Woolly Mammoth, meet Chickenosaurus!

I’ve been reading paleontologist Jack Horner’s new book, “How to Build a Dinosaur: Extinction doesn’t have to be forever.” His ideas emerge from his work in the Hell Creek Formation (Montana’s Badlands); Horner is convinced that we can reverse-engineer a dinosaur by tweaking the DNA in a chicken embryo. I find it is difficult to imagine a dinosaur (one reviewer of Horner’s book is dubbing it “chickenosaurus”) really existing in our world, conceptually. Will it be one giant leap forward for the dinosaur, one giant leap backward for humankind? Nature, tooth and claw….

Dreams of the fierce modern McNuggetosaurus notwithstanding, I’m starting to make a list of the places I want to see in May, when I drive out to Oregon — petroglyphs, fossil sites, even a remote spot in Wyoming where dinosaur footprints were found, preserved in siltstone! Tonight I dug out a few of my childhood dinosaur books, and scanned some of their covers. Here’s my favorite — depicting the T-Rex and the Woolly Mammoth coexisting!

Dinosaurs & Other Prehistoric AnimalsDinosaurs & Other Prehistoric Animals

Can you say anachronism?

Postscript for potential children’s book authors: dinosaurs ruled the world of the Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods — until their sudden mass extinction, which was probably triggered by a bolide hitting the earth. This is called the Cretaceous–Tertiary (or Cretaceous–Paleogene) extinction event. In many places, the “K-T boundary” is a clearly visible line in the earth’s rocks. Before K-T: dinosaurs. After K-T: no more dinosaurs. By comparison, Woolly Mammoths and their tusked evolutionary ancestors evolved AFTER the K-T extinction event….. Woolly Mammoths are found in the fossil record from about 150 thousand years ago, until perhaps 10 thousand years ago.

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