Saturday, December 6, 2014

Grimm: "Highway of Tears" & "The Grimm Who Stole Christmas Dual Review

I couldn't get a chance to write about the next few episodes but I will with these two. I'll just briefly put my thoughts on the other episodes before I get to the two newest ones.

The Last Fight

This episode was good, not great, but good. I loved the Schinderdiv, and the final fight scene at the end made the episode more interesting.

Dyin' on a Prayer

For once, we finally have a non-Wesen.... Again. The Golem was very nice, and I liked Trubel's interaction with David. If I chose which Golem I would want, from Supernatural or Grimm, I will choose Grimm's any day.

Cry Luison

This episode was supposed to explain schizophrenia in a whole new way, but I didn't like the end explanation. However I liked the new wolf-Wesen, though with the enormous ears it looked more like a fennec fox than a wolf. I also was glad they brought back the key storyline for a moment, and brought Josh back.

Highway of Tears

This episode was downright awesome. First off, there actually is a place called the Highway of Tears. It is in British Columbia, I think route 406, and many women have been murdered or disappeared from there the 1990's to 2011. This episode shows that Portland has its own Highway of Tears, also on route 406. Now I think the naming of the episode was intentional.
However the main topic of the episode was Nick's regrimming. Renard's mom has made the potion to reverse  what Adalind has done to Nick. This episode Juliette and Nick finally decided to do it. So, Juliette was Adalind, and they had sex. What was nice is that they had fun with it. It wasn't awkward for them, they seemed to enjoy it in a strange way.
Meanwhile, Renard's mother, Elizabeth, left. It was kind of sad, because Elizabeth was great, and I really enjoyed having her on the show. Or maybe it's because British people are so cool. Whatever the reason, I want to see her again. It seems like we will, as now she is joining the hunt for the Royal baby, though she just wants to see her granddaughter. Also, she mentioned Malleus Malleficurum, Hammer of the Witches. I learned that from Supernatural first.
Meanwhile, it seems like Chavez won't leave the show, even when she doesn't appear. She didn't appear in this episode, but we did see an agent of hers, this Pflichttreue named Mann, who was watching Trubel. I hope we see Chavez again, because I want to know what this organization is that she belongs to.
And finally, the case of the week. Every three years, Phansigar's, a komodo dragon like Wesen that appears to be a variation of the Skalengeck, kidnap a young couple, then sacrifice them to Kali. They use their long tongues to choke the poor couple into silence, then bury them alive. What is interesting is that now it appears that the first case Nick worked on was Wesen! Even when he was human he had the weird cases. And the big reveal, Rudyard Kippling was a Grimm! I actually never heard of him until this episode.
And now back to Nick. After having sex with Adalind/Juliette, nothing happened. But then things started. At the precinct, while some people were trying to restrain an angry perp, Nick saw him, but he could see his whole face woge. Some distortion in the jaw and the teeth kept changing back and forth. I was in shock when that happened. So something is happening. Later, when digging to find a welded model of Kali at a crime scene, Nick heard them hit the model as if he was right there. So, he got his super hearing that he gained from the Jinnamuru Xunte back in Season 2 Episode 15 back. And then came another surprise. When he Monroe, and Hank came to the salvage yard, and Hank and Monroe tried to get the kidnapped people from the pits, Nick turned gray. Zombie gray! He got his zombie powers back! Oh, but that was nothing compared what came next. The two Phansigars brought Nick, delirious and unable to react, to their father, also a Phansigar. The father woged, and then Nick saw his face! He saw his face! HE SAW HIS FACE WOGE!!! What followed is probably the most memorable series of quotes from Nick. "You're done." At this point I giggled like a fangirl. The Phansigar, JP, wrapped his tongue around Nick to choke him, but oh, you are so stupid JP! Nick unwrapped the tongue from his neck without much effort, and then sent JP off the screen in a single frame with a well aimed uppercut to his chin, and, in the process, ripped off his tongue! He got up, and the other two Phansigars woged.
"You're a Grimm."
"Yeah. I am." And then Nick proceeds to kick ass in a way that we have not seen him do in a while. The Phansigars never stood a chance against him! So, there you go, our Grimm is back! Yay! Oh, and Josh also came.

