Posts Tagged ‘dinosaurs’

I awoke, not in a bed or on a table as I had before I began my quest, but on the jungle floor. The foliage was quickly replaced by tan cobblestones that pained my already weary body as the rhinocydonts dragged me in the net. I attempted slicing through it, and succeeded in making an opening large enough for my arm to reach through it, only to receive another intense shock.
A rhinocydont walking alongside the two that were dragging me held a cylinder in his clawed hand that must have been the catalyst for sending the electric pain into my body whenever he wished. He glanced at my screaming form for a moment, then grunted in satisfaction.
“Let me go,” I shouted. “I’ll kill every single one of you! Face me like men, you cowards!”
“We are not men, armored one.”
I was stunned to see that they could speak my language, what with them also being from a different world and all, but then I remembered Alpha telling me that he had conversed several times with their leader, Dienok.
“Dienok,” I panted. “Let me see Dienok! I am a friend of Alpha’s.”
All three dragon warriors chuckled.
“And you think that will help you,” said the one holding the cylinder. “Alpha is no friend of our race, no matter how hard he tries to be. We only stand by each other, not with anyone of your weak race. Yes, we trade with the small ones for wine, but – “
“Oh shutup Trikor,” interrupted one of those who were dragging me.
“This creature is only here for entertainment. Not conversation, you half wit.”
I asked what he meant by ‘entertainment’. Their only reply was to send another searing pain of electricity accompanied by their satisfied laughter.
Monsters. I thought to myself. Sadistic, merciless monsters.
I was dragged through what seemed to be a courtyard. Stone effigies of dragons were scattered throughout. The biggest construction was an immense wall in the center with a beautifully detailed mural etched upon it. It showed two rhinocydonts, a male and a female, standing under a tree. I could distinguish their sexes, for unlike the ones dragging me and the few I saw bustling their way around the courtyard, these two in the mural were naked. The female was shorter and had breasts, which disgusted me. Coiled on the tree was a colorful serpent. It had a piece of fruit in its mouth that resembled an apple. I didn’t know why at the time, but the image seemed oddly familiar.
I didn’t see much of Dragonopolis on that day, but as my captors dragged me through a dark tunnel, I could hear what sounded like hundreds of rhinocydont voices cheering.
As two doors of thick stone opened, I was thrown into a chamber of utter darkness. The doors closed with a heavy thud that echoed in the walls of the room as well as in the walls of my mind. Then, I heard a metallic, hissing sound that was followed by a strikingly bright green light coming from a shimmering golden pyramid on the floor. As Alpha had informed me previously, this race truly did possess an extremely advanced technology.
The electric net suddenly vanished into thin air, making my vision much clearer. Also, the greenish light seemed to have enhanced the features of the three dragon warriors. Each one had shorts on that resembled the ones Alpha wore.
Belts carrying complicated looking devices and weapons were around the waists of each. Their bodies were a grayish green that had patterns of spots resembling those of a leopard. These ones were apparently males, for their muscular chests were bare. Each one of them carried eccentric looking guns in their right hands. The claws on the hands were even bigger and more fearsome looking than the claws of Snapper. All of their features made them look completely identical, save for their heads, which did however all seem to share the same basic plan and shape. But each skull had a uniquely shaped frill at the top of the head with sharp horns of different number and position. The mouths were like the beak of a bird. Their eyes were black, as black as death.
“Quit gawking at us, scum,” yelled the one called Trikor before punching me in the face. I was too dazed to stop them from wrapping a chain around my waist that came from the pyramid.
A system of sliding mechanical plates twisted apart on the floor near me. Strange, yet also delicious looking vegetables rose from the center on a large plate. The rhinocydonts then left the room.
Because of distrust and suspicion, I almost didn’t eat the food set before me, but no matter how hard I tried to resist, the aroma completely overwhelmed me. I just had to regain my strength so I could find a way out of here. For Happiness. Alpha. Emanuel. Steer…
Recalling the heroic horns of my best friend, I sprang into action. I tried everything. My sword would not cut through the chain, my punches would not crack the walls, and the pyramid was indestructible. The chain I was bound to possessed a good deal of slack. I pulled on it and rolled it into a ball, with a considerable length continuing to drag out of the pyramid.
