Terrible Claw

I’m working on a new story about dinosaurs. In my childhood, these terrible lizards were an obsession. I memorized dozens of them. They are no less impressive to children today. When I visited the American Museum of Natural History, I was surrounded by awestruck kids who could barely speak at the sight of such enormous, incredible monsters.

I went there to rekindle my old fascination and came across this fellow. His official name is Deinonychus (dye-nonny-kus) antirrhopus (“terrible claw”), an early Cretaceous period non-avian maniraptor. The paleontologist John Ostrom came up with a revolutionary theory in the 1960s that some of these creatures were quick, agile, and predatory. This undercut the prevailing notion that dinosaurs were large, slow-footed beasts, and made them even more frightening and astonishing.

deinonychus edited

Although the text beside the display says the creature was non-avian—which I assume means it didn’t actually fly—the fossil is posed in its glass cabinet (to my bewilderment) as if it was hurtling through the air.

IMG_7943

Look at those fantastic teeth! The bones of its skull are full of gaps, which suggests that its head was much lighter than some of its theropod contemporaries. I eyeballed the length of its upper and lower arm and leg bones. They looked shockingly similar to the proportions of a human skeleton. In fact, as I stood near it in the noisy exhibition hall, I imagined this creature sitting in the driver seat of a pickup truck with its tail thrashing in the back seat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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