1747: "Spider Paleontology"

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KarenRei
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1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby KarenRei » Mon Oct 17, 2016 1:38 pm UTC

Image

Alt-text: "Whenever you see a video of birds doing something weird, remember: Birds are a small subset of dinosaurs, so the weirdness of birds is a small subset of the weirdness of dinosaurs."

---

I think people who design CG dinosaurs would do a much better job if they studied the diversity of bird behavior better and at least tried to capture some of that.

Example: amazon parrot threat displays.

When an amazon parrot gets hormonal, it fans out its wing and tail feathers, going from a drab green to bright flashy rainbow colours. It hunches itself into a more crouched position, increasing the display as well as being in a better position to lunge out and snap at whatever is around it. But that's not the interesting part of the display - the interesting part is the eyes. Amazons do what's called "eye pinning"; they quickly (~0,5 hz) and dramatically change the size of their pupils while staring at you - pulsating orange eyes, like something out of a horror movie. For added effect, they switch between holding still (muscles ready to spring), and snapping out at whatever is in range (even an inanimate object like a branch or metal bar) and repeatedly clamping onto it as hard as they can, without breaking their gaze on you - an unspoken "THIS IS GOING TO BE YOU NEXT, MOTHERF***ER!" The parrot equivalent of a supervillain who's angry at a henchman in front of him so he shoots one standing beside him for emphasis.

Now, it's one thing for such behavior to come from a bird that weighs a couple hundred grams. But picture something the size of a T-rex doing all that.

Ed: found a gif of the eye pinning:

Image

... although that parrot's eyes look whitish, mine are bright orange with yellow and red rays going through them.. And of course that gif doesn't show the rest of the threat display
Last edited by KarenRei on Mon Oct 17, 2016 3:01 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby Flumble » Mon Oct 17, 2016 2:01 pm UTC

KarenRei wrote:I think people who design CG dinosaurs would do a much better job if they studied the diversity of bird behavior better and at least tried to capture some of that.

Then again, the audience (including me until now) doesn't know about this behaviour, and can dismiss it as unnatural. You know, like how dinosaurs with feathers are unnatural.

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby Soupspoon » Mon Oct 17, 2016 2:04 pm UTC

least we know, thanks to the questions being asked by the futurebeing, that:
a) Spiders are not the ultimate rulers of the Earth,
b) Whatever they actually accomplished, betweentimes, they never made webs thick enough for a technological civilisation eventually capable of temporal mechanics to have ever detected traces of in the fossil record.

So the future isn't that bad...

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby cellocgw » Mon Oct 17, 2016 2:31 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:least we know, thanks to the questions being asked by the futurebeing, that:
a) Spiders are not the ultimate rulers of the Earth,
b) Whatever they actually accomplished, betweentimes, they never made webs thick enough for a technological civilisation eventually capable of temporal mechanics to have ever detected traces of in the fossil record.

So the future isn't that bad...


Well, sorta depends on just how accurately the future identified spiders. What if it was more like confusing lions with anteaters?

It also appears that this particular future fellow is so far in the future that all of the Historical Documents from our era are lost, otherwise they would certainly know about spider webs. And spiders falling from ceilings into our mouths. And weird boys flying thru the air by shooting physically impossible sticky webs at skyscrapers.
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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby andykhang » Mon Oct 17, 2016 3:56 pm UTC

So roughly a couple thousand year or two...Holy crap, if people thousands of year from the future find spider to be like that, just how on earth would we recognize a dinosaur when we travelled dozen millions of year into the past?

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby somitomi » Mon Oct 17, 2016 4:03 pm UTC

cellocgw wrote:
Soupspoon wrote:least we know, thanks to the questions being asked by the futurebeing, that:
a) Spiders are not the ultimate rulers of the Earth,
b) Whatever they actually accomplished, betweentimes, they never made webs thick enough for a technological civilisation eventually capable of temporal mechanics to have ever detected traces of in the fossil record.

So the future isn't that bad...


Well, sorta depends on just how accurately the future identified spiders. What if it was more like confusing lions with anteaters?

It also appears that this particular future fellow is so far in the future that all of the Historical Documents from our era are lost, otherwise they would certainly know about spider webs. And spiders falling from ceilings into our mouths. And weird boys flying thru the air by shooting physically impossible sticky webs at skyscrapers.

