Sunday, March 09, 2008
Somewhere in a field next to my parent's house there’s a dino graveyard. When I was a young child, the patch was a plowed field used for cotton, corn, or soybeans and one spring I buried my plastic dinosaurs in the soft earth and left to return the next day to begin my paleontological excavation. I never found the spot where I had buried them and they probably have rested there as the field turned to pasture, to a fallow field, and finally to a squirrel-planted grove of pecan trees.
I'm working my way through the December 2007 issue of National Geographic magazine and the first feature article of that issue is a piece about some of the more curious dinosaur discoveries every found. (Yeah, I really am several months behind but that happens during the school year. I always catch back up during the summer.) Reading about spinosaurus, carnotaurus, masiakasaurus (pictured above), and Dracorex (which one is not like the others?) took me briefly back to my youth. I was obsessed with dinosaurs as a kid. By the third grade I had read every dinosaur book in three libraries in town (the K-2 library, the grades 3-5 library and the county public library), in addition to having devoured dino books given to me as presents and TV shows about paleontology. I had even rented videos from the video store about dinosaurs and digging fossils. I knew that the brontosaurus was never a real dinosaur but mistake of mixed up fossils. The Apatosaurus was the real deal. I rejected cheap plastic toys that depicted fanciful dino creations that never existed but got excited about cheap plastic toys that resembled the real deals.
Gradually my obsession with the monsters of the past shifted to the feathery denizens of the present. At the time I didn’t realize that my love of birds both wild and domestic was a natural evolution from my previous love of the thunder lizards, especially since, at the time, the fact that birds are the descendents of the dinosaurs wasn’t the common knowledge that it is today. It’s kind of a weird feeling to know as I walk out to feed my chickens each evening that my pets and providers of eggs are the result of a line that once saw it’s members running through Gondwanaland with teeth and clawed fingers instead of sporting toothless beaks and feathers.