Exciting announcements

Parabuteo: makes Deinonychus look bad. It can fucking fly.

This is my favorite song (the list)
1. Balaur
2. Sagittarius
4. Corvus
5. Kelenken or Argentavis, depending on which day of the week it is

* pushes Corvus down and confuses K&A.

When this dinosaur became my favorite dinosaur, I wrote the list, it sat on top.
For weeks it pushed the others down, down.
But I never reached the bottom of that list.
And I would cry and cry, cause it had lied and lied...

I could literally transcribe Ariel Pink all day (it isn't ACTUALLY hard), but I want to cover this properly, so let me get a good intro going here:

The endless bloodlust earthlings seem to have never ceases to scare the shit out of me. I'm already scared to death of Owls (they need to fucking calm down, that is too much power for such a small animal), but now I'm just finding out that hawks have actually taken it much further.

Let's review: raptors today can fly. Cut and print, they've already won the contest. But wait, they are the BEST at flying. Also, talons. Okay, so basically you've got an animal that doesn't "hunt" anymore, but just sort of goes grocery shopping, and spends the rest of it's life soaring through skies.

And this sort of "I've already won, so I'm just complacent now" attitude is shared with, you know, us. Raptors (not a real thing, I know, but I still use it even though it does not include Cariamae) have done with evolution what we've done with technology, and there are no worries anymore. Understandably, the pack hunting styles that were so popular in the Mesozoic are now dropped in favor of a quiet, reflective lifestyle befitting hermits and poets.

And really, pack hunting is an effort to make up for vulnerability in a long term battle. Deinonychosaurs (except Balaur) are way to frail to put up an extended physical battle with a ceratopsian, so they run in huge groups and take a hit and run approach, dividing the attention of the prey and exponentially increasing the safety of any given individual. Golden Eagles need no such strategy, they simply drop goats off cliffs.

That's why when I heard Parabuteo is a pack hunting, I realized "overkill" doesn't quite get across how ridiculously overpowered these things are.

But at the same time this sort of irritates me (Irritator... heheh) because it makes me realize how little I know about living dinosaurs. I'm ALWAYS finding out shit like this, because they don't tell you this in the schools, you've got to learn it on the streets, man. Like the secretary bird, I'm well aware that birds (see that other post, I'm not doing that again) have the first toe turned into a "perching" sort of deal, but I had no idea that a dinosaur actually used that claw as a weapon. It's like a Bayonettasaurus or something, it's awesome. PLUS it can fly.

But anyways, back to Ariel (R-real). So, to conclude the cliffhanger of a previous post, I asked Ariel what the hell was up with the HG numbering thing.

So, he says that it was just a way to keep track of the albums, which proves my half-jesting claim that even Ariel can't keep track of all his stuff, and also that there was nothing "planned" about it. As far as he's concerned, he says, Before Today (shades... away!) is HG#1, not 9 (although he did say something about there being 9 hg's... so I guess he's counting Thrash & Burn + Pre? Or he lost count, most likely).

So that's that. I want to mention that being in the presence of the one true god is not nerve racking at all. I mean I was so nervous (let's get nervous... groan) that I wouldn't be able to handle it and I'd get embarassingly star struck or something, but after startling the crap out of me by magically showing at the merch stand with any fanfare, everything went fine. It's like he exudes good vibes (10 points for guessing that reference) or something.

And this is the sentiment across the board. It makes me wonder what it would have been like to meet David Bowie in the mid-70's or Ian Curtis in the late 70's, or Peter Murphy in the early 80's... or Boyd Rice ever. I've heard from alot of people that've met Boyd that he's great in person, but I can't imagine meeting Ian in person would be a... fun... experience. With his career essentially being four years of foreshadowing, it sounds kind of depressing. But, I wasn't there, so I don't know. I also have this idea that Dave is probably a prick in real life, but this is probably just a result of the glamorous image he had (has), and as we all know, divas are bitches.

Thinking about being in the same room as Peter Murphy makes my head explode, and in the early 80's... Well, it is probably more significant now than it would've been then. I mean, even knowing that something very important was happening, it would have been hard to guess exactly how far reaching he and what he started would become. It's 2010 now, and he's still the king.

Thats really the best way to describe APHG right now: it isn't clear exactly how much the world is going to change because of this, but being right here in the thick of it while it's happening (okay, so it's middle APHG, and I missed Doldrums when it was new, but still) is... just a completely unbelievable feeling. I just keep comparing it in my head to being a punk/goth in the late 70's.

But, so my birthday is Nov. 10, and here is the schedule for that month:

Nov. 5 - Friday - Ariel Pink's Haunted Grafitti in Dallas
Nov. 6 - Saturday - Austin Fun Fun Fun Fest, WaVVes at 3:30, and Ariel Pink right after them
Nov. 7 - Sunday - Come back to Houston, Ariel Pink (and Tim Koh too!) plays at Fitzgerald's
Nov. 8 - day off, depending on how things go I may be leaving for Dallas (again) on this day because...
Nov. 9 - Tuesday - Legendary Pink Dots in Dallas 2/3 or the pink triad isn't bad
Nov. 10 - Wednesday - my actually birthday. Maybe a party or something if I'm back in Houston then
Nov. 11 - Thursday - have to be back in Houston by now, probably get some sleep
Nov. 12 - Friday - Tim & Eric at warehouse live (where I saw Times New Viking)

Bad ass week, eh? How do I pull this off? I haven't worked everything out in my head yet, but I have some ideas and contingency plans. If nothing else, I HAVE to see Ariel at all three texas dates.

I mean, you don't understand. I HAVE to see Ariel Pink. It's the law. The law of the pinkhead.

What else can I ramble on about?

