The Times November 29, 2006
The fish with the most powerful jaws in history
Mark Henderson, Science Editor
A prehistoric Jaws that terrorised the oceans 400 million years ago had the most powerful bite of any creature yet known, scientists have discovered.
The ancient sea monster, known as Dunkleosteus terrelli, could bring its fangs together with a force of almost 5,000kg (11,000lb), making it almost four times more powerful than Tyrannosaurus rex.
Its jaws were arranged so that the bite force would have been focused into a small area around the tip of its front fangs, producing a remarkable pressure of 5,600 kg per sq cm (80,000lb per sq in).
The pressure generated by a 10st (63kg) woman standing on her husband’s toe while wearing a stiletto heel of 0.5cm area would be about 127 kg/sq cm, or 1,800 lb/sq in.
The fearsome fish, which grew up to 10m (33ft) long and weighed up to four tonnes, would have been able to tear a shark in two with just a single bite.
Fat dog's owners on cruelty charge
11½ stone labrador was unable to walk
Owners allegedly ignored vet's advice
Obesity has become such an issue of political incorrectness that two brothers appeared in court yesterday charged with allowing a dog to get too fat.
Rusty, a nine-year-old labrador, may only have been doing what labradors do, which is to eat everything in sight. But he ballooned to more than 11½ stone (161lb, 73kg), the ideal weight for a large-boned 6ft (1.82m) woman, but not a retriever, which should be chasing sticks and newly shot game.
Rusty had trouble standing up, and after no more than five paces he had to sit down again, breathless. He looked, magistrates at Ely, Cambridgeshire, were told yesterday, more like a seal than a dog.
Piety, palaces, prewar prescience
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL history book of the year is Marking the Hours: English People and their Prayers, 1240-1570 (Yale, £19.99/offer £17.99). Eamon Duffy examines surviving copies of the Book of Hours, the most intimate book of the late Middle Ages, tracing the marks left by readers — everything from laundry lists scribbled in the margins to personalised versions of prayers. This richly illustrated book takes us back into the hearts and souls of the English long ago.
The publisher of Fenton’s book is the Royal Academy, whose own imprint was originally set up to produce exhibition catalogues. These are usually excellent. Take, for example, one of its most recent, Rodin (£24.95), a strikingly designed compendium of intelligent texts and arresting pictures.
Today’s master of catalogue production, however, has to be Yale University Press. It is responsible for the catalogues of our own National Gallery (for example, the excellent Velazquez, £35) and for those of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, among them Bellini, Giorgione, Titian and the Renaissance of Venetian Painting (£40), the beauty of whose illustrations makes it one of my books of the year. The Met itself is responsible for Cézanne to Picasso (£40), an enlightening study of the way the careers of the artists concerned were shaped and steered by the most influential French dealer of his day, Ambroise Vollard.