I wonder if they'd know we swallow eight spiders a year in our sleep. :wink:
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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Oct 17, 2016 5:01 pm UTC

somitomi wrote:I wonder if they'd know we swallow eight spiders a year in our sleep. :wink:


See, they say that, but really, you can swallow as many as you want. Go on, treat yourself.

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby veryslightlygeeky » Mon Oct 17, 2016 5:48 pm UTC

Is this a reference to Adrian Tchaikovsky's SF novel 'Children of Time'? The book is deserves its award, IMHO. But not commended for arachnophobes.

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby chenille » Mon Oct 17, 2016 5:57 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:b) Whatever they actually accomplished, betweentimes, they never made webs thick enough for a technological civilisation eventually capable of temporal mechanics to have ever detected traces of in the fossil record.

There are already traces in the fossil record, but they would be tough to interpret without a living reference.

Weirder is that the spiders themselves, which have endured some 400 million years and are currently about 46000 species found all over the world, have gone missing. If that's not a sign something has gone seriously wrong, I don't know what is. No chance our fragile documents would outlive them; my guess is the future orb may only recognize the plant from fossils, too, not to mention the vertebrates.

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby ThemePark » Mon Oct 17, 2016 6:52 pm UTC

As long as they're not fossils of red spiders...

somitomi wrote:I wonder if they'd know we swallow eight spiders a year in our sleep. :wink:

Except, we do not.
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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby somitomi » Mon Oct 17, 2016 8:15 pm UTC

ThemePark wrote:As long as they're not fossils of red spiders...

somitomi wrote:I wonder if they'd know we swallow eight spiders a year in our sleep. :wink:

Except, we do not.
http://www.snopes.com/science/stats/spiders.asp

That was exactly the intended point of this joke.
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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby Justin Lardinois » Mon Oct 17, 2016 8:33 pm UTC

You'd think they'd be more interested in the Spiders From Mars.

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby Heimhenge » Mon Oct 17, 2016 8:40 pm UTC

chenille wrote:
Soupspoon wrote:b) Whatever they actually accomplished, betweentimes, they never made webs thick enough for a technological civilisation eventually capable of temporal mechanics to have ever detected traces of in the fossil record.

There are already traces in the fossil record, but they would be tough to interpret without a living reference.

Weirder is that the spiders themselves, which have endured some 400 million years and are currently about 46000 species found all over the world, have gone missing. If that's not a sign something has gone seriously wrong, I don't know what is. No chance our fragile documents would outlive them; my guess is the future orb may only recognize the plant from fossils, too, not to mention the vertebrates.


Well they sure haven't gone missing yet in Arizona. This summer I've seen more wolf spider nests around in the desert than the last 20 years. Kinda spooky actually. They look like this:

Image

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby NeatNit » Mon Oct 17, 2016 8:55 pm UTC

chenille wrote:No chance our fragile documents would outlive them.

I wonder though, how much of our data is (or can be) stored in satellites, where it would be safe from any disaster of earth short of the sun exploding?

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby Soupspoon » Mon Oct 17, 2016 9:25 pm UTC

Prone to corruption from radiation, if electronicly/electrmagnetically stored.

Probably best done with atomic-level physical crystal manipulation (multi-atom level of resolution, to deal with error correction after random radiation hits, but initially 'carved' or otherwise at the atomic level). A huge slab of some uniform substance, deformations to the lattice emgineered just below the surface to avoid easy abrasion. But setting it in space might be vulnerable to chaotic orbital mechanics and random stuff bombarding it, even if it doesn't get perturbed into an orbit. Perhaps best to put it on a more 'immovable' large body that isn't going to be obviously jinked out of orbit for the forseeable future, like the Moon. Being on the surface of a significant gravity well body might increase the likelihood of being affected by random space debris impacting, so cushion it by burying it in the regolith. Except it needs to be found again, so mark it somehow. Could put a huge circle around it, but after many aeons that might be indistinguishable from a crater (or be a crater...), so needs to send a detectable signal, that doesn't need continuous power. Perhaps magnetise the thing, before burying it. And when I say "it", I don't think a single slab would contain everything we want to say, so some sort of pointer to another slab would be useful to activate when found, perhaps it could take the power from the first rays of sunlight to fall upon it, post excavation, to aim a signal towards a larger slab in another place...

