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Sunday, 29 August 2010

The Day of the Giants


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File:Diplodocus cknight.jpg

Diplodocus rearing
: Charles Robert Knight, 1911: image by Funk Monk, 2009



"...and then, in the hothouse Jurassic Age," continues the Professor, knocking his pipe against the arm of his chair, so that the ash scatters, and drifts across the room in a light haze, "the greatest of all land giants have their day...

"These benign monsters are lords of the earth for perhaps a hundred million years. Their ancestors have never experienced a blood temperature higher than that of the sea. They emerge in the blaze of the Triassic and mature in the moist heat of the Jurassic and Cretaceous Ages...




File:Pasta-Brontosaurus.jpg

Apatosaurus: Charles Robert Knight, 1902: image by Funk Monk, 2009


"But conditions change. Because of their size they have special problems. It is wiser not to think of them as people tend to do, in terms of their sluggishness and stupidity, but, as when one is considering the defects of any species, in terms of the causes of those defects. On cool nights, the speed of messages in their nervous system slows down. To travel from the tail to the brain a neural messenger must as it were change horses at intervals along the way, it is a long and complicated voyage...

"On a cold morning in a dry volcanic valley any sufficiently audacious -- and hungry -- creature can bite off the Diplodocus' tail before the mutilated beast, only belatedly aware, has a thought to look around..."



File:SeismosaurusDB.jpg

Diplodocus hallorum ("Seismosaurus"): image by Dinoguy2, 2007



The Professor pauses a moment, gazing thoughtfully into the flickering firelight.

"In the before time things are good indeed. They are peaceful vegetarians. The male carefully observes the huge eggs his mate produces. For millennia they have been unchallenged heirs to the riches of the planet. Their young disport themselves like Olympian kittens, chasing their tails in slow motion...

"But then, the climate alters...



File:Knight hadrosaurs.jpg

Hadrosaurs by a lake
: Charles Robert Knight, 1897: image by Funk Monk, 2009


"They are subject to periods of excessive excitement, not months but millennia. Lacking a biological mechanism for temperature control, they develop a condition similar to schizophrenia...

"In the heat of the noonday they copulate without cease...

"In the night, as the globe continues to cool, they are gripped by increasing degrees of motor paralysis, and concurrently their vulnerability to attacks by smaller but less pacific saurians increases as well...



File:Laelops-Charles Knight-1896.jpg

Two Laelaps (Dryptosaurus) fighting: Charles Robert Knight, 1897: image by Funk Monk, 2009


"Having your tail bitten off by a ravening archeopteryx is only the insult that precedes the actual injury, as the more serious adversaries begin to arrive..."

The dry crackling of the fire in the depth of the night was for a while the only sound...



File:C diplodocus.jpg

Diplodocus: Charles Robert Knight, c. 1900: image by Dudo, via Early Image Website

8 comments:

John B-R said...

Nice pics of the Glen Beck rally ...

curtisroberts said...

"Having your tail bitten off by a ravening archeopteryx is only the insult that precedes the actual injury, as the more serious adversaries begin to arrive..."

Picking my head up from drafting indemnity provisions and rearranging some contract language into easily understood "American" English, I read and viewed this, which seems like an augury.

Ed Baker said...

ahhh..
The Garden of Eden...
The Garden of Delights
be:fore the invention of that
man-made "Religion" that made a mess of EVERYTHING!
and ABSOLUTELY de:nied

just what is of just what was.... Beauty/Original Innocence.

TC said...

Poor Diplodocus, being identified with a guy who tells us climate change is not real, and also being the victim of it. At least in that original Golden Day there was as yet no Latter Day, and thus, happily, none of its many Saints.

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

Yes, as Curtis says, "seems like an augury." Or maybe one of the fables Aesop didn't write. I was reading some of those to Johnny yesterday (who now is gone again, but will love to see these Charles Robert Knight pictures, and hear this "augury," when he comes back).


8.29

grey whiteness of fog against invisible
ridge, green motion of leaves on branch
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

view of trees made of shapes,
horizontal form of seen

line, reflects kind of color,
which can be thought of

grey-white clouds reflected in channel,
shadowed green slope of ridge above it

TC said...

Steve,

Nice --

view of trees made of shapes,

-- They Might Be Giants.

Lucy in the Sky said...

They once ruled the Earth. Just like we think we do now...

The question is: what will become of us?

TC said...

Lucy,

This is a serious question.

I think we will represent an enormous waste disposal problem for any conscious agencies that might happen to succeed us.

Giving the matter some thought, it would seem the most optimistic hope would be that our organic remains could be converted into some sort of useful fertilizer. This is assuming that those conscious agencies would wish to pursue agriculture, and (even more optimistic assumption) that the poor beleaguered earth could still sustain it.

However, I don't know that the meagre phosphorus and nitrogen content in our remains would make us worth recycling.

And as to everything we have made -- the inorganic junk that is -- it can only be hoped that those conscious agencies (I'm afraid I'm outlining a very busy program for them) will be able to figure out a way to pack it all up and eject it so far out into deep space that no one will ever be bothered by it.

I imagine those conscious agencies as being like the survivors of the craziest of all shipwrecks.

Our best course perhaps, as lonely isolated souls, would be to find a way, before it's altogether too late, to join up with them somehow... locos por naufragar.