Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Friendly Ostrich, or ferocious child-killer

Lately I've been thinking, are we really 100% sure that Big Bird is a bonafide "bird." While looking at a picture, I realized that his beak is less of a beak than well, the snout of a vicious raptor.
With this whole bird-dinosaur connection, we should really be more careful about our so-called "feathered friends." After all, how do we know when or if gamma radiation will activate the long dormant "slaughter in packs" gene of say, starlings or robins. If you saw Jurrasic Park, you know my terror!
But I digress...
The real topic of this post is a talk I heard by Dr. Phil Currie, of the University of Alberta Paleo department, a month or two ago. In it he covered in brief some of the amazing discoveries being made these days, especially those relating to the fossilization of soft tissue (muscle, arteries, etc).
In one of his slides, he showed the cross-section of a T-Rex leg that showed a layer of bone found in modern female birds, which is related to egg-laying. So, T-Rex had hollow bones, a la birds, as well as this bone layer. Pretty interesting stuff.
Next, he showed how paleontologists think they've discovered fossilized blood vessels inside said hollow bird-like bones. Conventional wisdom has always said that soft tissue cannot survive fossilization, but conventional wisdom seems to be wrong!
Needless to say, I was totally beside myself with glee after the lecture!

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