Sinking the silly idea of aquatic dinosaurs

Dinosaurs must have lived in water, scientist claims – Telegraph.

Professor Brian J Ford said the prehistoric creatures “just don’t work” in the way palaeontologists have understood for decades.

He believes their tails were too large and cumbersome for them to hunt or move with agility, and said they could not have consumed enough food to sustain their energy needs.

Instead, he claims they must have lived in water where their environment would support their bulk successfully.

Appearing on BBC Radio 4 ‘s Today programme this morning, he described how an shallow water landscape would have been “sympathetic” to their size.

Tip: _JosephineJones on Twitter

Prof Ford is a scientist, broadcaster and lecturer but not a paleontologist. But, he said dinosaurs on land “make no sense”. Dinosaurs floating in shallow water would be so much more convenient. Oh, that’s nice except it doesn’t work that way. The idea that dinos lived in water was discarded decades ago when evidence showed that the certainly lived on land.I’m not sure why this professor got the attention of the BBC Radio. But, his ideas were picked up by Fox and of course the Daily Mail who really gunks up the story.

Here is his piece in Laboratory News: A prehistoric revolution

But, this gets demolished by Brian Switek, a paleontologist, writing for Smithsonian Mag blogs who called the idea “zany”.

To Ford, dinosaurs must have lived in perpetually flooded habitats. His whole argument boils down to “Dinosaurs look big!” A popular-audience article in Laboratory News gives Ford some additional space to spell out his ideas, though this does the reader little good. Dinosaurs were big and had heavy tails, Ford tells his audience, ergo, they make no sense on land. That’s it—that’s the whole basis for his speculation. Ford does not appear to have reviewed any of the literature on dinosaur biomechanics or body mass. He just flatly says that dinosaurs, as often depicted, aren’t right. Or as Ford succinctly frames his idea in the final paragraph, “Dinosaurs look more convincing in water.”

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that Ford isn’t just talking about sauropods. He applies his idea to all large, multi-ton dinosaurs, and goes so far as to suggest one of the strangest ideas I have ever heard for the relatively small forelimbs of tyrannosaurs.

Ford is no Galileo and he is awfully arrogant to think that he can just decide things sound better this way without evidence. Don’t buy it.

  5 comments for “Sinking the silly idea of aquatic dinosaurs

  1. April 3, 2012 at 9:13 PM

    While the retroscientifical nature of cryptozoology is no surprise, I never thought steampunk (“Bah! No Jurassic Park, which I’m so angry about I’ll mention it every other sentence, for me! Back, to the paintings of the 19th century!”) would spread to biology.

  2. Sean Elliott
    April 4, 2012 at 12:36 PM

    Wow, really? I work for one of the worlds formost Dinosaur sculptors and have a huge library on the subject. In addition, I sculpt and illustrate Dinosaurs, and have studied zoological anatomy and locomotion. This idea is gravely out of touch with reality, and trivializes the tireless (and largely thankless) work of generations of Paleontologists. How on earth does this fellow account for preserved trackways?

  3. April 4, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    He has tv appearances, what does he need with evidence?

  4. Cory Albrecht (@Bytor)
    April 4, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    I like how the comments on his article totally take him to task for ignoring 4 decades worth palaeontological biomechanics. :-)

    • April 4, 2012 at 7:50 PM

      Exactly! He’s missed 40 years of progress!

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