Friday, December 7, 2012

Remember the Alamosaurus

I have now lived in Dallas so long that nobody asks anymore, "Why Dallas?" Which is a shame, because it is only this week I realized the correct answer is: "We have our own Dinosaur."

If I was really in a mood, I would continue. "That's right, we have amateur fossil finders, and they wander around construction sites, and, with one vertebra plucked from the earth, discover an extinct line of land-dwelling lizards that went back to aquatic living." I like to think I would be wagging one finger as I said this. I'm sure my face would distort. I might punch the air in righteousness.

And you might try to dismiss this. You might call it evolution moving backwards. You might scoff at the eel-like body long as a baseball bat and say, "Dallasaurus? Why don't you move to Utahraptor or Malawisaurus?" But I would be ready for you.

"You want big?" I would say. "You want majestic?" And I would tell you about Alamosaurus, about its whip-like tail, about its neck bones with the long pencil-thin tapers off each vertebra, about how its skeleton towers over the T. rex skeleton. I would tell you about vertebrae in the spine so big they had to be removed by HELICOPTER, how they rest on the museum floor like slabs of concrete, hulking and grey. And you would understand all that. You would concede. And you wouldn't ask again, because you would remember.

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