Little bit of housekeeping

6 08 2007

Sorry for the lack of updates over the weekend everyone. I couldn’t get the computer working where I’m staying until Saturday afternoon, and I wanted to give The Boneyard plenty of time on the main page to get the attention it deserves.

At least, that’s my excuse. This weekend I watched plenty of BAD shark documentaries on Shark Week (Shark Man was the worst, by far), got a little reading done, photographed the white-tailed deer, cedar waxwing, northern flicker, and eastern goldfinch that visited the yard, and watched half of the first season of Primeval. The special effects on the show are great, although I’m not sure how I feel about trying to make the prehistoric creatures more fantastic/vicious than they may have been in life, nor the constant phrase “We now know that the past is real.” Did I miss something? Was the primary hypothesis about the past some form of Last Tuesdayism where the entire history of the earth and our lives are just pre-programmed software stuck in our head to make us think the earth is old even though it was just made a second ago? Indeed, even though I love seeing gorgonopsids get some attention, I think it would have been more fun if it was closer to its actual size; you could have people mistake it for a stray dog in the neighborhood, and if a gorgonopsid came running in through a doggie door (like coyotes in California and other places sometimes do), it could have made for a very interesting situation.

Plus I’ve got a response to write in terms of my “Why fight creationism?” post for a little while ago (I admit it; sometimes I get bored and go looking for trouble), so hopefully I’ll be able to get back to writing sometime today. Oh yes, and I also intend to write something up about hippos that may or may not be eating drowned ungulates during annual migrations in Africa, but I have the feeling that information on that topic is going to be scant. In the meantime, though, check out the latest editions Carnival of the Blue or The Boneyard if you haven’t already.


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5 responses

6 08 2007
Zach Miller

That’s my question when it comes to popular media presentations of dinosaurs, like the Jurassic Park series. Why make them up? Aren’t dinosaurs awesome by default that we shouldn’t need to put, say, teeth on the Pteranodon or a frill on the Dilophosaurus?

6 08 2007
Cory Tucholski

Was the primary hypothesis about the past some form of Last Tuesdayism where the entire history of the earth and our lives are just pre-programmed software stuck in our head to make us think the earth is old even though it was just made a second ago?

My brother-in-law, a staunch young earth creationist, has used that exact argument.

“We now know that the past is real.” Sounds cheesy.

6 08 2007
DoubleW

Primeval definitely left a lot to be desired. You already mentioned the corny “We now know the past is real” bit. Then there was the bit about the mosasaur leaping out of the swimming pool to catch a diver mid-air in its jaws. And the fact it insists in showing one of its female leads in her underwear in nearly every episode. (Maybe I shouldn’t complain, but it’s still tacky.) And that the lead hero, paleontologist Nick Cutter, doesn’t seem to know a heck of a lot about paleontology but knows a lot about time-travel physics. And that each of the main characters is just a bad stereotype: the silent hunk; the nerdy sidekick full of pop-culture references; the evil government bureaucrat; etc.

Still, it was an entertaining diversion, and the last two episodes are the best of the bunch. I’ve pretty much given up on it being scientifically accurate, although it would be nice if they started moving in that direction in the second series. They are bringing in some new writers for the second series, including a Doctor Who writer who has shown a lot of talent for penning good stories. I’m crossing my fingers.

15 08 2007
johannes

> I think it would have been more fun if it was closer to its actual size;

I think the size was about right for Inostrancevia, the largest known gorgonopsid. BTW, this seems to be the size limit for terrestrial synapsid predators, Arctodus, Megistotherium, Sarkastrodon, and Andrewsarchus were of similar size (but elephant-sized entelodonts like Daeodon might have been the exception that proves the rule). This said, the gorgonopsids in Primeval were scaly and lipless, wich I think is not very likely. While nobody seems too have done research about the presence or otherwise of gorgonopsian lips (if anybody knows better, please correct me), we know skin impressions from dinocephalians, and even those animals – far more primitive than gorgonopsids – had already lost their scales and had naked skin. The double set of canines was also annoying. The only therapsids that are routinely reconstructed with a double set of canines are not gorgonopsids, but therocephalians, and even in this case the reconstruction is almost certainly wrong, the “double-fanged” fossils coming from animals that died during the process of canine replacement (van der Heever, 1980).

> And the fact it insists in showing one of its female leads in her underwear > in nearly every episode.

They had a rather cheesy explanation for this; she had to keep her appartment so warm that clothing became unbearable to please Rex, the Coelurosauravus. Their point seems to be that permian creatures liked it warm. So how do they explain that 90% of them died when it became really warm at the end of the Permian?

> and the last two episodes are the best of the bunch

But an flightless bat with 5-6 pups? Did nobody tell them that chiropterans, even when they are very small, leave alone giant ones, tend to be K – selected? And have only one pair of teats, so how can they feed 6 pups?

28 11 2008
Adrian

“We now know that the past is real.”

I always liked that frase. An interesting premise for a SF. As I see it this has to do with physics and has nothing to do with evolution vs creationism. Past doesn’t mean ‘history’ here, think ‘space-time’, it implies that all time exists physicaly and time travel is therefore posible. If time is merely an abstraction (a mesure of motion) then there is no past to travel to. I think that’s an interesting premise and it’s one of those things that injects a bit of science into the program to make it interesting.

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