- on Monday, the coming one (two days from now), I'll meet up at the commons with three other guys after cutting out of acting early and we'll try to figure out why we are there.
- My keyboard might have kicked it, and I'm trying not to think about it. If that asshole acting teacher screws with me again, I'm going all method with this little bit.
- I might be doing more Mr. Shmolen on Tuesday. I'm still having technical problems editing the existing footage.
- DOOM 4 didn't show at QuakeCon this year, so jokes on you, assholes.
- You know how they're playing that old Cake song on that one commercial? I've been inspired to make that outfit happen, but the "long jacket" jacket part of the equation sort of requires it to be cold. So, I might need to come up with another way to do it. Pictures will happen if I'm around a camera.
- Increased activity on social networking sites DOES NOT mean I am officially social networking. I just don't have the ability to concentrate on these little things for extended periods of time, and I'm not going to pretend I can. I could disappear for months in the blink of an eye, because real life (the objective reality kind) is much more interesting.
- Kevin made a book, and now it's selling in the actual bookstore. Did I mention I'm the best writer in the state at the very least? Yeah, he should expect some competition coming soon.
- I'm soooooooooo bored... (la, la la-la la)
- Of all the things I started I would actually like to write out my ideas for an Eddie based Silent Hill and a treatment of my own original idea. If I get around to it.
- On Ramona Gonzalez: I think I have a chance with this girl (oh, wait, she lives in Stupid-ifornia, so fuck it).
- We need pictures.

Francis Bacon painting from 1946... I hope. Does this look familiar? It should. God lives in this painting. True story. You know how even though the face changes, God's body always looks the same? This is where Masahiro got it from.

I can not tell you how many times I've tried to come up with a way to make this work. There are a few unimpressive efforts on the (very specialized) market, but none of them have what I'm really wanting to happen: not heel to flats, but 4" to 5"... to 6". Actually adjucting the height, not removing it. These look really cool though.

Silent Hill again? This is the album cover for the SH4 OST. Fun facts, that monster is quite obviously Conjurer, but do you notice the Sniffer Dogs? And how about those dead bodies? There are 21. Killing Machine is in there, and you can tell that's supposed to be Eileen. Super stylish.

A Space Jockey Alien. It is completely possible for the Jockey Alien to still be alive in the film timeline, as it wouldn't have died in the crash, and there were no other occupants around to kill it. I love that it's so fucking huge, but it doesn't make sense that there isn't a trunk. Of course, Alien 0rigins is bound to fix this. Oh yeah, and I'm already unhappy with the decision to let a director do two alien movies, as it breaks tradition, but as long as I get to see a Jockey Alien, it'll all be cool.

Minilla grows up. Proof that Minilla is not a natural Godzillsaurus, but rather born to already mutated Godzilla parents. That means that in the Heisei timeline, there are at least FOUR Godzillas: GI, GII, Junior, and the female Godzilla which has to exist in order for Minilla to exist in 2032. Yes, this is real concept art.

Bit of a spoiler. This is Mira as seen by Eddie, in his very own, special, non-canon "Dog" ending. The cannon ending, of course, is the UFO one.

Mabus, the third antichrist. Nostradamus is hilarious on his own, but combine him with crazy people and you get a never ending (sodaaaa... woah-o-woah...) source of entertainment. Everyone knows about Hister, but did you know how they got the first antichrist? They took Nay, Pau, and Loron, the names of three french towns, and decided that it was an anagram for NAPAULON ROY. Which, by the way, isn't "Napoleon," but close enough is spot on for these people.

*sigh* Fun fact: Mana not only collects creepy dolls for photo-shoots, but also was a pioneering Hauntologist back in the late 90's. Yep, back then Mana and Julian House used to get together on the weekends and play Atari and drinking copious amounts of alcohol. One thing lead to another... and that's how the Gamecube was concieved. I'm joking, of course, Julian doesn't drink.

Also, Mana's music isn't very good. Hence, no hauntology. Oh, one last thing:

From what I understand, these are honest to goodness glass slippers. This is a fucking terrible idea. Don't these idiots know that glass breaks? The very idea of these makes me feel like that one scene in May where she talks to a group of blind kids and the glass... thing with her doll shatters on the floor and THERE'S BLOOD EVERYWHERE!!!

...this too was all a part of Architeuthis's plan.

All right, I'm sick of this now. Ima go figure out the chords for Ariel Pink songs now.

HEY! That's a good idea, I'll come back later and upload some chords! Huzzah!


Words That Are Not Used Correctly

4. Amphicoelias (Ken C. resized him in '06, bigger than Godzilla MOST of the time)
3. Kelenken (Fuck the Mesozoic, take that Argentavis, Carnosaurs are overrated)
2. Balaur (duh)
1. TIANYULONG!!!!!!!!

Let it never be said that Tianyulong didn't change everything...

because, my god, Tianyulong changed everything... the world is so different now. Everytime I open my eyes now, the world just seems so... uninportant, you know? It's like, I already know the meaning of life, so what else is there? Only in this situation, the consequences are far more dire.

It's like... I don't know. I've never felt this way about an Ornithischian before. The emotions are just beyond my ability to deal with. I'm in a very vulnerable place right now, ever since Tianyulong changed everything forever.

I'm actually not being melodramatic. Tinayulong yanked my heart around like sheltered manchildren are confused by people like Mana and cartoon characters that are male but painfully attractive (because in a cartoon you can just fudge it). Which brings me to why I am suddenly motivated to write right now. (hehehe)

Mana is a hot mess. My one complaint: what the fuck is up with those shoes? He always wears like, 5 inch mary janes with a stupid looking three inch platform. It's like, it looks okay, but really, why bother? I like this her picture because he can rock that flat chest like nobody's business. His music, however, is somewhat okay at best.

