Ask A Dinosaur! – The Past of the Past


If we consider Dinosaur fossils the coolest and hottest, what do (did?) dinosaurs like you consider to be the “Cool” fossils visible in your time?

Paul Weimer

Hi Paul!

The answer, if you think about it, is…DINOSAURS! For somebody like me living in the age of wonders that was what you call the Cretaceous, the equivalent time period for us that was roughly as long ago as the Cretaceous is too you now was the Jurassic! Of course, our perspective on dinosaur bones we would find in exposed rock was different – we were seeing ancient and modified forms of creatures whose analogs were still around. Consequently it was much easier for us to come up with a theory of evolution.

Our evolutionary theory was a theological one. We thought species were moulded by the soul-river (the metaphysical principle common to a lot of dinosaurid practical spirituality) into changing forms over time – like the banks of a river.

The big extinction event that we would have looked back to was the Permian-Triassic extinction. That to dinosaur geologists was what the dinosaur extinction is to you people. I don’t want to give you TOO much of a hint about the next great extinction event other than to point to this part of the Wikipedia page:

“It has been suggested that the Permian–Triassic boundary is associated with a sharp increase in the abundance of marine and terrestrial fungi, caused by the sharp increase in the amount of dead plants and animals fed upon by the fungi.[28] For a while this “fungal spike” was used by some paleontologists to identify the Permian–Triassic boundary in rocks that are unsuitable for radiometric dating or lack suitable index fossils, but even the proposers of the fungal spike hypothesis pointed out that “fungal spikes” may have been a repeating phenomenon created by the post-extinction ecosystem in the earliest Triassic.”–Triassic_extinction_event

If you had a backbone then getting through the Permian-Triassic extinction wasn’t so bad. But the invertebrates? OUCH! Those guys took a WALLOPING!

Cool Permian fossils of creatures that made us dinos go “WTF?” Hmmm, the problem is I don’t have technical modern names for them. They were all one kind of huge bug monster or another – preserved in sediments as petrified exoskeletons.

These are English translations of our names for them:

  • Oopsie-downers – flippin’ hilarious  caterpillar things with legs on top and bottom. A stage in something else’s lifecycle?
  • Leg-leg-watchouts – way too many legs and each leg had another leg on it.
  • Big-big-eight-wings – like a dragonfly but it has eight wings. Some say that these are fossils of just two massive dragonflies that have got smooshed together. Stuff of nightmares anyway.
  • Too Many Eyes Beetle – a huge beetle with too many eyes.

Fossils of permian vertebrates were curiosities but they weren’t that weird or freaky. They didn’t catch our imaginations in the way dinosaurs catch the human imagination.

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