Ask any kid about the dinosaur family and you’ll probably hear a whole series of names: Brontosaurus, Triceratops, Velociraptor, T-Rex. But now there’s a new dinosaur in town – a fictional one called the Slashasaurus.
As its name suggests, the Slashasaurus is famous for its slashing ability. It can slash with its claws, its teeth, its tail, its spikes, and even its eyes. As we learn in Creatures – the second book in the Secrets of the Under-Under World series – this dinosaur might be the deadliest of them all.
What is a dinosaur really?
The term ‘dinosaur’ comes from the Greek deinos ‘terrible’ + sauros ‘lizard’. These “terrible lizards” came in many shapes and sizes. According to the American Natural History Museum, some weighed as much as 80 tons and were more than 120 feet long. Others were tiny, the size of a chicken. Some were meat-eating and walked on two legs while others were herbivores, walking on all fours. In total, there were about 300 types of dinosaurs and over 700 species.
These prehistoric reptiles ruled the land for more than 140 million years. Today, all that is left of them are the birds we see in the sky, descendants the type of dinosaur that successfully passed on its genes. All the other types are extinct (except in fiction, of course.)
Where are dinosaur fossils found?
At one time, dinosaurs lived all over the world – even in Antarctica, which was much warmer millions of years ago. Not all dinosaur species were alive at the same time, however, so they’re classified according to the era when they thrived: The Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods.
The largest and most complete fossil discovered to date was found in Italy. Nearby, fossils of 11 other dinosaurs were also found. However, the widely recognized dinosaur capital of the world is Drumheller, Alberta – a town in the middle of the Canadian badlands. Here you’ll find “Tyra, the world’s largest dinosaur,” a reconstruction 4.5 times bigger than a real T-Rex. The Royal Tyrell Museum just outside of Drumheller houses hundreds of thousands of fossils and is a centre of palaeontological research, as well as a major tourist attraction.
Why do we find dinosaurs so fascinating?
According to paleontologist William Lindsay, “dinosaurs give you a real sense of the vastness of time.” (Hundreds of millions of years? What does that even mean?) Many are so strange looking that they seem the product of an overactive imagination – and yet, they were real.
Dinosaurs are often portrayed as vicious monsters walking the earth. And while they night attack humans on the modern-day cinema screen, movie goers can relax as they leave the theatre, knowing that they will never be attacked by these monsters on the street. Because dinosaurs no longer exist.
Dinosaurs spark sympathy because they’re extinct. They also provide a cautionary tale for humans who think that their rule on earth might last forever, even if they abuse their beautiful host planet.
Dinosaurs in fiction
Naturally, when we think of dinosaur stories, Jurassic Park comes to mind. But in the mid-19th Century, dinosaurs began making an appearance in fiction. In the early 20th century, dinosaur fiction stories such as The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle helped build an audience for this genre. Today, interest in these long-extinct reptiles is hardly waning – quite the opposite.
The 1960 American sitcom The Flintstones, featuring pet dinosaur Dino, was the first animated series to hold a prime-time slot on television. The 1993 movie A Dinosaur’s Story cemented the bond between fictional dinosaurs and children, as young Louie and Cecilia befriended dinosaurs escaping a fate in the circus. Today, dinosaur stories for preschoolers and toddlers abound, with more and more stories written all the time. Toys, puzzles, and games also often portray the beloved prehistoric reptile.
Dinosaur Fossil Eggs: Introducing the Slashasaurus
"Baby Yingliang" was the name given to the embryo found inside a 66+ million-year-old fossilized egg. The discovery of the fossil egg was made by in 2000 in southern China – and when scientists later examined the egg, they found the embryo inside. And just recently, five eggs have also been found in Brazil.
In my book, Creatures, dinosaur eggs are central to the story. A few frozen Slashasaurus eggs fall into the hands of The Sister, an evil old crone from a lost civilization who’s determined to destroy this world. She’s taking advantage of global warming to incubate the still viable eggs, adding a few tricks to speed up the process. It’s up to Sam and her friends to travel to every continent in the world to collect the magic antidote – before the dinosaur eggs hatch.
A blend of eco-fiction and fantasy, Creatures is full of adventure. It also addresses important coming-of-age issues: self-respect, confidence, trust, and compassion.
Long live the dinosaur story!
Fearsome, yet fetching. Mysterious and strange, but often lonely and in need of a friend. The dinosaur is one of the most fascinating and versatile subjects to fall into a fiction writer’s hands. Now, I’m pleased to add the Slashasaurus to the dinosaur family and the list of fictional reptiles who have gone before him.
Read more about Creatures here.