September 6, 2014

"Dreadnoughtus (meaning 'fearing nothing'...) is a genus of giant titanosaurian sauropod dinosaur..."

"It is one of the largest of all known terrestrial vertebrates, possessing the greatest mass of any land animal that can be calculated with reasonable certainty, using limb bone measurements."

Are you excited about the Dreadnought dinosaur? "Dreadnought" has a big "disambiguation" page at Wikipedia, with lots of ships, of course, and also trains and books and movies. The word goes back to the 1500s, used for ships. From the OED (which is unlinkable, even as a dreadnought might be unsinkable):
1587   F. Drake Despatch 27 Apr. in R. Hakluyt Princ. Navigations (1904) VI. p. xiv,   A greate leake sprange uppon the Dreadenoughte.
There's also "A type of thick woollen cloth with a long pile; a coat or other outer garment made of this cloth, typically worn in stormy weather."
1834   R. Southey Doctor II. 197   One of those dreadnoughts the utility of which sets fashion at defiance.
"Dreadnought" can be an adjective, meaning "fearless" (or, alternatively, made out of that heavy cloth used to make those above-mentioned coats). It was used to mean "fearless" here:
1978   N.Y. Mag. 18 Dec. 18/3   What is the point of this dreadnought approach to a basically frivolous genre?
That quote comes from a short trashing of the film "Death on the Nile." The preceding sentence is "Bette Davis and Maggie Smith are fun together, but no one else in the huge cast distinguishes himself."



Loving the dinosaurs!

24 comments:

rhhardin said...

The English House Dreadnoughtus, a non-native species in America, is driving out the Bluebird.

Wince said...

When I first saw the word dreadnoughtus and "fear nothing" I thought it had to do with cops not being worried about conspicuously eating donuts because of their union protections.

Ann Althouse said...

I think that dreadnoughtus would have been driven by fear -- fear of not stuffing its little head full of food continually lest its gigantic body starve.

Unknown said...

I wonder whether fear had any adaptive value for that critter. Hunger, certainly. Maybe it would fear falling over an avoid rough terrain. Or maybe there was something that could bring it down. Ten minutes of video from 70 million years ago might be worth more than all that paleontology will ever surmise.

Bob Boyd said...

Eustace Chilke said...
"Ten minutes of video from 70 million years ago might be worth more than all that paleontology will ever surmise."

Here you go:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdX6fwfrULI

traditionalguy said...

Maggie Smith was great the Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. It's is still worth the watching.

Makes me wonder who they could get to play the lead in The Prime of Miss Ann Althouse?

I'm Full of Soup said...

"Are you excited about the Dreadnought dinosaur?"

I can't answer that until after Ezra and Vox has explained it to me.

traditionalguy said...

Those big lizard bones reminds us that life on earth was wiped out and then started over several times.

Anonymous said...

The new species, Rapetosaurus krausei, was described in the August 2, 2001 issue of the scientific journal Nature, by Kristina Curry Rogers (then a graduate student...

Jason said...

I can almost always tell if a movie doesn't use real dinosaurs.

WillowViney said...

Look at Behemoth, which I made along with you [Job] and which feeds on grass like an ox. What strength it has in its loins, what power in the muscles of its belly! Its tail sways like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are close-knit. His bones are tubes of bronze; its limbs like rods of iron. It ranks first among the works of God. - Job 40:15-19.

Atheists reply that it was actually a hippopotamus. You know, the animal with the short piggy tail.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Willow Viney,

Never laugh at a hippopotamus; they kill more people than any other wild animal.

Re: Job, Jorge Luis Borges writes that the name was "Bahamut" (IIRC), and that it's a plural, meaning basically "the beasts." Evidently a singular name wasn't enough to convey how large the critter was. I'm thinking something a bit bigger than a hippo.

jr565 said...

I liked Death on the Nile. That was one of the better Agatha Christie movies. Of course I saw it when I was really young. But I thought it was pretty good. A lot better than Ms. Marple.
Those always involved boring stuff like Poisonings. Meanwhile in Detath on the Nile a bunch of people get it with a bullet to the head. Much more exciting.
Looking back it does appear to be a who's who of british stage actors getting together to chew the scenery. But I still enjoy it.

SaysMeow said...

Surely the dreadnought quality of "Death on the Nile" wasn't cinematic fearlessness, but an allusion to the Dreadnought ships which were seen as graceless over-armored boats which cruised up slowly and slugged it out toe-to-toe...if ships can be supposed to have toes.

The Crack Emcee said...

My male friends and I have talked about Dreadnoughtus every day since the news broke.

We also tend to mention Godzilla a lot, too, in normal conversation,...

Jason said...

To me, a Dreadnaught is a guitar body style.

Unknown said...

Jason beat me to it.

