As I mentioned in my previous posts, I am thinking of making the main character of my dinosaur book autistic. From personal experience, I know that some of the side effects of having autism includes an above average intellect and having laser focus on your interests. Due to this, my character will be a child prodigy with savant syndrome, an IQ that is off the charts, and is hyper-focused on his research. Savant syndrome is a rare condition that develops in people with mental disabilities such as autism and it gives the user highly advanced memory and calculation skills that are far above average. According to experts, an IQ that is level 130 or higher signifies high level of intelligence, but my character’s IQ will be more than twice that. I know from personal experience how focused an autistic person can be and once something interests me, my eyes are hooked into it like a hawk and I don’t take my eyes off the ball. On the outside, he won’t seem autistic to an average person, which is something I notice when people look at me. In 2018, Jack Horner, paleontologist and the mastermind behind the reverse engineering experiment, claims that we can achieve the technology to reverse engineer birds back into dinosaurs in five or ten years. However, if a scientist with the intellect and skills I mentioned engaged in this experiment, I believe the technology could be achieved a lot sooner. Unfortunately, even with all that knowledge, focus, and skills, my character will still have difficulty forming connections with his fellow human beings. These will be some of the challenges my character will face as he and the other characters struggle to survive.
Throughout prehistoric history, there have been rivalries between large theropod dinosaurs as they fought each other for prey and territory. I would say that the most noteworthy rivalry I learned about would be the rivalry between Allosaurus and Ceratosaurus. Both of these beasts were apex predators during the Jurassic Period and lived alongside one another at the same time. As a result, they often came into conflict with one another to find out who is the biggest and baddest carnivore. Allosaurus was larger and stronger than Ceratosaurus while Ceratosaurus was smaller and more agile. In the end, Allosaurus came out on top as the largest apex predator of its day while Ceratosaurus was a medium-sized predator forced to feed on the scraps of Allosaurus’s table. There were even times when Allosaurus preyed upon Ceratosaurus. Thanks to Allosaurus’s success, Allosaurus’s descendants would survive right up to the mid-Cretaceous Period while Ceratosaurus vanished into extinction. I am planning to depict a similar rivalry in my dinosaur book as a large apex predator competes with a medium-sized carnivore.
I have decided to make the main character in my dinosaur book autistic. I have made this decision with some reservation. The reason for this is because even though I have lived with autism my entire life, I didn’t know how to accurately portray an autistic character. I was afraid I would unintentionally offend my readers. Now, after much thought, I have changed my mind. The reason for this is extremely personal because when I was a kid with uncontrollable autism, I absorbed prehistory data like a sponge. During this time, I was OBSESSED with the ambition to become a paleontologist, but I never fulfilled that ambition. With my writing, I get to make that ambition a reality on paper by making my protagonist an autistic scientist who brings dinosaurs back to life. I am thinking of incorporating some of my mannerisms to my main character, which will add a more personal touch to this character than some of my previous ones.
While I was writing my dinosaur book today, I realized a big problem with the project. I completely underestimated how my awakened prehistory knowledge would affect my writing process. As a result, I went completely overboard on creating a fictional prehistoric ecosystem, producing over three dozen species. When I introduced these species in the second chapter, it quickly became VERY long-winded and detail-oriented. Therefore, as excited as I am to reengage with the topic of prehistory, I desperately need to bring this knowledge to heel or my readers will quickly lose interest. With this in mind, I will only include ten species, which will be just enough for biodiversity without overwhelming my audience.
When people think of Tyrannosaurus, they think it is only one species of creature. However, Tyrannosaurus Rex was just one species of many. All across the Northern Hemisphere of the Cretaceous Period, there were over a dozen subspecies of Tyrannosaurs. In those days, Asia was ruled by Tarbosaurus, Canada was ruled by Albertosaurus and Daspletosaurus, the Arctic was ruled by Gorgosaurus, and the United States was ruled by Tyrannosaurus Rex itself. These species were just five out of thirteen known subspecies. Before their abrupt extinction, the Tyrannosaurs were the most successful group of theropods of their day and were the kings of their respective domains.
At the same time, the South Hemisphere of Cretaceous Earth was ruled by a different breed of theropod known as the Abelisaurs. Abelisaurs are known to have thick osteoderm scales along their necks, backs, and tails that act like chainmail. Like the Tyrannosaurs, the Abelisaurs had vestigial arms, were the apex predators of their domains, and came in a wide variety of subspecies. I call the Abelisaurs the Tyrannosaurs of the South. Easily the most famous Abelisaur would be Carnotaurus, which ruled South America. A more obscure species of Abelisaur made an appearance in the novel version of Jurassic Park: Majungasaurus, which ruled Madagascar. Abelisaurs such as Rugops also lived in various parts of Africa, but lived in the shadow of much larger carnivores such as Spinosaurus and Carcharodontosaurus (both of which were larger than Tyrannosaurus Rex).
