Ask A Triceratops! – Inter-species Dinosaur Culture


Ed asks me a question about my recent column:

“Why is this one “Ask a Dinosaur”? Do triceratops speak for ALL dinosaurs??”

I felt the question for that column was about the wider distributed culture of dinosaurs. As you may be aware from such drama-documentaries as ‘The Land Before Time’ or Disney’s ‘Dinosaur’, Cretaceous dinosaurs formed a wider meta-society via common inter-species language. Some things equivalent to scientific knowledge were part of a common cross-species culture, as in this case regarding social attitudes formed by dinosaur palaeontology. 

Questions about literary forms I treat as comparing triceratops culture with human culture because triceratops literature is quite distinct from, say, iguanodon literature. As you probably know, iguanodon literature is primarily theatrical in origin and is focused on slapstick. It is technically comedy and they take it very seriously. As a non-iguanodon, I really don’t get it and I can’t really talk about it much. Yet, if I was to ask an iguanodon “What fossilised creature from the late Permian period can you name?” then odds are they would probably say something like “leg-leg-watchouts” or “oopsie-downers”. That stuff was common meta-cultural stuff across dino-society.

The “Ask A Dinosaur” column was about a bit of shared cultural experience. OK – modern dinosaurs (aka ‘birds’) wouldn’t know what I was talking about but that is because of the passage of time and changing culture.

3 responses to “Ask A Triceratops! – Inter-species Dinosaur Culture”

  1. So does iguanodon literature make use of the “drunk T. rex falling, trying to climb trees and falling” tropes? Because it seems like slapstick to this mammal. Or is that part of the meta-culture?

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      • It seems to have been widely spread among other dinosaurs, though. I mean, I’ve never talked to an iguanodon but even I as a lowly mammal have heard it.

        Either that or it’s so patently obvious (it would be difficult to miss drunken T. rexes) that everyone knows. I suppose some kinds of literature might treat them as a great tragedy or a metaphor, but I think the ignanodons have it right.

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