February 1st

Are Dinosaurs monsters?

Dinosaurs are classic monsters, right? They’re big and scary. They’re just like dragons, only real. And in the movies, they’re always threatening people. They dwarf us in size and power. We fear them and the oblivion they represent. 

It’s easy to think of dinosaurs as monsters, but hopefully, just in our first month of This Day in Dinosaurs, you’ve learned that many were small and fluffy and pretty un-monster-like. Some of them were big and scary, but no matter what Hollywood has portrayed, dinosaurs were animals. And they don’t represent fear, but stubborn, undeniable relevance, because they’re still with us today.

So why did dinosaurs become so feared and, in some cases, vilified? Even the earliest descriptions of the ‘terrible lizards’ evoked a strong sense of primeval dread. The movies only furthered the notion. Even at the museum it’s difficult to look up at the skeletons of Tyrannosaurus or Allosaurus and feel warm and cozy.

Silent Film Music
Silent Film Music

Dinosaur bones and footprints were unearthed long before science began studying the ancient animals. Dinosaurs have been credited with the myths of dragons, griffins, and other mythological creatures. Some people even see dinosaurs in the artwork of native cultures around the globe. Did these people discover fossil bones in ancient times? It doesn’t seem out of the question (though this author finds it impossible that non-avian dinosaurs and humans co-existed).

Whatever old or new art shows, dinosaurs were animals. Mesozoic nature was just a forerunner of today’s natural world. And we should not consider dinosaurs as overgrown prehistoric monsters. In the light of modern science, they are sophisticated animals that ruled the lands of this planet for longer than any other vertebrate group. We are lucky a mass extinction event gave mammals a chance to thrive or it’s likely dinosaurs would still be running the world today.

Share your scariest dinosaur photos with us on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #TDIDinos.