Wednesday, March 18, 2009

rethinking the dinosaur

Today's word of the day: dino-fuzz
Synonym: protofeathers

As in, rather than being covered with scales, dinosaurs may have been covered with varying layers of dino-fuzz, the precursor to modern-day feathers. Not only that, though. Dinosaurs may, in fact, have been warm-blooded after all--at least, so says professor Lawrence Witmer, a paleontologist from Ohio University. It's a stretch, of course, but his idea is that if dinosaurs were fuzzy, as it turns out now that they may have been, perhaps they needed to stay warm. Who knows.

It's all based on the nine billionth discovery about dinosaurs that shows us that we really have no idea what we're talking about when it comes to things past. The first time (at least, first in my stasia-centric world) was when my favorite dinosaur, the brontosaurus, turned out to actually have been a mistake: wrong skull on wrong body and then poof! What was thought to be brontosaurus was actually apatosaurus all along. Since then, I've largely become disinterested in dinosaurs, but it seems like every so often someone makes a new discovery and turns everything we know on its head. I guess dino-fuzz is just the latest in the series. Read all about it here, but for god's sake, don't get too invested in a picture of dinosaurs with colorful feathers, because I'm sure we'll discover something else that changes the picture again soon.

It cracks me up how we constantly revise the past and come to new, better, best understandings of it. Will we ever really find an answer, to anything?

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