Jeremy Clarkson swallowed whole by giant pterodactyl

This week, on national TV, influential broadcaster Jeremy Clarkson proposed that striking public sector workers should be “shot in front of their families”.

In the interest of balance,  I propose that Mr Clarkson be eaten by a giant pterodactyl.

I first envisaged a giant eye at the studio window followed by the stabbing tips of an enormous beak.  Then, what turns out to be a giant pterodactyl grabs its prey, throws back its head and drops Clarkson into the maw.

But this cannot be right.  This excellent and accessible paper by Witton and Naish describes the functional anatomy of the Azhdarchids, which were the biggest pterosaurs (http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0002271).   They were constructed like giant pickaxes, their necks rigid and the huge head fixed at a near right angle.

How might a giant pterodactyl get the food from beak tip to the throat.  Herons usually manoeuvre their prey in the beak by short chopping motions, opening the bill to allow the object to fall, but catching it again higher in the beak, closer to the mouth.  They can do this with their beaks pointing down.  Look at this for an example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUpSwjijsj4.  Perhaps this is how the pterodactyl might feed.  What a terrible fate for the great man – the oscillation of hope and mounting despair at each release and catch, being ratcheted towards the gullet.

But depicting Mr Clarkson being eaten by a giant pterodactyl is demonstrably not to be taken seriously.

One response to “Jeremy Clarkson swallowed whole by giant pterodactyl

  1. I emailed Mark Witton to say how much I admire his scientifically-driven drawings of pterodactyls (see my links for his site – worth viewing). In his reply he makes the following comment which I feel I need to share in the interests of scientific accuracy.

    “Darren Naish and I note that the head of azhdarchids are naturally held at 90 degrees to the neck vertebrae, but only because the neck articulates with the underside of the head. This doesn’t make their head-neck articulations particularly stiff, however: it just means they would have a different ‘natural’ posture to most other pterosaurs.”

    I think this means that Jeremy Clarkson could be dropped directly down the gaping maw after all.

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