So there’s a new Jurassic Park movie coming out, I’ve seen the trailer–and I’m hooked! But really the hook was set in 1993 (good grief, 30 years ago!) with the first Jurassic Park–which we’re going to watch again this afternoon.
I have just blown 20 minutes trying to turn my computer back on–which is one of the lessons Michael Crichton tried to teach when he wrote Jurassic Park. All those high-tech safety and security systems aren’t worth a damn when they rely on human beings never to forget anything, never to click the wrong key, never to try something cute. God made us fallible. Did He ever make us fallible! You’d think that would breed humility. But then Jurassic Park is about hubris, not humility. Homer would’ve understood it instantly.
How wonderful would it be to see a dinosaur? I’ve been fascinated by dinosaurs since I first learned how to read. Of all God’s creations, these speak most powerfully to me. Imagine the size and strength! Try–in vain, probably–to imagine what it must have been like to be a dinosaur.
I know, I know. I’m old enough now to forget dinosaurs and just watch movies about failing relationships and sinks full of dirty dishes.
Not a chance, kimosabe! Not a chance.
Behold “Predator X.” You’ll have a hard time fitting him in your wading pool.
I am supposed to write a Newswithviews column today. I’ve been thrashing my brain for ideas all morning. Politics? Gee, I’m tired of writing politics! What can I say that no one else is saying?
If only I could report to you that Predator X is still alive! Still cruising northern waters, looking for very large things to eat. They call him “X” because all they’re got are little bits of bone, not enough to deserve a proper name. But that only makes him more tantalizing to the imagination.
I don’t have much time left to come up with an idea.
Well, wish me luck. I’ve got to do this somehow.
What’s that ripple in the water over there?
[P.S.–Well, I wrote it, and you’ll see it Thursday.]
One of these days I’m going to want to bring a dinosaur or two into the fantasy world of my Bell Mountain novels.
Ornitholestes was the most famous small dinosaur when I was a boy–and by famous I mean in all the books, on all the posters, toys and museum souvenirs: if you were at all interested in dinosaurs, you knew Ornitholestes (the name means “bird hunter”)–probably from this famous drawing by Charles R. Knight, found in just about every children’s book on dinosaurs.
See? There he is, catching a prehistoric bird.
The fame of this creature rests upon a single fossil, consisting of a damaged skull and some bits of the skeleton–to this day, the only fossil of Ornitholestes yet discovered.
By the time the popular documentary, Walking with Dinosaurs, came out in 1999, Ornitholestes–it really needs a shorter name; how about “Bob”?–had been jazzed up a lot. Now Bob had a kind of crest on his nose–very sporty. Looks great in a movie. But after only a few years they decided Bob’s flashy nose crest was really only a piece of the skull that had gotten knocked loose, so now he’s back to where he was when Charles R. Knight drew him in the 1930s. Only some artists like to give him feathers. No feathers have been found, there’s only one fossil, oh, well…
In spite of all the confusion, I find it easy to imagine this critter darting in and out of the undergrowth in Lintum Forest—–Wait a minute! Hold the phone! Did I just get the faint whiff of an opening scene for Bell Mountain No. 14? You know what? I think I did!
I think the Lord has just given me a birthday present. And this is not the first time that’s happened. Thank you, Father! This is just so cool!
Awesome and mighty are the works of your hands, O Lord!
See that tiny red dot under the dinosaur? It’s an adult human being. By comparison, the dinosaur, Amphiceolias, would have been like a walking apartment building.
So many new discoveries are being made in dinosaur paleontology these days, I can hardly keep up with them–and I do try. Now that scientists are looking in places where they haven’t looked before, in South America and Asia, they’re always finding new ones. And one of the themes of those discoveries is “bigger and bigger and bigger!”
These animals, as living things, are virtually unimaginable. There’s just nothing like them anymore. What would it be like, to see one? The earth must have shaken when they walked. And how much did they have to eat, to support such bulk? When I was a boy, the Brontosaurus was acclaimed the biggest dinosaur. But these new ones would have made one of those look like a baby.
Just contemplating these animals ought to make us feel humble. There may even have been creatures that were bigger, much bigger, than these that take our breath away. Was there, after all, no limit to how big they could grow? What must their world have been like?
Awesome and mighty are His works.
I don’t know how seriously, anymore, to take reconstructions of dinosaurs.
This newly-described critter, Gigantoraptor, judging by the shape of its skull, belonged to a group of dinosaurs called Oviraptors. Those were small as dinosaurs go, less than the size of an adult human. But Gigantoraptor was… well, gigantic. It’s, like, hamsters are these little furry guys that fit in the palm of your hand–except for this one kind that’s as big as a Great Dane. How does that happen? Should we be looking for in-between Oviraptors?
Most of the reconstructions (I’ve only posted one) show the dinosaur richly covered with feathers. The feather thing has gotten completely out of hand. Some of these guys would reconstruct a parking meter with feathers, if they had the chance. It should be pointed out that most of these feathery dinosaurs are imaginary: traces of feathers have only been found with the fossils of a few kinds of small dinosaurs.
