Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Repackaged Notes I

` You know those tacky ‘Internet Trivia’ things? As you may know, I occasionally have been known to falsify a lot of their supposed ‘facts’. I’m sorry… well, no I’m not: They’re just plain wrong so much of the time!
` As I have no time for the internet these days, having to dash off to the library for my internet rations and all, this is very difficult to get done. Taking this into account, I have prepared for you - in shortened form - some information that I am fairly certain is true.
` It actually comes from discarded notes I have taken down for my novel, which I am dubbing ‘CM’ for non-insiders. And why, pray tell, have these notes been discarded? Because; they’re absolutely pointless and useless for my own purposes, and so, I am ‘recycling’ them for blogging purposes.
` In other words, you will not find this stuff in ‘CM’! Plus, they also have a 99.9999% probability of being absolutely correct. Most of them are from the science journal Nature and some are even from Cecil Adams’ Straight Dope.
` Without further ado, though much editing so that they make sense to the casual observer... ah... hmm.... How about a funny quote to start us off? Internet Trivia often contains those:

You know the world is going crazy when the best rapper is a white guy, the best golfer is a black guy, the tallest guy in the NBA is Chinese, the Swiss hold the America’s Cup, France is accusing the U.S. of arrogance, Germany doesn’t want to go to war, and the three most powerful men in America are named ‘Bush’, Dick’, and Colon’.
– Chris Rock. (Allegedly, anyway.)

` And onto the facts! First, let's start with prehistoric reptiles: For one thing, there has been long past discovered yet another very obscure detail that links birds and other Coelurosaurs:

* Female birds have medullary tissue inside their hollow bones, which converts bone material into eggshell. Tyrannosaurs had the same thing! Medullary tissue is not found in bird’s closest living relatives, the crocodiles.
` Judging from this, it would seem that medullary tissue was probably common to many types of dinosaurs.

* Gallimimus bullatus was a filter-feeder, according to soft tissue found preserved around its beak.

* Erketu ellisoni was a Diplodocus-like dinosaur with over 1/3 of its spinal length dedicated to neck! On the other hand, Brachytrachelopan mesai was a similar type of dinosaur whose neck barely reached to the ground!

* Psittacosaurus ‘parrot-reptile’, was a six-foot long dinosaur which had a parrot-like beak and about a hundred ‘porcupine’ quills that grew from its tail. It apparently cared for its young – thirty-four of them were found in half a square meter with an adult.

* Speaking of the reproduction of ancient creatures, the flying relatives of dinosaurs, the pterosaurs, aparently laid eggs! Of the eggs that have been found, they were leathery in texture.

* Along the same lines, Ichthyosaurs as well as giant marine lizards such as Mosasauroids were viviparous, as we know from preserved mothers giving birth.
` Sauropterygians such as plesiosaurs, pachypleurosaurs and nothosaurs, have also been proposed to have given birth. However, two female pachypleurosaurs called Keichousaurus hui have been found with unlaid eggs!
` This has allowed scientists to see their sexual dimorphism and to notice the females’ moveable pelvises. Other sauropterygians are known to have such pelvises, and so it is thought that they also laid eggs.

` And now for something completely different:

* It is not true that Viking warriors wore horns on their helmets (like Hagar the Horrible). In fact, according to Viking-Era artwork, they wore either dome- or cone-shaped helmets, or nothing on their heads. So where did this horn-thing come from?
` Norse and early Germanic priests were the ones wearing horned headgear for religious ceremonies. Celtic peoples, for their own sacred reasons, wore helmets with wings, and somehow these also made it into the image of the Vikings.
` How?
` Plutarch said that the Cimbri (some of the possible Viking ancestors), wore ‘helmets, made to resemble the heads of wild beasts.
` Diodorus Siculus described the Gauls, who were not Germanic but Celtic, as wearing helmets with wings, horns, antlers, or whole animals.
` It should be noted that people who painted pre-Vikings, beginning in the seventeenth century, knew about this horned helmet-wearing described by the ancient authors, who were not clear on their purpose. They painted Cimbri doing battle with ox-horn helmets.
` The Viking warrior’s 'new' helmets with wings, and later horns, in the 1700 and 1800s, were given to them by Romantic artists who often painted in unusual classical, Celtic, and Germanic motifs, ere a Viking driving a chaiot.
` At about the time of World War I, the image of horned helmets became more popular in the cultural eye than winged helmets.
` I should note, however, that two helmets from the Bronze Age have been found in Visko, Denmark, bearing long, twisted metal horns. Apparently, these were not for fighting in: Vikings obviously wore protective helmets without projections that would weigh them down, if anything at all.

` Onto the next Discarded Note:

* Between 1960 and 1970, Americans had grown almost an inch. However, they haven’t actually gotten much taller since then, while western and northern Europeans have grown further on average by as much as 7 cm.
` And if you think there is only a general trend towards tallness here, think again: In the nineteenth century, Americans were 3-9 cm taller than they are now! Americans may be shorter now because in the second half of the 20th century, there has been greater social inequality, inferior helath and prenatal care, and a worsening attitude to preventative medicine in the US compared with Europe.
` Also, of course, there’s immigration: Many immigrants tend to be rather short.

` Well, that’s kind of interesting. How about something kind of bizarre… and contrived?

* On Oct 4, 1958, Cacareco the rhinoceros was the most popular candidate in the Sao Paulo State Parliament elections with about a hundred thousand votes. Makes me wonder about how many other countries he could win over, if only people were given the choice to elect him?

` And last but not least, how about a strange and unusual IM away message I’ve come across in the distant past?

* FAR 91.15: Dropping objects: No pilot in command of a civil aircraft may allow any object to be dropped from that aircraft in flight that create a hazard to persons or property. However, this section does not prohibit the dropping of any object if reasonable precautions are taken to avoid injury or damage to persons or property.

` Hmm. Well, I’ll have more some other day. Until then: Turn blue! Stay sick! Climb walls!

3 comments:

Aaron said...

What is your novel about? I'm having a hard time understanding how those notes are related.

S E E Quine said...

` They're not, really. That's part of the reason I ejected them from my hard drive.

Galtron said...

I'd rather not stay sick, as I have the flu, but it would be fun to climb walls.