Sunday, 31 May 2009

Hawkins' First Hadrosaur

(originally posted on myspace here)

 

 DO NOT WATCH THIS:

 
 
 I wish Hesketh would get a shift on and forward me that strand of a hundred insults because "Jesusophile", as he terms himself here, lacks them all. Lack. Exactly. It's a lack. He should have them because it's a lack. (Sorry, you'll only get that if you've seen the video, which you mustn't). Videogum drew this Shitwizard to my attention after he posted an argument for the okayness of inflicting pain on women during sex. Someone else then posted a video where he demonstrated AIDS passing through a condom with some off milk and a strainer, at which point I smelt a rat and went and did my own research. It was the interview above that convinced me he was actually for real. Except he isn't. It says so on his youtube channel. Oh curse you, Internet. "You obviously have no idea how evolution works."
"People always tell me this. It's such a weak argument." Okay so he doesn't exist, and he's Dutch, but I didn't know that three hours ago when I had to walk him off, and a good thing too, it was a beautiful day and I ended up at the Natural History Museum. Passing the animatronic T Rex I was struck for the very first time by how bare not only he but most of the other reconstructions seemed to be, and became thrilled by the idea that dinosaurs had once been covered in feathers, not a new idea I know but one it became impossible to shift. Every animatronic now seemed very obviously plucked, and how would we know? I thought of those brilliant medieval bestiaries in which geese grew on trees and all that's known or cared about the crocodile is that it weeps after eating a man.

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("Meh, that's a crocodile, yeah it'll do. Might have got the wings the wrong colour but sod it, it's a naturally occurring allegory, no need to sweat the details.") And I passed an illustration of a T Rex sinking its teeth into a hadrosaur and thought - Yes, if we've got that wrong, then that's exactly how we get it wrong: Take what we know about something and paint it killing something else. And for the first time since I was probably ten I yearned to visit the Cretaceous period and find out what it was actually like, which was GREAT because until that point all those post-Jurassic-Park, CGI "reconstructions" had pretty much seen off my childlike di-curiosity. But THIS, seeing the bones, remembering how wrong we might have got it, gazing at a scene of antlered hadrosaurs gathering at the water-hole, all this suddenly made me want once again to see not a clone, but THAT SCENE. I wanted a time machine. I wanted to step out of a time machine and see a T Rex at dusk trailing feathers like a peacock and scavenging some long-dead carcass while the hadrosaurs were left to butt heads in peace. Bliss.

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One of the best things about my stay in Crystal Palace was that the train pulled up right next to Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins' placid - downright pekinese - dinosaur enclosure. Googling "hadrosaur" I found an illustration of Hawkins in his studio in New York working on new wonders. Yes, New York: Apparently there was going to be a Paleozoic Museum bang in the center of Central Park until the evil Boss Tweed broke all the molds. You can read about it here, lots of nice pictures... Now when I used to work at Quinto's the second-hand bookshop - sorry if I've already told you this - there was this anti-semitic, ghastly-headed twenty-something, Joe, a bright and polite former monk with some very bad ideas. Among these was that "the Passion of the Christ" was "accurate", and that the world was six thousand years old. I took him up on this, and heard his thoughts on dinosaurs. They'd drowned in the forty days of rain caused by the bursting of Earth's original meniscus, an ozone layer of water that made all carbon dating useless. He believed in evolution and "Survival of the Fittest" but when pressed had no explanation for coal, or caves or tectonic plates. Shortly afterwards he was dismissed following a chat with our Spanish manager about Franco. But if ever you meet a creationist don't raise the subject of dinosaurs. Surprise them with coal, or stalactites. I mention Joe here merely to explain my gullibility in the face of Jesusophile, and I post Jesusophile's video up even though he doesn't exist, and isn't funny, because this is the internet and I'm an atheist and it appears that that's what we do, we like to make ourselves mad.

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Finally here's something I wrote for "Money", which fits fine here:

'I want to show you something. I want to show you what we will look like in 200 thousand years time. And before I do remember, survival of the fittest does not mean survival of the best at running. It means, or did mean – “Who fits here? They can stay”. Okay. Behold. The man of 200 thousand years time...
And they say variety is dead. And they’re right. Because – look around, look – we didn’t adapt to this. We adapted it. Evolution can stop now.
Variety is dead.
It’s “Where fits us?” now, not  “Who fits here?” Where fits us can stay. And the rest, the deserts, the tundra, the bits with snakes, they go. And on their remains will be built a city without frontiers.
And it will be very expensive.
But we’ll be able to afford it.
That’s the other thing about the future. We’ll obviously all be able to afford it. Something to do with technology. Thank you, man of the future.'

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(Man of the Future comes courtesy Paleo-Future, another cracking source of odd and ahh.)

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