What could have been the purpose for this? A chain that would allow me to pull out lengths of it long enough for me to question what it was chaining me from?
After what seemed hours of testing its length and pacing around the room, I gave up. Leaning against the wall opposite the doors of my prison I was led through, I discovered the reason for the chain’s length.
I fell backward as the wall I leaned against opened without warning, bringing blinding sunlight into the chamber. Upon looking up, I saw something that I just could not believe.
Rhinocydonts. Hundreds of them. My dungeon chamber was apparently right in the midst of a massive arena. All I could see was a writhing mass of reptilian flesh in every direction. The balconies reached to an even greater height than the immense trees of the jungle. Every single rhinocydont was standing and cheering, apparently awaiting a spectacle. They did not have to wait long. The ‘entertainment’ was about to begin.
Directly in front of me by about a hundred feet, a wall under the balcony slid up to reveal a dark chamber that looked the same as my own. Within the darkness, the figure of a man began to advance slowly into the arena. It was strange for me to see him, for up until that moment I had only met one man, Alpha(if he even was human). He had no distinguishing physical characteristics aside from a sword and a shield. His waist was bound by a chain in the same way mine was. We eyed each other curiously for a few moments and then cautiously began to approach each other. The chains would have prevented our meeting even if he had succeeded in taking three full steps out of the chamber, but, as it was, something else hindered him. And killed him.
Being still partially inside my own cell, I was as oblivious as he was to the winged monstrosity that charged him from his right. Claws and teeth literally shredded the poor man to bits before he could even scream.
This creature was a devil out of hell, and yet strangely beautiful at the same time. Though shaped like a bird, it only possessed feathers on its wings and tail. Silver, metallic looking talons were attached to its fingers and toes. One claw on each foot was much larger than the rest, and this specialized claw was obviously the beast’s preferred method of killing. One of its feet was bound by a chain, which kept it from flying too high and escaping. Two horns protruded from the back of its head, and from the mouth that foamed with its victim’s blood came a high pitched shriek that sent immense pain to my head.
The crowds of rhinocydonts were going absolutely wild for their vicious dragon pet. I knew that I was its next combatant, and quite possibly its next meal; that is, if the creature even devoured the things it killed. The remains of the hapless man were still on the ground, and not one bit of his flesh was swallowed by the dragon. It seemed to simply just enjoy its art of disemboweling victims with its claws. But it was still just an animal, not really a monster. No, these snarling, vicious rhinocydont masters of his were the real monsters. Because of the sickening way in which they used this arena to entertain themselves, I immediately began to despise them just as much as I despised the Omega drones.
Just as the dragon set his gaze on me, I felt another one of the rhinocydonts’ cruel jabs of electricity. Spinning around, I saw two of the warriors facing me from my now dimly lit cell. They were carrying long metal sticks that produced electric shocks whenever they prodded me.
After the electric current surged into my body for the third time, my fear and anger transformed into adrenaline. Despite the fact that I was chained, I was still able to jump high enough to land on one of the guards, slit his throat, and stab the other one in the face. I had hoped to anger the audience by killing one of their own, but they only cheered louder. No matter who it was that died, the monsters would be entertained. They seemed to thrive on the shedding of blood.
My disgust of them was completely forgotten when a second winged killer charged me from my right. Its claws slashed against my sword, and the battle began.
He was slashing me much more frequently than I was him, causing me to curse the fact that I must have left my shield back in the Jungle. A normal man would have perished quickly, but, thankfully for me, my armor was resilient.
The dragon spread its wings and flew around in circles as high as its chain would permit. This behavior only lasted a few seconds, but it was just enough time for me to see what was happening with the other dragon.
Two more guards had appeared out of nowhere. They were holding onto the dragon’s chain, letting it drag them as it flew towards my current opponent and I. To anybody unfamiliar with the rhinocydonts, the reading of their facial expressions would prove to be impossible. I, however, had come to know them so intimately on this day that I could instantly tell that they were smiling. Smiling with bloodlust. But their smiles faded away quickly as their dragon spun around and pounced on them both. I saw enough rhinocydont blood to make me the one who was smiling.