The Grimm Who Stole Christmas

Last night's episode was good fun. It was by far the funniest episode of this dark, dark series that has aired yet. It was a bit early for them to air their Christmas special, but I thought that this one, and their last Christmas special, were both great. I loved, loved, loved, the Kallikantzaroi! These little guys were so much fun to watch, they were almost meant to be comical! These little Wesen are actually teenagers of Indole Gentile, another type of Wesen, but as they grow they turn from goblin to benign Wesen. From Christmas decoration trashers, to, I don't know, Greek people?
There were several incredibly funny moments in this episode: 
1. When Nick and Hank go to a house that is having their house trashed, one of the goblins is on the roof, and throws an ornament at the two detectives, but misses, falls, and slide off the roof! Then, Nick and Hank come to check on it, and it gets up, and leaps onto his back, followed by Hank just knocking it out!
2. "Hmmm. Now there is actually a reason for fruitcake."
3. Rosalee smacking one over the head with a frying pan.
4. "We need the whole truck."
Overall, Kallikantzaroi are one of my favourite Wesen. The rest of the episode was great too. However, when Trubel learned Josh wanted to go back home and fight the Verrat, Trubel wouldn't let him go alone. It was very sad to see her go, but I am sure she will return soon. Overall, and very nice episode, and it looks like next week will be even better!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Grimm: "Thanks for the Memories" & "Octopus Head" Duel Review

Back in May I posted my absolutely uncensored review and my reactions to the season 3 finale of Grimm. I couldn't wait that long I said. Well, thanks to watching lots and lots of Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Supernatural, the wait went by faster than expected. Now, I waited until the second episode aired, because it is a two-part story, and I wanted to review it all at once. The one thing I loved about these first two episodes is that unlike the season 3 premire episodes, not every cliffhanger was resolved in the first two episodes. In fact, only one was resolved here. The others are far, far from being done, and several more have built up.

So, let's review the cliffhangers again shall we?

Cliffhanger #1: Renard is in Hospital
I really was worried about this one. Sasha Roiz's, the actor who plays Renard, contract was running out. If he didn't sign it, Renard would be killed off. Well, at the end of Thanks for the Memories, he was killed off, at 1:34 pm. Thus he joins to be the first major character who dies. However, a blonde woman arrives at the end of the episode and sees this. At the very start of Octopus Head, she comes in and does one of the most supernatural things ever seen on the show. She stops time. Yes, that's right, the woman stops everything around her. She then pulls out a snake with a head on both ends, the snake bites Renard and her, and she revives him that way. So, Renard is not dead now, but has joined Nick in being one of only two characters who have died, and both are still kicking. I expect at least one of them to die again sometime and be revived again, or that's just me watching too much Supernatural.

Cliffhanger #2: A Decapitated FBI Agent at Nick's Home
The way this situation was handled was very smart. I thought this would spell the end for Trubel.  However, this isn't. Nick and Trubel told the police and FBI the truth, except about why Renard came to see Nick, and about Steward being a Hundjäger. Because they told everything as the truth, they got away thankfully. However, this investigation is leaving a whole bunch of unanswered questions.

Cliffhanger #3: Wu Sees a Grimm Diary
We last saw Wu looking at the Grimm Diaries, and now he is seen at the beginning of Thanks for the Memories flipping through them. He tries to tell Hank about this, but Hank tries to shrug it off. However, I like how instead all the other times, where Wu just accepts it gullibly, he is not convinced Hank is telling the truth. He is way too smart to just accept the BS they are using to cover up stuff. He is very close. Not just that, but he is becoming suspicious about Trubel too. In Octopus Head, he looks at a security camera from a fast food restaurant, and sees Trubel there. This was in relation to a case where Trubel was the murderer of several Wesen. ("Nobody Knows the Trubel I've Seen") So, he is very smart to go up at the end of Octopus Head and confront Nick about this. However, something happens to Nick (see the last section of this post to find out what) and he is left dangling. However, it doesn't seem like he is going to give up on this, and this means two things: one, it is now inevitable that he will be introduced to the Grimm world, it's just a matter of when. Two: we will be seeing more Wu! It is exciting, as last season we had two Wucentric episodes, "Mommy Dearest", and "Once We Were Gods". I can't wait to see what season 4 has in store for Wu.

