Ask A Triceratops! – Technology!

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“If we lived in the future and we had teleporters and I wrote a story which had teleporters in it, would it still be science fiction?”
B.M. Upscotty

Maybe. Imagine you wrote your story as a 1960s story about teleporters. If you did it would still be like a science fiction story from that time and so it would still be a science fiction story in general.

It is not whether the technology exists or not that matters but whether you treat the technology as fictional.

Think about it. Dinosaurs existed but if you wrote a story about a dinosaur like me trying to make her way in the popular song writing industry of 1960s New York, your story would be science fictional EVEN THOUGH I REALLY DID THAT! Do you see?

OK, an easier one. Aliens visit Earth in secret – science fiction right? But what if it turns out aliens really have visited Earth in secret? Does any SF book dealing with that issue just become contemporary fiction?

Fiction isn’t fiction because it is false but because it does not HAVE to be true.

Ask A Triceratops! – A Villain With Class

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Dear Susan: Is it okay if I make the T. Rex my villain? I don’t want to run afoul of the T-Rex agenda.

Also, do dinosaurs have class issues? If so, what are they?

delagar

Hello again Delagar!

Nice to hear from you again!

Dinosaurs are wonderfully open minded and have ZERO class prejudices. I personally am very open minded. Having said that, and without wanting to over generalise too much, theropods are awful (I’ll make an exception for birds out of dino-solidarity) and tyrannosaurids are the worst.

Traditionally T-rex is the antagonist in triceratopian literature but usually in a comedic role of drunken incompetence. This is because all T-rexes are stupid and drink too much.

But as I said, personally I have no prejudices and some of my former friends were theropods. I mean who doesn’t love a genial therizinosaurus with their goofy antics and natural sense of humour!

Ask A Dinosaur! – The Past of the Past

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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.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permian–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!

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“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

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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.

JJ

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

 

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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.