The bulk of my dinosaur education (outside of Dinosaur Train on PBS) came in the 1980s. I learned the five primary dinosaurs: Brontosaurus, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus Rex, and Terodactyl (which is correctly spelled Pterodactyl with a silent P). There were other dinosaurs, I guess, but none that stuck with me.
Recently in the 2000s (the time-period formerly known as the future) I’ve come to understand there are hundreds of dinosaurs. Furthermore, the brontosaurus isn’t real. You know, the brontosaurus (aka The Thunder Lizard) that plodding giant of yore.
The bronto, it turns out, was a paleontological bone matching mix-up – back in the late 1800s the Western US saw a race to dig up new dino fossils. It was really tense. Explosive even. In scientific haste, fossils from different dinos were falsely paired together. The mistake stuck for a long time.
Even longer for some like me. It was tough, in my mid-thirties, hearing that the brontosaurus wasn’t real. A child told me this none-the-less. I quickly stopped him before he shattered any of my remaining youthful innocence
Given some time, though, I’ve come to embrace this dinosaur making-up of names and such. Pretty much stick a couple syllables before “oSaurus” and you have a name. Let’s give a whirl:
The real fun though is in the Sideshow, carnival barking, stroll down the Midway, also known as names. Like Thunder Lizard (our fictional bronto friend) or Tyrant Lizard (t-rex), even Roof Lizard (stegosaurus). Sure, roof lizard is a bit lame, but you get the idea. Just stick a word or two before Lizard and you’re in business:
Can’t you just hear the showman put his lips to the megaphone, calling out to the cotton-candy eating townies:
“Here it is folks, the show you’ve heard so much about. The show your neighbors talk about, the show your relatives write you about. It’s all here and it’s free folks. Free for the wee ones, free for the tall ones, and free for all those in between.
“Step up close now and get a view of the real excitement. We have the Thunder Lizard, car-crushing, earth rumbling, fear inducing beast from the dawn of time.
“Children, Parents, and Grand Folks. Friends and strangers. Come close, gather round here. Take a look at the Tyrant Lizard! King of the ancient lords. With jaws of steel, bones of iron, and they say folks . . . they say,” as his voice drops to a whisper, “he can even breathe fire.
“Inside this very tent. Right here today only see these terrible beasts of old. Thunder Lizard! Emperor Lizard! The Three Horned Brute! Scaled Monsters! Starting in just minutes. Buy your tickets now folks.”