Book reviewer, cat photographer, fanzine editor, map blogger, snake whisperer.

Month: January 2021

Spinosaurus: A Heron, not a Crocodile

Spinosaurus aegyptiacus
Spinosaurus aegyptiacus. Art by Gustavo Monroy-Becerril, 2020. Wikimedia Commons.

A new study suggests that Spinosaurus, the weird sailbacked theropod dinosaur widely considered to be an aquatic predator, may have been a wader rather than a swimmer. “The purported arguments that Spinosaurus was some croc-like or even stem-whale like animal spending the vast majority of its time in water, and the way it has been illustrated swimming in deep water, and even diving and pursuing fish does not hold up to scrutiny. Instead, a wading model of a more heron- or stork-like animal that spent a lot of time in and around water, but fundamentally fished while standing rather than swimming, is supported.” The authors’ argument is based on Spinosaurus’s physiology, which doesn’t, in their view, support fast swimming, and is more like other theropods than crocodilians.

The Musicwriter

The Musicwriter is one of several music typewriters created to print sheet music. Some music typewriters were their own thing, whereas the Musicwriter started life as a normal typewriter before being converted to print notes and staves. You operated it by typing with the right hand and moving the carriage with the left, which sounds a bit tricky to get right—like writing music with an Etch-a-Sketch. Several typewriters served as Musicwriter root stock over the years, including the 6-series Smith-Corona and, more recently, the Olympia SG3 (an example of which can be seen in this Facebook group post). More about Musicwriters from Ted Munk in Et Cetera 109 (2015), pp. 12-15, and in this addendum collecting all kinds of photos, ephemera and type samples.

Queens of the Keyboard

Robert Messenger looks at the mid-20th-century phenomenon of international speed-typing competitions, and the women who competed in them. Explain to me how these women are not already the subject of a Netflix series like The Queen’s Gambit: the 1920s rivalry between Millicent Woodward and Robert George Curtis could be a movie all by itself.

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