By Scott Sullivan
The world’s first swimming dinosaur, says The Smithsonian, has been discovered in Mongolia. I’ve been waiting for this to happen.
So the foot-long merman/maid with jaws full of tiny teeth preyed 71 million years ago in the Gobi Desert site Hermiin Tsav, part of the Barun Goyot Formation? All kinds of bones get found there.
This Cretaceous cormorant Natovenator, South Korean paleontologist Sungjin Ye says, appears to draw from aquatic dinosaur/birds, with preserved ribs in a swept-back pattern like those in auks or penguins. It dined on small, slippery, wriggling sushi bar-type prey.
It is known other dinosaurs dipped feet now and then, most to cross streams or fish shoals. The great sail baked Spinosaurus may have, with crocodile jaws, rocked fully submerged, but full evidence lacks.
Science of course needs more investigation. How such dinosaurs swam — like cormorants propelled primarily by feet, or like penguins with forearms — has yet to be uncovered. Studying geological clues in the dinosaurs’ teeth and bones may confirm or challenge how adept it was underwater also.
Might hints of earlier swimming dinosaurs be found? Who, what, when, where, how and why? When I knocked on the desert door, the keeper asked who or what I was looking for.
“His friend Herman Tsav, actually. Cretaceous cormorant lived there million years ago.
“He’s left the building,” said the keeper. Slam!
I don’t pretend to know paleontology and at 67 could be its subject as well as student. Oval Beach studies I’ve made of peers reveal older specimens less adaptive for swimming than younger ones for observing.
Swimming dinosaurs bring to mind songs of gulls, waves and clanging spars turned winters into water crashing, compiling and compacting creaky icebergs. Why had I bailed on wave action studies after junior Advanced Math Analysis?
Shapes I could picture. Proofs citing postulates, hypotheses, theories and logic taught in high school sophomore geometry I liked also.
The link between trigonometry sine waves with light/water/sound ones I didn’t get from my AMA teacher. Amplitudes, frequencies, pitch, reflections/reverberations and absorption in all directions confuse me also. Engineers and architects do those things.
Senior year I bailed on Calculus I’d been prepped for. Needing a math break I studied instead psychology to learn the sum, difference, products and dividends of my madness.
Too bad. Studying instantaneous change (differential calculus) and infinitely small factors (integral) to determine a whole might put new energy (physics) in storytelling.
Back to swimming dinosaurs. Oval Beach studies reveal older specimens express more than ones less formed by time but more fun observing. Camera documentation for me is fraught. Boyfriends, seeing I don’t carehow I look so I can look freely, beat me up.
In my 20s and 30s when I fended better for myself, I’d swim almost daily summers in Lake Michigan. Beyond the first sand bar I’d find water shoulder-high, deep enough to complete kick and stroke cycles, crash through waves parallel to the shore, first against the current, then back, and emerge from what seemed amniotic fluid, refreshed, newborn.
Once temperatures dipped I’d work out in pools, but my skin, eyes and chlorine coexisted poorly. Had I coasted less in Chemistry I might account for and compensate that better, but I’d had enough class my senior year and said screw it.
Bones of a swimming dinosaur found in a dried-up Gobi wetland remind me of a self-portrait. I mulled this mopping up dog pee, which got me thinking how enzymes work.
Had I listened better to Mr. Guy I’d recall they are living organism-made proteins which act to catalyze biochemical reactions. In this case, act/react was designed to quell stench of canine-excreted urine.
Not all dog pee is the same. Its contents — urea, creatinine, uric acid, carbohydrates, enzymes, fatty acids, hormones, sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, calcium and ammonia — vary depending on Fido’s metabolism. Your analysis is urinalysis, as Senior Psychology didn’t teach me. Nor did it how ecstasy affects us?
Hedge funds are enzymes in Economics. (I just made that up. All cross disciplines are made up.)
Science marches on.
By Scott Sullivan