In response to the photo of Purgatoire River Trackway, Call No. 4.
Thoughts on leaving the dinosaurs
The sixth grade was the beginning of the end of my love of paleontology. Though it probably can’t even be defined as such—more like an innate obsession with all things dinosaur. Those terrible lizards.
Before that time, I carried around a miniature reference guide that featured profiles of each member of the species. My grandpa gave me a trilobite fossil one Christmas in a small red pouch. It was the most valuable of treasures. I checked out crusty books from the library on obscure prehistoric mammals. My mother would get angry because the books were so thick and heavy and I just wanted them for the pictures. The Jurassic Park movies were still big then and I had a huge crush on Jeff Goldblum. He believed that “life finds a way”. He was a dinosaur hippie.
I’d bring my group of painted plastic figures outside and play in the dirt. I’d dress them up in leaves and feed them grassy meals. This could go one for hours on warm nights. The usual gang included a triceratops, probably some wily raptors, and my dear parasauropholus. The parasaurolophus was my favorite: it’s thought to have stood more upright than other herbivores and it sported a trumpeting crest on its head to produce a nasal alarm when enemies were nearby. I felt comfortable with this prehistoric beast. Its computer-generated demeanor in the Discovery Channel shows I watched was gentle and maternal, yet emboldened. They cared meticulously for their young, covering their nest of eggs with tropical ferns and such. But when predators came afoot, they had the ability not only to run away on powerful legs, but to let everyone else know to fucking follow them. Such intelligence and compassion I didn’t find in the people around me.
When I started going to school dances I made less and less time for dinosaurs. I began listening to Britney on my new CD-player. I grew boobs and was thinking about those. I eventually gave away my Jurassic Park-brand velociraptor hand-puppet, even though it still screamed when you pressed the button in its mouth.
Christina Mancuso blogs about food and life at Vivere Per Dire, and is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College. She lives in New Jersey.