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Friday, February 4, 2011

Creature Feature: Coelurosauravus.

Oh, speaking of dragons, I have indeed been watching Primeval - that British television show from the gorgonopsid entry. It is sufficiently badass, but I cannot help but wonder if Rex, who is an ancient flying lizard called a Coelurosauravus, qualifies as psuedo-dragonhumping or not.



 Wait a tick. This guy looks an awful lot like a modern lizard called Draco volans. (Primeval even points this out.)  It has gliding flaps just like the modern flying dragons native to Southeast Asia, and probably behaved about the same way: as a moderately-sized lizard, it likely ate bugs and evaded predators by gliding from tree to tree. Rodlike structures made it an even better glider than D. volans, but it was still nowhere near as maneuverable as on the telly.



Coelurosauravus, like the gorgonopsid that introduced me to the show, was around during the Permian Period - a time before dinosaurs when proto-mammals were the dominant life forms. This lizardwas found in what is today Madagascar and Germany. Like the gorgonopsids, it also never made it past the Permian. Try again, dragon fanatics; as long as mammals dominate the Earth, reptiles will never get as big or winged as you would like.



















It is worth mentioning that another gliding lizard in the Disney movie Dinosaur was a completely different species from Rex. The brief, fluttering reptile analogous to a butterfly in that movie was Longisquama, considered by some to not only be a glider, but a proto-bird (and is closer to the right time frame for a dinosaur movie). Coelurosauravus never met dinosaurs; even though many of us think of the Mesozoic as the age of reptiles, there was a good variety before that time as well.

Tomorrow: Giant jellyfish. Yes, really.

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