Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Stegosaurus: Search for the Truth (3 of 3)

What was the Stegosaurus like?  The size of a bus, this herbivore had a long narrow head with a beak.  Unlike other dinosaurs, the Stegosaurus had cheeks.  These allowed the animal to better chew His food.  Also the cheeks enabled the Stegosaurus to hold more food in His mouth.  This made the dinosaur more advanced in one area of dinosaur anatomy.

Although the family of Stegosaurids originated in Asia, the majority of the fossils of Stegosaurus were found in North America.  However, fossils of this particular species were also found in Europe, and His tracks in Australia.  The Stegosaurus of North America was the last of the Stegosaurid family.  Although this dinosaur is one of the iconic dinosaurs, the Stegosaurus was not one of the more successful of the dinosaurs.  This dinosaur only existed at the end of the Jurassic Period.

Because of their hip structure, the Stegosaurus family is classified as Ornithischian (bird-hipped) dinosaurs.  The armored dinosaurs, the Ankylosaurs are the closest relatives of the Stegosaurus.  Besides the plates on His back, this dinosaur had armored plates under His neck.

As a popular dinosaur, the Stegosaurus is well-represented in children’s toys and stories.  For adults, this dinosaur was one of the major plot points in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Lost World”.  In addition, the various movies featured the Stegosaurus, such as “King Kong” (1933).

In his book, “The Last Dinosaur”, cultural commentator, W.J.T. Mitchell presents the theory that dinosaurs in general are the totem animals of the modern age.  He explains that dinosaurs once reflected the ideas of the Victorians.  At that time, Man reigned supreme over these ponderous giants.  Today he argues the dinosaurs represent the modern nation state.

The wacky theories about the Stegosaurus seem to follow this pattern that Mitchell lays out.  Naturalists bombarded this dinosaur with their faulty logic of the Stegosaurus as a dim-witted slow moving animal.  Modern scientists present a more “politically correct” view of a courageous herbivore fending off His attackers.

For me, the Stegosaurus asks us to sweep away the cobwebs of ignorance.  As an icon, the animals offers comforting familiarity, that we can explore the dark corners of life with Him.  Step out into the unknown with the Stegosaurus by your side.  This dinosaur urges us to keep asking questions, and never stop searching for the truth.  But we do not have to do it by ourselves for the Stegosaurus will travel with us.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Stegosaurus: Search for the Truth (2 of 3)

Marsh made other errors about the Stegosaurus that still plague paleontologists today.  He named various species of the Stegosaurus family based on incomplete fossils or mixed-up ones.  Several species that he named were juveniles of a single species.  Meanwhile, other early naturalists mistook some fossils from other species for Stegosaurus’ ones.  Today, scientists are sorting out the various species, and have placed the taxonomy of the Stegosaurus family under extensive review.

Another fallacy that Marsh made was to claim that the Stegosaurus had a second brain in His butt.  Two reasons for this was the large size of the animal, and the cavity found in His spinal region.  Because the Stegosaurus had a large body to small brain ratio, people reasoned that the dinosaur must have had something to control His legs and tail.  The second brain theory would fit for a dinosaur with a walnut-sized brain.  However, the cavity in the hip area is something common to sauropods in general.

Moreover, the small size of the brain of the Stegosaurus became something applied to other dinosaurs.  Since this dinosaur was one of the earliest to be found, people reasoned that the other dinosaurs must have had small brains as well.  The conclusion became that all dinosaurs were stupid, and went extinct as a result.  The truth of the matter was that the Stegosaurus had a very narrow head with a beak, while the other dinosaurs had bigger brains.

How the Stegosaurus walked has been also prone to a plethora of theories.  Since the Stegosaurus has an unusual posture of an inverted “U”, this animal’s forelimbs are shorter than the hind limbs.  Skeletons on display showed an animal with sprawling limbs and a dragging tail.  However, the limbs were directly under the body allowing the dinosaur’s neck to be more erect.  Furthermore, the tail was held high off the ground for balance.

The symbol of the wacky theories endured by the Stegosaurus is the thagomizer.  The tail spikes of this dinosaur were named after a “Far Side” (Gary Larson) cartoon. The cartoon had a professor caveman explaining to his cavemen students that the end of the tail was named “for the late Thag Simmons.”  Paleontologists, in a rare moment of humor, decided to call this dinosaur’s spikes: “thagomizers”.  When first depicted, the Stegosaurus had eight spikes that stood upright.  Later fossils discoveries showed that the dinosaur only had four horizontal spikes.