Pop Quiz: What does the word gender mean?
a. I don't know
b. more polite way of saying sex
c. social and cultural constructs
d. the basis for all sexism

It's actually (d) as far as I'm concerned, but, of course, the real answer is (c). Now, next question:

What does sex mean?
a. Present tense sexual reproduction
b. Which end of that whole process you are on (male or female)
c. both of those
d. all of the above

The answer, of course, is (d). If you picked (c) you got it wrong. Sex applies only to sexual reproduction. As in, "gettin' it on." In this "whole process," you get two types of sex: ZW for female and WW for male (XY system in mammals, but who gives a shit about non-dinosaurs?), and the two have "interlocking" parts that bring all those nifty little gametes together and babies happen. There's more to the story, but I'm working towards a point here.

Sexual reproduction is great because, unlike the other kind, the chances for mutation are through the roof. Literally anything can go wrong at any time, and I'm not just talking about how the offspring have a combination of the genes of both parents, I mean the whole fucking system is just flimsy. I mean, really magnificently easy to produce mutant babies from beyond the grave. Like, having ZWZ and WWZ kids and shit, just a paper-thin disguise for a non-functioning system.

And just like the male and female ends of a RCA wire, there is always going to be some inherent sexual dimorphism. This is a simple unavoidable fact of life as a screwing organism. Dinosaurs, of course, don't stop there. Male dinosaurs are typically (haha, I mean always, I was just joking) dainty, gorgeous, and singularily attractive. The females are huge, drab, ugly, protect the kids, and are attracted TO the males, because they are all so fucking bueatiful. I humans, it is generally considered to be the opposite, although as I understand it, males can be attractive in their own way. I don't believe this, but I've heard sentiments that echo this sort of thing.

Okay, so what is gender then? Is your gender male or female? No, that's your sex. Just think back to buying cables at a Best Buy, male and female refer to different "parts," and the dinosaur fashion slaves are just born that way, but that isn't the rule for all sexual dimorphism. Sagittarius. 'Nuff said.

Is your head bleeding from the exposition hammer yet? Because if someone who doesn't know this is reading, I need to make sure people of all comprehension levels can understand what I'm saying.

Now, in humans, sexual dimorphism is very faint. Female's breasts get much larger at puberty because they are mammals, and thats where the milk goes. In mammals, the females have the milk, but, pay attention, before they reach puberty, they have the same chest as a male. The hips are also wider, because they have to squeeze a whole working womb in there. Beyond the stuff that absolutely has to differ in order for each sex to play out their role, the difference is so subtle that it isn't even worth mentioning here.

So everything you have been conditioned to believe in your culture, what the social norms are, fashion, personality, stereotypes, everything is created entirely BY that culture. Females aren't born wearing heels, that is something that is created by these cultural expectations, and this is what we call a "Gender Role" or "Gender Identity." Gender meaning which "role" or "identity" and individual posesses or identifies with.

It is commonly agreed that there are four accepted, basal, "component," or whatever the fuck you want to call them, genders. Masculine, Feminine, Androgynous, and Neutral/Asexual. Mas. and Fem. are the basis of sexism, they are stereotypes created by a specific culture that each sex is expected to conform to in order to be properly a "man" or "woman." Androgynous is sort of a mix of both, but with it's own set of rules, and neutral is, well, removed from the whole affair in the same way that atheists are removed from religion: instead of just saying "I don't have one," they say they are "neutral" because they fell that they have to check a box regardless of whether or not they support that system in the first place.

Now, this is all backstory. This is the year 2010, which was considered the future in early Megaman games. Genders are outdated, ridiculed, ignored, taken for granted, and played with. They no longer mean anything to the average person, because the average person is not a sexist, and has no reason to expect others to conform to a gender role because of their sex. There are, of course, crazy people, as well as the aforemention confused nerds who simply can't deal with a male being presented in a feminine way, not because they are sexist, but because it makes them question their own sexual orientation, which I think is hilarious, but I know plenty of people who don't share my affection for Mana.

Me? I don't want to have to pick, but I'm neutral. I say neutral and not "I don't have one" because I'm actually all of them to aproximately equal degress. I'm a future person (P.C.), and those things are beneath me. But genders are a big deal to me because I find them extremely interesting. Not as neat as dinosaurs, or course, but worthy of further study nonetheless.

And so while it is probably a good thing for the progression of civil rights, equality, and cultural respect that the word gender actually lose it's meaning altogether, but, like I said, this is kind of important to me. What is sad is that it's the year 2010, and I still see forms with "gender" being a field, and the answer choices being male or female, not actual genders. I rant about this all the fucking time, and so here I am, doing it again.

I have another thing I want to cover, but let me close this by saying that for the past hour or so I've been reading these blogs by weeaboos talking about some girls-only club that happened in 2008 or so. The consistently used the word gender and not sex, but the context was so flimsy that it could've gone either way. There were a couple of guys who would not disclose their "gender," confusing fans and foes alike, and sparking guessing games that are so full of obscure references to things I hate that I had a hard time understanding what the hell they were talking about.

What I did get from it is that, even though this clique is pretty shallow on the surface, not a one of them really gives a shit about what sex the others are. What they seem to be mildly interested in, you might have guessed, is what they call "traps," which are feminine males who squick out heterosexuals that can't tell the difference between a male and female. I actually read this one post where I guy actually went full on girly for a day (or so, whatever) in the interest of becoming a "trap," which some of the readers actually encouraged. This is fantastic, and if these are the males that culture breeds, then I want it to survive forever.

I'm going to post the link to what I'm talking about, but be warned that if you are easily squicked by tomgirls, you should not look at this. I'm extremely serious. It's a cool little thing, but please, one guy that I noticed is "following" me (fucking stalker) and whoever else stumbles on to this, click at your own risk. It might actually be NSFW, but it's probably just "gross." It's here.

And for the record, that's not how it works. Skirts are supposed to "puff out" on the side, not the front. You're fucking doing it wrong, poser. Plus, I hate your shoes, you don't to call yourself a "trap" if you're wearing flats, you moron. Flats suck = science fact. The socks are cool though. Plus, other than the obvious, it does come off as really pretty. So, good job.

