There it was...moving through the edge of the forest, conifers towering overhead as vines used them to climb to the canopy and steal their sunlight...a dinosaur, walking semi upright on two scaled legs, claws gripping the earth with every step. Gripping the earth in readiness to accelerate faster than any other living thing on this planet, capable of passing the 50 mile per hour mark in one half second.
It leaned forward with its blue and red neck and head advancing in quick lunges as the body and tail moved to catch up in a jerky rythym. A large male, this dinosaur was drawn near to my house by the presence of a female. She stood in the cover of nearby brush, her large body hidden, revealing only her neck and head, the grey blue of shadow. Nearly invisible to the casual eye, I saw her only because she gave herself away by the tiny flickering movement of her head as she focussed on the possible danger that had interrupted the primitive nuptials that had been proceeding along nature's intended path.
A rivalry with a smaller male dispensed with, the alpha dinosaur changed his gate from its jerky cadence to a smooth slow glide as his mating display erupted in a volcanic fountain of bronze finery as the modified scales of this dinosaur refracted his glorious worthiness to father the next generation of little dinosaurs.
I had stumbled on this meeting by chance and tried to watch but I was detected and the dinosaurs elected to choose safety over sex, this time. They need not have feared me, I'm not a turkey hunter.
But they did and I watched as they took their ritual deeper into the forest, away from my voyueristic self.
The fossil record has been filled in to the near certainty of birds being the descendants or remnants, if you will, of dinosaurs. Tyrranosaurous Rex now appears to have had feathers at the earlier stages of its life, losing them as it obtained such a size that sheer body mass became sufficient to retain enough body heat to survive. Current thinking is that scales, modified into feathers, were an evolutionary advantage to the smaller beasts as nothing more than insulation, since the earlier fossil record shows them to be non interlocking. I have played with a large turkey wing feather, seperating its barbules and then marveling at how they reconnect with proper preening into the solid seeming blade required to support flight.
I suggest you check out the 5-05 issue of Natural History magazine for a more detailed and rigorous examination of dinosaur aviation. For anyone who harbors doubts about the bird and dinosaur connection, let me say that looking at the eye popping yellow goldfinches sitting in the dogwood treejust ten feet away from my eye, I understand the reluctance to accept that claim.
But as for me? I have held, still warm from the hunt, a wild turkey in my hands and seen its ancestry with my mind, as my eyes beheld its red and blue metallic primitiveness.
There's dinosaurs in the woods.
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