At first, naturalists believed that the tail was for show.  However, several fossils of Allosaurus, a known predator, had puncture wounds from a Stegosaurus’ tail.  Therefore, this dinosaur had used His tail for defense in combat, and not for display.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Stegosaurus: Search for the Truth (1 of 3)

(Incorrect stance)
As one of the first dinosaurs to be discovered, the Stegosaurus became the poster child for wacky dinosaur theories.  So many silly ideas have been put forth about this dinosaur that it is difficult to uncover what is the actual animal.  For me, the Stegosaurus is the totem animal for scientific inquiry.  Although many wacky theories are proposed, the paleontologists soldier on never satisfied until they uncover the truth.

This iconic dinosaur was found in 1876 in Colorado by M.P. Felch.  However, Othniel Charles Marsh, the famous dinosaur hunter, named the animal in 1877.  He called this dinosaur “Stegosaurus” which means “roof lizard”.

One thing that Marsh noticed was the famous plates of the Stegosaurus.  He reasoned that these plates overlapped on the dinosaur’s back.  Resembling a shingled beast, the Stegosaurus had to be a giant turtle.  Thus began the great Stegosaurus plate debate.  What were these plates for?  How were they placed on the dinosaur?  Even today, paleontologists debate the reason for these plates.

After deciding that the plates were not “roof shingles”, various naturalists then placed them down the dinosaur’s back in a single row.  Later, scientists decided that the plates went down in two rows next to each other.  However, after a fossil find of a nearly complete skeleton, paleontologists realized that these plates alternated down the Stegosaurus’ back in two rows.

What were the plates used for?  First everyone thought that the plates deterred dinosaurs from jumping onto the animal’s back.  However the major fallacy of this theory was that the plates were too delicate to withstand such an attack.  Moreover, the Stegosaurus was vulnerable to attack from the sides.

Then blood vessels were discovered running through the plates.  After that, new theories came to the fore.  These plates could be infused with blood to frighten off attackers.  They could be used in mating – the brightest male won the attentions of the females.  The plates could tell the individual dinosaurs apart much like a zebra’s stripes.

The prevailing theory is that the plates were temperature controls.  Like the sail on the Dimetrodon’s back, these plates would warm up or cool down the Stegosaurus.  However, no one really knows what the plates are for.  Personally, I think that the plates exist to baffle scientists, and to prod them to keep on asking questions.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Astrology: Virgo (3 of 3)

Other astrologers have constructed non-traditional correspondences for Virgo.  In “auz astrology”, Ann Williams-Fitzgerald has the echidna as Virgo’s animal representative.  The echidna is an ancient montromene living in Australia.  Also called “spiny anteater”, the echidna lives by herself, and needs no one else.  An egg layer, the echidna also has bird and reptile characteristics as well as mammal ones.  Virgo, an Earth Sign governed by Mercury, has quicksilver qualities like an Air Sign.  Like the echidna, Virgo has a combination of elements that ensures her survival.

Sometimes when something gets too close, the echidna will lift her spines.  In establishing her boundaries, this animal exemplifies Virgo’s tendency to find fault with others.  When the female echidna is bothered, she withdraws further into the brush, leading a train of male echidnas wanting to mate, behind her.  Virgo does the same when she finds people to be too much.  To counteract this tendency, Ms. Williams-Fitzgerald counsels Virgo with “I move forward and welcome growth.”

Meanwhile Linda Star Wolf and Ruby Falconer in “Shamanic Egyptian Astrology” associate the Goddess Nekhbet with Virgo.  The Goddess of the White Crown of Egypt (Upper Egypt), Nekhbet guides the Pharaohs since they were her children.  Nekhbet, the Ancient Mother, offers counsel in the difference between service and servitude.  Nekhbet’s attributes are reflected in Virgo’s sense of judgment and service, and well as her desire to counsel.  Ms. Star Wolf and Falconer tell Virgos to look to the Ancient Mother to purify themselves of their need to be responsible for everything.

The Sign of Virgo does have a broad range of traits that does include the major aspects of my friends’ personalities.  The differences amongst my friends could be because of other astrological influences, since we were born on different days and years.  That would probably explain the non-Virgo aspects of my personality.