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby rmsgrey » Mon Oct 17, 2016 9:48 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:to aim a signal towards a larger slab in another place...


But would you put the larger slab near Jupiter or near Saturn?

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby KarenRei » Mon Oct 17, 2016 11:10 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:Probably best done with atomic-level physical crystal manipulation (multi-atom level of resolution, to deal with error correction after random radiation hits....


Store it at L4 or L5 (or both?) of Mercury (stable, relatively clean of crossing asteroids compared to other planets), with a planar whipple shield with as many layers as you can afford (thousands? millions?), for both maximal protection and outer surface area for maximal reflection (aka visibility) (planar layers so it "flashes"). Data stored in the core: same information written in a chemically inert crystalline material, as you note, on as fine of a scale as possible so it can be repeated as many times as possible (millions of times? billions? billions of billions?). You could make better use of space with error correcting codes than dumb repetition, but then you have to be more careful in ensuring that the future species can figure out how to read it.

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby gladiolas » Tue Oct 18, 2016 1:49 am UTC

I wonder which type of dinosaurs might plausibly have spun webs? I read a strand of spider web is stronger than the equivalent thickness of steel. So I wonder how thick dinosaur web strands would be. As for their need to--there were a lot of dinosaurs much smaller than the T-rex and other predators. They could have used webs to catch the larger dinosaurs.
Wikipedia says spiders can eat their own webs, and there are a couple of sites with people saying their cats eat spider webs.

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby qvxb » Tue Oct 18, 2016 2:04 am UTC

And then there are Porsche Spyders.

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby thunk » Tue Oct 18, 2016 2:16 am UTC

I'd love to know what Randall has to say about All Yesterdays.
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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby MDS_Dan » Tue Oct 18, 2016 2:47 am UTC

thunk wrote:I'd love to know what Randall has to say about All Yesterdays.

If he doesn't already own a copy, someone should get him one.

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby somitomi » Tue Oct 18, 2016 8:16 am UTC

qvxb wrote:And then there are Porsche Spyders.

I don't think those spin webs, although they do spin their wheels pretty fast.
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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby armandoalvarez » Tue Oct 18, 2016 12:36 pm UTC

Whenever you see a video of birds doing something weird, remember: Birds are a small subset of dinosaurs, so the weirdness of birds is a small subset of the weirdness of dinosaurs.

By the same logic:
Whenever you see a video of dogs doing something weird, remember: Dogs are all descended from a small subset of wolves, so the weirdness of dogs is a small subset of the weirdness of wolves.
Birds have had 65 million years to diversify. Yes, I'm sure dinosaurs were a wonderfully diverse and weird group, but it does not follow that the weirdness of birds is merely a small subset of the weirdness of dinosaurs.

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby Old Bruce » Tue Oct 18, 2016 1:13 pm UTC

Alt-text: "Whenever you see a video of birds doing something weird, remember: Birds are a small subset of dinosaurs, so the weirdness of birds is a small subset of the weirdness of dinosaurs."

I guess that means dinosaurs didn't stick their heads in the sand when startled or threatened. Did they get up early in order to eat worms?

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby markfiend » Tue Oct 18, 2016 1:47 pm UTC

armandoalvarez wrote:Yes, I'm sure dinosaurs were a wonderfully diverse and weird group, but it does not follow that the weirdness of birds is merely a small subset of the weirdness of dinosaurs.

I disagree.

All birds are dinosaurs. Therefore the weirdness of birds is the weirdness of some dinosaurs.

Alongside that we have the (unknown or hypothesised) weirdness of all the other non-avian dinosaurs.

So the weirdness of all dinosaurs is the union of (the weirdness of birds) and (the weirdness of non-avian dinosaurs). By definition A ⊆ (A ∪ B)

armandoalvarez wrote: Dogs are all descended from a small subset of wolves

No, dogs are a small subset of wolves.
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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby KarenRei » Tue Oct 18, 2016 2:11 pm UTC

armandoalvarez wrote:Birds have had 65 million years to diversify.


And dinosaurs had 170 million years to diversify before getting up to the point of further diversifying into the subset of dinosaurs known as birds - your point? As birds are a subset of dinosaurs, it's inherent that their diversity will be less than the diversity of the broader group.

gladiolas wrote: I read a strand of spider web is stronger than the equivalent thickness of steel.


