Month: August 2014

Loss: Part 2

I had a crappy day at work on Friday. Actually, I should clarify that a little. Thursday ended crappily and with me in a bad mood that only got worse as the evening wore on. Friday morning, purely due to work reasons, began crappily. Friday morning extended the crappiness for a time, but then it got better. A lot better. Mostly due to the people I work with. Then it got crappy again, but then it ended on a high note with the crappiness evaporating completely. Again due to the people I work with.

However, during the early morning crappiness a colleague asked me something – a very reasonable request that wasn’t in any way connected to the crappiness – and I gave somewhat of an incoherent and rambling response, for which I apologised for later on. The lady in question asked if I was okay, and I gave her a précis of the crappiness and then wondered why I was so crappy about it as I wasn’t a crappy kind of person – with which she agreed. But she said something to me … “At least you care enough to be bothered.”

Which is a good point.

And it reminded me of two things. Firstly, of a particular song (and the film its connected with) and, secondly, of the emotions associated with the song and the film – and a particular evening I spent dissolving myself from the inside out listening to the soundtrack.

Anyway, this is the song – More Than This by Shane Mack.

I played a fool, yeah I played a losing game
And let go of my innocence
And I don’t know, I’ll never be the same
Can I just be more than this, more than this?

If this is all, if this is all we ever were
At least I loved enough to hurt
Enough to hurt

And that’s the thing, isn’t it? The thing with loss. Why it hurts.

And why its necessary.

Here’s Part 1 … in case you missed it.

Dino-fuzz & Asteroids: Dinosaur Round-Up

You might remember (probably not) a while ago that I had a bit of a … well, a rant about dinosaur coverage in the media. Well I’m back. But this time its not a rant. Well, its 50% rant, 50% awesome.

We’ll do the happy dance first … which is all based around this guy:

Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus - Art by Andrey Atuchin

Kulindadromeus zabaikalicus – Art by Andrey Atuchin

Brian Switek (he of the Allosaurus tattoo) does a very nice write up of the story and the implications over at his slice of National Geographic’s Phenomena blogging salon, Laelaps.

In a nutshell, dinosaurs are primarily one of three large families – theropods (home to Sexy Rexy, “raptors” and the bird-lineage), sauropodomorphs (Diplodocus and the like), or ornithischians (horned beasties, armoured/spiked beasties, “duck-billed” beasties). Ornithischia (literally: bird-hipped, due to the bird-like structure of the pubis – despite birds themselves coming from a different lineage altogether) also included families of mostly bipedal dinosaurs that were remarkable in being pretty … well, unremarkable. By that I mean that they were generally small, unspecialised beaked dinosaurs.

Two ornitischians have been found with … “integumentary traces”. One is a Psittacosaurus (a type of basal ceratopsian from the early Cretaceous – which is actually pretty cool for various reasons already) with bristle-like forms on its tail. The other is Tianyulong (a tusked heterodontosaurid from the late Jurassic with filamentous structures on its back, tail and neck), but the dino-fuzz found on Kulindadromeus has a few implications that may be a bit cool.

In brief, this little munchkin sits further back in time (mid to late Jurassic) and a part of the dinosaur family tree that could show that dinosaurs weren’t just the scaly giant lizards that chunks of the populace still believe. There’s more I could say here, like how pterosaurs have a kind of ‘fuzz’ and how alligators have dormant genes for feather production so this could point to a much earlier presence of integument but as Brian puts it:

… while the headline that “all dinosaurs had feathers” stretches the evidence too far, [they] are correct that dinosaurs probably sported a variety of filamentous body coverings in addition to scales.

 

 

Mammals feasting on fried Troodon at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Photo by Brian Switek

Mammals feasting on fried Troodon at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Photo by Brian Switek

Now, the other part of this post has been the reporting of a study that the dinosaur extinction at the end of the Cretaceous was just plain bad luck. I’m going to link you back to Brian’s write-up for a good take on it. The gist is that if the asteroid had hit a few million years earlier or later then the dinosaurs would’ve survived – maybe not intact, but there you go. Turns out that their environment and food chains were at a particularly delicate place

Of course, dinosaurs did survive the impact and they’re all around us today. And plenty of other types of animal didn’t survive – certain types of bird, mammal, lizards, plants, mollusks, sharks, marine lizards, plesiosaurs, pterosaurs, insects and planktons – so perhaps its a bit of an over-simplification.

Obviously, but its very nature, getting hit by an asteroid is extremely bad luck – but 75% of all life was extinguished, not simply the part that was inhabited by non-avian dinosaurs. I also object to the term “luck” – but its in a way that I can’t really quantify or explain properly. On the one hand, everything happens by pure dumb luck. On the other hand its neither good luck nor bad luck it just … is. Its just life. Its just living.

Does that make any kind of sense? I’m not sure I can articulate it any better than that. Which makes this slightly less of a rant and more of an incoherent murmuring that drifts off into awkward silence …