Flying Reptiles

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Zhenyuanlong suni (an artist's rendering)
Zhenyuanlong suni (an artist’s rendering)

This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose, in our backyards, playgrounds and parks!  Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you.

Busy science week, kids. #Pluto!  (See photos. Did you ever think the demoted planet would be such an internet star?) In other space news,  a  Jupiter doppelgänger has been located that hints, CNN says, at a “possible new solar system, similar to Earth’s.” I don’t know about you, but that’s catnip for me, an E.T. geek; I believe that the discovery of extraterrestrial life is not an “if” but a “when” and I hope that that “when” is before I reassume my true nature which is stardust.

“Can you hear the reptiles singing, Mom?” is my ten year old boffin son’s new favorite thing to say to me since he completed a week of Diggin’ Dinosaurs camp at Harvard’s Museum of Natural History (in Boston, where there is, not to dig at you, Baltimore, more than a red line: a vast web of coherent public transportation). He refers of course to sparrows, and to the fact that palentologists are nothing more than big bird watchers. The thinking now is that the majority of them had feathers, or protofeathers, and now I can’t look at a sparrow in Harvard Square without feeling a little shiver of ohmygodvelociraptorstopfeedingitmuffincrumbsandrunkidsrun!

Dinoboffins Dig Up Fluffy Feathered Poodle From Hell in China is a headline that downplays the discovery of biggest-ever flying dinosaur. I know poodles, and they are a good image for a terrifying flying dinosaur. My great-aunt Eliza had standard ones, the full-size ones, and they were infernal.

I’m just really glad our Jurassic World ancestors, the shrews, and whatnot (quivering nervous very small mammals that I sometimes still resemble when I am at the dentist) were able to hide out from the birds and grew up and evolved to become us so we could realize just how lucky we are.



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