Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Day 78/365 PredatorX, Pass the Chex Mix

(While reading this, softly hum the theme from Jaws to yourself. And everyone else in the room if they'll put up with it.)

This is a photo from Atlantic Productions, actually a recreation of what a newly discovered sea reptile would look like. The scientists have just found the fossils, so no need to cancel that cruise you have planned, but the fossil sizes themselves indicate this thing was GIANT*HUGE*ENORMOUS*! Think bigger and more powerful than T.Rex, maybe even bigger than Godzilla.

The skull fossil alone is 10 feet long, as are each of its front flippers, with the overall body length estimated at least 50 feet. The jaws (think alligator-but bigger) had a bite force of 33,000 pounds "more than 10 times that of any animal alive today and 2 to 4 times the bite force of T. rex." No comparison to Godzilla was given.

The fossils have been found on an Norwegian Arctic Island called Spitsbergen, 800 miles from the North Pole (what's left of it, thanks to global warming). There's a 3-week window of weather when it's warm enough to excavate the froze soil, and survive the cold nights, never mind it's an island inhabited by polar bears.

But here's the part I find most fascinating: the discovery team is from the University of Oslo (Norway); scientists from the Natural History Museum in London took CT scans of the skull, measuring its probable brain size and shape; and at Duke University in North Carolina, American scientists conducted wind-tunnel tests on models of the flippers, concluding that the lazy swimming was done with just the front set, but all four 10' foot flippers were engaged when choosing from the ever-present seafood buffet.

If people from Norway, London and North Carolina can figure out ancient Godzilla-like sea creatures, it would seem like the rest of us could work together to figure out modern-day problems, like say, the global economy, climate change and maybe even world peace?

While we wait on those answers, the History Channel is running a 2 hour presentation on the newest sea monster (and they said they didn't exist! All those old guys drawing those old maps were right, weren't they?). Check it out on March 29th

P.S. If you're wondering where we would fit in on the seafood buffet for our Giant Friend, we'd be like the little pretzels in Chex Mix, or possibly popcorn shrimp - he'd just be tossing us back one after the other with a beer chaser, complaining about how he can't eat just one.

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