Quaestor said...

... possessing the greatest mass of any land animal that can be calculated with reasonable certainty...

The phrase which makes a mountain from a molehill. There were many sauropods whose mass was likely greater. For example, from the same Patagonian strata another titanonsauroid, Argentinosaurus huinculensis had an estimated mass of 88 to 110 short tons.

The reason Lacovara feels his is able to make his claim "with reasonable certainty" is the type specimen includes many of the long dense bones such as the femur.

The sauropods were some of nature's most highly evolved creatures. Most people tend to think of their enormous bodies and their tiny brains and dismiss them as anomalies, doomed freaks. When the term dinosaur is used as a pejorative the popular (i.e. unsophistocated) image of the sauropods is invoked. The reality is so different that "dinosaur" should be used as an allegory for spectacular success.

Sauropodomorphs lived for 160 million
years, from the beginning of dinosaur history
until the close of the Cretaceous, (To put that in perspective that's twice as long as the whole history of the primate clade) and they were flourishing when the extinction event happened. To achieve their enormity the sauropods took vertebrate biology -- weight support, neural circuitry, respiration,
digestion, everything – to the limit. To put that in perspective consider that the longest neck ever achieved by a mammal belongs to the giraffe -- 11 feet. Many sauropods double that. Some quadruple it. 12 feet is believed to the absolute limit of neck length in mammals. Longer than that and the pressure needed to lift the blood from the heart to the brain would blow the skull apart. Even if a mammal solved the blood pressure problem the inefficiency of mammalian respiration would doom the animal.

The heaviest land mammal ever was Paraceratherium, an extinct member of the clan of odd-toed ungulates that includes the horse. 20 tons, peanuts compared to the sauropodomorphs. 20 tons is near the absolute limit of mass for land-dwelling mammals because any heavier and either the legs would be too massive to move, or the skeleton above the legs would crush the legs. Sauropods easily surpassed that limit by using skeletal pneumaticity, i.e. air spaces in the bones, to a degree that even their cousins the birds haven't matched.

Sauropods weren't just big, they were sophisticated.

Quaestor said...

Surely the dreadnought quality of "Death on the Nile" wasn't cinematic fearlessness, but an allusion to the Dreadnought ships which were seen as graceless over-armored boats which cruised up slowly and slugged it out toe-to-toe...

Surely not. I don't know what the critic intended by the usage, but if it was as stated above it's a misusage. "[An] allusion to the Dreadnought ships which were seen as graceless over-armored boats which cruised up slowly and slugged it out toe-to-toe..." Seen by whom? Not by contemporary observers, and not by anyone the least familiar with the subject.

As noted earlier Dreadnought was a popular name for an English warship since at least the time of the Armada, however the ship that's being invoked here is the "all big gun" battleship championed by First Sea Lord Jackie Fisher. Far from being graceless HMS Dreadnought was the swiftest battleship afloat when she was launched in 1906. Dreadnought was so revolutionary that all other battleships in service in 1906 were rendered obsolete because her speed and the range of her guns allowed Dreadnought to defeat her foes without cruising up slowly and slugging it out toe-to-toe, to paraphrase SayMeow.

Really, people ought acquire some historical perspective before opining.

Quaestor said...

The Crack Emcee wrote: My male friends and I have talked about Dreadnoughtus every day since the news broke. We also tend to mention Godzilla a lot, too, in normal conversation,...

This does not surprise me. Eclectic does not describe the Crack conversation circle.

kcom said...

Am I excited? Here's my answer from the earlier survey:

I don't care. I can't stand any of these dinosaurs.

I actually don't really care much any more. Somewhere along the way I got over dinosaurs.

Quaestor said...

Somewhere along the way I got over dinosaurs.

A sign of impending brain death.

SaysMeow said...

Surely not. I don't know what the critic intended by the usage, but if it was as stated above it's a misusage...Seen by whom? Not by contemporary observers, and not by anyone the least familiar with the subject...Really, people ought acquire some historical perspective before opining.

The critic's view of dreadnoughts (battleships in general, not HMS Dreadnought in particular) is clear: he says "Death on the Nile" is "ponderous, slow-paced". He says it takes a "dreadnought approach" to what should have been a light entertainment. Ergo the critic thinks dreadnoughts are ponderous and slow-paced. I think it was a commonplace back when people thought about battleships (if not, wouldn't the magazine editor have deleted a too-arcane reference?). As for its validity, sure it was simplistic and unfair, but even some contemporary naval professionals thought the Dreadnought class could use more speed--hence the battlecruiser controversy. Is that enough historical perspective? Please don't send me to the cornfield, Anthony...

Wayne said...

The archaeologists were deadlocked between RosieO'DonnellSaurus and ChrisChristieSaurus and compromised on Dreadnoughtus.