This is accurate. It makes me feel all wierd inside, because, like, in my time (Cenozoic::Quarternary:Anthropocene), ALL dinosaurs are covered in feathers. We get skin impressions from dinosaurs much larger than the ones alive now, and science says that the "Elephant Effect" must be true. But, because of my frame of reference, this, an accurate rendering of a sub-adult Triceratops, just feels so wrong. I can't remember the artist's name, but it's on deviantart, so... there.

Now, enough crap. What you really came to here me bitch about is cladistics, isn't it? Here are some of my least favorite words: bird, reptile, fish, and bug. What do these words mean? Nothing, and thats the problem.

Let's get one thing straight: words that have only one meaning, that is, words that are defined by one academic discipline can not be given some arbitrary new meaning by someone who doesn't understand that discipline. What a word means, of course, is different from both connotation and popular phraseology, and this is where these words piss me off EVEN MORE that confusing gender and sex. I saved the best for last.

I'll close on dinosaurs, so I'll start outside Deuterostomates.

This word is my least favorite, even more than bird, because unlike the others, this word NEVER MEANT ANYTHING EVER. What is a bug?
Oh, you know, like insects and stuff.
Insects... and stuff? So, we're talking about out to Hexapods? Bug is a common name for hexapods?
Um... what? No, like creepy crawlies, you know, spiders and...
SPIDERS?! I though you said insects?
Yeah, those too.
So, spiders are... arachnids, then... shit, grouped up with myriapods, right? My arthropod tree is a little rusty, but I'm pretty sure you're telling me that "bug" is synonymous with "Arthopod."
No, creepy crawlies.
You're an idiot, now prepare to die.

Bottom line, polyphly doesn't even begin to describe this word. It means nothing. Next.

Fish and reptile are in the same boat, but fish has it worse, because "Pisces" hasn't been used in LINAEAN taxonomy since... like, the fucking 1700's or some shit. Now we have Chordates. "Fish," working backwards, would need to cover every animal that has "fish" in it's name that is actually a chordate, then. Because of hagfish, then, this goes to... Agnathans? Cephalochordata? Pretty far. I'm not a fish guy, so I don't know, but it covers far more than what you would think. But that's okay, because those guys are, essentially, fish, so it works out. The paraphly here is unbelievable, though. It's so thick you can taste it. I'm reasonably certain calling a tetrapod a "fish with legs" is pretty common, but the further you take it the more people you lose. I snuck up behind this lepidosaur and took it's legs, and then he's all "I'm a fish with legs," and I say "snake, you don't even HAVE legs!"

Like that. But fish has no agreed clade name, so, really, it's perfectly natural to question naming dinosaurs as fish, because, really, fish doesn't mean anything. It COULD be a real clade, but it isn't really used in any such way, and if it were, the connection would be tenuous, because, again, nothing even close to fish is used as a name early enough to catch the whole clade.

Reptile is a little different, because in the first Mortal Kombat, he had both Scorpion and Sub-Zero's moves, an attribute that was later adopted by Chameleon, who is not officially even labelled as a Zaterran.

Up until (very) recently, reptile was a real thing, and for what it's worth, it is still used (debateable, no one uses Linaean taxonomy) in that thing I just said. Of course, this is classically defined as turtles, lepidosaurs, crocodilians, and a number of extinct forms (including some, but not all, dinosaurs). The only way to make this work is to set reptile to the last common ancestor of all of these groups, which makes all tetrapods more derived than "amphibians" reptiles. Basically, Diapsids, Synapsids, and Anapsids.

And this means dinosaurs and mammals are reptiles. When humans looked at this transcribed cladogram, they had somehow decided that by some miracle, they don't count. So, for no fucking reason, reptiles are now "Amniotes," and mammal-like reptiles are not actually reptiles anymore, although I've always thought that name is redundant.

So they took reptile away, leaving it with a linaean (as in "not real") meaning. Obviously, it's paraphyletic. Hence, it means nothing, and isn't a real group. This pisses me off because the only reason the name changed is because a bunch of humans got their panties in a bunch because they don't like the CONNOTATION of being a reptile. The reptile clade is totally solid, it's just not called reptiles anymore. Doesn't make any damn sense.

As a dinosaur (and I do mean theropod) guy, this one pisses me off the most. I'll preface this by saying that, despite all the bullshit, this word DOES have a stable and genuine meaning. Crown group dinosaurs are birds, but nothing else is.

Quick! What are the defining traits of a bird? Flight and feathers? Okay, since protofeathers, O-quills (a name I just invented) and pycnofibres are all essentially the same thing, does that mean all Ornithodirans are birds?

Nah, let's be fair. None of us where prepared for Tianyulong, so lets take it down a notch. You mean flying dinosaurs. Okay, thats paraves. Paraves covers it all. Problem is, "bird" was in use long before we had this shit sorted out, and paraves was very long in the making. Good news is, it has, most of the time, always included another maniraptoran group, and has included all of them at least once. So, should we back it up to maniraptoran because Oviraptors have a pygostyle? No need. Modern paraves fits our description pretty well. The most popular "non-bird birds" were always Deinonychosaurs anyways, and it's because they are, well, related.

But calling Troodon a bird is very sketchy. I mean, don't get me wrong, Deinonychosaurs get called birds all the fucking time, but it is not taken so literally, and a more conservative definition is preferd by the people doing the actual work, and like I said, they get to decide what the definition of a biology term is. So what is it a common name for?

Aves. Aves = Birds. Great starting place. Now, where do we put aves? The original definition is crown group + Archaeopteryx, but, as you should be aware, Archaeopteryx is just a basal parave that was never really held up to modern standards because suggesting it is anything other than a bird is heretical... even though it has a long tail, and no keel. This puts us back where we started, so we have to ignore Archaeopteryx.

Now we get to Avialians. This is already the name of the clade, and it means "bird-like," so not all Avialians can be birds. That's cool, because Scansoriopterygids have long bony tails, unlike true birds. This is the most acceptable crown group plus usage of bird, and many times Aves will be used as the clade that combines Confuciusornithes with all more derived Avialians.

