Fossil fuel for thought.

You probably don’t know Lily Wilder. I don’t even know Lily Wilder. Mind you she’s a four year old girl who lives in Wales, so why should I? I know of her though. She’s made it into the news thanks to her razor sharp sense of sight, a sense of sight which helped her spot a fossilised dinosaur footprint at Bendricks Bay beach in Barry. That’s a mouthful of b’s. The spotting of a dinosaur footprint couldn’t come at a better time. It’s just what we need to lift the mood and remind ourselves that all the species on this planet will be wiped out sooner or later. Of course, this assumes that the footprint wasn’t a fresh one, in which case Jurassic Park wasn’t just the stuff of invention and as I write this Janet Street Porter is locked in a terminal duel with a similarly fangy velociraptor.

Naturally a bunch of palaeontologists have rushed to the seaside to take a look and doubtless they’ll eventually be able to paint a much more vivid, presumptuous idea of what the scaly bugger might have looked like. The print is 10cm long and immediately they have worked out that the owner probably stood at around 75cm which, to give you something to work with, means if it were alive today (something I still haven’t completely dismissed as a possibility) it would come up to the region of my upper thigh, or if I turned around that bit just underneath my arse. What is interesting to me is how they established that so quickly. Have they not ever considered being slightly more imaginative? Perhaps this beast was only 5cm tall and just happened to have massively disproportionate feet. Perhaps it had particularly long legs, like Naomi Campbell, and grazed on the upper fruits of the highest trees. Perhaps, and I definitely bet they haven’t thought of this, they’re actually looking at the footprint of a reptilian monoped, an evolutionary anomaly that didn’t last long because it was unable to hop away fast enough from Marc Bolan’s band or a meteor strike.

You may scoff at that last suggestion but let’s be reasonable. The report doesn’t say that Lily found a series of footprints, merely one (potentially, if it was really tall like the BFG, the next print in the sequence might be hundreds of metres away). The dead lizard experts have also said that they have yet to establish how it walked. The obvious answer, and one that doesn’t require an ounce of expertise, is that it walked by putting one foot in front of the other, and I might just phone Cindy Howells (she’s the palaeontology curator at the National Museum Wales, I can’t believe you haven’t heard of her) to let her in on that secret. But what if this dinosaur had instead slowly devolved to rely on just the one foot? There would be benefits to this; an immediate 50% reduced expenditure on shoes, for a start. And shoe cleaning products. I was going to say socks as well but any idiot knows that socks hadn’t been invented at that point. My suggestion is that we should be a bit more open minded about these things because let’s be honest – no one has ever really seen a fucking dinosaur, so as far as we truly know everything we think we know might be utter rubbish.

Going back to Lily for a moment, she had been out walking in (I find this annoyingly vague) “January” with her dad and had stopped and said ‘daddy look’, and so he took a photo and showed his wife, who also happened to be Lily’s mum, or mummy, and she said she “thought it looked amazing”. And then everyone lived happily ever after. No doubt Lily was quite pleased with herself until that party pooper Cindy Howells (I’ve already told you, she’s the palaeontology curator at the National Museum Wales, keep up for fuck’s sake) went and blabbed on about the print being “the best specimen ever found on this beach”, a statement that didn’t completely destroy the little girl’s achievement but certainly put in a slightly less favourable context. Having said that, it’s not so much an achievement as just a thing that happened. What did you do today? I saw something. Well done you.

What happens next is anyone’s guess. Lily has probably convinced herself that she’s the next superstar of the palaeontology world and doubtless mummy and daddy will be very pleased to see their photo in the Bendricks Bay and Barry Gazette (published in “February”). They’ll be skipping down to the beach every morning, bemittened fingers firmly crossed that they might find even more revelatory clues to a world populated by one footed dinosaurs that might have looked a bit like someone who likes to throw phones at people and was once married to the bass player from U2. And you can safely assume that they won’t find anything quite as good as that footprint but Lily will be addicted, like having her first hit on a crack pipe, and she’ll slowly drive herself insane and end her days in the corner of a padded cell, pulling out clumps of her hair and singing the song she made up all those January’s ago called ‘Hoppy The Happy Dinosaur’.

There is one other, final option to consider and that is that the night before their walk God snuck down to Bendricks Bay beach in Barry and planted the footprint there to test our faith in Him. He’s been a busy boy recently has God, with all his testing (not to mention tracing, boom boom). Not too long ago he put a lowly bat on earth to test whether any moron would stoop so low as to eat it, and look how that ended up. And with all this chaos flying about those scientists are busy trying to piece together the past when in fact they’ve missed the point; there’s not a lot of point studying the past if you’ve already given up on the future. Just imagine what aliens will make of the huge, dirty footprint we’ll have left by the time we wipe ourselves out. And while we’re at it surely palaeontology is classed as a ‘non essential’ activity at the moment. So, that dinosaur print may be slightly interesting if you’re interested in that kind of thing but in the grand scheme of things it is what it is – the foot print of a dead animal that probably wasn’t tall enough to kiss my arse. Forgive me for being cynical but allow me a moment to offer a very underwhelmed whoopee doo. Fossils eh, what are they like?

G B Hewitt. 30.01.2021

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