My grin, however, disappeared even quicker than theirs did, for my dragon had clenched his jaws onto my arm while I was distracted. I attempted to thrust my blade into his side, but was blocked by the reptile’s clawed hand. These attempts at attack and subsequent blocks continued long enough for the other dragon to reach us. Both of the guards who had attempted to lead him to me were on the ground in pieces. I hardly need to mention the crowd’s reaction to this. If they had paid money to witness a legendary brawl, then that money was well spent.
A dragon on my arm and an unchained one flying towards me were all I could afford to worry about. In the next moment, my sword and I both learned that we were not fast enough for an unchained dragon. Its snarling, ferocious form leapt on me and sliced my armor with its foot claws. Taken to the ground, I was released from the jaws of my first combatant. This angered him deeply. Amidst the sparks of claw against armor, the dragon pounced upon the one who had stolen his victim. I rolled away, watching with a sick fascination as the beasts fought each other to the death.
But it was very obvious which one had the advantage. After brawling for a while, The one without the chain flew above the enraged bound dragon and seemed to taunt it. Despite being animals, these beings were obviously intelligent. I almost came close to believing that the taunting one was laughing as the other one was hindered from reaching its new enemy by its chain.
I almost felt sorry for the chained dragon as I pulled its taut chain towards me and sliced open its belly, which resulted in bloody intestines falling on my face. Yes, I really did almost feel sorry for it.
The dragon still living quickly abandoned me and flew towards the crowd of rhinocydonts. I believe it was more out of its hatred for them than out of any fear it could have had of me. No wonder all the peaceful dragons left Dragonopolis ages ago.
One of the audience members was picked up by the dragon’s feet. He was decimated very quickly in midair by the predator’s claws.
What happened next gave me more anger and disgust than I have felt in my life. Not only was the crowd nearest to the victim cheering, but they were also laughing. How could a person laugh at their own brother dying? Why were these creatures so corrupt?
My immediate thought was to leap onto the balcony and slaughter as many rhinocydonts as I could, but before I could act, white hot lights of every color imaginable pierced the flying dragon’s abdomen. I shifted my eyes to the ground and saw three dragon ‘people’ aiming their sinister guns at the flying one. They did not stop shooting until its deceased body collided with the earth.
I raced towards them. As far as I was concerned, they and every other member of their race deserved to die. Forcing random warriors to fight impossible battles. Laughing as their own brethren were slaughtered. Raising simple animals that belonged in the wild to become killing machines that mirrored the hearts of their masters…
All three sadistic warriors pulled out whips from their belts. These whips, like most of the rhinocydonts’ technology, produced electric energy, but to a degree that shocked me more painfully than ever before as they coiled around my body like evil serpents. I pondered for a moment why they would not just simply kill me, but that thought was checked when I discovered that at least one of them did desire my death.
A blast from his laser gun exploded against my shoulder. My sword shoulder. The three of them slowly advanced towards my screaming self. My pain, though very strong, was not as powerful as the single word that echoed within my head. Death. Death. Death
“NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!”
I had never before, or since, heard a voice so loud. It came from a new rhinocydont that had jumped down into the arena from one of the balconies. He wore a long, shining robe of scarlet that reflected the sunlight so much that it hurt my eyes.
“You fools! You damned, idiotic, pathetic fools! Hell itself would be a paradise compared to the wrath you have stirred within me!”
The newcomer mercilessly assaulted the guard who had shot me. The speed, precision, and sheer force of his blows shocked me more than all of the rhinocydont electricity combined could have. Even the crowd became silent.
The victim, though granted the grace to even still exist was beaten to a bloody, silent pulp. I began to fear this robed rhinocydont much more than I had feared his dragon pets.
“You listen,” he shouted in dominance, not just to the guards, but to the audience as well. “This one is different. Do you understand me? In my thousand years of life, I have never, EVER seen such skill as to match this one. He is our captive, our entertainment. Our new and only entertainment for eons to come. I command you all to respect him. He shall never be unfairly touched by weapons that can kill. I desire watching him fight for centuries. What say you?”