We don’t have anything like a complete skeleton of Gigantoraptor (this is true for many kinds of dinosaurs, even some of the most famous ones), but the skull pretty much nails it as an Oviraptor, so it seems reasonable to reconstruct it as an Oviraptor, albeit several magnitudes too large.
But look at Stegosaurus, a very famous dinosaur, discovered in the 19th century–and they’re still fiddling around with it today, trying out various possible arrangements of the plates on its back and the spikes in its tail. The jury’s still out. What’s settled science today will be laughed at tomorrow.
At least they aren’t suggesting anymore that maybe it could fly.
Oh, well! Dinosaur science is fun and I like to follow it as closely as I can. The next critter they come up with, I might find a place for in my books.
Jambo! Mr. Nature here, with today’s safari into the incredible. Maybe even the preposterous.
Once upon a time, or so they say, there was a dinosaur–a sauropod, like a brontosaur or Diplodocus–that grew to be 200 feet long. Twice as long as an NBA basketball court. Edward D. Cope named it Amphicoelias. With all the new discoveries, in recent years, of super-sized sauropods all over the world, interest in Amphicoelias has been renewed.
The key piece of this dinosaur was a single vertebra 8.9 feet long. And sometime after 1878… it got lost.
Now, how do you lose a 9-foot-long dinosaur bone? It’s not like it could have slipped behind the couch. What kind of dingbat loses something nine feet long? “I coulda sworn I had it in this closet, with the Christmas tree ornaments…” “It somehow got lost when we moved…” Really!
We still have drawings of this bone, made by scientists who studied it, but who wants to take the kids to a museum to see drawings?
And so a land animal as long as two blue whales laid end-to-end… is lost. Like a spare set of car keys. Like that carefully boxed complete set of 1961 baseball cards that should be up on that shelf in your bedroom, but isn’t. Alas and alas!
We can only hope it turns up in someone’s garage someday.
It’s still not a dinosaur.
Really, how dumb do they think they are, that they can tell us a fish is a dinosaur and get away with it?
The Internet is in many ways a boon to civilization, but it does have its flaws. One of its flaws is a complete absence of quality control.
Not that I can think if anyone whom I’d want to be the quality controller!
Imagine a dinosaur about halfway between a Raptor and a T. rex, combining the nastiest features of both–crushing jaws full of dagger-teeth, with long, curved claws, smaller and more maneuverable than Rex, bigger and stronger than a Raptor.
Hi! Mr. Nature here, introducing Dryptosaurus, New Jersey’s most impressive predatory dinosaur. Its remains were discovered in 1866, in a geologic formation that I used to visit in my own fossil-hunting days. To this day we don’t have anything like a complete skeleton; but we do have enough to indicate a highly dangerous creature probably related to the much more famous Tyrannosaurus rex.
One of the things I loved about the “Jurassic World” movies was the artificially created dinosaur, “Indominus rex.” To me it looked just like a scaled-up Dryptosaurus–and that would be scary!
I like to imagine Dryptosaurus stalking its prey by night under the stars, along the dunes of Long Beach Island. I resist the temptation to volunteer anyone as prey.
I seen a moovie Last nihght “and” it blowed My “mind”! it was caled “Jarastic Whirld” and i didnt Know “this” becose i thinked Dinsores thay are Exstinkted but now Sciance it has brung Them back by clowning them!!!
Dinasores thay Are reel “big” and thay Eat peeple!!! that “is” whatt makes them Danjerice! So this dockumentry moovy “it” was al abote this Park in Soth Americka some place “ware” thay clowned dinasores and then the dinasores “thay Got” looce and eated peeple and chaced them al aruond!! and some guy he sayed This “is waht hapens wen”” yiu get Careless whith clowning!!! And waht wil hapen iff the dinasores thay “come up hear” and strat chacing us??? man i didnt know that!!
So we hadded a emirjensy meting of the Stodent Soviet to figger out “Whatt To Doo” in case the dinasores thay come hear and we Votid to dig a lot of deep Holes on campas for us “to” hyde in in case thare is dinasores aruond! It will “coast” a lott of Munny so thay whill has to raze the Tuation!!!
Wee aslo votid that theese hear dinasores thay Are Donold Trumpt’s fallt becose he Is “a” Racist and a Homo foab and iff he “is Impeecht” and he shuld Be impeecht for that,, and then Hillery she is Pressadint “The” Dinasores thay wont eat noboddy!!!
A great deal of silly stuff has been written about dinosaurs, including the claim that they never existed and the whole thing is just a fiendishly clever conspiracy, blah-blah.
God has done things that we don’t understand. He created dinosaurs, pronounced them good, and then, it so appears, removed them for our sake, leaving only fossils and trackways behind.
Which, in all probability, is as it should be.