Being the parent of a kid who loves dinosaurs is one of the best things about being a parent. The science is constantly updated. When I first started reading about dinosaurs I still thought the brontosaurus existed (nope) and that the Tyrannosaurus Rex was the biggest meat eater (nope, that’s the Spinosaurus).
And that big meteor strike killing all the dinosaurs? Scientists aren’t so sure about that either. Earth has had many extinctions, and I think the dinosaurs were wiped out three or four times before they finally did not return as the giant thunder-lizards most of us think dinosaurs to be. So why didn’t they come back? What changed?
Last week I watched a video of an eagle soaring over mountain tops. They had fixed a 360 camera on the bird’s back. As you watched the video, at any time you could change the view and see what it looked like over the left wing, over the right wing, over the head of the bird, and behind the bird with dizzying canyons yawning below. I thought to myself, as I watched and tried out different views, that the bird was surely going to rest sometime soon. Fly for a little bit, get bored, and then perch to rest.
It didn’t. It kept soaring over one range and another, again and again. It was so awe-inspiring it made me think that the bird really enjoyed flying, as its ancestors had for millions of years. An image struck me of the ancient Archaeopteryx, that ancient dinosaur many say is the first bird, flying and flying and flying and flying. Maybe the dinosaurs sat down and decided they were done with being big terrible lizards. After the next catastrophe they would do something different. Maybe it was time to fly.
Scientifically, of course, that’s silly. Dinosaurs didn’t intentionally evolve into birds. They didn’t go extinct after that meteor strike – every bird you see is a dinosaur. Yet, seeing what that bird saw made me think that if they could they would. And there’s something to be said for that. To say to ourselves: you know, after the next disaster? I’m not going to do what I did before. It’s time to fly.