On the Birds and Bees, Plants and 150 ton Sauropods

Merry Christmas, everyone!

I'm off to romp around in the snow... but before I go, I thought I'd reprint a little essay I wrote back in the day when I was a young wannabe Paleontology student. I usually dust a version of this thing off every year and make a story out of it for the kiddies.

Yeah, I'm a dork.



On Birds and Bees, Plants and 150 ton Sauropods

Evolution's a funny thing. Like crop circles and Seurat paintings, it reveals itself only when you step way back and look at the generalities. Up close, cracks start to appear, but - taken as an overall, evolution teaches us a lot of fascinating lessons about how we can look at the world. It works really well if we have a unbroken fossil record (for the most part) over 150 million years long.

150 million years ago, the flora did not look like it does today. That probably seems obvious, but the differences were huge. There were no flowers. There was no fruit. No berries. No oaks, no elms, no hardwood trees, really. Nothing we could call a crop plant. No real bushes. Fact is, if you look outside your window, 99% of the plants you see did not exist at that time. And, I don't mean that particular bush you're looking at wasn't there - I mean that bush's entire family didn't exist.

What did exist were mainly softwood ground plants. Some just happen to be tall enough that you could call them trees, 'cept they weren't. Just big-ass ferns, really. Swampy plants. Cycads, Ginkos, Scrub, Vines, Pines, etc. You've probably seen recreations. It's all pretty uniform and uncreative, plant-wise, but then again, plants were just starting out. We'll cut 'em some slack.

But about 75 million years ago, that suddenly changed. And by "suddenly" I mean to say almost overnight, evolutionarily speaking. After this great awakening, pine cones started to make room for fruit. Flowers shared space with the ground scrub. Different trees started to create new forests. What happened? What forced plants to so dramatically change in such a short period of time?

(You people who know me already know what my next word is going to be...)


Dinosaurs!

See, the period we're talking about here is the Mid-Jurassic, which is the era of big dinosaurs. Dinosaurs in general are pretty big, I know - but this was the age of the giants. These dinosaurs were massive. Never before or since did this planet have such a vast amount of the largest animals ever - the sauropods.

Sauropods are those huge four-legged, long tail, long necked, little head plant eaters. Brachiosaurs and the like. You know that seen in Jurassic Park where they come over the hill and see that huge animal for the first time eating leaves from the treetops? The one that sneezed on the kid later in the movie? Brachiosaur. Nothing has ever been bigger.

(One particular fossil we've found was reconstructed into a critter well over 130 feet long. 130 feet. Imagine that. A creature that would be cramped in a football field. It was named Seismosaurus, because surely, when it walked, the earth quaked.)

Having so many huge herbivores lumbering around made it a bad time to be a plant. Epically when your means of reproducing was basically wind-driven and sporadic (hah! pun!) at best. Something had to be done to ensure new plants were coming along faster than the old plants were getting gobbled up. A new method of reproduction had to happen.

Hey! If you can't beat 'em, join 'em! Why not make the critters work for us? Soon, seeds were stored in fruit and offered to the giants who could (ahem) deposit them in new places. About this time burrs and sticky seeds started to appear. And, why just pick on the big guys? There are insects, too! Flowers began cropping up everywhere.

The landscape changed. By the end of the dinosaurs age (they still have another 75 million or so to go) plain, swampy greens and browns were replaced colorful fields and exotic flowers. Forests changed, too - trees became sturdier to better withstand the giants within. It must've been like when Dorothy landed in Oz and film changed to color. Except, it... um.. took longer.

So, while you're enjoying your Christmas Poinsettia, garnishing with cranberries, enjoying your fruit-of-the-month-club gift membership your aunt Petunia sent you, or - heck - munching on your fruitcake this holiday season - be sure to take the time to give a little thanks to our favorite big-ass four legged herbivores - the Sauropods!


Have a good holiday, everyone. May you find your lives immersed with the season.

200! Tonight! We Dine! In Formalwear!!!

Wow! 200th post! Who would've thunk it! Certainly not me! Woo-HOOO!

Y'know? I started this thing a little under a year ago just to give me an excuse to buy more useless fanboy crap and have some cheap photoshop giggles along the way. And though I've strayed a bit from this blog's original purpose (and will stray even further in the near future!) I still have a great time just playing around with it! The organic evolution of fanboy blogs: it is teh interesting.

