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GRAWR! Dinosaurs As They Never Were

Frustrated by disappointing dinosaur facts, one blogger decides to create some of his own

A reconstruction of Utahraptor at the Museum of Ancient Life. The Utahraptor #GRAWR joke has been the most popular of the lot so far. Photo by the author.

Ed Yong has had enough. Although he and I have been blogger buddies for years, Ed can no longer stand by and let me ruin cherished images of prehistoric life with what he calls “tawdry ‘facts.’” Yesterday’s post about how the giant bird Gastornis wasn’t as fierce as previously believed was the last straw.

In retaliation Ed created a Twitter list of facts about dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals as they should have been, no facts required. Ed’s first suggestion? “Dimetrodon sails absorbed energy that could be redirected into its laser-eyes.”

Others quickly jumped in with their own preferred visions of prehistoric life. The list is the silliest, most sensational, and fun list of details about fossil creatures I have ever seen. Even the bottom-of-the-barrel rubbish that shows up on the History Channel would have to try hard to reach this level of wild speculation. And even I couldn’t resist throwing a few ideas into the mix.

Of course, I still believe that dinosaurs as they actually were—without laser eyes, superpowers and the like—were still absolutely spectacular. Had we not known of their existence, I don’t think we could have imagined them. Who would have guessed that creatures like Kosmoceratops, Balaur, Concavenator, Nigersaurus, Parasaurolophus, Gastonia and even Tyrannosaurus ever existed without the efforts of paleontologists to discover and understand the world before our own time? The #GRAWR list shows that we’re great at augmenting dinosaurs that we already know about, but I think the quirks and contingencies of evolution are going to beat us every time when it comes to originality. And to think that most of the dinosaur species that ever lived have not yet been discovered….

I’ve listed out some of my favorite bits of fun dinosaurian speculation from the #GRAWR meme on Chirpstory. Feel free to join in if you’re on Twitter (use the #GRAWR hashtag at the end of your tweet), and if there are paleo-artists out there who want to bring these ideas to life please send your art to dinosaursightings@gmail.com.

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About Brian Switek
Brian Switek

Brian Switek is a freelance science writer specializing in evolution, paleontology, and natural history. He writes regularly for National Geographic's Phenomena blog as Laelaps.

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