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.

Ask A Triceratops! – Watch Your Figure!


“I always get similies and metaphors mixed up and I’m not sure which is best to use in my writing.”
Cynthia Doche

Hi Cynthia
Figurative language engages the imagination of your reader by making connections with their experiences, memories, senses and beliefs. Here are the basics:

Simile – a thing is like another thing (but not actually that thing) e.g. “The T-rex tried to climb the tree like a diplodocus trying to wipe dung off its tail.” Everybody will know exactly what you mean!

Metaphor – a thing is the other thing (not really but you say that it is and people get that you aren’t being literal) e.g. “The T-rex tried to climb the tree. The mighty diplodocus turd clinging valiantly to the shanking tail that was the tree.” Your readers might need to think a little harder but the image is a lot richer.

Which to use? Trust your gut! Your intuition will guide you like a shaky compass. Don’t over think it like a newly evolved primate freaky out about colour vision.

Ask A Tricertaops! – Calendar Heresy


I have had my attention called to the following, and I would like to know what you think about the egregious omission of there not having been a triceratops included in this venture.


Sorry JJ but….ewwww- lots of mammals. Ugh.

Why couldn’t they have at least SOME non-mammals? Australia is home to many fine species. Take the cassowary for example! Now putting my therapod antagonism aside for a moment, there is a lot to be said about cousin cassowary still flying the flag for the murder-dinosaur that doesn’t-give-n-shit-about-nobody-no-way. Or if you prefer the manic-dream-pixie-bird of the dino extended family how about good old cousin emu! Emus are right there on the Australia coat of arms! You can even cuddle them (sort of – I wouldn’t personally but that’s because my fore-limbs are for stomping not cuddling).

Snakes? Lots of great snakes in Australia. I don’t personally know many snakes but they seem like a great bunch.

And of course, what about grandpa crocodile! Diapsid solidarity to the max with the crocodilians! I knew a borealosuchus back when I was a tiny triceratops and frankly, you couldn’t have met a nicer apex predator than that guy – a true gentleman. So the Australian saltwater crocodile maybe the new kid on the block compared to the hylaeochampsa but they still rock that classic look and still fly the flag for aquatic reptile monsters everywhere. Respect.

Ask A Triceratops! – Of Time & Manners



Is it impolite to ask a dinosaur their age?

Jack Lint

Hi Jack!

No, it is not impolite but don’t expect a useful answer!

Dinosaurs live non-settled, low technology lives without farming or other activities that require close attention to the passage of time. That doesn’t mean we do not have the concept of days, years or seasons. Yet we do not keep track of them or spend much time engaged in quantifying them.

As for me, well I’m from the distant past AND the far future! I’ve time travelled so much and lived so many lives (from 1960s TinPan Alley to post-shroomapocalypse Fungus Town) that I’m not sure ‘age’ has any meaning even if I had kept track.

Ask A Triceratops! -Getting Horny!


Some thorny horny questions from readers!

I saw an article in the paper the other day, about how Triceratops horns were, it is now thought, used principally for display, in order to attract mates. Well, you’d know – is this true? (And, if larger horns are attractive to the opposite sex, how would a mammal go about acquiring some? Asking for a friend.)
Steve Wright
And also
What are your thoughts on Mark Witton’s curvy Triceratops horns theory?
Skadouche Bag
It’s not 100% wrong but it is a bit silly. It is like saying human hair is for attracting mates. Just because there are gender differences on facial hair and you style it and things doesn’t mean it is all about sex. Sometimes big spiky horns are for spiking things.
Witton considers the mechanics of horn growth to suggest possible ways in which triceratops horns might grow.
Truth is, we are a lot smarter than any ‘big horn sheep’. Triceratops have culture and forward planning and personal self expression. So what shape are our horns? Whatever shape we felt like and could file the kerartin into. I personally wear my horns short, straight and spiky. That’s my horn-style. I could let them grow and they’d be curvier but I like them how they are. No, my attention to personal appearance is NOT to ‘attract a mate’ any more than every time a human gets a hair cut they are making a loud demand for sex or marriage!

Ask A Triceratops! – It’s All In The Tea!


“I’m also told that the one true way SJWs dog whistle to one another is by putting tea-drinking in their stories sorry I mean “stories” is this true?”

Delagar (in comments to Ask A Triceratops 7)

I promised I’d get back to you with an answer to this question and here I am!

Lots to unpack here!

SJW – of course means “Sauropod Justice Wanderer”, a term used for dinosaurs who would walk the Earth righting wrongs and generally being what we dinosaurs call “a good egg”. Despite the name, even ceratopsids like myself might be called “SJWs” – particularly by surly theropods (but ‘not all theropods’ obviously).

Dog whistle – mammals, you love to go on about your lactating powers but from our perspective the big deal with mammals was HEARING. Modified jaw bones made mammals super good at hearing all sorts of shit. Sauropod hearing was not great but wow! their vocal range was something else. A sauropod could emit high pitched sounds and the freaky little protobadgers (which we called ‘dogs’) would all pop their little heads up and go “what the flip was that?”

Tea – flavoursome leave stepped in water. Yup, we’d brew tea in warm ponds (heated by the sun or volcanic vents).

How does that all fit together? Well SJWs would intimidate anti-social theropods by summoning protobadgers with a ‘dog-whistle’ call, leading to the theropod being smothered in furry beasts (aka a ‘dog-pile’) and later would reward the protobadgers with a nice drink of tea.

Stories of such exploits, where often called ‘SJW message fiction’ referring to the message sent by the sauropods to the protobadgers. Such stories do feature tea drinking.

More typical of saltasaurus fiction obviously.

Ask A Triceratops! – To Sleep, Perchance…

Dear Susan,

I keep on seeing people being wrong on the Internet, and have to correct them. I haven’t been to bed in 72 hours and I think my family just left, but they did it physically so I don’t have an opinion on that. Do I have a problem?

Argumentively, Mark

Thanks for the question Mark!

Sleep is super-duper important for mammals! The exact purpose of mammalian sleep is not well understood (see this article by Zeppelin and Rechtschaffen – aren’t you hairy critters fascinating!) but it is clearly important because you all do so much of it!


  1. Get some sleep!
  2. Now!
  3. Seriously!
  4. For all I know mammals explode from lack of sleep and I don’t want to risk getting covered in mammal juice!

Read this if you don’t believe me (or don’t believe the last reference was real because of the author names)


Ask A Triceratops! – Begin Again


“I have a great idea for a novel but every time I try to write it down, I get stuck on the very first paragraph! What is the best way to start a novel?”
Ove Ture

Hi Ove,
Thanks for writing in. I think you have two different problems here! One is how to start writing – my advice is to skip over the first chapter and begin with the first bit you are comfortable with. Maybe the drunk T-rex is already trying to climb a tree! Don’t worry! You can come back later and describe the setting and circumstance. JUST START WRITING! It does not have to be in the right order until you’ve finished – and maybe not even then!

The other problem is writing a good introductory sentence to your story. Personally, I have always been a fan of starting my stories like this:

“OH NO THERE’S A PACK OF  Sigilmassasauruses BEHIND YOU!”

Yes! There’s nothing like a good scare to get people hooked into your story!

That may not work so well for written media but the opposite tactic can work just as well:

“Hello, please settle down and enjoy this story and be reassured that as far as I know there are no predatory raptor-like monster waiting to pounce on you from behind.”

With these words of reassurance your readers will settle in quickly to your interesting tale.