A Glittering Ichthyosaur

24 09 2010

Good tidings and well-wishes!

It’s fair to say that TTT has been a bit of a “ghost blog” for a few weeks now: a result of my crazed academic schedule to which I’ve yet to fully grow accustomed. As if this weren’t enough, two of my brand new courses are conducting their mid-term examinations early next week, a fact which has forced the hostile takeover of virtually every ounce of free time I’ve managed to scrounge up lately by excessive studying.

Ah, but misery loves company. The fact that mid-terms are a thorn homogeneously spread throughout the sides of undergraduates across the nation affords me the opportunity to occasionally relieve myself from my own scholarly preparations in order to assist my friends in executing theirs. One of my room-mates is an English major whose particular topical line-up for this examination period involves developing an acute knowledge of Joseph Conrad’s melancholy and profoundly disturbing “Heart Of Darkness”, which I, myself had read a few years ago (the horror!). Whilst quizzing him on the book’s finer points via “cliffsnotes”, I noticed that one of the words defined in the volume’s glossary was “Ichthyosaurus“. My curiosity piqued, I scourged the novel for the reference to this most famous of fossilized marine reptiles, leading me to stumble upon the following passage:

“A deadened burst of mighty splashes had reached us from afar, as though an ichthyosaurus [sic] had been taking a bath of glitter in the great river.”

A large ichthyosaur meanders about the famed Crystal Palace Park in London. According to palaeos.com, the first-known ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs "had a strong effect on the 19th century Victorian imagination".


Prehistoric reptiles are hardly unknown for their ability to tus make literary cameos, as evidenced by Mark Twain’s occasional dinosaur references to say nothing of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s groundbreaking masterpiece, “The Lost World”. 

Right, then: back to my bloody mathematical formulas!!!




One response

5 12 2010
Ilja Nieuwland

A popular German book written by Wilhelm Bölsche in 1910 declares that ‘of course’ Ichtyosaurus is the best-known ancient animal. It seems then, that its fame extended beyond the 19th century.

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