Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm shocked. Almost too shocked for words...

But hey! What do you know? I've managed to find a few. First, allow me to establish a few facts ala Dickens in A Christmas Carol. I've loved the Civil War since I was 12. I've been reenacting it since age 13. I've loved dinosaurs from the moment I learned about them at age 4.




Some things should never meet.

I take a quote directly from the website of the Dinosaur Kingdom in Natural Bridge, Virginia:

It's 1863 and Union soldiers have discovered a hidden valley filled with dinosaurs. Now the Yankees plan to use the dinos as weapons of mass destruction against the South.

It begins with the impossible and moves onto the more impossible (somehow). Ignoring the fact that no one has ever found a T-Rex skeleton in Virginia, ignoring the fact that gigantic, cold-blooded lizards could not survive a winter in the Shenandoah, ignoring the the fact that no dinosaur fossils were discovered in America until 1856 so the typical reaction to finding a live one would be terror, ignoring the implausibility of dinosaurs not evolving over the course of 65 million years, ignoring that the commanding officer would have to be certifiably insane to deploy a meaningful number of troops away from the front in a war they were either losing (as of early 1863) or had just suffered horrific casualties from (post-Gettysburg), there are three outstanding problems.

1. A dinosaur is not a "weapon of mass destruction". There are two possibilities for whatever the commanding Union officer was thinking when he issued an order to capture the thunder lizards. One, he intended to domesticate the dinosaurs, adapt his saddles to a dinosaurs back, figure out how to mount a dinosaur, prepare the dinosaurs for the sound of cannons going off, properly devise tactics for dinosaur warfare, teach his subordinates how to properly execute these tactics (Company! Mount! Tyrannosaurus! Tyrannosaurus, at the double time, MARCH!) and organize regiments of Dinosaur Cavalry in a timely fashion. I'll be fair and say he's doing this right after Gettysburg, so he has all of ten months before Grant attacks Lee at Spotsylvania Courthouse. I'm no expert in Animal Husbandry, but I believe it takes a bit longer than ten months to make a previously undiscovered wild animal a Beast of War.

The other slightly more plausible explanation is he intended to capture a few of the dinosaurs and just unleash them on the Confederate ranks, like war dogs except without the loyalty. The problem with that is the logistics associated with transporting a hungry T-Rex to the front. Best case scenario, the T-Rex kills a few companies of Confederate Soldiers before getting gunned down by gunfire (I'm not sure what T-Rex's skin was made of, but I'm fairly sure it was softer than lead).

In either case, it's hardly a weapon of mass destruction.

2. Last I checked, there weren't any Union soldiers in the region of Natural Bridge in 1863. After Stonewall Jackson beat the Union Army of the Shenandoah in 1862, no serious effort to take the valley was launched until 1864 with General Franz Sigel, the only German general of the latter 19th century to not be an unstoppable killing machine. Whoever was commanding those soldiers was about 125 miles behind enemy lines when he gave his orders. Of course, I did say no serious effort was made to retake the Valley, and this was a rather silly effort.

3. How could there be a "hidden valley" within the Shenandoah Valley capable of supporting a Cretaceous Ecosystem with enough genetic diversity to ensure the survival of creatures for 65 million years?

Well, at least they only implied there were T-Rex's living here, not anything crazy like the Velociraptor.

Wait a second, what's that behind the T-Rex?



Hillary said...

I just re-read your first sentence and it made me laugh. That is an absolutely ridiculous premise... is that a museum or something? do they really believe that? check out the museum of creationism in kentucky.... they have these wild animatronic exhibits with dinos and cave children playing together. what loonies there are in the world...

Hunter Barry said...

Yeah, this is not a museum so much as it is a tourist trap in Natural Bridge Virginia called the Dinosaur Kingdom. They don't honestly believe it (I hope). I suppose I have to give the creator some bonus points for thinking up the idea.

blurberry said...

I think you're supposed to temporarily suspend your disbelief.

the brian king kenobi said...

. . . there are not words to describe my horror.

Carrie said...

i literally laughed out loud throughout this. this is too crazy. hahah.