About predatory dinosaurs

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If Dorothy Gale had been swept by the whirlwind to some Mesozoic glade instead of to the Haunted Forest of Oz, she might have observed, “Lions and tigers and bears are one thing,but these predatory dinosaurs are way out of hand!” Walking dinosaur costume


The biggest living terrestrial predator, the Siberian tiger, at about a third of a metric ton (300 kg) pales in comparison to the biggest of the meat-eating dinosaurs, which reached 5 to perhaps 20 metric tons-the size of elephants and bigger. But while ele phants cannot run, the biggest predatory dinosaurs probably ran as fast as horses, and they hunted herbivores that themselves were as big as or bigger than elephants. There has never been anything like Allosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, and their cousins. Of course, not all predatory dinosaurs were giants; the smallest, Lagosuchus, was only the size of a weasel.


How would we think and feel about predatory dinosaurs if they were alive today? Humans have long felt antipathy toward carnivores, our competitors for scarce protein. But our feelings are somewhat mollified by the attractive qualities we see in them. For all their size and power, lions remind us of the little creatures that we like to have curl up in our laps and purr as we stroke them. Likewise, noble wolves recall our canine pets. Cats and dogs make good companions because they are intelligent and responsive to our commands, and their supple furry bodies make them pleasing to touch and play with. And, very importantly, they are house-trainableTheir forward-facing eyes remind us of ourselves.


However, even small predaceous dinosaurs would have had no such advantage. None were brainy enough to be companion¬able or house-trainable; in fact, they would always be a danger to their owners. Their stiff, perhaps feathery bodies were not what one would care to have sleep at the foot of the bed. The reptilian-faced giants that were the big predatory dinosaurs would truly be horrible and terrifying. We might admire their size and power, much as many are fascinated with war and its machines, but we would not like them. Their images in literature and music would be demonic and powerful-monsters to be feared and destroyed, yet emulated at the same time.