And what is that group? Ornithoraces, Ornithuromorphs, Ornithurines? Doesn't have a name, it changes depending on who you ask. It contains Enantiornithes and all more derived pygostylians, which is the actual name for "aves." Thats right, aves doesn't go where we put it, because that clade already has a name.

So what if we just use crown groups? That puts us at "neornithes," an outdated term that only exists because we at one time needed to include Archaeopteryx in linaean aves. However, because aves has become an orphaned child crying to the winds for it's parents, Neornithes has, genuinely, taken it's place.

Really, then, there IS no place for a clade named "aves" because all appropriate clades are already named, and a handful actually have several overlapping names, like the aforementioned ornithoraces, ornithurines, and ornithuromorpha. But birds DOES have a meaning. At the very least, we know it means cg dinos, and it has a clade name equivalent for which it is the common name counterpart.

So... what? In order for aves to become a clade, we need to replace a preexisting word, which seems extremely likely, because aves will predate any extinct clade name, and take priority of wherever we decide to put it. Agreement is a joke. My advice? Just dump Neornithes, since thats what birds actually means anywhicways.

But for the love of Godzilla, please reach some sort of consensus. I can't read papers about Avialians because I never have any idea what the fuck they're talking about. They use the same words in different contexts without bothering to tell you. It's fucking retarded.

And if birds = pygostylians? You've wasted a pretty kickass clade name for nothing. Nothing really makes as much sense as "pygostylians." Birds or no, there is no clade quite as solid as "Avialians with a pygostyle." It's like, BAM, you know? No one ever asks what a pygostylian is. It's in the damn name.

Also, Confuciusornis is fucking gorgeous. You know that picture of Mana up at the top? That guy is ultimate pug fugly like Beth's face compared to Confuciusornis.

But then, that's not really fair, because male dinosaurs are born bueatiful. They don't have to use giant sunglasses to create optical illusions with their face. Not that I do, I'm just saying.

...sure does pay off, though. In cinematography the other day, Jordan (the girl who played Mr. Cameo in... you're not gonna know, forget it) told me I have "nice lips," which was a first. I'm WW, in case you couldn't tell. I guess that makes me a "trap." Because, of course, why would a male be feminine other than as a part of some cruel joke? Surely one wouldn't be un-ironically THAT girly.

I'm being sarcastic, like the jackass masculine Maddox fanboy that I am. Has your head exploded yet? How about PRO-gress and CON-gress!?.

Progress being what John Maus is afraid of. Also, being in the presence of a living legend.

I'm just kidding, Maus is pretty cool. In fact, you could say he's a fucked up maniac. I wouldn't, but you can. Gary War is better any day of the week, and I'm Tim Koh's biggest fan.

Maybe I should just cut here and do a Ariel Pink post later.


Top 10 Dinosaur Discoveries from the last couple of years

I was poking around and seeing how much of that cladogram I got right, and I ran into my old friend Panphagia. No one bothered to tell me, but he's a Guaibasaurid now. Really. Plus, Guaibasaurids are actually Sauropodomorphs now. Go figure. So, I got that part wrong, but then I didn't know until now, so I can't really count it out if it wasn't part of my memory to begin with.

So it got me thinking about some of the really awesome shit we've found in the past few years. I started seriously researching dinosaurs since the last few years of high school, around 2004-2005, and since then the newest discoveries have gotten straight to me, because I figured out where I should actually be going to get news about these sort of things. In the past, I never heard about Sinosauropteryx when they first found it, but I knew all about Giganotosaurus (which I called Gigantosaurus back then). So, this is a list of the stuff we've found out since I started paying attention, and therefore the times when the actual time of the discovery was just as memorable as the discovery itself.

Really, I'm waxing nostalgic for about six years ago, is whats happening here.

When: 2010
Why: This one is pretty damn recent, but it already feels like a million years have passed since I was ripping my hair out trying to get a straight answer about what the hell Alvarezsaurs are. Turns out they're the most basal clade of maniraptorans. Cool, huh? Makes sense to me. So I sighed and moved on. Not to undermine it's importance, of course, it's just that the mystery is solved, and the whole point of resting easy is so you can get to the actual resting. So, I'm pretty over this now. But dang, thank god for this motherfucker. Am I right?

When: 2009
Why: Like I said, Panphagia is a Guaibasaurid now, and Guaibasaurids are actually basal Sauropodomorphs, but instead of dimishing Panphagia's importance, it only makes it more interesting. I'll be honest, I don't really care about non-theropods. I mean, I try to pretend that they matter, but deep inside I know I'm not convincing anyone. They're all just so boring and ugly compared to even a Majungasaurus. Which is why I became so enamored with Panphagia. It was, by all accounts, a Sauropodomorph that wished it was a theropod. And I had it bad, I was fucking obsessed with this thing for months, I couldn't get it out of my head. It was like a bad love song, and everywhere I looked I saw Panphagia's head on a crow's body. Nevermind that he was probably a generalist, he had the ABILITY to be a carnivore, and I find it hard to believe he didn't take advantage of that when there were no Coelophysids around. I also think it's just genuinely cool looking, although you wouldn't know that to see some of the chupacabra-like mangy drawings around the internet (thanks to that thing Tianyulong changed, what was it called? Oh yeah, everything.).

And now with the Guaibasaurid thing? That's beyond cool. The reason this conclusion was reached, Chromogisaurus, who is just another Guaibasaurid, is also beyond cool. I mean, he doesn't make the list, but just for letting me say "just another Guaibasaurid" like I'm some super badass motherfucker from the future where we already have all this bullshit figured out, and you can buy designer pet Guaibasaurid clones from the Wal-Mart on your way to work, and we know about the plumage of every dinosaur that's ever lived, is pretty cool.

