A Mesozoic Proposal: Making Dinosaurs Relevant Again

Alright I have to ask the most important question, but first let me point something out:

Dinosaurs ruled the Earth for around 200 times longer than we have. They came in all shapes and sizes and survived in every type of environment. Some were as big as a Boeing 747, and some could fit into the palm of your hand. They shared our planet with some of the largest and most fascinating marine creatures to ever swim the oceans, while incredible flying reptiles glided through the skies above.

So that brings us back to my question:

Why do we have to suffer through the 500 trillionth zombie apocalypse movie or TV show when there’s literally 200 million years of awesome dinosaurs to pull from?

To be fair we have the Jurassic Park/World films and there’s been a few shows and games throughout the last few years, but they aren’t as mainstream as current creature features like zombies, demons, and ghosts. I want to see that change.

Honestly I think the main reason we don’t see dinosaurs used much is that they tend to be misrepresented as terrible monsters and yet, paradoxically, somehow are perceived as only something for kids.

If you know me, have listened to the podcast, or have read this feature, you know that I love dinosaurs and always have. They are just fascinating to me and represent a time when the Earth may as well have been another planet. I follow every scientific discovery that is made about them (they had feathers folks, deal with it) and have on more than one occasion schemed to do some of my own paleontology. I just love ’em.

dakotaraptor-dinosaur-featured-730x422
Dakotaraptor by Emily W.

I’ve said that we just don’t know how to make dinosaurs work in a story, but I’ve got some ideas I want to share. I’ve thought about this for years and it would be amazing to see and experience with others.

My dream dinosaur show, or even movie series, would involve our world integrating with the Mesozoic (the age of the dinosaurs), and yes I know it sounds corny but hear me out. Besides the smashing of two different times, I think it would be a neat opportunity to make yet another post apocalyptic style show, but with some of the most awe-inspiring creatures to ever walk the earth instead of living corpses.

Think about it: You could even have the typical “Humans are the real monsters here” nihilistic stuff that everyone seems to love but instead of a weak allegory about consumerism or conformity with shambling ghouls (“WE are the walking dead!” So profound!), the show could have dinosaurs and the completely different Earth be a new and interesting backdrop. Something like: “a new start for mankind, but we don’t belong here.”

It doesn’t really need to explain how we got into that situation. It’s possible for the show to present the how and why as some kind of TV’s LOST type mystery, but in my opinion there’s never any way to explain that kind of thing in a satisfying way.

And yes I’m aware of of Fox’s Terra Nova TV series. It was a neat show and I’m genuinely sad that it was cancelled. I’m not proposing anything like that however. I see this more as a serious drama kind of thing on a premium network. Genre shows like HBO’s Westworld and Game of Thrones are hugely popular and this idea could maybe fill a similar niche.

terra_lede_a
Fox’s Terra Nova

Imagine the difficulties our civilization would face if we all got slammed backward in time and had to survive a world that would be completely alien to us. We wouldn’t have a known food supply, transit system, or basic infrastructure. We’d have to literally start over when we definitely were never evolved to survive in that epoch.

Dinosaurs were just animals. They weren’t monsters like pop culture likes to portray them. Yeah Jurassic Park was a really cool ride but creatures like Velociraptors more than likely didn’t act and look that way (more on that in a minute). This could be a really neat opportunity to show of the unique and genuinely weird ways dinosaurs were scientifically theorized to operate.

The diversity of life back then was staggering. We’ve only discovered and cataloged around 1100 different species of dinosaur, though classifications change all the time. The point is we’ll never know how many there actually were, due to a variety of factors. Things like fossilization, geography, geology and so on.

We could essentially create entirely new creatures for this project. In addition to that, this could be a great time to really show how dinosaurs actually were. At least as far as we can theorize anyway. Have dinosaurs represented as we understand them now. Raptors with feathers, sauropods with elaborate color patterns, nesting habits of hadrosaurs and so on.

Alright so let’s lay it all out. Bear in mind that I don’t have any ideas for characters, but it goes without saying that this would involve a lot of well acted drama. Here goes:

allosaurus_fragilis_by_themorlock-d5yu2cj
‘Allosaurus fragilis’ by TheMorlock, DeviantArt

-Our civilization gets blasted back in time. There’s a lot of potential time periods to be sent back to. The late Jurassic period has some really amazing creatures that don’t get a lot of love like Allosaurus and Camarasaurus. Or it would be more marketable to have it be the Cretaceous period. There’s a lot more recognizable dinosaurs there with Tyrannosaurus Rex and the various Dromeosaurids (Raptors). Something like that. The times merge. Maybe we know why, maybe that’s the mystery, maybe it doesn’t matter.

-Just incredible societal upheaval that would result from this. A whole lotta drama there. People would definitely split into groups, and use anything they could to get ahead of others. Viewers seem to love this kind of drama in shows like AMC’s The Walking Dead, and it can be very compelling.

-Rebuild society in a harsh and alien world, while dealing with the challenges that dinosaurs would bring. Could they be used like we used beasts of burden before modern farming equipment and such? Could you train a Tyrannosaurus? Would the environment be difficult for us to adapt to without the whole dinos thing?

This is all very basic and I could go on. I’d even be willing to write some kind of short story series about all this. So let me know what you think.

vscEr3V
Dinotopia

Besides Terra Nova, there’s been a few other properties to toy with this idea. James Gurney’s illustrated book series, Dinotopia, imagines an isolated island where a society of dinosaurs survived the KT extinction and have made a civilization with generations of shipwrecked humans. So this all isn’t without precedent.

I know this is all very “Sci-Fi channel original” kind of stuff, but as a fan of dinosaurs I really would love to see them get the attention and representation they deserve.

Maybe we could open our imaginations and take a step back into time to a fascinating world ruled by the greatest creatures to ever walk the planet.

 

 

Feature image credit: James Gurney

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s