Cliffhanger #4: Nick and Juliette
The producers and writers said that things would be much different for the couple. However, I was expecting some sort of "we're breaking up" type of reaction from Juliette. In case you forgot, Adalind took the form of Juliette, and had sex with him. However, these first two episodes, the couple reacted like a regular couple would in their situation and they are working together on this. Nick offers to sleep on the couch, but Juliette said that they aren't "going down that road again". They've already been through so much crap already, they deserve a break. This actually ties into the next and biggest cliffhanger of all.

Cliffhanger #5: A Grimmless Nick
Is Nick going to get his powers back? Or, should we put it like this based on how he has acted in Thanks for the Memories and Octopus Head, does he want his powers back? Nick and Juliette think it could be a good thing, as they would not be in so much danger anymore. However, for Nick, it will be harder to solve crimes now, and despite Trubel being his eyes for the Grimm world, he doesn't like that. From next week's episode preview, it seems like he will be pushed to his human limits to decide if he wants them back or not.

Cliffhanger #6: The Cure!!!!
Even though Juliette told Monroe and Rosalee to give them time to decide, the two now married couple are still trying to find a cure for this, yet even they are stumped. Renard is in no condition to help, but this new woman who saved his life is. This woman is Renard's mother. Finally, she arrives. She will be helping to find a cure for this, but then the question comes, does he want the cure? That may be the question that will come up a lot more later in the season.

Cliffhanger #7: Adalind's Search
Adalind thinks Viktor has her baby, (watch "The Law of Sacrifice" for the full mishpuha) and so goes to Vienna to see her baby. However, she is heartbroken when Viktor instead puts her into a dungeon cell. I am conflicted here. I feel bad for her loss, but at the same time I want her to die in lava for what she did to Nick. I am curious to see how this unfolds, especially her creepy cell buddy who sounds like a Fuchsteufelwild and sounds insane (literally).

The Other Crap
Some other stuff to point out. One is how the hell did Elizabeth (Renard's mother) stop time? I know Hexenbiests can make powerful potions, but this has got to take the cake for the most powerful potion or spell I've ever seen. This means Hexenbiests have gotten much, much higher on the ranking of the most powerful Wesen. It seems like she is even more powerful than Adalind.

Something happened at the end of Octopus Head that surprised me. One of the FBI agents investigating Nick's house is a Steinadler, an eagle-like Wesen. She becomes suspicious of both Nick and Trubel, but then targets Trubel solely. At the end of Octopus Head, Trubel is kidnapped by the agent, Chavez. I think she is not working for the FBI, just like Steward. Either she just hates Grimms or was sent by the Verrat like Steward. Either way, she doesn't seem like a good Wesen at all, duh, she just kidnapped someone.

Another very interesting event unfolded at the same time as Trubel's kidnapping. When Wu was questioning Nick about Trubel, he and Adalind began to have painful headaches, and briefly, they looked at each others vision. So, Adalind looked through Nick's eyes and saw Wu and Juliette, and Nick saw through Adalind's eyes at a dungeon with rats. This is just odd. The simple solution of just killing Adalind probably wouldn't work, they are much more connected to each other than either of them would have guessed.

And then the new Wesen in town, the Gedächtnis Esser. Seriously, he is one of the coolest Wesen we have seen in a while. He kept me guessing who he was from the moment he appeared to his arrest. At first we are introduced to him as being Lawrence Anderson, but in Octopus Head, Lawrence Anderson is found dead with the markings for a Gedächtnis Esser on the back of his head. So, the guy isn't even Lawrence Anderson! What he did to the people that worked on the CVA project, a highly classified military project, is just terrible, piercing the backs of their skulls with his tentacles and stealing everything from them, every memory, they don't even know their own names! Once he handcuffs Trubel, it is clear he is very, very intimidating. Trubel, a Grimm, was absolutely out of her mind scared when he was talking her. And just to add the fear he produced, when he tapped her forehead while talking about where memories are stored, she flinched back really far. Now, the fear he induced in her is probably very impressive for a Wesen, but the fear she induced on him is even worse. Trubel fights him (while handcuffed, showing once more Grimms are badass) and he begins to feed on her memories. However, as he does, he learns she is a Grimm, and immediately stops and starts a severe mental breakdown. Because Gedächtnis Esser have somewhat eidetic memory, when he just subconsciously thinks about her memories, he screams. This goes to show that even the most feared Wesen are scared of Grimms. However, scared isn't even a good word to describe this. The fact is he looked into her memory, and because he saw the things she did to Wesen, that amplified the fear. It wasn't just her being a Grimm, but him looking at what she did by looking at her memories, that gave him a severe traumatic experience.

