The current live show in Southern California called Walking With Dinosaurs reflects astonishing technical mastery and blends science with art. Watching the TV series on the subject reminded me that while animals have been a big part of my life in one way or another, I’m glad I’ve avoided some creatures, especially the prehistoric kind. Cowardly? You bet!
For example, much as I’d love to visit Australia, I’m grateful I don’t actually live where prehistoric crocodiles are commonplace in certain states, like Queensland. Please don’t tell me we have their alligator cousins in Florida and along the Gulf Coast. I know that and have no interest in taking up residence there either. Yes, I’m chicken.
I also know we have reclusive American crocodiles in Florida. The scientists are welcome to trail and study those. There are small caimans in Central and South America with just a few at the very tip of Florida. Those little guys can’t take colder weather and that’s fine with me, too. I’ll watch them in movies.
Even in my dreams, I don’t relish being chased down the congested 405 or 5 freeways by a Brachiosaurus trying to munch on the saplings I just bought at the nursery. There is something quite off-putting about having any prehistoric animals living today, even as relatively harmless as some smaller reptiles are.
Important: Not all small reptiles are harmless. Beware the somewhat belligerent snapping turtle!
When I had early childhood aspirations of becoming a naturalist, some life forms were not on my list of favorites!
While scientists now claim they can bring long-extinct species like Woolly Mammoths back to life from DNA samples, I hope they don’t. (Can T. Rex and Smilodon be far behind?) For one thing, the huge creatures would disrupt our fragile environment. In any case, scientists reap unexpected rewards when they don’t use the best judgement of which they’re capable.
As far as bringing back the woolly mammoth, we can’t even protect our beloved elephants against poachers. Elephants are being murdered by the thousands EVERY YEAR and any survivors grieve for months, if not years. It is utterly heartbreaking, as is the slaughter of rhinos, even in heavily guarded national parks in Kenya and elsewhere. There would be little chance of keeping another determined clod away from a woolly mammoth clone. Protecting Dolly, the cloned sheep in Scotland was difficult enough.
Bringing back species that humanity itself has made extinct is another matter altogether. I fear we are too late, having destroyed their habitat in our voracious appetite to build more and bigger cracker box housing tracts and humongous mansions.
I can enjoy looking at illustrated books about dinosaurs, saber-tooth cats, pterodactyls and the like. I‘ve even visited the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, as well as Dinosaur National Monument near Vernal, Utah. Detailed reconstructed skeletons are educational and beyond fascinating. Caveat: No unwilling child should be forced to stare at them, unless parents are willing to soothe nightmares for months to come.
I look forward to meeting Pete and his Dragon. But I’m hoping Pete’s Dinosaur is off to another universe to start things all over again. I’m glad prehistoric animals are mostly gone from our world.