I mean, let's face it, I may be the only person on the planet besides the two jack offs that named this clade that actually knows what the fuck a "Guaibasaurid" is, and it just so happens to include my second favorite Sauropodomorph of all time (the first comes later). Plus, they are quite clearly killers, even more clearly now than they were before, only now instead of being "basal Saurischian" killers, they are full on Sauropodomorph killers.

Learn more about Guaibasaurids at your local library. Just kidding. You're not going to learn anything there.

When: 2009
Why: Of course you already know how I feel about this. No matter what a few idiots say, though, Tawa is still the first Theropod. This also marks the first time a paleontologist gives a story to the papers that involves Herrerasaurs as one of the reasons why it qualifies as headline news. And then the wierd part is that those papers agreed, and started talking about how cool it is that there is finally some sort of idea of how they are related to Theropods. The how part was wrong, but whatever. Same as Panphagia, really, but this one is a theropod, so it's much more important.

When: 2009
Why: The fingers. Actually, I'll be honest, I don't give a damn about the fingers, but I do remember feeling like it was truly the future because of them. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, Limusaurus should be famous among lunatics and religious people as being the final nail in the coffin for their precious "dinosaurs are extinct" nonsense. The thing was the only "loose end" (it wasn't actually a loose end) in tying up (tee hee) the whole bird thing was the fingers on the hands. In living dinosaurs, developing embryos can be observed, and we can tell that the three fingers on a chicken (and the other living dinosaurs that still have arms) were digits II, III, and IV. We can't see fossils develop, so some had assumed without any evidence whatsoever that the remaining fingers on non-bird theropods (which means nothing, by the way) were I, II, and III. Of course, they were wrong, and no one payed attention to them because these are the sorts of things that crazy people say. If this sounds familiar, it should, because most things people think about extinct clades of dinosaurs are the complete opposite of true, and there is no evidence to support them, but it still takes decades of piling evidence to convince people that the truth is true, and made up bullshit is not. Example: people actually used to think that dinosaurs were cold blooded. No, I'm not lying, this really did happen. Like a snake. No, really. I'm not kidding. Like a fucking snake.

I actually still have a book or two that actually mention the "finger thing." In each, it is mentioned briefly and then dismissed because it just sounds so fucking stupid, and there is no evidence that non-bird dinosaurs (again, means nothing) had digits I, II, and III instead of II, III, and IV. One of these is an ornithology book, and those people are as stupid as a retarded rock from a country with a poor education system who is made fun of by the whole school for being so stupid. Also, Sibley & Alqhuist (or however you spell those fucking stupid names), who are even stupider than that, and single handedly set back dinosaur cladistics several decades with their stupid Ciconiiform antics. So, to reiterate, stupid.

So thats it. Birds (whatever the hell thats supposed to mean) are dinosaurs, which isn't news, and even the normally sensationalistic and ignorant journalists were finding it hard to care about Limusaurus.

But Limusaurus is remarkable for far more than just the stupid finger thing. First of all, he's a herbivore. Not a big deal yet. He's from the late Jurassic. "Okay," you think, "but we know plenty seed-eaters and pre-seed-eater-like paravians, and we know ornithomimosaurs had to have been present then, so whats this all about then?" He's a Ceratosaur. Yeah. The ones with the wiggly tails? Limusaurus is a beaked, toothless herbivore with a diminished I and V digit and a big ol' wiggly tail. You'd be forgiven for thinking it WAS an ornithomimosaur until you saw that wiggly tail. Whats more, he is one of the most basal Ceratosaurs ever found, meaning that hebivorous Ceratosaurs are actually pretty far branching. So, what I'm really trying to say is that everything we knew about Ceratosaurs was wrong, which is pretty damn cool.

When: ~2000
Why: Easily the oldest one on this list, so old, in fact, that all this controversy skipped by me entirely. I became aware of Microraptor in 2003-2004 after all the whatever had died down and it was time to really pay attention to what made Microraptor so special: four wings. So cool. Microraptor changed how we understand the plumage of basal paravians forever, and it is pretty well recieved at this point. I remember when it was still new, I would get all pissy all the time because Microraptor had changed everything, and I wasn't seeing that change happen, and it confused and angered me. This was simultaneously my first experience with both the speed of paleontology and the density of everyone else. It was extremely obvious, back in the summer of '04, that four wings are a paravian, and not a Microraptor trait. I knew this, and yet I would still see these wierd-looking mangy monsters on tv that were supposed to be raptors. I kept checking the "info" button, but it assured me that the reconstruction was done that year.

My favorite story about Microraptor though has got to be the time I saw a documentary about how it flew. It was from shortly after I graduated high school, and I was watching alot of history channel. These guys actually made a Microraptor puppet and placed it inside a wind tunnel to see how aerodynamic the old school "sprawling" leg shape actually was. Not only was this move physically impossible without the dinosaur dislocating both of it's legs, but it simply didn't give enough lift. The shape they discoved that did, of course, is that wonderful biplane shape that we are all so familiar with. This resonated with me because it was around 2005 or 2006, which, taken with my other estimates, means it had been around two or three years since Microraptor became known to me and the rest of the world that don't care about hoaxes, and at most six years since it was discovered period. This dinosaur started as a hoax, withing three of four years revolutionized the way we will think about paraves from now on, and a few years later we had a complete picture of how it actually flew which was the same time it's signifigance started to sink in with the general public. This, to me, perfectly illustrates the time ratios between the different knowledge bases.

Before Microraptor became Microraptor, there was a show called The Future is Wild that showed various possible futures in a manner similar to Dougal Dixon's After Man. Actually, it was kind of an unofficial sequel, and Dougal even wrote the book. In a possible biosphere from 100 million years in the future, we meet a creature called the Great Blue Windrunner, a large flying dinosaur that lives up on the Great Plateau, a mountain range created by Australia's impact with mainland Asia. GBW's are related to cranes, have feathers that reflect UV rays, and have four wings. They fly using the outdated "sprawling" technique. So, in the time that Microraptor was discovered, four wings was considered a futuristic trait of the "I know it sounds crazy, but it IS one possible future" variety. In other words, way out there but just enough to look plausible. It was great because we hit the nail right on the head, but in the wrong direction.