In the end, the first two episodes where some of the strongest episode I've seen in a while, and I cannot wait to see how this all goes. I am particularly excited to see their Golem episode, and their Christmas special this year, which features Kallikantzaroi. I hope Season 4 is as good or better than Season 3, and I don't think I'll be disappointed.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Spinosaurus and the (Not So Small?) Legs

I was going to do a full post on Spinosaurus, but now that there has been so much more controversy with  the leg size, I am going to spend a lot more time on the post now. That being said I do have an opinion on this and when I return I am doing a very thorough review of evidence and I'll outline my conclusions. This could take a while, and even then I might change my mind if new evidence comes to light on the issue.

Did that make any sense? Well, short of it is, I will have a full post on Spinosaurus soon, and I was goong to post it today, but I thought twice, and it's best to spend more time. The next post will be on Spinosaurus, and my opinions (some of which are a little, well, not generally excepted by most people). Until then, wait...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Spinosaurus Is Weird

This tiny picture is all that we have for the new Spinosaurus. This dinosaur never ceases to amaze me. It is most well known in that is beat up Tyrannosaurus in Jurassic Park 3, and of course, that fight could not have happened like that for multiple reasons, and these new discoveries seem to make it even more implausible. It turns out, Spinosaurus had a dip in the sail, sort of like Ichthyovenator. What is also shows is the arms are small, but the legs are tiny, yet probably robust. It would seem implausible that such a huge animal was supported by tiny legs like those. It would make it do a face plant on land, but in water it seems like the best way to get around. The feet appear to be small, so maybe not swimming, but possibly walking on the river bed. This shows that Spinosaurus really is more aquatic than we ever assumed.

To counterbalance the heavy front end, it would need a massively long tail. So, it seems like it was more than just semi-aquatic. However, that leaves a burning question: how could it have walked? If its feet were tiny, how? was reading a discussion on the Dinosaur Toy Forum about this, and some people gave some suggestions of how. As said above, it could have had a long tail to counterbalance it. Another person gave the suggestion of maybe it splayed its legs slightly to spread its weight. I find the former more plausible, but the feet are small. However it did walk, it would look awkward, and otherworldly.

But, this is not really news. It has been online for about a year now, but for some reason finally became big this year. A few interesting things as well. Paul Sereno, who discovered the new remains, said that the above picture is inaccurate. So, that begs the question, what is inaccurate about it? Did its sail not have an impression? Were its feet actually normal sized? That we won't know, until the paper can be published. Until then, we will continue to speculate the habits of this remarkable creature.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Leaellynasaura Theory

Out of all the times in Earth's history, the most interesting was the Cretaceous, second was the Permian. Out of all the countries in the Cretaceous, Australia was the most interesting. It is full of surprises, and animals that live nowhere else on Earth. And out of all those animals in Australia, one was adapted to the polar conditions, better than any in my opinion. My all time favourite dinosaurs; Leaellynasaura amcigraphica. This post is dedicated to my most interesting of ornithopods.

Leaellynasaura is known from little material, a skull and some tail vertebra. But we know a few interesting things from those isolated fossils. The skull housed a huge eye, and it was very useful for seeing in the dark, which would last up to five months, since Australia was connected to Antarctica. The tail is the defining feature of Leaellynasaura. It is three times longer than the head neck and body combined. So, what could it have been used for? Well, we need to look at the environment at the time. There were no polar ice caps in the Cretaceous, but the early Cretaceous did experience some cold temperatures, especially compared to the late Cretaceous, which was incredibly warm. Because of the presence of trees, that the climate was warmer than Antarctica today, but it wasn't implausible that it didn't snow of get below freezing. With this, we can speculate what the tail is used for. Because it's very long, we can imagine it being bushy, and so Leaellynasaura likely had feathers (Kulindadromeus). If the feathers didn't protect it from the cold, they could use their bushy tail to wrap around the body, and keep it warm. This is further supported by the fact that the tail was very, very flexible, and not stiff, easily capable of wrapping around its body. The tail may also have been used as a decoy. If a predator were to attack, they could make themselves bigger than they are by puffing up their tails. They could also use it in sacrifice to save its body. Confuse the predator to go for the tail, and not the body.

