Reuters reported yesterday that a buttload (yes, 5,600 constitutes a “buttload”) of hitherto undiscovered sea-creatures, including the uncreatively-named “Dumbo,” because they have flaps that look like the ears of one unfortunately named cartoon elephant. Said Robert Carney (I see a theme developing here) of Louisana State University, who co-leads a study of the ocean depths as part of a wider international Census of Marine Life (COML):
“The diversity of life in the deep sea is much, much greater than we’ve believed.”
Really? I’m a lay-person, and based on what I’ve seen of Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, I believe there’s a series of numerous buttloads (see what I did there?) out there in the ocean’s depths. Among the discovered living sea-creatures was a tubeworm filled with crud…ehr, crude. Oil that is. Apparently, life, being the wacky rapscallion it is, deemed to evolve this little guy to be able to thrive on the chemicals produced from decomposing oil.
And speaking of fossil fuels, there’s news from Africa by way of Washington where an announcement came Friday from research buddies Paul Sereno and Hans Larsson, of the University of Chicago and McGill University, respectively, detailing the discovery of three new extinct crocodile fossils. Among them were Kaprosuchus saharicus, aka “BoarCroc”; Araripesuchus rattoides, aka “RatCroc”; and Laganosuchus thaumastos, aka “PancakeCroc.” The first was found in Niger, the second in Morocco, and the third seems to have gotten around and was found in both. Said Larsson, presumably with a French-Canadian accent, of the “BoarCroc:”
“BoarCroc was a 20-foot-long meat-eater with an armored snout for ramming and three sets of dagger-shaped fangs for slicing. The tusks stuck out above and below the jaw like a modern warthog. This has never been seen before on any crocodile.”
And for good reason, this thing sounds ridiculous. No wonder the thing went extinct, the predecessors of modern crocodiles probably took one look at that thing and went “you ain’t putting your genes in me” and swam away much like girls do at the bar when I’m around…if we were in a bar…by a pool. Anyway:
PancakeCroc was also 20-feet-long, but was a squat fish-eater with, get this, a pancake-like flat head, while RatCroc was 3-feet-long and ate plants and grubs. The latter possessed a pair of buckteeth in its lower jaw, which it used to dig for food. This however bore it no dignity, and somewhere along the line it shriveled up and died.
So what did we learn today, class? Life presses forward, despite the mistakes it made in the past and the ridiculous names scientists label onto these poor animals. Of course, then again, they don’t have to bear the name Homo. Thanks science.