Lastly, I want to say that I don't know or care what the controversy about Microraptor was. It isn't important. What is important is that Microraptor changed everything in a way that I feel safe saying that in this post-Tianyulong environment.

When: 2010
Why: Sinosauropteryx was first found in 1996, which I first learned from this cool shirt I saw Phil Currie wearing this one time, but this was in a time when I wasn't paying very close attention to dinosaurs. Rather, Godzilla had just died for the first time in my life, and I was trying to figure out how to deal with that. I knew about what would become Zilla, and that whole thing, but thats another story all together. Dave, Dyzio, Sino, and the early oviraptorosaurs being discovered at the time totally went over my head. So, when I really started getting into dinosaurs, all of this had already been figured out, and it had been decided that Dyzio was featherless, and the origin of feathers is actually at the base of Coelurosaurs, which would mean Tyrannosaurs had feathers, but we didn't get a confirmation on that until 2004. Of course, like I will have inscribed on my fucking tombstone, Tianyulong changed everything. But thats for later.

What I'm of course talking about is the discovery of what color Sinosauropteryx is. Turns out it was orange with white stripes on the tail and a white underbelly. Do I need to elaborate on why this is so earth-shatteringly cool? I thought not.

I should also say that Dave being poisonous (maybe) and Dyzio being redeemed because Tianyulong fucking changed everything are close runner-ups, but those don't fit terribly well with the rest of the list. Dyzio still blows my mind though, because they found him the year after Sino, but he was a Dilophosaurus, which was too much for anyone at the time to handle. Way to kick some ass, Dyzio.

So we can do that now. We can get pigments (or whatever the hell they did) from particularly good feather impressions. We are so close to knowing everything it's almost scary.

4. Tune in next time, if I remember, because the next one is another Sauropodomorph! Can YOU guess what it could be? The excitement is almost too much...

I'm just tired of writing for now.

Cladogram-orama: Dinosaur Cladogram/Family Tree from Memory

I feel like trying to reproduce a cladogram of dinosaurs from memory.

And, as always, when I say dinosaurs, I really mean just theropods. Because, really, who gives a shit about the other kinds? They're all dead.

|  |--+--Guaibasaurids
|  |  `--Sauropodomorphs
|  |     |--Prosauropods
|  |     |  |--Massospondylids
|  |     |  `--+--Plateosaurids
|  |     |     `--Riojasaurids
|  |     `--Sauropods
|  |        |--Vulcanodontids
|  |        |--Melanorosaurids
|  |        |--Cetiosaurids
|  |        |--crackets, there was another one i'm forgetting
|  |        `--Neosauropods (or Eu, I confuse these)
|  |           |--Mamenchisaurids
|  |           |--Omeisaurids
|  |           `--Eusauropods (likewise, might be Neo)
|  |              |--Diplodocids
|  |              |--Dicraeosaurids
|  |              |--Rebbachisaurids
|  |              `--Macronarians
|  |                 |--Camarasaurids
|  |                 |--Brachiosaurids
|  |                 `--Titanosauriformes (from here it gets ridiculous)
|  `--+--Herrerasaurids (I've been over this)
|     `--THEROPODS
|        |--Coelophysids
|        `--Averostans
|           |--Ceratosaurians
|           |  |--Ceratosaurids
|           |  |--Limusaurids (he deserves his own group)
|           |  `--Abelisaurians
|           |     |--Abelisaurids
|           |     `--Noasaurids
|           `--Tetanurines
|              |--Spinosauroids
|              |  |--Megalosaurids
|              |  `--Spinosaurids
|              `--Avetheropods
|                 |--Carnosaurs (synonymous with Allosaurian or Allosauroid)
|                 |  |--Allosaurids
|                 |  |--Sinraptorids
|                 |  |--Neovenatorids
|                 |  `--Carcharodontosaurids
|                 `--Coelurosaurs
|                    |--Compsognathids
|                    |--Tyrannosauroids
|                    |  |--Tyrannosaurids
|                    |  `--Dyrosaurids, right? Laelaps goes here.
|                    |--Ornithomimosaurids (in Maniraptoriformes?)
|                    `--Maniraptors
|                       |--Alvarezsaurids (thank god for Haplocheirus)
|                       |--+--Therizinosaurids
|                       |  `--Oviraptorids
|                       `--Paraves (polyphyletic raptors)
|                          |--Deinonychosaurs
|                          |  |--Dromaeosaurids
|                          |  |  |--Microraptorines
|                          |  |  |--Velociraptorines (Balaur goes here)
|                          |  |  |--Dromaeosaurines
|                          |  |  |--I'm forgetting one
|                          |  |  `--Sinornithosaurids
|                          |  `--Troodontids
|                          `--Avialians (does NOT mean "birds")
|                             |--Scansoriopterygids
|                             `--Pygostylians
|                                |--Confuciusornithes
|                                `--Ornithoraces
|                                   |--Enantiornithes (too many sub-groups)
|                                   |--Yanornithes? Is that a thing?
|                                   `--Ornithurines
|                                      |--Hesperornithes
|                                      `--Aves (just put Ichthy here, dammit!)
|                                         |--Paleognaths
|                                         |  |--Lithornithiformes
|                                         |  |--Struthioniformes
|                                         |  `--+--T-something
|                                         |     `--Ratites
|                                         |        |--+--+--Apterygiformes
|                                         |        |  |  `--Dinornithiformes
|                                         |        |  `--Aepyornithiformes
|                                         |        `--Casuariformes (switched?)
|                                         `--Neognaths
|                                            |--Galloanserines
|                                            |  |--Gastornithiformes
|                                            |  |--Anseriformes
|                                            |  |  |--Presbyornithids
|                                            |  |  |--Anhingids
|                                            |  |  |--Anatids
|                                            |  |  |--Anseranatids
|                                            |  |  |--Brontornids
|                                            |  |  `--Dromornithids
|                                            |  `--Galliformes
|                                            `--Neoaves
|                                               |--Metaves
|                                               |  |--Opisthocomiformes
|                                               |  |--?--Columbiformes
|                                               |  |  `--Pteroclodiformes
|                                               |  |--Phaethoniformes
|                                               |  |--Mirandornithes
|                                               |  |  |--Phoenicopterygiformes
|                                               |  |  `--Podicepiformes
|                                               |  |--Mesitornithomorphs
|                                               |  |  |--Aptornithiformes
|                                               |  |  |--Rhynchochetiformes
|                                               |  |  |--Eurypygiformes
|                                               |  |  `--Did I miss any?
|                                               |  `--Cypselomorphs
|                                               |     |(Forgot all of the
|                                               |     |structure. Hummingbirds,
|                                               |     |Swifts, whichever one
|                                               |     |Apodiformes is, Nightjars/
|                                               |     |Caprimulgiformes, and
|                                               |     |junk, with Daedlornithes
|                                               |     |being most basal.)
|                                               `--Coronaves
|                                                  |--Gruimorphs
|                                                  |  |--Gruiformes
|                                                  |  `--Waterbirds, out of room
|                                                  `-Charadrimorphs
|                                                    |--Charadriformes
|                                                    |  |--Lari (gulls)
|                                                    |  |--Jacanas
|                                                    |  `--too damn many
|                                                    `--Terrestrores (from Holtz)
|                                                       `--no room for all these
      |  |--Stegosaurids
      |  `--Ankylosaurians
      |     |--Polacanthids
      |     `--Ankylosaurids
         |  `--a shitload of endless branching synonymous sub-groups
         |     |--Hadrosaurines
         |     `--Lambeosaurines
               `--no fucking idea, don't care.

