Come on, admit it, we all love them.
Our children wear clothes emblazoned with them, and carry around little plastic ones that they use to hit each other with. They stand in front of the television and demand to watch endless repeats of Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures on CBeebies. They collect them in cereal packets, dance to big purple ones called Barney on American TV and gawp at the real thing on show in the Natural History Museum. Even as adults, we revel in the words triceratops and velociraptor, even when we aren’t entirely sure what they are or even if they are were a real thing.
We all know, of course, the story of how they died out; how 65 million years ago a meteor hit the Earth off the coast of what is now Mexico; but what if things had been different? What if the Chicxulub impact had never happened, and instead of the demise of the dinosaurs and the rise of mammals as the dominant species, the dinosaurs had continued to flourish? The end result, I think, could have been something like this…..
Costa Coffee, somewhere in the UK. Four dinosaurs are at the table,drinking their Mummy-lattes and gossiping about life as a new mum.
Velociraptor: “Do you like my new shoes? I got them in the Next sale.”
Triceratops: “Ooh, they’re lovely. I must get a pair like that. Actually, well, is it a good idea to be wearing heels like those when you’re carrying your baby in a sling? I mean, you might fall over or something. Don’t get me wrong, I mean, like, your heels are fab-u-lous dahling, but you can’t be too careful once you’ve got a little one, can you?
Diplodocus: I’m surprised you’ve got time to go to shopping actually. What I wouldn’t give for an hour or two to myself. You must have LOADS of free time if you managed to get to the Next sale. Our days are taken up entirely with swimming lessons. What with our family holiday to the USA next month, you just can’t be too careful with the Western Interior Seaway covering most of the country. I couldn’t live with myself if anything happened to Little Dipper. And then on Wednesdays we’ve got dino-sensory. How can I expect her to find her own leaves to eat someday if she isn’t exposed to the feel of a branch on her face from infancy? Mr Diplo and I have been fanning her with trees these last few weeks to get her used to the feel of a windy branch, but it’s just not enough for her to learn these skills at home.
Tyrannosaurus Regina (sic): That’s why I’ve enrolled Mini-T in nursery twice a week. It’ll help with his social skills.
Diplodocus: Social skills? I’m not sure that your lot are known for your…..
Tyrannosaurus: What are you about to say? (bares teeth)
Diplodocus: I didn’t mean anything by that (swishes enormous tail, knocking over a family of smaller dinosaurs at a nearby table in the process). Anyway, I’ve got an appointment at the beauticians later.
Velociraptor: Having your scales polished?
Diplodocus: Yes. I just don’t know how some mums do it, doing the school run in their pyjamas. I couldn’t personally. You’ve got to have a bit of pride. Even when things are falling apart at home, I make sure I’ve got my scales polished, my tail is neat and tidy and I’ve got my lippy on.
Tyrannosaurus: I know what you mean. Mr T-Rex and I have standards. It’s like in the house, we pride ourselves on being the kings and queens of dinosaurs. Got to live up to the name, you know. The kids might be running riot and going around taking bites out of smaller dinosaurs, but the house is always tidy. I make sure there’s not a carcass to be seen by the time Mr T gets home.
Triceratops: You might have a tidy house, but I hear that you were out hunting with Mr T all through your pregnancy.
Diplodocus: Really? I sat on my eggs for nine months straight. I couldn’t have lived with myself if Little Dipper had been caught by any predators.
Tyrannosaurus: Well, we ARE at the top of the food chain. We don’t need to worry about these things.
Diplodocus: We might be herbivores, but we know how to look after our young. There’s just no substitute for a mother’s love for a little one still in the shell. I can’t believe anyone wouldn’t sit on their own eggs. It’s simply barbaric.
Triceratops: I heard that you paid a couple of micro-raptors to sit on your eggs for you and keep them warm. Is that true?
Tyrannosaurus: Look, we tyrannosaurs have places to go, prey to hunt, other dinosaurs to terrorise. We can’t sit there all day twiddling our tiny arms sitting on a bunch of eggs….
Velociraptor: Well, in Mrs T’s defence, it’s not just sitting on the eggs that’s important though, is it?
Diplodocus: What do you mean?
Velociraptor: You know what I mean. Did you break your own eggs open? Or did you have, you know, help?
Diplodocus: Those eggs were HARD! It would have taken DAYS to get them open. You can hardly blame me for using a hammer….
Velociraptor: A HAMMER! What kind of mother breaks her own eggs open with a HAMMER?
Diplodocus: We’ve got small arms!
Triceratops: Personally, for me the most important thing isn’t how long you sit on your eggs for, or whether you break them open yourself or let it happen naturally. What makes a great mother, for me, is someone who feeds their baby themselves.
Tyrannosaurus: What, you mean, from your own mouth?
Triceratops: You know what I mean. I fed Little Topper right from birth with regurgitated plants. Did you bring food home for your little ones, or did they have to fend for themselves?
Velociraptor: I brought food home of course. I might have brought home some of Little Topper’s siblings, thinking about it.
Tyrannosaurus: FEEDING THEM REGURGITATED PLANTS? What kind of Earth do you live on? One populated by mammals? No tyrannosaur would feed that rubbish to their young, let alone regurgitate it directly into their innocent mouths. They need to learn that they are the kings and queens of the dinosaurs, right from an early age, and prey is there for the taking.
Diplodocus: I wouldn’t say we were there for the taking. We’re massive.
Tyrannosaur: I DIDN’T MEAN YOU! I wouldn’t be sat in Costa having a Mummy-latte with you if I didn’t like you.
Triceratops: Why are we all having a go at each other then? Aren’t we all trying to do the best we can, raising our young and hoping that they won’t all get wiped out by an asteroid impact?
Velociraptor: I suppose we are. Like Mrs T said, I would have been eating you by now if I wasn’t a friend. I don’t even like lattes.
Diplodocus: Well there we are then. Let’s all forget our differences, and stop with this parenting judgement. We all do things our own way, and that’s fine. We are all different species after all.
Tyrannosaurus: And how do we know that one day, a huge asteroid might hit the Earth, and wipe us all out, and all that will remain is our fossils. And a few scale models, in a museum.
Velociraptor: I wouldn’t mind being a model…..remember what I was telling you about those heels?