In general, Virgos are creative and dependable, but can easily become cold and detached.  With their quick minds, Virgos are lovers of knowledge.  Virgos can offer order and structure to others but also can fall into ruts themselves.  Like all people, Virgos have their good and bad sides.  They strive to be of service to others and for perfection at the same time.

Works Used:
Hall, Molly, “About Astrology”,,, 2011,
Hartman, Tori, “Color Wisdom Cards”, Jupiter Press: Los Angeles, 2009.
Kosarin, Jenni, “The Everything Astrology Book”,,,
Ridpath, Ian, “Virgo, the Virgin”, Ian Ridpath’s Star Tales,
Star Wolf, Linda and Ruby Falconer, “Shamanic Egyptian Astrology”, Bear & Company: Rochester (VT), 2010
Williams-Fitzgerald, Ann, “auz astrology”, The Oracle Press: Queensland (Australia), 1999
Zell-Revenheart, Oberon, “Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard”, New Page Books: Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, 2004

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Astrology: Virgo (2 of 3)

According to astrologists, various Star Signs are better compatible with some than others.  Virgos make good companions for Cancers, Scorpios, and Pisces, which are all Water Signs.  Meanwhile, the Air Signs especially Gemini and Libra make life more difficult for earthy Virgo.  Their airy qualities are too much for grounded Virgo.  Because Taurus and Capricorn are both Earth Signs, they are too alike to Virgo’s personality.  Because of this, people of these Signs tend to pick at each other.  The Fire Signs Aries and Leo generally misunderstand Virgo.  Known as the “friend of the Zodiac”, Sagittarius, a Fire Sign, could be a companion of Virgo.

The personality keynote or phrase associated with Virgo is “I analyze.”  This statement reflects Virgo’s qualities of criticism, discernment, exactness, and reflection.  With her inquiring mind, Virgo loves to research just for the fun of it.  Since she likes to get into the workings of concepts and ideas, Virgo could be considered a “nerd”.  

This keynote statement also points out the shadow side of Virgo.  People of this Sign have a propensity to overanalyze.  In her constant striving towards perfectionism, Virgo forgets that “the perfect is the enemy of the good”.  Her continual analyzing can lead to paralysis.

In fact, Virgos can drive people crazy with their fussiness and preciseness.  Their methodical ways can turn their lives into a rut.  Turning inwards, Virgos often let their imaginations run wild.  Because of this, they are more prone to suffer from imagined illnesses, melancholia, and depression.  To move out of the morass, the Virgo sense of discernment needs to be encouraged.

During the time period of this Sign, the Constellation of Virgo reigns.  The figure usually identified with the Virgo Constellation is Dike, the Greek Goddess of Wisdom and Justice.  According to the Greek myths, Dike walked amongst people during the Golden Age of Man.  During this time, She gladly dispensed wisdom and justice to all.  However as the Ages of Man deteriorated to the Iron Age, humans became more petty and quarrelsome.  Dike tried to continue to teach people but became discouraged since they ignored Her.  Finally in disgust, She ascended into the heavens next to the Scales of Justice (Libra).

This Greek myth speaks to Virgo’s love of wisdom and order.  Like Dike, Virgo wants to counsel others.  Because of her sense of order, Virgo tries to settle disputes.  However like Dike, when Virgo is discouraged, she withdraws in disgust.  The shadow side is Virgo’s remoteness from humanity.

The colors associated with Virgo are navy blue and dark grey.  According to the “Colors of Magick”, grey stands for the mastery of lore.  Study in this area of magick suits the Virgo temperament.  Virgos are happiest when mastering arcane knowledge found deep in lore.

The closest color to navy in the “Colors of Magick” is indigo.  Although indigo is a deep blue mixed with purple, it does have the dark blue common to navy.  Indigo is the color of wizardry.  This area of magick pushes the boundaries of the known world further.  Using truth and imagination, a wizard sees beyond this world into the next one.  This meshes well with Virgo’s personality of detecting patterns and seeing a whole picture.  However Virgos have the propensity to conjure up imaginary fears and dark corners.  This can lead to Virgos entering a period of lethargy.

Navy is blue mixed with black.  This color combines communication with darkness.  Navy reflects Virgo’s consummate communication skills, and as well as her propensity to nit-pick and be overcritical.  Meanwhile, grey combines the enlightenment of white with black.  This means that Virgo’s tempered judgment can be used for good or ill.  However, grey remains neutral, but offers the release from the darkness of thought that Virgos need.