In this time of bitter partisan divide, here’s at least one little reason to be cheerful:
The governor of Massachusetts – a Republican in a Democratic state – last week signed a bipartisan bill that passed through the legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support. This action filled a deep hole in the nation’s very identity – by identifying a state dinosaur.
The lucky vertebrate is, or was, Podokesaurus Holyokensis, known as Podo for short. It was a fleet-footed, sharp-toothed lizard the size of a Rottweiler that lived over 100 million years ago near Holyoke, of course.
Thus Massachusetts joins twelve other states with official dinosaurs. This trend began in the 90s, when the first six films of “Jurassic Park” appeared. The latest “Jurassic World Dominion” movie will be released in cinemas on June 10.
Dinosaurs have fascinated us for ages, as any parent can tell you. Monsters are characters in movies, books, and comics. Also in stuffed toys, advertising campaigns, popular museum exhibitions and, more recently, auction houses.
The dreaded Deinonychus skeleton — who accidentally died as a velociraptor in the “Jurassic Park” movies — went for a hammer Thursday night at Christie’s (expected price: $4 million to $6 million). That auction house set the record for ancient bones two years ago, when a Tyrannosaurus Rex sold for $31.8 million. I went to a new museum in Abu Dhabi.
Incredibly, legged dinosaurs still walked the Earth, even though their age may be coming to an end. Changes in the political climate have been threatening them for years. Now they may be facing what paleontologists call a “mass extinction event.”
I am referring, of course, to abortion, which is a topic I hate to talk about. Complex and emotional, it is perhaps the most divisive issue in American life right now. The mere mention of it may alienate family, friends and readers.
So, let’s talk about dinosaurs. They can be found in nearly every part of the United States and the world during the height of the Jurassic period, about 201 to 145 million years ago. Some of them were vegetarians, others were meat eaters. Many of the ancestors of today’s birds had feathers. Bruhathkayosaurus, weighing 80 tons and 115 feet long, was probably the largest; Epidexipterix, about 10 inches from stem to stern, the smallest.
But nearly all of them faced a relatively abrupt end in the late Cretaceous period, about 66 million years ago. (That’s 65.7 million years before humans appeared.) There are several theories as to what happened, although a large meteorite strike is currently a favorite among paleontologists.
Another meteor just landed. On the same day Bodeau’s case was filed last week, someone leaked a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision establishing abortion rights for all American women. The draft called for the case to be returned to the states, 26 of which have declared their intention to end the practice.
Cheerful “pro-life” forces are now pushing for a nationwide ban on abortion, as well as criminalization of abortion and restrictions on birth control pills, women’s travel to abortion-friendly countries and even contraceptives.
Despite the clear reflection of the Court, it is easy to forget that the United States in the past 50 years – like the world throughout its existence – has been evolving. Women are used to getting an education, jobs, and controlling their bodies and their lives.
Anyone trying to shake off that lead is just as likely to be trampled on as that pesky lawyer in the outhouse in the first Jurassic Park movie.
Guys largely support this evolution (evolution, not the lawyer thing – although I admit I was thrilled when I saw it). After all, quite a few men have wives and daughters, sisters, girlfriends or co-workers – women whose dreams and even their lives are at stake.
In polls, most Americans say they don’t want to go back to the Jurassic period for abortion. This possibility is shaping up to be a major issue in the November midterm elections.
Nobody really knows why dinosaurs perished. In addition to the meteorite theory, there are scenarios that include climate change and volcanic eruptions. Whatever happened, it is clear that dinosaurs were not able to evolve in the face of changing conditions.
Thus, when the great extinction event came, they perished although the most adapted creatures – birds, snakes, frogs – survived. This is how nature works. Also politics.
Nobody really knows what killed Budo either. It died eons before extinction. Was it aging? The biggest predator? Bad lifestyle choices? His skeleton bore no clues. Interestingly enough, this perished – in a fire in 1917 – making it the rare, twice-extinct dinosaur.
We know Bodo passed from prehistory to history in 1910, when his hole was discovered by a geologist from Mount Holyoke College named Minion Talbot.
woman of course.