As a bonus, I never thought (nor intended) I'd actually have other people enjoying it with me! Well, aside from people obligated to peruse it. Like family. And locals. And all the co-workers using the computers on which I've changed the browser's startpage. And that sexynerdgirl chick. Honestly, I'm amazed at how many hits this crappy Blogsite gets. Not sayin' nothin', but you people are nuts...

Jus' Sayin'

So anyway: Thanks everybody! I really appreciate the attention! And I hope to continue to entertain you in the future!

Posts will be a bit sporadic over the holidays from here on out - and I'm going to tweak a few things, so don't be scared if it's all different one day after a few day's absence.

But Soup! (you say) Don't make too many changes! Why, we love things the way they are!

Ah! (says I) Not to worry:


Some things will never change.

Best to all!

Questionable Manor Hangings

Just a quickie. I have obligations. They involve a hospital.

Not me and probably not a concern at all, but I'm "on call" as it were - bringing snacks, reading material and such.


This one was too Goddamn easy.

Tex Avery Goes Exploring

OK:

Goofy golden age adventure comic cover + Thor's hammer + tripod + Prada bag + crappy photoshop skills / Soup's irrepressibly juvenile sense of humor =

Captain No-Torso Checks Out the Goods!

...which actually ends up as a pretty darn good Julie Schwartz "I gotta see what happens next!" cover, if I do say so myself!

Ah.. tipping my toes back into familiar waters..

'Bout Time!

Yep, it's finally finished! And it looks like everything's working spiffily, too! Sorry about the posting delay, but I feel much, MUCH better about how things are running now. Hey, if I'm gonna re-do everything, I'm gonna do it right! That's the least that my expensive fancy-pants CS degree can do for me!

The downside is that I spent so much time re-configuring the computer itself that I just didn't have the time to revamp the blog like I've been meaning to. It's had pretty much the same layout since I started it, and I really want to get me one of them new-fangled title bars, browser icons, update the links and the like. Maybe for Christmas...

Anyhoo, regular posting should be more or less ongoing at this point! Well, up until the holiday break, anyway. Come to think of it, I'll probably use that week for blog maintainence, since I'm off work and all..

So, without further apologies on my part, on with the Goddamn photoshop jokes! And what better place to start than messing with this gem, courtesy of everyone's favorite Goddamn writer:


That is a thing of Goddamn beauty right there. I mean, seriously - read it out loud. Go on. Beautiful, isn't it? In fact, as much grief as this series (rightly) gets, I can give you one absolute Goddamn reason you should own it - if you read the dialog out loud in your best Mickey Spillane voice, your girlfriend will explode with laughter and beer will shoot out of her nose, and I gotta tell you, instigating something like that is worth $2.99 every 6 months or so! Such is the power of Frank Miller: Wordsmith!

Of course, all things can be improved with a little creative 'shopping! Let's start with the introspective:


And now, the classics:

The regret:

The strangely appropriate:

And this. Because I love you Guys:

Let's end with a lesson:

This is fun! If you wanna play at home, here's the blank.

And again, thanks to everyone for the well-wishing and "quit being lazy and get back to posting, you twat!"'s It's really spiffy to be missed!

Whelp, now that this is done, I'm off to drink beer play with my brand new X-Mass Wii. (giggle!) I expect to be up a bit late. Don't wait up!

(Special thanks to SexyNerdGirl for some of the suggestions. And for putting up with me in general. And for losing graciously during the Wii games later tonight.)

It Lives!

Well, sorta...

I still have some major installations to do - patches, updates and the like (Photoshop being the big one), but it looks like I'm back on line with a brand new, completely clutter free tabula rasa computer maintainence success story!

It runs faster, no more virus / firewall violation notifications, all the unneeded crap gone, all the needed crap backed up, and all-in-all a very pleasing result despite all the work it took.

So, still some work to do - but I'm nearly there!

In the meantime, I present to you the randomly computer chosen desktop from my newly pruned-down list of potentials I used while I was working. I forgot I had this one! And, it's pretty much all I have handy to post...

Click HERE for big 1024X768 version. I only have MS paint to shrink at this point. So no small in-blog picture.

Thanks for the shout-outs and well wishes, guys! Made my day. Really! Fully back soon!