All posts filed under: Extinct


How Tyrannosaurus Ate Triceratops

By examining bite marks on the bones of Triceratops a team has figured out how Tyrannosaurus would eat them. Step one: get a good grip on its neck frill. Step two: tear to expose the tasty neck muscles. Step three: have a wee nibble on its face. Step four: eat the wibbly bits under the frill. Nature


Why did T rex have little arms?

Since man first stepped out from the forests and developed a rudimentary sense of personal hygiene, we’ve asked questions about everything; is there a bearded sky fairy? Is there life outside of our own galaxy? How many questions is it acceptable to use as padding in an essay? Few questions are as beguiling as a mystery that surrounds the most ghastly, grisliest, most dreadful blood-curdling creature ever to have walked the planet. Why was it that T rex had silly little arms? In many creatures there exist vestigial structures, bits of the body that over time and many generations have become smaller as they’ve given no evolutionary advantage. Whales have little legs on a tiny pelvis hidden deep within their tubby bodies. Emus and other flightless birds retain small wings that are quite useless. Even in our own bodies there is a tiny tail at the bottom of our spine, not to mention Darwin’s tubercle; a muscle connector in our ears and countless other body parts that have drifted off into a miniature useless version …


Stephens Island Wren

There is perhaps one animal we can doff our caps to as quite simply the most depraved, sociopathic, genocidal, xenophobic, maniacal bastard on the planet… in this case its name was Tibbles. Yes quite, one is sure you have guessed that we are talking about the common housecat, Felis catus as learned types call them… git as it’s referred to by pretty much every animal small enough to fit into the sod’s mouth… mice and birds in particular are not surprisingly really rather vociferous in this matter…. even more so the Stephens Island wren, a bird that had evolved into a mouse. We’ve heard in previous evenings at The Proceedings about how New Zealand’s birds have evolved flightlessness, taken the ecological niche of pigs and indeed been right royally buggered every time something new moved into the neighbourhood. Similar to that tubby lump the kakapo the Stephens Island wren has taken up the ecological niche of a mouse. As there were no mammals in New Zealand the wee bird had a marvellous idea, it would …


Meet the bite-sized winged beastie sharovipteryx or ‘sharov’s wing’ as it roughly translates, hailing from the time of the first dinosaurs and crocodilians or the ‘big snappy jawed lizardy thingamujigs that will eat anything whatever they are roughly called’. A time, it should be duly noted, when it was a remarkably bad period for being a bite-sized winged beastie… thankfully sharovipteryx had an idea. Honking great legs are a marvellous plan if you are going to live through the chomping years, running like the blazes being a rather good idea. Not short on bloody good idea’s old sharovipteryx had some extras bobbed in, wings on its legs to be precise, swooping off like your life depended on it was a tip top plan… not least because it did. What is of course remarkable is that sharovipteryx’s wings were on his back legs. He was most definitely a glider rather than a flyer. It may also have been that he used his big clawed back feet to run up trees and glide off away from anything …


When Professor Harry B Whittington first showed his beloved and painstaking reconstruction of opabinia to his esteemed peers they gave a rather surprising response… they laughed. Sadly it wasn’t because opabinia was a famed wit and raconteur, nor were these learned types prone to giddy bouts, poor opabinia was just a bit funny looking. Of course guffawing at his looks wasn’t a very nice thing to do, and could go part way to explain why this odd chap hasn’t been that social in the last 500 million years. Though it’s not just the five eyes that make this chap Ever so Strange. Where to begin ‘pon his many festoonations? One thinks we may have to go through this logically. So starting at the rather odd-front; opabinia has what can only be described as a spiny claw. The claw is attached to a hollow trunk, yes quite like that of the elephant, except corrugated as if it were a hoover attachment. He would have used the claw on the end of his odd trunk much like …

Regurgitalites – Fossil Vomit

It’s well known that various extinct beasties have been outlived by their droppings in fossilized form or coprolites. Thought it less well documented that there are a number of fossilised barfs. While dinosaurs stamped upon the ground the icthyosaurs, giant marine lizards, sloshed around the seas eating crunchy things. Much like an owl hoiks up a gut full of insect bits and bones, it seems these extinct beasts would chunder out bits of smaller things that were unfortunate enough to be eaten by the beasties. via wordspy


Russian legend tells of the legend of the Indrik; the king of all the animals, a gigantic bull with the head of a horse, when he stirs the ground shakes… The largest mammal to stomp around the planet wasn’t an elephant, and the tallest warm and furry that ever lived wasn’t a giraffe. Say ‘how do you do’ to Indricotherium the biggest bloody rhino you’ll ever set eyes on. He was the biggest standy mammal that ever lived, and the biggest leggy thing on the planet since the huge sauropod dinosaurs, yes that’s right the ones with the long necks, four legs, big chap… can’t miss them… diplodocus and brontosaurus and whatnot… It’s no coincidence either that this elephantine-giraffey looking rhino had come to look like a honking great reachy thingy. They ate the leaves at the top of trees, in a word; browsers. They chomped on leaves and twigs, also known as browse. As opposed to grazers who not surprisingly eat grass. Millions of years before Indricotherium there were the big sauropod dinosaurs who …