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Smaugia Volans -- April Fool's Day, 1999
The scientific journal Nature, in its online edition, revealed the discovery of "a near-complete skeleton of a theropod dinosaur in North Dakota." The discovery was referred to in an article by Henry Gee discussing the palaeontological debate over the origin of birds. The dinosaur skeleton had reportedly been discovered by Randy Sepulchrave of the Museum of the University of Southern North Dakota. The exciting part of the discovery, according to the article, was that "The researchers believe that the dinosaur, now named as Smaugia volans, could have flown."

In actuality, the University of Southern North Dakota does not exist; Smaug was the name of the dragon in Tolkein's The Hobbit; and Sepulchrave was the name of the 76th Earl of Groan in Mervyn Peake's Titus Groan. This Earl, believing that he was an owl, leapt to his death from a high tower, discovering too late that he could not fly.

"volans" is the Latin present participle form of the verb, "volare", meaning to fly. "Smaugia volans" means "Flying Smaug."
Posted by Artie Malone  on  Thu Apr 14, 2005  at  01:07 AM
Sepulchrave was eaten by the owls, I think.
Posted by David Aldridge  on  Wed Aug 24, 2005  at  07:00 PM
Sepulchrave, the 76th Earl of Groan, did in fact believe that he was an owl. But he did not jump from a tower. Rather, he brought the fresh corpse of his castle's chef to the death owls in the Tower of Flints, whereupon they devoured it and him, that he might be reborn as one of them.
Posted by Jack  on  Sun Feb 19, 2006  at  08:59 PM
I think the University of Southern North Dakota once played a bowl game against the East Westchester North Stars, the champions of the Southern Conference.
The latter was actually a bit from an early Cheech and Chong album.
Posted by Scott  in  California  on  Mon Apr 02, 2007  at  04:47 AM
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