That's an oversimplification; different materials have a wide range of different material properties - and spider silk is not a single material, even a given spider varies its silk for different needs. Spider silk is predominantly made of a type of axially-oriented keratin, produced in a manner not dissimilar to how we produce other axially-oriented fibers on industrial scales (extrusion through a nozzle under tension). The strongest spider silks have a tensile strength of about 1 GPa and an elastic modulus of about 10 GPa. The elastic modulus is low compare to both artificial fibers and high tensile strength steel (tens to hundreds of GPa), meaning that it's rather "stretchy" compared to most strong fibers (which can be good or bad, depending on the application; for most structural needs you don't want stretch, but for total energy absorption or reducing impact shocks you do). Particularly strong steel fibers can exceed 2 GPa, although most structural steel is only a few hundred MPa. Most modern synthetic fibers for high tensile load purposes have tensile strengths of several GPa (the highest currently, I believe, are around 7 GPa... it keeps going up, although the cheaper ones are mostly a few GPa). By contrast, however, unoriented plastics have tensile strengths of only a few dozen MPa. Spider silk also offers a couple additional properties that can be good or bad based on the context, like being significantly more biodegradable than most high strength fibers.

In short, there are are certainly uses for it if it could be made cheaply. But it's not a superior material for all loading purposes.
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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby speising » Tue Oct 18, 2016 2:20 pm UTC

Also, not a great material to swing from buildings.

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby armandoalvarez » Tue Oct 18, 2016 2:38 pm UTC

markfiend wrote:
armandoalvarez wrote: Dogs are all descended from a small subset of wolves

No, dogs are a small subset of wolves.

I worded it that way because I don't think it's fair to call dogs a small subset of wolves. I found an estimate of the global dog population as in the range of 500 million. The current global population of wolves-besides-domesticated-dogs (boy, it's hard dealing with phylogenetic pedantry) is 200K. At the time of domestication, it might have been 5-10 million. I wouldn't say that dogs are a small subset of wolves.


KarenRei wrote:
armandoalvarez wrote:Birds have had 65 million years to diversify.
.

And dinosaurs had 170 million years to diversify before getting up to the point of further diversifying into the subset of dinosaurs known as birds - your point? As birds are a subset of dinosaurs, it's inherent that their diversity will be less than the diversity of the broader group.


My point is that the weirdness of birds today is not limited to the weirdness of the non-avian dinosaurs. The comic didn't say "the weirdness of birds is less than the weirdness of dinosaurs as a whole." The comic said the weirdness of birds is a small subset of the weirdness of dinosaurs .

Wolves have existed for 800K years. Domesticated dogs have existed for 10K years. Would you say that the weirdness of dogs, from Chihuahuas to great Danes is a small subset of the weirdness of dogs? No, it's the majority of the set. Now, dogs have become unusually diverse very quickly due to artificial selection. But my point stands that we don't know to what extent the weirdness of birds was present in the non-avian dinosaurs, which I think is what the article is implying.

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby KarenRei » Tue Oct 18, 2016 4:10 pm UTC

So, if I'm understanding you correctly, you're arguing that the majority of the diversity among dinosaurs can be found in birds, a lineage 65 million years old, even though dinosaurs had already been diversifying for 170 million years?

To not put too fine of a point on it: the dinosaurs are defined by the point that the crocodilians and their relatives branched off from them. Aka, you can expect the dinosaurs of 235 MYa to be roughly equally similar to crocodilians and birds, only trivially more birdlike - wherein they then diversified for 170 million years. How similar, pray tell, do you find the behavior of crocodilians and birds? How many birds do you see hanging around submerged underwater for long periods to sneak up on drinking wildebeest which they drown in a death roll?

Wolves have existed for 800K years. Domesticated dogs have existed for 10K years. Would you say that the weirdness of dogs, from Chihuahuas to great Danes is a small subset of the weirdness of dogs?


That's a terrible example. Dogs are as diverse as they are today due to artificial selection, not natural selection. If you want a canid comparison not biased by artificial selection: canids (foxes, wolves, jackals, coyotes, etc) branched off from felids 34 million years ago. Do you think there's any single natural group within the canids that contains the majority of the diversity of the whole group, or anywhere even remotely close to it?