How did I do? I'll score myself one of these days, maybe latter today or tomorrow. If not, probably never.


It's Ba-La-Ur, not Ba-Laur, because THAT would make too much sense

I'm so damned good at drawing in MS paint. But then again, the program is so flawless, you know?

Balaur. For mans last hundred or so laps around the sun, the children, fascinated by the very idea of what a dinosaur is, being better than all other chordates in every conceivable way, will no longer utter the familiar bad impressions of a T. rex, Velociraptor, or the proud and mighty bald eagle, but rather that of this curious little mutant bastert.

Mark my words, non-existant readers, the dreams of the children of the future will be filled with the adventures of Balaur, the raptor with four killing claws.

The raptor... with FOUR killing claws. Four killing claws. Four of them. Not two like in that dumb old Cariama, but four, as in two more than you'd ever need, and double the badassery. Four fucking claws. Four of them. It has four killing claws. Balaur has twice as many killing claws as Utahraptor.

Sure, that last paragraph was beyond redundant, and there are many other wicked wierd things about Balaur that deserve plenty of attention, but just as the rule of thirds continuously drags our eyes away from the center of an image, so too (four) does the fact that Balaur has four killing claws completely render my mind incapable of caring about anything else.

Many times I have been asked why I have not bothered pursuing a career in paleontology. My usual answer involves not being obsessed with dead things, and why the hell would I want to toil away in Lianlong in the heat when I could just walk outside and see whole flocks of living dinosaurs without needing to dig around in the sand to find them? But of course, it is important to remember that, if I had discovered Balaur, my paper describing it would simply be "raptor with four killing claws" repeated over and over for, like, 10 pages. And then I would retire.

Simply put, I can't possibly imagine what left there is to do. Remember Microraptor when he was new? Wasn't that wierd as shit? I remember the first thing I thought was "wow, that looks like a Great Blue Windrunner... so, guess that's been done then." It was complete absurdity. And then we found out that four wings was actually the basal condition of Paraves, and we even found some Archaeopteryxes with those crazy long leg feathers. So, what we had assumed to be a futuristic evolutionary leap forward was actually the old school design that dinosaurs had decided was "so last era." It has been proven, then, that dinosaurs do literally every fucking last thing better than us.

And there is no way to top this except for ideas that, frankly, I no longer can call ridiculous. What I want to do now is list the absolute most outrageous awesome dinosaurs I can think of, so that in the next couple years when we find all of them and nobody thinks they are special anymore, I can point back to this as a record of the time when Kingugidorasaurus wasn't quite the household name it will be in 2012:

1. a very large, argentavis or so sized flying tyrannosauroid
2. a coelophysid from the neogene period with maple leaf-shaped dorsal spines and a radiovorous diet, possibly still extant, which will spark the hunt for the newest cryptid
3. a two or three headed dinosaur, prefferably a carnivorous sauropodomorph, and while I'm mentioning it,
4. a carnivorous neosauropod
5. a quadrapedal theropod
6. a six limbed flying, firebreathing dragon (only counts if it's a dinosaur)
7. the remains of a troodontid civilization
8. lagerstatten impressions of the pennaceous flight feathers of a brachiosaurus
9. partially mentioned, but any theropod with a beam or projectile weapon (we already have a venomous one)
10. a SIX winged raptor
11. a raptor with SIX killing claws

and this last one is my favorite:

11. a raptor with ONE HUNDRED killing claws.

It should go without saying that Balaur is my new favorite dinosaur. It replaced Sagittarius, who held that title for some years or so. Secs are my second favorite, so it's all cool. I mean, it's REALLY hard to beat a dinosaur that kills by stomping on the head of it's prey with it's stiletto heel, but four fucking killing claws does that job and then some.

Crows are still my third favorite, then in no particular order Argentavis, Morus, Anthropornis, Canadaga, Cryolophosaurus, Sinusonasus (nose-nose), Kelenken, Cariama, Rahonavis, and Gojirasaurus.