A Tale of Distant Relations
A Consideration of Abbreviations
Once there lived the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex. King of all the dinosaurs. The beast who made up for the smallness of his arms with the doubled ferocity of his ripping bite.
Or so we assume. Scientists are hard at work figuring out all the details; there’s a lot still to learn.
How about a century ago when there was even more to learn? That’s when the Tyrannosaurus Rex was named by those with a flair for the dramatic, the Tyrant Lizard. His cohorts? The triceratops, stegosaurus, brontosaurus, and all the other sauruses? They were called the Thunder Lizards.
Let it be know that I am not a paleontologist. I’m a story-teller, sometimes world-builder. And I love the idea of Thunder Lizards, of the Tyrant Lizard. All of it has a tall-taleish ring to it; like Paul Bunyan as his ox. Once they may have been “just” a real man and beast, but as their story was told and told again they became something much larger. Their story retold and retold again until Paul stood a quarter mile tall. His gate so long and his footfalls so heavy that they created the ten-thousand lakes of Minnesota. Ax slug over his shoulder, his now blue ox babe, equally large, roaming across, and taming, the American wilderness.
A man so large he creates a lake with every step!
That’s the way to spin a tale!
Behold! The Tyrant Lizard! The unstoppable flesh-and-bones monster who ruled the diluvian lands for millennia heaped upon millennia. The beast who disliked passivity as much as he disliked the shortening of names.
The Tyrannosaurus Rex, thank you very much. This sounds more like a showman than a scientist. So as long as it’s a showman speaking, let him speak!
The singular dinosaur that grew in stature with the turn of every eon, until he stood a half-mile high. A well timed jump propelled the animal over erupting volcanoes! His roar carried across continents! The other Thunder Lizards trembled at the notion of his coming.
Tyrannosaurus Rex! The king of dinosaurs!
The king of all dinosaurs until there were dinosaurs no more.
Gone. And no one knows why. Perhaps an asteroid even more powerful than the Tyrant Lizard itself?
If you can believe that.
And for tens of millions of years (for which those bent on the long view – mainly stars and their like – remind us is only a short time cosmically speaking), existence saw no living dinosaur. Their remains replaced by stone, buried under the earth. Waiting for some other being to resurrect their memory.
But now there can be no mistaking it. Genuine scientists were at work here. Using elaborate calculations and whizz-bang contraptions they completed labors only capable of learned-individuals. From the forgotten void, they began to pull together the history of existence.
And then quite recently, while piecing together that history, we learned that a dinosaur still walked with us. The towering Tyrant Lizard that stood a half mile high? No. Then, the real animal that stood as tall as three men?! Sorry. It was his distant relation though.
But think not of the barnyard bird, pecking in the dirt, foil of so many crossing jokes. Instead think of it as the feathered cousin of the feared T-Rex. The member of the family who has successfully shunned abbreviation and the pedestrian C-Fowl.
Behold the Mighty Chicken!
So tall it looks down on the tops of silos! A beak so sharp it cuts down great sequoias with a single slash! A body so large it casts a shadow clear to the next county! A crow so loud that on a still evening it’s reverberation carries clear across three states!
Oh chicken. Humble bird no more are you! Instead the progeny of the fieriest brute to ever tremble the earth.
Survivor of the aristocratic line of the Tyrant Lizard, King of the Thunder Lizards. Chicken is not even suitable. Perhaps, Tyrant Fowl? Or, Beaked Brute-Bird? Certainly it’s Lord of the Barnyard! Undoubtedly, Master of the Fertile Lands!
So if you pine for the good old days, as it were, the Pliocene, etc, then take heart when you spy a chicken. Know that no one (or thing) is ever truly gone if we keep them in our hearts.
So for those of you who are curious:
A small bit of T-Rex protein was recovered from a 68 million year old fossil. The surviving protein was molecularly analyzed and compared to 21 living animals. The chicken matched most closely, which corroborates the dinosaur-bird ancestral hypothesis. The dinosaur and modern bird also share a number of skeletal similarities. However, there are skeptics who question whether the protein is from the dinosaur or cross contamination. Also in question is whether the small amount of recovered protein is a large enough sample to yield valid results.
But like I said, I’m a storyteller, a dreamer. A small protein sample is enough for me. When I look at a chicken now, I imagine that towering Tyrant Lizard of long lost eons.
Read more here: https://www.ncsu.edu/bulletin/archive/2008/04/04-30/dino.php
And for a bit of chicken real life that reads like a tall tale, consider Mike the Headless Chicken: http://www.miketheheadlesschicken.org/mike/page/history