Hello. Just to get a little topical here for a change, election fever has just broken out in the UK. Well, not fever exactly. Election sniffles. Possibly election tickly cough. At any rate, the media is abuzz with high-street interviews and vox pops. Who, they want to know, does Joe Public want as Prime Minister?
But they’re missing the big question of course. The question that’s certainly on my lips, and doubtless yours. What, I say what, is your favourite dinosaur?
I should very much like to think that your answer has sprung instantly to mind with nary a second’s deliberation. Of course it has. Surely, like me, you’ve had a fave dino since childhood. I have. Can you guess what it is? I imagine it’s quite a popular choice. It’s our old friend Triceratops. How about you? I mean, isn’t Triceratops the best one, hands down? Not the biggest or the fiercest for sure, but isn’t he the one you’d want backing you up in a fight?
To explain: I grew up on a diet of dinosaur books which were written in the present tense with stirring passages like
“The sluggish air of the cretaceous grasslands is stirred by the approach of a mighty predator. Look! It is Tyrannosaurus Rex, stalking the peaceful herbivores gathering by the water hole. His powerful hind legs and tail make short work of the distance as he lunges out, snatching a young Anatosaurus in his razor sharp mouth. But what is this? From behind come heavy footfalls and an indignant snort. It is Triceratops, ready to defend his grazing lands. Tyrannosaurus turns and bellows a challenge, confident of his savage power. But Triceratops stands his ground, lowering his tough bony frilled head to aim his long horns at Tyrannosaurus’ soft belly...”
I just made that all up, as you can doubtless tell. Factual corrections are welcome.
But riveting stuff all the same. By the time I had seen documentary-drama The Valley Of Gwangi, Triceratops’ role in dinosaur society was clear to me. He’s basically the sheriff of Dino county, always turning up in the nick of time to defend the weak against the obvious villain of the piece, T Rex.
Look at him – what’s not to love about Triceratops? He’s tough, armoured and he’s got a brilliant head. What’s Rex got? Yeah, the teeth, the legs, the tail, but look at them puny arms – they’re like Ma Rex was prescribed thalidomide or something. Plus, Triceratops is actually a herbivore – he doesn’t fight the Tyrannosaurus for meat, he does it coz it’s The Right Thing To Do. If he was a role-playing game archetype, his motivation would be Protect The Innocent. Rock on, Triceratops, you can be my wing-man any time.
There are people out there, amazingly, who have a different favourite dinosaur. Some will doubtless favour Johnny-come-lately Velociraptor, but I don’t count him as he was just invented by Michael Crichton in 1990. Herself’s favourite is the Plesiosaur, which she justifies convincingly by explaining that the Loch Ness Monster is clearly a plesiosaur and therefore great. Fair play. I always thought Nessie was an elasmosaur myself, but then I’ve always been a non-conformist.
A colleague at work said that her favourite is Stegosaurus. What she actually said was ‘that one with the things on its back’, which we eventually decided had to be Stegosaurus. I still have my doubts though, as this is the same women who described the monster in a horror film she once saw as ‘a muffin on a mop’.
Thinking about Triceratops got me thinking about my favourite living animal, which unsurprisingly is the rhino, surely the modern-day equivalent. I must have some weird thing for tough, horny creatures. Ahem.
Rhinos are cool though, aren’t they? I mean they were in Prince John’s royal guard in the definitive version of Robin Hood, which admittedly makes them baddies, but they do look fine in blue and purple uniforms. Not only that, but there was a rhino on the team in one of the three Best Football Matches Ever. Have a look:
The other two Best Matches Ever are Escape To Victory (Allies vs Nazis) and that Nike advert (Cantona and co. vs Demons). ‘Au Revoir’ indeed. Can there be any football matches greater than these? I think not.
I confidently predict that this summer will bring us a blockbusting vampire nazis vs demon were-rhinos footie film. It’ll probably be called Final Night, or Blood Match. It practically writes itself.