The crowd’s roar of excitement and approval was loud enough to drown out my hopeless, defeated, and utterly heartbroken sobs. I hadn’t even cried that loudly when Steer was murdered. It agonized me beyond measure to know that I would forever remain nothing but a tool for entertainment. A pet, forced to endure the tortures of battle for all eternity, just like their dragon pets.
No one paid heed to my emotions, save for the robed speaker.
“Do not fret. Do not cry.” He lifted my chin at an attempt to encourage me. If my helmet was off, I would have spat in his hideous face. “I have given your life a purpose. Meaning. Your abilities shall be used and displayed for all of my kind, from the most fearsome warrior to the smallest of hatchlings. Do not dwell on dreams of a lost and lonely maiden. Yes, yes, Alpha has told me who you are and what you are trying to do. Would it please you to know that he came to me yesterday literally begging for assistance? My army sent him running like the true coward he really is.”
I wanted to cut off his head, but was impeded by a guard stepping on my sword. The robed rhinocydont, who I now realized to be their leader, Dienok, laughed softly.
“You will find that Alpha and I are more alike than I admit to him. Just like your training with him, you shall not rest between battles. We have another one for you. Don’t get me wrong, warrior. I do respect you. But I do think you should pray for a quick death from your next opponent, so that you won’t have to fight against his brothers for the rest of your fantastic life.”
He left my presence, and the guards dragging their beaten comrade followed him, the electric whips uncoiling from my body and receding back to their holders. I followed their movements for as long as I could before the ground began to shake.
Sliding plates like the ones in my chamber, though much more massive, were grinding and sliding apart to reveal something much larger than a meal of vegetables.
On a platform that was like the plate carrying food in my cell, only huge, stood a dragon at least twenty feet tall. Its build was similar to its predecessors, but much, much bigger and more heavily muscled. It did not possess special foot claws, horns, or wings. The arms were embarrassingly tiny compared to the rest of its body. I would have laughed at this had it not been for the creature’s enormous skull with massive jaws, serrated teeth, and eyes that burned to the soul of anyone unfortunate enough to gaze at them. It also had another alarming trait, at least to me. Feathers, which looked more like spikes or quills, christened the back of its head and neck like the crown of a king.
As it roared and shook the earth with its colossal footsteps, I realized that the painful laser gun wound in my shoulder was going to severely impair the use of my sword. As if this wasn’t enough, the giant did something that made me wish I was fighting ten of the smaller ones at one time instead of him. Fire erupted from its hellish mouth, a burst of flame so massive that it made the fire of Vengeance look like a spark in comparison.
The massive jaws lowered and sent the flames in my direction. I scrambled up to my feet and ran as fast as my weakened legs would permit. But no matter how fast I could have ran even at my full capacity, it would have been all but impossible to avoid the speed of the monster’s deadly breath. My shell was charred to black from just one lick of the flames. It is difficult to describe the feeling, for not too many people have smelt their own flesh being cooked and then lived to tell the tale. My armor protected my human flesh for the most part, but it could still feel the immense pain from the fire. Having armor that can feel the sensation of pain is not an enjoyable thing.
I leapt into the air as my back was turned to the monstrosity and landed atop his colossal head as he continued to race forward. The flame stopped abruptly and was replaced by a deafening roar of frustration. It was all I could do to hang onto that ugly dragon head, latching onto it like a parasite with my arm and my legs. The pain I felt from the burn was still nothing compared to the searing pain left from the laser gun in my sword shoulder. Thus, my attempts at stabbing the beast between his eyes resulted only in small cuts that further enraged him. His skull was too thick for me to deliver the killing stroke, so I had to think of something else. I had to think quickly though, for I knew that the beast would get me off of him very soon.
He did so the very next moment by violently shaking his head back and forth. My limbs lost their grip and I plummeted earthward. The dragon opened his jaws wide and lunged towards me, ready to swallow me up forever. The pain of my weakened sword arm was unimaginable, but so completely worth it as I shoved the blade into the roof of his mouth and out the top of his scaly head. The death was so instantaneous that he didn’t even make a sound. As his massive body collapsed to the ground in front of me, I pulled my sword out of his brain and saw the beginnings of flame spark from within his throat. Though dead, the beast apparently still had one more shot of flame left.
