A Good Dinosaur Gone Bad

TRILOGY OF LIFE - Ballad of Big Al - "Ornitholestes" - YouTube

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.

Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs: Vintage Dinosaur Art: The Bird Hunter

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!

Once Upon a Time, Among Dinosaurs…

Have you ever seen Walking with Dinosaurs? Tim Haines’ dinosaur recreations really are the most convincing. Here it’s Ankylosaurus fighting off Tyrannosaurus rex. The voice-over by Kenneth Branagh has been deleted and replaced with Godzilla music: from Godzilla versus Megalon, if I don’t miss my guess.

Anyhow, all this dino-stuff still has the power to stoke the fires of my imagination–and make me eager to get back to work on my book.

TV Treat: Dueling Paganisms

Patty and I have been enjoying Primeval, a popular British TV series featuring prehistoric monsters invading our modern world through “anomalies in time,” whatevuh they may be. It was created by Tim Haines, which is what attracted us to it. We love Haines’ trilogy of prehistoric life: Walking With Dinosaurs, Walking With Beasts, and Walking With Monsters. We dismiss the Darwinian fairy tales and groove on the special effects.

No one, not even the makers of the Jurassic Park movies, tops Haines when it comes to re-creating prehistoric critters. These look real! My favorite is the Gorgonopsian (see video clip), a saber-toothed predatory reptile structured more like a mammal and, it would seem, incredibly dangerous.

Okay, Primeval is not King Lear. Don’t go looking for depth of character here, or a lot of logical consistency. Enjoy watching the critters.

But I have also enjoyed the series’ theme of two competing versions of humanistic paganism.

In this corner we have Nick, the good guy, who views Evolution as a sovereign force and is dead-set against trying to tamper with it. To Nick, all good things about the world are the result of blind chance.

Over here, in the black tights, we have Helen (Nick’s estranged wife), who wants to control Evolution and change the outcome of history.

Nick’s god is Chance. Helen worships a pristine Earth Goddess devoid of human beings. Both visions are as far from Christ as it is possible to be. If you are easily influenced by what you watch on TV, it might be a good idea for you to steer clear of Primeval.

But if you’re interested in what makes God-less people tick, if you want to try to understand where they’re coming from, and how they manage to do such a bang-up job of screwing up our civilization–well, then, these shows may prove enlightening. I must admit to a experiencing a kind of sardonic amusement, watching pagans blunder around inside their ideological hall of mirrors, unable to get out.

Anyhow, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to spy out the enemy and try to analyze his plans, his outlook on reality–or, as the case may be, unreality.

We are spying out the Promised Land, to win ground for Christ’s Kingdom; and we can’t do it with our eyes closed.