Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Behold the mighty dinosaur (book 11 of 100)

his was actually a series of class lectures by Professor John Kricher of Wheaton College. It's part of recorded books Modern Scholar Curriculum. Modern Scholar is basically a way for people who like to learn but have neither the time nor the money to devote to taking continuing ed classes or enrolling in school. Although I consider myself a pretty smart person, I was a bit out of shape in the thinking department as listening to this audio book proved. This is especially bad because I was an anthropology major in college. I was also a writing major and a health education minor. I was a pretty busy girl but I wasn't aware of how much of my primary subject matter knowledge had evaporated over the past decade.

Because I've been obsessed with Neanderthals dinosaurs seemed like an easy extension of that. But, did you know that no hominid ever saw a dinosaur? They died before anything resembling us was on the planet. So much for The Flinstones even though Dino was modeled after a real dinosaur.

As a health educator, I am always horrified when scientists put personal creative advancement ahead of actually saving human lives. For more information on this subject as it relates to HIV, see the Robert Gallo vs. The French Disaster which I belived killed off about 500,000 people because they couldn't cooperate. Paleontologists had a similar rivalry. Their names were Cope and Marsh. I guess no matter what field you're in the best want to stay the best and they don't care who gets screwed. At least nobody died as a result of Cope and Marsh's foolishness.

I thought I knew a good bit about dinosaurs. I didn't. For example, carbon dating does not exist. The actual term is radiometric dating. Dinosaurs behaved a lot more like mammals than like reptiles in some cases. Some of them were in fact warm blooded it's suspected.

I always knew about the asteroid theory for dinosaur extinction, but I didn't realize that volcanoes and flowering plants (which they were not programmed to digest) might have also contributed to their extinction.

Perhaps the saddest thing I learned is that if bird species are largely wiped out by the current man made climate change our planet is undergoing they will be the only species to have undergone two mass extinctions. The first was the cretaceous extinction which killed off the dinosaurs. Now, we're making them do it again. What did these poor little creatures ever do to deserve this? If we keep going in the way we are, our children will no longer be able to (to quote Professor Kricher), "go out and see a live dino by putting out a bird feeder or going to the park and looking at some pigeons." You see, it's a commonly held paleontological fact that some dinosaurs transformed into our modern birds.

I love to learn, and I loved this book. In fact, I'm going to go get more Modern Scholar titles to hopefully revive my withering brain. Thank God I'm a poet. At least I've got that going for me. If I was to sit in a cubicle all day, I'd probably have an IQ of two at this point. My advice to you if your brain is also feeling sadly flabby is to take a class or at least take one on audio book. Your brain will thank you. I'd rate this book an 8 out of 10. Word to the wise - you can't really multi-task with any great effect while listening to something this dense. So put off your pressing email and just absorb some new data.

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