A powerful force that felt like more dragon flesh tackled me to the ground from my left. Looking up, I saw the face of Dienok, which was unreadable, with the flames of the dead dragon dancing behind him and burning off his robe. Consciousness fled from me in the next instant.

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imageI have heard it said before that 1993’s “Jurassic Park” is to the nineties generation what Star Wars was to the 70s generation, introducing kids to the magic of TRUE filmmaking by TRUE directors(not the new releases of CGI celebrities explosions and bullshit that plays weekly at the theaters of today). Yes, Jurassic Park(and Star Wars for that matter) features A list stars and plenty of reliance on computers and action sequences, but there are two differences. One is that despite all the groundbreaking computerized special effects(which still look amazing 22 years later), much of the dinosaur Classic was about practical effects. REAL robotic dinosaurs, REAL SETS, and REAL stunts, which in my opinion haven’t been used very much, or as much as they should be used, on the films of today. The other difference is that despite the massively exciting moments of the jurassic park movies(especially the first one), the action was well paced and seemed to happen magically at just the right points in the film. We can thank the Jaws and ET mastermind Steven Spielberg for this. So, despite all it’s scientific inaccuracies(which can be forgiven because no one knew at the time that Deinonychus, the true name for the movie raptors, had feathers and no one can know for sure whether they were as smart as chimps or not) and it’s fun but lackluster first two sequels, the franchise beginning in 93 had the power of captivating audiences everywhere and generating a true introduction to the public’s interest in dinosaurs(and scifi in general). In my opinion, every movie tries to capture the same essence of wonder portrayed in jurassic park. I’ll leave the question of whether they succeed or not open to all of you kids born in the nineties. So how does this year’s Jurassic World fare in comparison? Well, it has become the third highest grossing motion picture of all time, has gotten great reviews, and has been seen by me in the theater three times(about ten times at home). This article is intended to simply be about how good jurassic world is as a movie, but I will mention really quick that I LOVED seeing the film in theaters with my two year old daughter, who absolutely loves it and still begs to watch it with me. It’s amazing how this movie will be as special to her as the original jurassic park was to me. Anyway, what makes this flick so great? The CGI dinosaurs(which were overused in my opinion with only one robotic dinosaur) look better than they ever have before. The colors and the movement of the velociraptors, which are portrayed with motion capture actors, are literally beautiful. And yet, despite the upgrades, they are completely faithful to the original 93 designs. I think this about all of the film’s creatures, but especially the raptors. In a sort of paradox, the special effects are to me both a good point and a bad point of the movie. Good because CGI has never looked better, but bad because of the lack of robotic creatures actually moving around in the frame. The robots in Jurassic Park still look better than the CGI in Jurassic World, albeit with less color and detail. Practical, real effects will always top digital effects, even 200 years(or 65,000,000) years from now. The next good point is the actors themselves. While not as memorable as Dr Grant, Dr Malcolm, or even Lex and Tim, Chris Pratt’s and Bryce Dallas Howard’s characters are portrayed in a very fun and convincing way. I’ve read that some people thought that their romance was bland and lacked depth, but I disagree. The actors and makers of this film never try to make this movie more than what it’s supposed to be. It’s not meant to be an Oscar winning drama or even a tear jerker(aside from the heartbreaking and ROBOTIC apatosaurus scene). It is meant to be a FUN movie about dinosaurs chasing people. However, that being said, there is actually quite a bit of depth to this picture, such as sticking close to Crichton’s nearly prophetic apprehension of the dangers involved with genetic engineering, the plot point that alludes to how audiences today aren’t “wowed” so much anymore(we have been spoiled by CGI), and the ability of Chris Pratt’s relationship with the raptors to actually convey genuine emotion to the viewer. Also, the pacing of the film is very well done, coming very close to the pacing and the tension of the original. This film is better than both of the prior jurassic sequels put together, and is an honorable homage and testament to Steven Spielberg’s original 1993 masterpiece. My mother actually cried when I saw it in theaters with her the first time. It really does bring you back to your childhood, and brings parents back to their now grown