But the rest of the post is going to be my speculation on the rest of Leaellynasaura. We don't have a rest of the body, especially the arms and feet, so I am going to use wild speculation. I don't think it's implausible  that little Leaellyn had wide feet to navigate through the snow. The feet wouldbe fully   feathered of course, and be used like snowshoes. And it's legs would be the most powerful part of little Leaellyn's body. The arms may have been tiny, almost vestigial, with little use. Of course, we have no evidence for the second part, but sometimes Polar Animals evolve bizarre features for apparently no reason.

In the end, we may never know about little Leaellynasaura, but in the end, it really is the most interesting dinosaur of all. With the longest tail length in comparison of it's body of all dinosaurs, it surely will not be mistaken by the generic ornithopods.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Kulindadromeus Changes the World

First off, I know I am late to this. Now, since last year, there was rumour of an ornithischian from Siberia with feathers. It was called "Kulindodromeus". Well, it is finally described, but is called "Kulindadromeus". This has got to be the coolest thing going on here. As an ornithschian with feathers, this little herbivore has provided the best evidence that all dinosaurs had some sort of feathering. What is more, is that the earliest dinosaurs had feathers. Ornithischians and saurischians evolved not long after the first dinosaurs appeared. So feathers probably evolved before that split occured.

You also have pycnofibers on pterosaurs, and the ancestors pterosaurs split off before the first ancestors of dinosaurs appeared. Feather like filaments probably evolved in the early Triassic, before that pterosaur/dinosaur split occured. However, before we say that this is absolutely true, we have to do some sort of skeptical work. Some people have suggested that feather like structures evolved several times in the dinosaur line. However, I don't think so. I think that these feather-like filaments on Kulindadromeus are homologous with those on theropod dinosaurs. While we have the best evidence of an entire line of feathered animals to date, the final proof would probably be a very early dinosaur with feathers.

This also had me think about feathered sauropods. Before this, I never really thought sauropods were feathered. But, it had me thinking. Sauropods are saurischians, and the majority of feathered dinosaurs are saurischians. My very speculative theory, is that when born, young sauropodlets possessed  downy feathers, like those of a newborn chick. However, overtime, I think that the young gradually lost the majority of feathers, with only their feet having feathers when fully grown. I have no proof of this, but it is entirely possible. Also, this is further proof of endothermy in dinosaurs (not that it needed much more proof), and that endothermy goes even further back on the archosaur line than thought. Also, crocodiles have dormant feather producing genes, and this seems to support that too.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Non-Avian Dinosaurs, Endothermy, and Mesothermy

Well, I have been very interested in this latest news item. However, I have a very strong opinion on this, and so this will be the longest post thus far. The item is that dinosaurs were not warm-blooded or cold-blooded, but something in between, called mesothermy. A lot of people are now taking it at face value. I am not. The study used growth rates to show that dinosaurs were mesothermic. The study said that the growth rates are similar to ectothermic sauropsids. Before I go on to talk about the evidence for warm-bloodedness, I have to say this just once, a quote from the paper. "Large dinosaurs, like sauropods, probably had limited parental care during breeding and probably non after hatching. Therefore, high metabolic rates seem unlikely in sauropods." This is using the fact that ectothermic animals don't care for their young. It seems to be a strong correlation, but I have a problem with this quote. The point is, non-avian dinosaurs are not around anymore. It is possible that an extinct animal could be endothermic and still not care for its young. Look at the megapodes. They are birds, and they don't care for their young. They just drop the eggs and go, and let the young live on their own.

