When I was about fourteen or fifteen, I went to an exhibition called "The Great Russian Dinosaurs" at the Australian Museum in Sydney. Fresh-faced from my readings of Bakker, I was excited, and looking for a fight with all the stuffy orthodoxy I read so much about. Luckily, I found myself outraged at once at the mounting of the skeletons. Hadrosaurs rearing high! Ribs not properly swept back! I was spluttering with the kind of smugness that only a teenage fanatic can have, and decided that something must be said
. So, I bailed up one of the palaeontologists travelling with the exhibition, and confronted him about one of the most heinous of crimes against the Light of the Dinosaur Renaissance
: an ankylosaur with semi-sprawling front legs.
With a supercilious smile I enquire politely as to why he had mounted the creature in such a way. He smiled and said "Real animals move -- they change position sometimes". How was I supposed to fight with that? All my trackway data, my shoulder anatomy arguments, rendered moot by an evasive side-step. So, I thought, I suspect this man is an idiot; and I know just how to test him: asked him if he thought Velociraptor
had feathers. "Maybe" he said, without a trace of sarcasm. Foiled! I stalked of to visualise the most feathers, erectest gaits, hottest blood, and fastest running dinosaurs I could from those evil
What's the point of all this you ask? Well...
My betrayal of the dinosaur renaissance. Guess what teenage John, sauropods were scaley and spikey. Sometimes they dragged their tails on the ground. And maybe they weren't always
standing on their back legs to feed or fend off an Allosaurus
running at a gazillion miles an hour.