State finances, unless adjusted, were on pace to run an unprecedented $3.67 billion deficit in the 2011-12 fiscal year — a problem Malloy inherited during his first year in office from former Gov. M. Jodi Rell and from the 2010 General Assembly.Unfortunately, there's a lot more to the story. But for now ... CT has a funded rainy day fund.
The nearly $780 million deposit Connecticut will make in September — when Lembo officially closes the books — is due largely to surging income tax receipts tied to investment earnings.
The Literature Page
Two books this week.
Shape Shifters: A Journey Through the Changing Human Body, Gavin Francis, c. 2018. Scottish physician, author, essayist.
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World, Steve Brusatte, a Chicago-raised/schooled paleontologist who now teaches/researches at University of Edinburgh, and lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, with his wife, Anne.
What are the odds of picking two books, completely at random, on two completely different subjects, but written by two authors who both live in Scotland?
The first one, Shape Shifters, already appears perfect for a late wintery, rainy evening. It appears to be made for reading slowly, enjoying each essay.
The second one, the one on dinosaurs seems more likely a reference book, to read bits and pieces of the history of dinosaurs to fill in the gaps and to see what's new.
The evolution of birds began in the Jurassic Period, with the earliest birds derived from a clade of theropoda dinosaurs named Paraves.
Birds are categorized as a biological class, Aves. For more than a century, the small theropod dinosaur Archaeopteryx lithographica from the Late Jurassic period was considered to have been the earliest bird. Modern phylogenies place birds in the dinosaur clade Theropoda.
According to the current consensus, Aves and a sister group, the order Crocodilia, together are the sole living members of an unranked "reptile" clade, the Archosauria.
Four distinct lineages of bird survived the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event 66 million years ago, giving rise to ostriches and relatives (Paleognathae), ducks and relatives (Anseriformes), ground-living fowl (Galliformes), and “modern birds” (Neoaves).
Phylogenetically, Aves is usually defined as all descendants of the most recent common ancestor of a specific modern bird species (such as the house sparrow, Passer domesticus), and either Archaeopteryx, or some prehistoric species closer to Neornithes (to avoid the problems caused by the unclear relationships of Archaeopteryx to other theropods).
If the latter classification is used then the larger group is termed Avialae. Currently, the relationship between dinosaurs, Archaeopteryx, and modern birds is still under debate.So, I think I will begin with "birds" in the book by Brusatte.
A reminder: birds are dinosaurs.
Pterosaurs were not dinosaurs; they were gliding reptiles. Pterosaurs were the first group of vertebrates to evolve wings and fly. Dinosaurs -- in the guise of birds -- were the second.
From page 272: "The realization that birds are dinosaurs is probably the single most important fact ever discovered by dinosaur paleontologists.
Thomas Henry Huxley: Darwin's most ardent supporter; self-described as "Darwin's Bulldog." Huxley was the one who first proposed that birds descended from dinosaurs.
Debate favored the non-believers into the 1920's.
But then, everything changed in ... drum roll ... 1969. An unassuming Yale professor named John Ostrom and his rambunctious student Robert Bakker -- Bakker, not Bakken -- completely reimagined dinosaurs, even making the argument that dinosaurs lived in together in herds, had keen senses, cared for their young, and may have been warm-blooded like us.
The "renaissance" began in far southern Montana -- when Ostrom discovered a new species, Deinonychus, a raptor, a close relative of Velociraptor, which was discovered in Mongolia in the 1920s -- described by Henry Fairfield Osborn, the NY aristrocrat who named T rex).
Ostrom used Deinonychus to resurrect Huxley's idea that birds evolved from dinosaurs, which he argued in a series of landmark scientific papers in the 1970s. His student, Bakker, went a different route, becoming an evangelist arguing the same thing, now known for his wildly successful book in the 1980s, The Dinosaur Heresies.
Feathered dinosaur. China. Sinosaurpteryx. 1996. Found in the Liaoning region of northeastern China. Now we have twenty species, and thousands of fossils of feathered dinosaurs from that region -- farmers knew such finds would bring financial wealth, and the farmers knew their land.
The author has named and described a feathered raptor: Zhenyuanlong: a mule size creature with wings.
The Liaoning dinosaurs.
The Liaoning fossils confirm where birds perch on the dinosaur family tree. Birds are a type of theropod; they are rooted in that group of ferocious meat-eaters that most famously includes T rex and Velociraptor and Serena Williams. Just joking on that last one.
The Liaoning fossils sealed the deal.
There are no other groups of animals -- living or extinct -- that share [feathers, wishbones, three-fingered hands that can fold against the body, and hundreds of other aspects of the skeleton] with birds or theropod: this must mean that birds came from theropods. Any other conclusion requires a whole lot of special pleading.
Among theropods, birds nest within an advanced group called the paravians.
And that's where I will stop taking notes. Now, just to read.
This book is a keeper; anyone with an interest in dinosaurs needs to have it on her bookshelf.