I did not watch the premier of the new sci-fi series Terra Nova last night, but I am holding out hope that this show reverses a disturbing trend in popular culture. I’m not talking about declining network ratings. I’m talking about the whole “dinosaurs with feathers” movement. I don’t care that this has been scientifically established as fact. It is messing with my deeply held conviction about dinosaurs being the totally awesome, bellowing, flesh-rending killing machines as depicted in Jurassic Park and frankly, I want to keep things that way.
It seemed harmless enough at first, just an odd paleontological footnote about the monstrous beasts who basically dominated the hell out of whichever geologic epoch they happened to be living in. But as this “research” has gathered steam over the years, it has eroded this perception. Most worrisome is ongoing coverage seen in The Economist. For instance, check out the “artist’s conception” alongside this piece. I mean, really?!? Dear Economist – this is most certainly not what a velociraptor looked like. As we all know, velociraptors are acrobatic, bloodthirsty pack hunters with knowledge of the use of simple tools and levers which they use to sate their hankering for human child-flesh. If the thing pictured here charged me in a theme-park kitchen, I would die of laughter, not fright. And worse, here dinosaurs are further marginalized as “birds” – for shame. How many parakeets do you know that can crush a jeep full of precocious children with one stomp? Please.
The most recent insult was dealt with this article here in The Atlantic. At first I was excited – soft biological material? Trapped in amber? At least this opens up the possibility of extracting useable DNA to usher in a new era of living, breathing, cloned Tyrannosaurs. But no. Just frikkin' feathers stuck in old tree sap.
Being an optimist, I hold out hope for the paleontological equivalent of a half-court shot at the buzzer to reveal that these were razor-sharp, poisonous feathers or, at the very least, that they were retractable. But my lurid imaginings of prehistoric Earth do not appreciate being put into this position of having to compensate. Going forward, any further announcements concerning these toothy reptiles should be limited to discoveries concerning their deadly use of psionic pulses or, possibly, opposable claws. And that they are happily thriving on an island off the coast of Costa Rica, where they feast on the undocumented labor pool of renegade yet avuncular entrepreneurs.