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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: February ::
Purpose of the List; Ostriches, iron and "gastroliths"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0137  Friday, 13 February 1998.

[1]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 11 Feb 1998 22:24:21 -0500
        Subj:   Purpose of the List

[2]     From:   F. Thackeray <
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        Date:   Thursday, 12 Feb 1998 08:49:35 +0200
        Subj:   Ostriches, iron and "gastroliths"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Wednesday, 11 Feb 1998 22:24:21 -0500
Subject:        Purpose of the List

I was more than a little dismayed to find the two communications from
Norm Holland included in posting I received on 11 February-one urging a
letter writing campaign against a free trade treaty and the other
inviting members to subscribe to a list of "lesbigay" and "transgender"
academics.  What has any of this to do with Shakespeare?

Much can and should be said to counter Mr. Holland's outmoded preference
for protectionism; but I respectfully submit this is not the place for
it.  Likewise, there are ample resources on the internet for those who
feel a need for homosexual contact groups without the necessity of
taking up bandwidth here.  In future, I hope that a more discriminating
approach can be taken to limit our political debates and expressions of
sexual preference to those which take the guise of Shakespearean
criticism.

Larry Weiss

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           F. Thackeray <
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Date:           Thursday, 12 Feb 1998 08:49:35 +0200
Subject:        Ostriches, iron and "gastroliths"

In response to your question about "I'll make thee eat iron like an
ostrich" (2 Henry VI 4.10.30), I can tell you that ostriches are known
to eat hard objects (including stones) which facilitate the breaking up
of tough, fibrous foods of the kind on which they feed in a variety of
habitats on the African continent.  These "stomach-stones" are also
called gastroliths.  Some herbivorous dinosaurs (including the South
African dinosaur, Massospondylus - one of the earliest dinosaurs which
lived about 200 million years ago) probably adopted the same practice
because assemblages of rounded stones have been found in association
with skeletons of herbivorous dinosaurs (which would have included tough
cycad leaves in their diet).  Since the advent of smelting iron in
Africa and elsewhere, ostriches may well have included "iron-stones" -
perhaps slag if not lumps of smelted iron - as "gastroliths" -
relatively large ones remaining in the stomach of the ostrich for a
lifetime.

I hope this helps.

Dr Francis Thackeray
Head
Department of Palaeontology
Transvaal Museum
P.O. Box 413
Pretoria 0001
South Africa
 

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