I have more than just that problem with the study. I have compiled a list of evidence for endothermy in non-avian dinosaurs:

Evidence #1: Air Sacs

Birds lungs obtain fresh air when exhaling and inhaling, because the air sacs pump and the lungs absorbs the oxygen. They need this for a high active lifestyle. We find signs of air sacs in some fossil dinosaurs, the most famous example being Aerostean, an allosaur, who has very bird like air sacs. In addition, ceratosaurs, coelurosaurs, and the early theropod Coelophysis have been found with evidence of air sacs. This suggests that they have a very high active lifestyle.

Evidence #2: Uncinate Processes

Uncinate Processes are spurs on the hind edges of birds ribs, giving the chest muscles more leverage when pumping the chest to improve oxygen supply. The size of these spurs are all depending on the bird's lifestyle and oxygen requirements. Non-avian maniraptoran dinosaurs have these spurs, and are similar to those in diving birds, indicating they need a high-capacity oxygen supply. These spurs have been found in Thescelosaurus, an ornithischian as well.

Evidence #3: Growth

The one thing that this new study used to prove mesothermy, and I think is not correct. When comparing the growth rate of dinosaurs to modern animals, you get numbers similar to this:
0.22 Kilograms - Slower than marsupials
1-20 kilograms - Similar to marsupials, slower than precocial birds
100-1000 kilograms - Faster than marsupials, similar to precocial birds, slower than placentals
1500-3500 kilograms - Similar to most placentals
25000 kilograms and higher - very fast similar to whales

This all depends on the size of the dinosaurs used to compare the animals. I see how you can tell metabolism of an animal, but it seems pretty difficult to see if it is endothermic or ectothermic.

Evidence #4: Posture and Gait

When it comes to what metabolism dinosaurs had, you can use their gait as an indication of it, because you get an idea of what lifestyle they had, and what requirements metabolically it would have. Reptiles (not counting snakes) have sprawled legs, are also ectothermic. You see the sprawled legs in the platypus as well, but it is endothermic. Dinosaurs have an upright, erect posture. This hints at a more active lifestyle.

Evidence #5: Feathers

This is the second biggest argument for endothermic dinosaurs. Some covering on the animals body would be big proof of endothermy. In the study, they ignored that, and even used Archaeopteryx. Yes, it had a slower metabolism than most birds, does not necessarily mean mesothermy. Feathers are also very useful, to not only warm an animal up, but to cool it down as well. They had control over their body temperature, and the only other animals alive today with feathers are avian dinosaurs, the birds. Are they mesothermic? No, they are endothermic. 

Evidence #6: Polar Dinosaurs

This is in my opinion, the biggest argument for endothermy. An ectotherm in a cold environment, would be incredibly sluggish, and probably die easily. However, as evident in many birds and mammals, endotherms have no problems. With land based polar endotherms, you have a thick coating of fur of feathers keeping you warm. In the icy waters, you have blubber keeping you fat and warm. With a mesotherm, you would be not able to tolerate the cold as well as endotherms. An argument could be made that dinosaurs could have hibernated. However, animals like Leaellynasaura, and Troodon, show no signs of hibernation, or torpor. What the dinosaurs probably used was a lot of feathers, and blubber. I am aware leatherback sea turtles swim in the Arctic circle, but are they actually adapted for that cold of an environment?

Evidence #7: Diversity

While it may not seem like it, diversity is probably because of an endothermic lifestyle. Modern lizards, snakes, amphibians, and crocodilians are diverse, but not the level of non-avian dinosaurs. From therizinosaurs to pachycephalosaurs. Sauropods, hadrosaurs, Leaellynasaura (squee!) ceratopsians, tyrannosaurs, ect. Dinosaurs used to dominate the world. If they were endothermic, they would be able to quicker adapt to their environments, and expand and diversify into all shapes and sizes. It seems like one thing that makes dinosaurs famous also lends credence to endothermy.

In conclusion, I am glad we have a term for "lukewarm-blooded" or "not cold-blooded, not warm-blooded". Mesothermy. I like it. Mesothermy. Mesothermy. However, I disagree with the methods they used, and the ultimate conclusions. I will say this however. If any of the dinosaurs where to be endothermic, it would be, with no question, the theropods. If any of the dinosaurs were to be mesothermy, they would be the sauropods, early dinosaurs, and larger ornithischians. 
I am no expert, and  have done a lot of research, so don't get angry if I get something wrong. Let me know. Until next time!