Come home with this in your pail, and you’ll be famous!
Some fossils look so weird as to be not of this earth. The ancient amphibian Diplocaulus, with its boomerang-shaped head, is one of them.
Fun Stuff God Has Done: the Diplocaulus
Why did Diplocaulus have such a funny-shaped head? To discourage predators from swallowing him head-first? We really can’t know unless we find some live ones somewhere and observe how they live. But that’s always hard to do unless you’re in a movie.
Jambo, Mr. Nature here–with a dragonfly that has a two-foot wingspan. Sometimes a little more.
Meganeura is prehistoric, so don’t worry about one flying into your car while you’re driving on the highway. Once upon a time, some insects grew to spectacular size (although not to the degree celebrated in assorted 1950s monster movies). Scientists think it was possible for them to grow so large because there was more oxygen in the air then than there is today. Mixing the air is God’s prerogative.
Dragonflies, totally harmless to humans, eat mosquitoes. As far as I’m concerned, we can never have too many dragonflies.
If you can imagine these, you can imagine anything.
Imagine a land animal as long as two basketball courts laid end to end. Take your time: you’ll have to stretch your imagination pretty far.
Now imagine losing that animal!
Lost! 200-foot-long Dinosaur
Really! How do you misplace a 9-foot-long dinosaur backbone? It’s this bone that allows scientists to estimate the length of the living creature as somewhere around 200 feet. I wonder how many of these beasts you could herd onto Guam before you made the island capsize.
But the bone has been mislaid! All we have are drawings and measurements made of it back in the 1870s. Just not the same as the real thing!
God does like to challenge our imaginations, doesn’t He?
It would be easy, what with all the books and movies, toys and TV specials, to get the idea that experts really know what they’re talking about when it comes to dinosaurs. Easy, but wrong.
The Freddy Kreuger Dinosaur
The dinosaur pictured above, Therizenosaurus, is mostly guesswork. What they’ve got, all they’ve got to guide them, is a few scraps of broken bone, an extra-wide pelvis–live births instead of eggs?–and those extra-long, sharp claws. I haven’t read anything about live births in dinosaurs; it just struck me as an exciting idea.
Anyhow, as cool as this dinosaur is, the way scientists have reconstructed it, we really have no clear idea what it looked like.
We’ll have to wait for God to show us.
Yesterday Elder Mike reminded me of one of my favorite comics that I used to read when I was a boy–Turok, Son of Stone. For 10 cents a pop, you could follow the adventures of two Native Americans, Turok and Andar, in a lost world of prehistoric monsters and cavemen. The first issue came out in 1954.
I remember reading these on Grandma’s porch, enthralled, my imagination vividly responding to the pictures. Turok and Andar blundered into this place and couldn’t find their way out, so they had to learn a lot of new survival skills in a hurry. They called the dinosaurs “honkers,” for the noises they made. My favorite was “Ruuuuunk!”
All right, it was all a bit corny, but you don’t see that when you’re nine or ten years old. I just saw the dinosaurs–and wished we had some in the woods next to my house. To this day I’m fascinated by dinosaurs. I don’t read comic books anymore, but I might break that rule if someone handed me a stack of Turoks.
Imagination! What would life be like without it?
I hope I never find out.
Wait’ll you read The Witch Box! I had no idea these scary giant amphibians could be found in Lintum Forest; but Helki the Rod has found them. He’s also dreamed up a constructive use for them
I don’t buy that “Eryops-on-a-balance-beam” act, though. What could be more preposterous? (Maybe a tightrope-walking tortoise.)
Anyway, try to imagine a critter like a cross between a frog and a salamander, weighing a couple hundred pounds, with jaws that’d make an alligator’s look downright feeble. That’ll put you on the right track.
I’m glad I got some blog posts up this morning, because the sun is out again and I’ve got to write as much of The Witch Box as I can. No telling when it’ll get too cold to do that.
Today Helki the Rod has had an encounter with the creature depicted above. It’s called “Eryops,” a giant amphibian with huge jaws, lots and lots of teeth, and a third eye in the middle of its forehead–one of the first prehistoric animals I ever learned about, thanks to Bertha Morris Parker’s Golden Treasury of Natural History. You’re getting a better look at it than Helki got. He didn’t want to get too close. His Eryops lives in a cavern.
Well, I’d better get back outside now and try to tell some more of the story. See you in a bit.
If you’re wondering where I am today, and why I haven’t posted much–well, the sun is shining and I have to make hay. I’m outside working on my book, The Witch Box. I’m going to go back outside in a few minutes and write a bit more.
Meanwhile, enjoy this video clip of the largest land mammal ever, Baluchitherium. Here they call it an “Indricothere,” but I don’t bother with that.
If you’ve read The Thunder King, this is the great beast that King Ryons rode to the rescue of the city of Obann.
Only his was bigger.
Jambo, Mr. Nature here! What was the world’s biggest-ever frog, and how big was it?
It’d take a big jug-o’-rum to fill this baby, Beelzebufo, a prehistoric frog from Madagascar. It was as big as a beach-ball, weighing in at ten pounds, with a body 16 inches long. It appears to be related to the South American horned frogs which occasionally turn up in pet stores–although why anyone would want one of those evil-tempered little cusses is beyond me.
Was Beelzebufo really the biggest frog ever, or are there bigger ones still waiting to be discovered?
The possibilities for a 1950s-style horror movie are intriguing.
One of the glories of my childhood was The Golden Treasury of National History by Bertha Morris Parker, copyright 1952. That painting of the plesiosaur (above) is one of my all-time favorite pictures. Hours and hours and hours I spent in that book! And it left me with a lifelong fascination for animals past and present.
Patty got me a used copy for my birthday last year, and I resort to it sometimes when I’m feeling stressed, tired, or just hung out to dry. I did that today.
Okay, a lot of the science in the book–especially with regard to life in the distant prehistoric past–is hooey. Even as our science today will be tomorrow’s hooey. I don’t blame Bertha Morris Parker, whose work I admire very much. She had to go with the science that she had. But really, I doubt the giant ground sloths went extinct because they never found a comfortable place to rest their claws. Or that dinosaurs vanished because they just didn’t have enough sense to adapt to changing conditions. It was 1952 settled science.
What I love here is the vastness and the intricacy of God’s creation, the enduring mysteries of life on earth, and the overwhelming “Wow!” factor I find in giant prehistoric animals. And happy childhood memories are a plus–my Uncle Bernie reading to me from the book and having the devil’s own time trying to pronounce the dinosaurs’ name: and me not correcting him because I loved him and knew that he was reading to me because he loved his brother’s children.
And now I’m getting a little teary-eyed, so I guess I’d better stop.