Getting the Band Together
Alex Mika and the Dinosaur Prints would be a decent band name, wouldn’t it? We could write a song called “Rock Star” about the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs (sung, of course, from the perspective of the asteroid). Other titles included would be “The Pterodactyl Shuffle,” “Benny and the Rex,” and we would always warm up with dinosaur scales. Our influence on modern culture would be unparalleled, and we would instantly be admitted into the pantheon of pop idols, residing beside The Eagles, The Beatles, Flock of Seagulls, and the rest of The Animals.
Small carnivores were probably the smartest dinosaurs. That’s scientific speculation, not anti-vegetarian propaganda.
The Flinstone’s car ran on running feet. It probably didn’t run on fossil fuels because they didn’t want to upset their pet, Dino.
I’ve stayed up many nights wondering what sounds the dinosaurs emitted. Films like Jurassic Park feature roars and rumbles, screams and screeches, but what if the mighty Brachiosaurus peeped? Did the velociraptors howl at the moon in packs as they rustled through the swaying ferns on their hunting expeditions? Did the perched pterodactyl sing like a thrush in the trees before its massive body broke the branches? What if the T-Rex nervously cooed and clucked as it rested on its nested eggs, thumping its tail on the ground as it waited to hear a “crack?”
I started keeping a kind of journal recently. I call it my “mouse nest.” On these legal pads, one would find the mental equivalents of plastic bag bits, seed cases and chewed-up aglets. These are thoughts, half-thoughts, single firings of a neuron, snippets of conversations, musings, eavesdroppings, ideas, lines of verse, lines of prose, lines crossed out and pen marks smudged. If to be more accurate, this journal acts more like a bog than as a nest. I collect these fragments, and most of them decay before settling at the bottom of the bog. Some lucky bits of peat reach that sacred place. The pressure of nearing deadlines turns these fragments into lignite, and I begin to sift through the yellow pages, hoping to find within this deposit pieces of coal. Once found, they are processed and heaved into the fire, one by one.
Of all the creatures roaming Earth today, I would have never guessed that birds are the dinosaurs’ closest relatives. Knowing this now, it makes sense to me. Look in the eyes of a chicken and tell me you don’t see the shadow of a velociraptor.
Feathers evolved from scales similar to those found on alligators. Although dinosaur feathers were not as complex and branched as modern bird feathers, these proto-feathers developed from evolutionary pressures to preserve body heat. As the feathers became more intricate and asymmetrical, they began to aid in the flight of winged dinosaurs, from which birds eventually evolved.
Why do so many people reject the hypothesis that the T-Rex may have had feathers? Truth be told, I don’t actually know how many people refute this, or if this is even a hot-button issue amongst amateur dinosaur enthusiasts, but I think it is safe to assume that a feathered king of the dinosaurs is not what the huddled masses imagine. They picture the massive, leathery beast portrayed in films, images and cartoons, and any mention of feathers immediately results in a cognitive dissonance. It’s like the T-Rex is this sort of prehistoric Rambo. If Rambo could have his pecs out while wasting away his enemies, it makes sense to assume that the T-Rex was similarly bare-chested in its hunt. But why does adding feathers suddenly make the creature less intimidating? Why are feathers considered a sign of weakness? Have these people never had an angry emu chase after them?