children’s youth(which will happen with me and my daughter in the future as well). So is there anything about this movie that I don’t like? Well, two things keep it from being quite as good as the original: the lack of robotic effects and the music. Yes, John Williams’ original score is still used to great effect, but the new music by Michael Giacchino doesn’t quite get to your heart like John Williams always can(jurassic park, Star Wars). Still well done music though. I guess that probably no one can ever capture the magic of John Williams’ original themes. Jurassic world is a movie that will, just like Jurassic Park, stand the test of time for decades to come. I rate it ten out of ten(MAYBE 9.5 because of my two problems with it). I guess that wraps up this grown up kid’s opinion, but if you want a HUGE spoiler, read on. If you don’t want the movie to be spoiled, you can stop right here with me saying that the last twenty minutes of the movie are pure cinema gold. Thanks for reading!(if you want the spoiler then scroll down)

Attempting to increase tourist attendance, the park’s geneticists combine the DNA of several different dinosaurs as well as a few modern animals together to create the Indominus Rex, an attraction guaranteed to “give the PARENTS nightmares”. It’s appearance, movement, and behavior truly make it like a devil out of hell. What’s amazing about it besides the fact that it looks cool and escaped from it’s enclosure is that in spite of being the film’a antagonist, it is still a character with which you can feel sympathy towards. It was raised in captivity all alone(although it did kill it’s sibling, so maybe the DNA combination just made it evil to begin with), so when it escapes it can only respond to it’s environment by killing everything that moves. After it kills a few helpless apatosaurus for sport, Hoskins and his INGEN military group come up with a plan to use Owen Grady’s(Chris Pratt) “trained” but still quite ferocious velociraptors(THEY ARE REALLY DEINONYCHUS!!!!!!) to track down and kill the abomination. Well, the thing is actually part raptor, so it communicates with the raptor posse and gets them to be on it’s own side against the humans. The three remaining raptors and indominus chase down Grady, Claire, zach, and Gray until they reach the park’s visitor center. The raptors decide that their real loyalties lie with their Alpha human, Owen Grady, and they proceed to trying to fight off the Indominus Rex, which is so reminiscent of the raptors jumping on the T. rex in the first Jurassic Park that it almost seems spiritual. As the brave raptors are being defeated, Gray tells Claire that they “need more teeth”. So she runs to the Tyrannosaur paddock, has fanboy Lowery open it from the control room, and leads the T. Rex to the indominus. There’s a great nod to Jurassic Park 3 here as the T. Rex crashes through a mounted Spinosaurus skeleton and charges the Indominus(T Rex RULES, not that sail backed fish eater). Unfortunately the long arms and thick hide of the Indominus give it the ability to outfight our kingly childhood hero. But not for long. For the last fifteen minutes or so the film has been able to put a huge grin on all the nineties kids’ faces. But from here on out, the audience can quite possibly laugh out loud for pleasure. In a sequence that really tugs on your heart and your memories, Blue, the last surviving raptor, comes to the tyrannosaur’s aid by pouncing on the Indominus. The down but certainly not out T. Rex then gets up and assists the raptor into driving the Indominus towards the water. Then something happens that I don’t think anyone expected, especially myself. The aquatic lizard Mosasaurus leaps out of the water, crashing on the Indominus where an electric fence once stood, and drags the monster down to a watery grave. Now comes the greatest moment in the whole movie. The t. Rex and the raptor stare each other down. Could another fight be brewing? No, for it seems that the two dinosaurs have made their peace that was so maligned in the first movie, and the animals now have a mutual respect for one another. The Rex walks away, king of the island. exactly how we all wanted it. image

imageConjecture. Speculation. Educated guesses. These words describe the plague (and also the fun) that befalls the science of vertebrate paleontology, the study of extinct life forms that possessed backbones. To me, and to many other children trapped inside the bodies of grown men and women, the most exciting and marvelous of these extinct groups is the Dinosauria. Watching films such as Jurassic world and documentaries such as Walking with dinosaurs, you would think that scientists knew a great deal about these giants that walked the earth(and still fly the earth in the form of birds) much longer than modern man has. But paleontologists have really only scratched the surface. The fact is, all we know about the extinct forms within the dinosaur class is what their bones tell us, and those bones can’t