My father used to tell me stories of when he was young during his visits through the southern United States. In those days, alligators were so scarce that hardly anyone saw them. Now, thanks to wildlife conservation laws, the alligators are everywhere with their populations booming. Alligator numbers are so large that they have learned to coexist with their human neighbors. One such example are several golf courses that have become overrun by alligators. Fortunately, the gators and the golfers have a mutual understanding. The golfers stay on the green while the gators stay in the water. However, every so often, the alligators would leave their lakes and ponds in order to seek out new territory and mates. When this happens, the golfers just get out of the alligators’ way and resume golfing when the gators are gone. I like that there is understanding between humans and alligators in these golf courses.
When you see those alligators walking across the golf course minding their own business, it definitely reminds you of a dinosaur. This is not far from the truth because alligators and dinosaurs share a common ancestry. The dinosaurs may be gone, but their blood ties endure in their bird descendants and crocodilian cousins. After watching the gators in this video, I wonder what it would have been like if the gators were as big as the prehistoric crocodilians such as Deinosuchus or Sarcosuchus. That would make them three times the size of the gators in this video.
Among the modern arthropods that gave me inspiration for my giant insects would be the red crabs of Christmas Island and the robber crabs that hunt them. Every spawning season, the jungle floor is infested with over 45 million red crabs that march through the jungle to spawn in the sea. Along the way, some of these crabs are hunted down, killed, and eaten by the much larger robber crabs. Robber crabs are the largest land-based arthropods in the modern world, reaching up to a meter in length. That is pretty impressive by today’s standards even though the oxygen levels are half what they were during the Carboniferous Period 300 million years ago. As I wrote the creepy crawly scene in my dinosaur book, I envisioned arthropods that were even larger and nastier than these crabs. I can even see these crabs as being bountiful prey for small theropod dinosaurs that would snatch them off the jungle floor.
In the documentary series known as The Truth About Killer Dinosaurs, I got to see a test that demonstrated Tyrannosaurus Rex’s jaw strength. Apparently, thanks to its thick teeth and powerful jaw muscles, Tyrannosaurus Rex could bite with four tons of force. This bite strength allowed it to bite through a cow’s thigh bone like it was a twig. In addition, it was calculated that Tyrannosaurus Rex could bite off five hundred pounds of flesh from its prey in one bite. In another test, it was revealed that an average size car would have been reduced to scrap metal when exposed to Tyrannosaurus Rex’s mighty jaws and crushing teeth. Overall, Tyrannosaurus Rex possessed weaponry that was worthy of King of the Dinosaurs.
One of these days, I would like to spend one day hiking the Appalachian Trail as far as I can and as hard as I can. I don’t have it in me to hike all 2,200 miles, but if I can hike just 20 or so miles, then I will die happy. Several of my fantasy stories include sections where the characters wander through the wilderness so this will help me get even more inspiration for future writing. Also, it will allow me to be better connected with nature. Hopefully, I won’t run into a bear or two. If that happens, I watched enough Animal Planet programs to know what to do.