Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Dinosaur Heresies

from the diary: “Saturday January 2, 1988

“For awhile I did try to record at least the title of and a line or two about the major books I read. You know – the building of a worldview. Look at how varied are my tastes, prove to anyone I have a self-imposed educational regime unmatched by all but a few. Or whatever. Basically, that I’m interested in tons of stuff and that what I consume voraciously, ruminate over, is not just flash-in-the-literary-pan type stuff. I read quality.

“Today I finished The Dinosaur Heresies by Robert Bakker, Ph.D. He’s apparently a mover and shaker in paleontology. And the book was very interesting. The many proofs for dinosaur warm-bloodedness got kinda tiresome after awhile, but on bulk a very worthwhile and enlightening effort.”

I was a kid who loved dinosaurs. I try to pay attention to new thinking about them. I liked what Bakker had to say. He painted a dynamic ecosystem of vigorous animals; Bakker’s dinosaurs seemed anything but primitive or poorly adapted. A profile on the web by Tony Compagna describes Bakker’s position in paleontology, “Bob Bakker was a leader of the handful of iconoclastic paleontologists who rewrote the book on dinosaurs ... He and the others — notably John Ostram and Armand de Ricqules — changed the image of dinosaurs from slow-moving, slow-witted, cold-blooded creatures to, in at least some cases, warm-blooded giants well equipped to dominate the Earth for 200 million years. They argued that dinosaurs are the ancestors of birds. And Bakker contended, long before feathered fossils were found, that some dinosaurs were endowed with insulating feathers. The debate on all those issues continues, sometimes hotly, but new discoveries and research lend strong support to what seem no longer to be minority views.”


David Lee Ingersoll said...

Dinosaurs! How could I let a post about dinosaurs pass without a comment?

Here it is. A comment. Dinosaurs! Yay! Within every little birdie is the soul of a giant thundering beast, one of the order that once ruled the world! (Unless it's one of those birdies with the soul of a little tiny not very scary at all dinosaur. In which case ... YAY! Dinosaurs!)

Glenn Ingersoll said...

Within every little mousie is the soul of a whale? Given time ... and a good dunking.