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby colonel_hack » Tue Oct 18, 2016 5:15 pm UTC

qvxb wrote:And then there are Porsche Spyders.


Along came a Spyder and picked up a rider.
And took him down the road to eternity.

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby armandoalvarez » Tue Oct 18, 2016 5:35 pm UTC

KarenRei wrote:So, if I'm understanding you correctly, you're arguing that the majority of the diversity among dinosaurs can be found in birds, a lineage 65 million years old, even though dinosaurs had already been diversifying for 170 million years?


No I of course can't know how much diversity has developed in birds over the past 65 million years compared to how much diversity was in dinosaurs 65 million years ago. I am merely taking issue with the comic's wording that the weirdness of birds must necessarily be a small subset of the weirdness of dinosaurs, mostly taking issue with the word "small". The "weirdness" of birds may be a small subset of the weirdness of dinosaurs, it may be a majority, it may be a large fraction but not a majority. The mere fact that all birds are a subset of dinosaurs doesn't tell you whether their weirdness is a small subset of the weirdness of dinosaurs' weirdness.

Wolves have existed for 800K years. Domesticated dogs have existed for 10K years. Would you say that the weirdness of dogs, from Chihuahuas to great Danes is a small subset of the weirdness of dogs?


That's a terrible example. Dogs are as diverse as they are today due to artificial selection, not natural selection. If you want a canid comparison not biased by artificial selection: canids (foxes, wolves, jackals, coyotes, etc) branched off from felids 34 million years ago. Do you think there's any single natural group within the canids that contains the majority of the diversity of the whole group, or anywhere even remotely close to it?


It was an extreme example to illustrate the point. If all the canids except, say, foxes, had gone extinct, say, 15 million years ago, then the mere fact that foxes are a single subset of canids would not necessarily mean that foxes today are a small subset of the diversity of canids if they had radiated and diversified subsequently.

Also, plenty of birds have been made more "weird" by artificial selection. Obviously not to the extent that dogs have.

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Oct 18, 2016 6:17 pm UTC

I think the greater weirdness of dinosaurs is easily illustrated by thinking about the cladistic relationship the other way around: rather than thinking of birds as a small subset of dinosaurs, think of dinosaurs as the superset of birds: the bird-like animals, birds and the things more closely related to them than to anything else alive today, "bird-oids" if you will.

In that light, something like a tyrannosaur is not really too weird of a bird-oid, in many ways it's a lot like all of the proper birds, but my god is a triceratops a weird-ass bird-oid, weirder than even penguins. What kind of bird walks around on four stubby elephantine feet, with a bony shield and three horns sticking out the top of its head? Dinosaurs are frickin' weird... when seen as essentially an extension of the birds.
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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby chenille » Tue Oct 18, 2016 6:48 pm UTC

I'd argue that's not a very good way to look at them, though. The closest living relatives of birds are crocodilians, and then probably the turtles, which both remain scaly quadrupeds. There's no reason anyone should project modern bird features all the way back to their divergence, and expect the bird ancestors would have become feathery bipeds the moment they separated from the crocodilian ancestors.

Instead, you would expect them to start with features more like those shared between turtles and crocodilians, then become more bird-like over time. Triceratops walking around on four feet, held more under its body than those others but less than birds, is exactly that sort of transition. The horns, on the other hand, are genuinely weird; people tend to interpret the bony skull structures among non-avian dinosaurs as defense or display, but it's a tough question why they were so common when no living relatives have any.

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby da Doctah » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:22 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:I think the greater weirdness of dinosaurs is easily illustrated by thinking about the cladistic relationship the other way around: rather than thinking of birds as a small subset of dinosaurs, think of dinosaurs as the superset of birds: the bird-like animals, birds and the things more closely related to them than to anything else alive today, "bird-oids" if you will.

In that light, something like a tyrannosaur is not really too weird of a bird-oid, in many ways it's a lot like all of the proper birds, but my god is a triceratops a weird-ass bird-oid, weirder than even penguins. What kind of bird walks around on four stubby elephantine feet, with a bony shield and three horns sticking out the top of its head? Dinosaurs are frickin' weird... when seen as essentially an extension of the birds.


