Dinosaur of the Month: Brachiosaurus
Growing up, I remember consuming a bizarre amount of dinosaur-related media. The Land Before Time, for example, was my favorite show. I found it so enthralling how dinosaurs had their own personalities, names, and families. Another aspect of the show that intrigued me was that there were various different dinosaurs all interacting with one another. T. Rexes and Velociraptors could be friends and get along just fine in this show. In addition to consuming an alarming amount of dinosaur television, I also consumed a lot of dinosaur food. For example, Dino Nuggets. After around the third grade, though, the dinosaur craze died down. Kids who used to carry their dinosaur lunch boxes around quickly replaced them with Star Wars ones. Dinosaur t-shirts in the kids section of Target were replaced with unicorn ones. Even the beloved Dino Nuggets became replaced with crispy, crunchy, and shapeless chicken tenders. I think it’s understandable that I just forgot about dinosaurs after a while.
For much of my life after the third grade, I carried a strong belief that dinosaurs weren’t real. Nobody ever really brought them up anymore. They weren’t a part of my life. And even more than that, I had never seen one before. The only real-life examples of dinosaurs that I could think of were the bony structures I would see all the time at the Liberty Science Center on field trips. I also thought that the myth of dinosaurs was undisputed — everyone knows that dinosaurs aren’t real, right?
Perhaps the memory is too traumatic for me to recall, and maybe my brain even blocked it out, but all I know is that one fateful day sometime in middle school, I found out that dinosaurs were, indeed, real. Not only were they real, but their descendants lived in my house (birds). As someone who stood firm in her ideology that dinosaurs were simply a sometimes-scary bedtime story (like the Tooth Fairy or unicorns or Hillary Clinton or narwhals or mermaids), you could probably imagine my shock when I was proved very, very wrong. Dinosaurs ruled the planet for millions of years, and all it took was one giant space rock to knock them all out. Naturally, this information snowballed into 1.) a deep and profound interest in dinosaurs and 2.) generalized anxiety disorder.
Despite being minorly obsessed with dinosaurs for a few years, by the time I was deep into my high-school years, I once again forgot about dinosaurs. No, this time I did not re-develop an ideology of dinosaurs being myths. However, I never talked about them or shared my previous interest in them with anyone. I was too old for that. It wasn’t until one fateful night this past summer that I remembered the magic of dinosaurs again. As I lay in my bed back at home a few days before coming back to Swarthmore for the start of the fall semester, I began thinking about my teeth. I have horizontally wide and flat teeth that have been straightened through five years of braces and what some may call excessive retainer use. I began thinking about the evolution of my ancestors — why was I blessed with this specific set of chompers? What evolutionary purpose could they serve? That’s when I realized: an herbivorous purpose. That’s also when I realized: I come from the Brachiosaurus.
The Brachiosaurus is a dinosaur most noted for its long, stretchy neck. This specific dinosaur, much like a giraffe, would stretch to tall trees to eat the leaves. Its teeth, much like my own, were flat and wide, helping it to chew the food down and break it down enough for the body to properly digest. In addition, the Brachiosaurus was only herbivorous — they didn’t have any prey animals. They were kind, loving, and warm dinosaurs. Although there’s no sure way of determining the exterior color of this species, I like to believe that the Brachiosaurus was a shade of Barney purple. Much like Barney, the Brachiosaurus also loved to give hugs.
While my brief description of the Brachiosaurus is not nearly enough to give it justice for all it has contributed to society, I’d like to think that I couldn’t have started off this series with a better example. The Brachiosaurus is a species that has reinvigorated my love and appreciation for dinosaurs, and I believe that through monthly reminders of the beauty of dinosaurs, you too will begin holding a special place in your hearts for these forgotten creatures.