tell us what they sounded like, how they were colored(usually) or how intelligent they were as animals(the encephalation quotient – brain size to body size ratio – is a joke to me. Lots of animals show surprising intelligence with a low EQ, such as green anoles and monitor lizards). Furthermore, a lot of what scientists theorize about dinosaurs is in a state of constant change. Megalosaurus was once thought to walk on four legs. T. Rex was originally depicted with a dragging tail. Velociraptor wasn’t thought to have feathers. Oviraptor was thought to be an egg eater, when in fact the eggs discovered under it’s skeleton were proven to be it’s own offspring and not it’s meal. These are only a few theories and speculations that have changed over the years. And with new skeletons discovered practically weekly, the theories are sure to parallel evolution itself in terms of growth and change. One theory has pretty much stayed constant however: the idea of dinosaurs living and moving together in massive herds that outnumber the African buffalo and other animals. This theory in particular interests me, and it is the topic of this article. But which species were social and which were not? Just the herbivores like the sauropods? Or carnivores like the tyrannosaurs? Or could ALL dinosaurs have been social animals? Let’s review the evidence(admittedly mostly circumstantial and ambiguous, as usual with dinosaurs). When dinosaurs were first seriously studied in the 19th century, the original consensus put forth by Sir RichardOwen of fast moving, successful creatures was the common opinion regarding these majestic creatures. But, like the spikes on a business graph, this theory was dropped in the early 20th century in favor of the portrayal of dinosaurs as slow, dim witted, lethargic beasts that either sat all day under trees and in lakes like breathing carcasses, or nasty, putrid, vile monsters whose brains only permitted the function of instinct for killing prey. Of course, this spike on the graph dropped off too and was replaced by the original view when scientists like Bob Bakker and John Ostrom ushered in the Dinosaur Renaissance and proved that dinosaurs were not only warm blooded and quick, but were also attentive and possibly intelligent parents(John Horner’s Maiasaura discovery was a wonderful example of this). Dinosaurs like the sauropods and hadrosaurs were being discovered brooding their eggs like theirs modern day feathery descendants. Even some carnivores like Oviraptor and the troodonts were found nesting like attentive parents. For the herding animals, such as Maiasaura(name means “good mother lizard”), it seemed obvious that the babies were cared for by the mother and then remained in the herd as part of the family as they grew. Others, like the sauropods, were theorized to abandon their eggs like sea turtles. But that too is just a theory, unlike the obvious nesting and parenting behavior in Maiasaura. Dinosaurs were quickly catching the public’s eye as very complex animals akin to modern birds and mammals. One of the most important finds and also one of the earliest in the dinosaur renaissance was Deinonychus(the raptors of Jurassic World and Park are actually deinonychus. The name Velociraptor was based on a taxonomical error that placed deinonychus under the genus Velociraptor, which actually was much smaller and lived in Mongolia). This creature was a key factor to the dinosaur renaissance’s depiction of dinosaurs as active, endothermic creatures. Strong jaws with nasty teeth, meat hook claws on it’s hands and feet, long legs for sprinting, and a compact but powerfully built body made this dinosaur one of the most rapacious to ever live. Since it’s original discovery, other excavations have shown that they preyed upon tenontosaurus, a rather large ornithopod compared to the raptors themselves. The first, discovered in the Yale Quarry in the Cloverly of Montana, contained four adult raptors and one juvenile (which to me suggests family groups, but we will get to that later) clustered around one tenontosaurus, their apparent kill. The second discovery was in the Antlers Formation of Oklahoma, with six partial tenontosaurs and one partial raptor. These finds, coupled with the small size and build of deinonychus(reminiscent of wild wolves or hyenas), suggest pack hunting behavior, for one deinonychus certainly wasn’t strong enough to take down a multi ton herbivore on it’s own. For a long time, pack hunting among the raptors and even a social and predatory hierarchy(though if it existed, the structure cannot be known) was accepted as fact. Recently however, some scientists have suggested that deinonychus and other dromaeosaurs(all raptors) only gathered together around large dead animals to partake In a random, orderless feeding frenzy akin to Komodo dragons and crocodiles. Though the evidence for pack behavior is admittedly ambiguous, I disagree with the feeding frenzy theory. Dinosaurs are birds. They are the same thing. And