I for one would have loved to see the T rex in "Jurassic Park" doing something like this, though:

Image

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:29 pm UTC

Hell yes.

And Triceratops had plenty of time to develop its own weirdness, being contemporary with early birds. It just mostly didn't, retaining a lot of primitive characters in the most visible bits.

With that said, and I think it's the exception rather than the rule and mostly a cherry-picked illusion, but - I can't not love the places where it seems like a very long and broad lineage can still maintain a sort of "personality", though. Go all the way back and all the way out to Stegosaurus, and we have this very costly investment in something that can only really be explained as a display feature. Why's that there, and not reproduced in any mammal? Because for whatever reason, the stem-bird line seems to have been heavily visually oriented for communication in the ways that mammals are oriented to smell. Hell, pterosaurs have display crests, and they're just outside the dinosaur line proper. And the most obvious (at least, culturally recognized) big, costly display features in the animal world today are in various lines of birds. (This example is cheating somewhat, since it's particularly realatable for an unusually visually-oriented line of mammals with display crests, but I like it.)

On the other thing, while it's true that the vast majority of wolves are domesticated dogs and that they contain the bulk of the disparity, the title text is still a technically true statement that could induce a Necker cube switch for someone who hadn't thought about it before, which is all it's going for. The real reason that the disparity of birds seems to be lesser than that of the disparity of dinosaurs-minus-birds is that birds are a highly specialized lineage that no one would have thought to single out for comparison to its superset until the asteroid hit. The premise of All Yesterdays and this comic, that all of the most interesting aspects of dinosaur diversity and disparity are forever lost to us and can only be imagined, not reconstructed, remains correct; it's statistically impossible that nothing interesting happened for millions of years in precisely the bits of history that time and taphonomy don't allow us to see. Reconstructions are necessarily and inherently conservative, and they should be, but we can't confuse them for the lost reality, and things like this are meant as a reminder of that.
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armandoalvarez
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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby armandoalvarez » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:43 pm UTC

To clarify, I don't take issue with the idea that bird weirdness is probably a small subset of dinosaur weirdness. I believe this is the case. I merely question the logic of "because birds are a small subset of dinosaurs, bird's weirdness is a small subset of dinosaur weirdness." I am merely arguing that since the K-T extinction event, birds could have sufficiently diversified that their weirdness now is a large subset (or majority) of all dinosaur weirdness.

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue Oct 18, 2016 11:13 pm UTC

Right, I just don't think there's any reason to make the comic into a serious argument in that direction in the first place.
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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby xtifr » Tue Oct 18, 2016 11:59 pm UTC

I have to admit that I'd be totally chuffed to find evidence that Dinosaurs* built elaborate bowers surrounded by carefully segregated piles of colored materials, like the bowerbird. Unfortunately, that's probably about as unlikely as Randall's future folk learning about spiderwebs without using time travel. Even if it happened, I'll probably never know.

* Using the term in its traditional/colloquial sense.
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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby armandoalvarez » Wed Oct 19, 2016 1:07 am UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:Right, I just don't think there's any reason to make the comic into a serious argument in that direction in the first place.

Absolutely right. I have too much of a tendency to take things over-literally and nitpick. The overall point of the comic is absolutely correct; we are missing something truly wondrous. Carry on, everybody.

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Re: 1747: "Spider Paleontology"

Postby KarenRei » Wed Oct 19, 2016 3:23 am UTC

xtifr wrote:I have to admit that I'd be totally chuffed to find evidence that Dinosaurs* built elaborate bowers surrounded by carefully segregated piles of colored materials, like the bowerbird. Unfortunately, that's probably about as unlikely as Randall's future folk learning about spiderwebs without using time travel. Even if it happened, I'll probably never know.

* Using the term in its traditional/colloquial sense.


I don't think that's unlikely at all. Bowerbirds are hardly the only birds that build structures to attract mates - some lekking species like Kakapo do it as well (albeit not as elaborate). And there are even much simpler organisms that do similar - for example, there are sandcastle-building cichlid fish, and pufferfish make really elaborate patterns.

It's evolved frequently enough that I'd not only consider it possible among some "dinosaur" species, I'd outright expect it.

Speaking of leks, that would be really impressive to see from some large dinosaur species, wouldn't it? :)


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