As the story of my dinosaur book progresses, I am planning to display the early stages of these reverse engineered creatures developing their own subspecies. Some may have larger teeth, some may have bigger claws, some may have different scales or feathers, some may have larger or smaller body sizes, and a few may be able to adapt to different environments such as jungles or beaches or mountains. The whole process is very exciting and really ignites my imagination. The passion for dinosaurs I had during my childhood is awakening with a vengeance!
One of the most famous success stories of evolution are sharks. They have inhabited the Earth’s oceans for four hundred million years, long before the dinosaurs. The key to their success is the simplicity of both their biology and lifestyle. The story of evolution is survival of the fittest and the simplest life form is often the strongest. Their bodies are very streamlined and ideal for swimming and their teeth and jaws are ideal for tackling all kinds of prey. Their lifestyle is so simple that all they do throughout their lifetimes is swim, eat, and reproduce and that’s it! Their success is what has allowed sharks to survive one mass extinction level event after another. It is very likely that sharks will continue to exist long after humanity has gone extinct. Fishermen can try to overfish and exterminate sharks, but the sharks will ultimately outlast mankind just as they did the dinosaurs. I will be featuring a reverse engineered shark in my dinosaur book and I will be drawing inspiration from a prehistoric species of shark called Hybodus, which means “humped tooth”. Hybodus was able to survive the Jurassic oceans for two reasons. First, the spikes on its fins gave it protection against large predators like pliosaurs. Second, Hybodus had two different kinds of teeth; sharp teeth for slicing through fish and squid and another set that was flat for crushing shellfish and crustaceans. This allowed Hybodus to thrive on a wide variety of prey in the competitive sea. I will also be drawing inspiration from other sharks I have learned about on Shark Week. I should give you a heads up that I will not be including a Megalodon-like shark in my dinosaur book since not even the scientists in the story will go that far.
Between the Permian and Triassic Periods, all of the continents were fused together into one supercontinent called Pangaea. At the same time, all of the oceans were fused together into a single global super ocean. The climate of a supercontinent is quite unusual and extreme. The edges of the supercontinent would be lush with forests and jungles due to being close to the moisture of the ocean. However, the center of the supercontinent tends to be dry desert due to being so far from the ocean. Unfortunately, as the supercontinent started to divide, the resulting earthquakes and volcanic activity caused two mass extinctions, one of which surpassed the extinction of the dinosaurs. They say that the amount of lava that was spewing from the Earth’s crust was enough to fill the Grand Canyon seven times! Some scientists theorize that a new supercontinent would form two hundred million years in the distant future.
For one hundred and fifty million years, the most successful breed of dinosaur would be the theropods. Theropods are mainly the carnivorous dinosaurs, which were the ancestors of birds. Examples of theropods include Tyrannosaurus Rex, Velociraptors, and Spinosaurus. However, I believe that these real life examples have been used too often and it is long overdue for something other than the classics. With this in mind, I am thinking creating a theropod that is bigger and badder than Tyrannosaurus Rex. It will be a combination between all of the classic theropods in a single creature. Just thinking of this behemoth gives me goosebumps. As excited as I am in creating this new theropod, I am glad it did not exist in real life because I would die of fright just looking at it!
The more I brainstorm for my dinosaur book, the more I realize that the dangers my characters will face will be very diverse. They will encounter carnivorous dinosaurs, giant insects, mutant plants, incurable diseases, unbreathable air, killer fish, predatory birds, territorial herbivores, crushing stampedes, rising tides, and marine reptiles. There are literally a million ways humans can die in this ecosystem. These dangers will provide an overdose of suspense and terror as the characters fight for their lives.
One of my favorite living fossils would be the alligator gar. The alligator gar are regarded as living fossils because they have physical traits that have remained unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs. Like sharks, alligator gar have a spiral valve intestine in their digestive system. Like many modern prehistoric fish, alligator gar have the ability to breathe both water and air. Native Americans have been known to use the gar’s sharp scales as arrowheads. Unfortunately, for half a century, alligator gar were regarded as pests by the government and were hunted to near extinction. This makes me sad and mad at the same time because due to their status as a living fossil, alligator gar are as irreplaceable as any historical artifact. Since their near extermination, alligator gar have made a comeback and are no longer part of the endangered species list. Even though alligator gar can bite humans, they are not dangerous enough to kill a person. Alligator gar tend to eat small prey such as little fish, water fowl, and rodents. Even though alligator gar are already prehistoric in appearance, I wonder how they would look if they were reverse engineered to look like something larger, stronger, and dangerous. I will be tinkering with this concept in my dinosaur book.