraptora and likely in Coelurosauria.

like similar should have been look similar, sorry.

I meant to say "in Coelurosauria and likely in Maniraptora."
(I really hate cladistics).