April 18, 2002 The beauty of science is that it strives to base all of its theories and results on something tangible. Unlike religion, that is based more on preconceived, unchanging beliefs and blind faith, science deals with empirical evidence that transforms our perception of reality that in turn shapes our beliefs and culture.
Regardless of its continual claims to accurately portray the truth based on evidence, science has been known to take a rather long time to get it right. Surprising new evidence has emerged that is overthrowing the previously held beliefs about the popular dinosaur T-Rex. A paleontologist has presented a solid case that shows T-Rex to be far more along the lines of a slow moving scavenger then the killing machine we were all led to believe.
It appears that our apparent need to make T-Rex terrifying has resulted in an extreme distortion of the true reality of T-Rex's existence. In 1997, I was doing a sketch, albeit, not a very good one, of a T-Rex skeleton at the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. A spectacular 50 foot replica has stood at the museum's entrance for many years. As I sketched T-Rex, I tried to imagine how terrifying it would be to have seen it alive, and how vulnerable I would have been as a human to its existence. During my sketch, I developed an appreciation for the fact that I was in a different time period, safe and sound from the extinct monster. I was, in a sense, even laughing at it as an extinct beast that couldn't reach me through time.
Seeing the new reality of what T-Rex really was, a heavy, lopsided animal with small arms that couldn't do much more than scratch itself, and that was quite nearly blind relying on its strong sense of smell to locate dead carcasses, my perceptions of this animal have gone from the awe of the terror it was on earth, to pity for this poor, helpless creature whose existence was more along the lines of a vulture competing for food in its environment, than a predator that dominated the prehistoric landscape. In fact, it was rather funny to learn that all T-Rex had to do was take a fall from its uneven weight distribution and it would most likely break its own rib cage in the process.
Turns out, the T-Rex with its huge gaping jaws could well have been laughing at me and the rest of humanity. It is quite possible that humanity could become extinct during our time period, and that there is far more danger posed with our nuclear weapons and instability in the world, than T-Rex could have ever posed to us had it been on our time line.
I really don't know why I keep having to remind myself that my own human species is far more of a threat to survival than T-Rex ever could have been. Perhaps it is because American culture is so full of escapism into non-reality and things that have absolutely no foundation in truth, that I am being distracted from the real danger posed in my lifetime -- something so hideous and unthinkable, that it is easier for me and others to become distracted with making T-Rex out to be something it isn't.
Maybe I've seen too many Twilight Zone episodes, but I can't help but want to end this essay with a depiction of my bones being sketched by some creature who will have survived the next millennia, having unearthed my 50,000 year old skeleton that will one day be placed in a museum for others to sketch and laugh at, all the while saying, "the homosapian can't reach us -- can't blow up the world anymore. Thank God humanity is extinct to protect us from the insanity of those humans."