raptors were among the closest in form and presumably behavior to the birds we have today. And what do birds do? Usually they travel in flocks(though I admit there are a few solitary species). Other dinosaurs, specifically herbivores like sauropods and hadrosaurine ornithopods, have pretty much been proven to live together and raise their young(perhaps so for sauropods, perhaps not, but the hadrosaurs were definitely present parents) in massive herds. Since all dinosaurs, including birds, evolved from a common ancestor, and since one of the earliest dinosaurs, coelophysis, have been found together in groups numbering well over a hundred, is it too bold to hazard a guess that ALL dinosaurs(or at least most) lived in herds/packs/families ALL of the time? Sure, scientists can say the coelophysis find was just like the raptor finds and that the animals were only together randomly searching for water or food before they died, but then why did the dinosaurs flourish after the Triassic period? During the Triassic, dinosaurs were the underdogs, just like our ancestors were the underdogs during the end of the Mesosoic Era. They were much smaller than all the animals around them, and they were far from the top of the food chain. But perhaps family hierarchy from coelophysis down millions of years to the Cretaceous raptors is the reason the Dinosauria flourished as the most successful animals to ever exist(face it:after insects and plants, no other form of life has been able to hold a candle to the success of the terrible lizards, not even man himself). Furthermore, if we use the efficiency required in evolution(survival of the fittest) as a frame of reference, raptors and other small meat eaters had bodies that would be most efficient for cooperative hunting(and even everyday living) behavior. In the words of world renown Dino-hunter Robert Bakker, “the life of dinosaurian hunters was hard. Most skeletons we excavate have clear marks of old wounds. To survive and raise their young, the predators needed more than sharp teeth and strong claws. They needed social bonds.” Further support for dinosaur social structure are footprints found in the Shandong province of China. The tracks are of another dromaeosaurid(raptor) dinosaur species, Dromaeopodus shandongensis, with six separate individuals walking together in the same direction at the same time. Pack hunters? Family groups? I believe so. What could be more terrifying than a troop of raptors poised to attack? Nothing, except a pack of perhaps even more efficient and much larger predators: the tyrant dinosaurs. With eyes facing forward for excellent binocular vision, long, powerful legs built for short sprints, a weight of seven tons, and the strongest jaws and teeth of any predator in earth’s history, Tyrannosaurs Rex and it’s relatives were the apex of dinosaur predators. One would be terrifying enough, but what about ten? It just might have been possible, as demonstrated by a recent find. Richard McCrea from the Peace Region Paleontology Research Center In British Columbia led a team that discovered a similar trackway to the Chinese dromaeosaurs, except that these were made by tyrannosaurs, three of them to be precise. Moving in the same direction, imprinted at the same time. Social, much? However, if all dinosaurs, including tyrannosaurids and raptors, lived together in groups, the predators were not above attacking and cannibalizing each other during “family squabbles” similar to modern day lions. There are many tyrannosaur skeletons with healed bite marks matching those of other tyrannosaurs. Velociraptor, the Mongolian cousin of Deinonychus(remember when you see Jurassic World that those raptors are actually Deinonychus, though the true velociraptors were probably just as fearsome, albeit smaller) also presumably attacked each other. One skeleton shows bite marks on the skull from another raptor, although I think that this unfortunate individual did not actually survive the fight. To quote Bakker again, “Top predators are the most quarrelsome, cannibalistic category in the ecosystem. It’s impossible that these tyrannosaurs would clump together in a common cause unless they were sharing genes.” So some wounds on these animals may have been from family squabbles, and more serious and even fatal ones may have been caused by members from another pack(this is perhaps too fantastic, but just imagine a bloody war between two groups of tyrannosaurs or two groups of raptors over territory or food. Part of me wants to be there, and part of me doesnt. The sane part.). In conclusion, I personally imagine that almost all of the dinosaur genera lived together in families and were never, if rarely, solitary. But of course, this is just a theory, held by many real paleontologists(and I hope they do not read this article, for this amateur Dino thinker would be laughed at), and theories will always be subject to change. Comments left for discussion will be greatly appreciated. Keep on thinking! -Shane