Thursday, June 7, 2012

Creature Feature: Baryonyx.

For those of you following my Twitter...yes, I got into Fossil Fighters (Champions) again. No, I do not intend to get as competitive with FFC as I am with Pokemon. Apparently the hardcore fanbase demands that you not only excavate a gold fossil perfectly for your team, but also demands that it be attached to a Tyranno to make a T-Rex Lord.

Everybody wants the T. rex. Rex this, rex that, rexrexrexrexrex seems to be what draws people, whether they're deep into dinosaurs or not. I know that comparing a long-extinct predator to Charizard (i.e. cool, powerful, but overrated) is poor showmanship, but if the glove fits, well...OK, T. rex is one finger short of wearing Charizard's glove perfectly. Thing is, as much as I respect T. rex (I come from the city with SUE, for crying out loud) dinosaurs are still dinosaurs. Seeing any thunderlizard in the modern day would be quite terrifying. No need to focus on the 'rex so much.

I wish I knew who did this.

Most carnivorous dinos would be just as terrifying as a 'rex, especially this thing. Seriously, this dino looks freaky. Hell, it isn't even going to eat us (we hope), but who wouldn't run screaming after seeing those claws, that mouthful of hooklike teeth, and a build that looks a lot more streamlined than good ol' T.rex?

The monster has a name: Baryonyx, literally "heavy claw." There has only been one species discovered, so it's safe to just call it by the generic name. It was discovered near Dorking, England. The specimen there was 28 feet from head to tail and probably weighed around 3,700 pounds, but it might not even have been fully grown. However big it was, it lived in the Early Cretaceous (130-125 m.y.a.), a smidge earlier than T.rex. It was most closely related to Spinosaurus, another large, carnivorous dinosaur that tends to be overshadowed by the 'rex, and Suchomimus, the only other piscivorous dino on record. 

Right off the bat, Baryonyx has mean-looking claws. We think it used these digits to hunt much like a modern grizzly bear - wait for fish, then strike. Worse still, Baryonyx had thumbs. Claws and thumbs? If the scientists who made Jurassic Park ever become real, we should tell them not to resurrect Baryonyx. These fishers were supposedly pretty intelligent, too, adding yet another fear factor.

Aside from its claws, Baryonyx also had teeth that makes anyone looking at them either freeze or run. It's almost as if a crocodile's mouth got slapped onto the body of a land-walking dinosaur, then made plausible by the creature's long, straight neck and fishhook claws. Baryonyx had 96 teeth in total- almost twice as many as Tyrannosaurus - and each and every one of them was serrated like a finely-edged saw. .Like its menacing claws, these teeth were used solely to catch fish. We're actually pretty sure about that...although Baryonyx have been found near Iguanadon skeletons as well. We might be more screwed than we thought.

Again, who did this?

Just to reiterate: T.rex is still awesome, but there are plenty of other things that could easily be just as terrifying. We cool, Sue? I'm going to get out of here before limbs get lost.

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