Any dinosaur obsessed school kid knew that in One Million Years B.C. Raquel Welch was chased by an allosaurus and not a tyrannosaurus, though by the time that kid was in high school the genus of the dinosaur mattered less than the topography the dinosaur was chasing. But allosauruses had bigger arms than those silly things dangling from the upper torso of Spielberg’s (and artist/designer Crash McCreery’s) tyrannosaurus, not that you’d notice if you were Jeff Goldblum. But had it truly been a Jurassic Park, it would’ve been an allosaurus ignoring Goldblum’s jokes. The allosaurus was the iconic apex predator of the Jurassic Age, the eater of the brontosaurus, going back easily 150 million years, whereas T Rex was the apex predator of the Cretaceous period, a mere 70 or 80 million years ago. As I watched the movie that occurred to me, but for once I shut up.
Anyway they found a new allosaurus. Groovy.
A Late Jurassic allosaurus (named Gwangi) beautifully rendered by Ray Harryhausen for The Valley of Gwangi (1969) battling an unnamed Cretaceous styracosaurus. Again with the paleontological discongruities. Also, cowboys.
A thirty plus ton meteorite dug up in Argentina. A larger one had been dug up nearby some time ago. The area is spattered with numerous other craters. Here’s the scary part—apparently both the two ginormous meteorites and the other craters were from the same meteor shower that freaked the locals out of their ever loving minds between 4200 and 4700 years ago, or in the parlance of the press, about the time of the Great Pyramids. (Everything is either older than or the same age as the Pyramids in the news.) Allow yourself a moment to consider the modern possibilities of such a meteor shower. Yes, one could hit Trump. But it could hit the San Fernando Valley too.
Just for comparison, they dug up an 66 ton meteorite in Namibia a century ago that smacked into the Kalahari 80,000 years ago. Again, a mind fuck for the locals, whoever they were then. One wonders, if it were seen, how they conceptualized it. How they discussed it. If they painted it on cave walls in ochre, as they seemed to have been doing not far off not long afterward. If they were even there at all.
But I digress.
The Namibian meteorite (since called the Hoba) is a rough square about nine by nine feet and three feet high. Halve that mass for each of the two Argentine. On the other hand, the megameterorite—an asteroid, perhaps a comet—that whomped into the Gulf of Mexico and zapped all the dinosaurs but birds into the cornfield was from seven to fifty miles in diameter. At that high end you could have wrapped the entire San Fernando Valley around it, with a little squeezing here and stretching there, like some weird Arthur C. Clarke novel, just as a thought experiment. Or you could forget you read that sentence. You could put that Hoba meteorite in my living room and still have room for the Christmas tree.
Considering the perfect math of objects orbiting the sun, some of the millions of asteroids in the solar system, some as big or bigger as the dinosaur whomper, are bound to touch, smack or whomp the earth again, many, many times.
I prefer not to think about it.
But dinosaurs didn’t die out. The finch peeping incessantly outside the window right now is a real live annoying little fuck of a dinosaur and is not extinct. Nor was the chicken you ate last night. Well, that particular chicken is extinct, but not the entirety of chickenness. However, non-avian dinosaurs died out–duck billed whatevers and spiky triceratops and clunky ankylosaurs and vast and bulbous titanosaurs. They all went poof instantly or not long after the meteor hit and volcanos belched. As did soaring pterosaurs and swimming mosasaurs and paddling plesiosaurs. Even polyglyphanodonts went extinct at the end of the cretaceous. True, they were only lizards, maybe three feet long and not the least bit scary, but I only posted this so I could say polyglyphanodont. Polyglyphanodont. Polyglyphanodont. Polyglyphanodont. Too much fun.