Lost in the Land of the Lost
Although it's a fairly common belief here in Brooklyn that early humans spent their days battling dinosaurs for food and real estate, it simply isn't true. The fossil record unambiguously shows that dinosaurs and humans never co-existed, which precludes scenes like the one hanging in my living room of a scantly clad she-warrior riding a triceratops. During the Age of the Great Lizards, in fact, mammals were a lowly bunch of pre-human scavengers and deadbeats, bolting in fear at the mere mention of a brontosaurus. (Broadway's Les Miserables is an excellent chronicle of the mammalian struggle to get out from under the thumb of T-Rex and his scaly ilk, if you're into musicals.) It wasn't until the Great Comet/Ice Age/Alien Invasion that these ferocious and ornery beasts were vanquished, making way for the ascent of mammals, who were next on the waiting list. Through evolution, these creatures would eventually become the species we call "people."
I've often taken pleasure in smugly deriding the "humans vs. dinosaurs" myth as silly "Land of the Lost"-based history, but now I wonder how long I'll be able to say it with confidence. Recently, researchers from the American Museum of Natural History reported their discovery of a small prehistoric mammal fossil in China -- with an even smaller dinosaur partially digested inside its stomach. Mammals munching on baby dinosaurs? That's bad-ass, yo. Now that we know early mammals were much more gangsta than we'd been led to believe, what other revelations await us?
Perhaps we have already seen the Land of the Lost -- and it looks a lot like Brooklyn.
("Alligator" by the awesome Tom Otterness, MetroTech Commons, Brooklyn)