the pieces are coming together... (visitor part 13) (the pack part 3)

well it turns out my cousin larry has managed to completely destroy my life with his visit . i'm not sure how i missed it. larry managed to successful manipulate and fool me into thinking he was my friend. rather than the JERK! he's always been...

larry's accomplished a lot on this trip:

all so he could get me to join some coelurosaur only club, called the pack of the primordial feather. according to larry nearly every bird-related theropod still alive today is a member (all in fact except the one coelurosaur who i care about the most... lillian... so hot!).

the thing is larry not only hasn't told me what this pack is about, but rather he's been deliberately covering up everything about it. up until a few days ago larry had been pretending he was filming a new film with peter jackson (a fair enough cover as he was the t-rexs in king kong).

i need information, and i need it now!

larry has proven he won't give any away though, and would probably try block my efforts if i were to leave him to his own schemes... fortunately i haven't left him on his own. i've come up with a plan.

you see there was one aspect of my new zealand life, even after coming into contact with larry, that isn't put off by his tyrannosaurisms. in fact it thrives off such things. that is of course my workplace the otago museum.

having missed work for the last two weeks due to larry's visit, my boss ms. rhonwyn was nice enough to overlook this absence on the condition that she be allowed some closer contact with my cousin. an offer that couldn't have been more opportunely offered!

so this morning i arranged ms. rhonwyn's face to face with larry. though i think she had it in mind that i'd be sticking around...

"you're leaving?!?" she disbelievingly asked as i started towards the dell in the botanic garden.

"just for a few minutes," i tried to assure her. "i have some quick calls i need make."

naturally my boss wasn't too pleased about being dumped with t-rex sitting. in fact she was clearly nervous. "uh, are you sure it's safe for me to be in such close proximity without a spotter or something," she whispered to me not wanting larry to overhear her.

"don't worry you'll be perfectly fine," i restated. looking up at larry i emphasised. "won't she larry? i'm going to be just over there, and i might change my mind if anything bad happens to her."

larry's eyes fixed on me with both a mix of confusion and suspicion at what must have been a sudden change in my demeanour from yesterday. then i had been totally gun hoe about being a true tyrannosaur. now i was suddenly concerned about humans again...

as for ms. rhonwyn she was started to regret her request for closer contact with a full grown tyrannosaur. under her breath i could make out. "if he ever wants a raise i'll..."

larry was intrigued by a human wanting to spend time with him who didn't want to make money off the encounter somehow... i only hoped the two of them would play nice while i snuck off.

i had to find out what larry was up to, and even more importantly where he'd finding out stuff about me from...

when it came to information there was only one man i could goto for that. mike the librarian. if there was anyone who could find me out some info on this pack of the primordial feather it was him.

getting out my "cell" phone i dialled mike up. hoping this might shed some light on what i should do next.

i forgot that canada being on the other side of the world was in a different time zone... oops... i woke mike up.

"what do you want traumador?" mike grumpily demanded upon hearing it was me on the other end of the call.

i quickly and briefly explained the situation i was in.

well at least i thought i explained it quickly. mike seemed to get very bored and impatient as i went on.

"you didn't need to tell me your whole family lineage," mike grumbled when i'd concluded my tale. okay maybe it wasn't a brief either. i might have gone into a bit too much detail on ALL aspects of the story in fact...

i was just being specific so mike knew what i was talking about. come to think of it people of the innerweb i don't think i've ever told you what a coelurosaur is! oops... well only one way to fix that!

today's palaeo FACT! TM is brought to you by the suborder theropod. theropods are of course meat eating dinosaurs...

of particular interest to us are the coelurosaurs. this is the group, or clade if you want to get real scientific, that i belong to. we are arguably the most "advanced" theropods to have evolved, and are by far the most diverse and unusual.

your typical theropod is built something like this: bipedal (aka stood on one pair of legs), three toed feet and three fingered hands, sharp claws on all our digits (fingers and toes), big triangular head filled with sharp teeth, and long tail to balance out the heavy front end. there is of course a lot of variation and diversity for those features, but your average theropod has 90% of those features.

the exception being coelurosaurs. not to say none of us fit those criteria. fact of the matter the classic theropod image is that of tyrannosaurus. we just differ on the three fingers bit having lost one finger per hand for two (some primitive theropods like the ceratosaurs had four... freaks!). despite tyrannosaurs being fairly typical (at least on the surface) you'll see some coelurosaurs depart the norm when it comes to how a theropod is put together...

welcome to my families overall members, and the likely members of larry's pack. as you can see quite the varied lot. any other theropod clades rogue gallery and you'd be hard pressed to see this much difference between members...

there are a lot of really specific things that make us all the same, and yet different from other theropods. most are pretty scientific and i'm not going to claim to be qualified to tell you about them. just click on this link to read about them though. some members are the only large theropods to have long necks. we also have the only plant eating theropod in our ranks (a matter of some embarrassment to be honest).

our biggest claim to fame is our direct ancestry with birds. birds descended directly from us, and as of such we were the only group of dinosaurs to legitimately surive the extinction 65 million years ago. features we share with birds include hollow bones (though most other theropods have these as well), wish bones (very important for the evolution of flight), and feathers. it is the last two: wish bone and feathers that allowed human palaeontologists to finally recognize our connection to birds (well other than a few bright guys like huxley and ostrom)

so who are they all? here's the quick rooster call:

tyrannosaurids- easily the most famous of the coelurosaurs (and for 'some' reason my favorite). despite being so normal among overall theropods we are among the weirdest of coelurosaurs. this is due to our monstrous size. the majority of coelurosaurs come in under 5 metres where only very early tyrannosaurs are this small (which is of course our ancestry with the others. we too were once small until we started to evolve bigger). due to our large size we became very similar to other large theropods, but with some small but important differences (i'll be sure to cover tyrannosaurids as our own palaeo FACT! soon to cover all these).

dromaeosaurids- the other really famous family of coelurosaurs. more commonly known as "raptor" dinosaurs due to the velociraptors from jurassic park movies. as we will see shortly they have among the most in common with birds. common features on these guys making them different from normal theropods are their second toe having a huge curved claw that was held off the ground (just recent proven by fossil foot prints).

troodontids- were very similar to dromaeosaurs. tons and tons of their features were identical to birds. also the second toe had a big claw (though no where near as big or scary as a raptors) and usually held aloft of the ground (again unlike the raptor not always though). they are also famous for their very large (for a dinosaur) brains.

oviraptorids- are an odd bunch. they have very block like heads, long necks, long arms, and long legs. they are arguably the most closely related to birds of our whole family (the argument comes only from the dromaeosaurs on this though. none of the rest of us can compete).

ornithomimids-look like for all intents like ostriches with arms instead of tiny wings. their unusual theropods due to a lack of teeth, and instead have a true beak like a bird. this gave them an unusual diet as they ate pretty much anything they could get their hands on (which had really nice long grabby fingers i might add!). their long legs also made them the fastest of dinosaurs.

therizinosaurids- were the true freak shows of of the theropod world. not only were they huge (the largest therizinosaur grow to be as large as us t-rexs!) and had a long neck, huge wolverine like claws, fat body builds, but these theropods ate plants!!! to be honest this makes them the black sheep of the coelurosaur clade, but their feathers and other bird like features keeps them in so to speak.

birds- last but not least. you hopefully know what these guys are all about... if not go outside and wait about 30 seconds to see one (unless your in antarctica... go to the shoreline and wait up to a few months for a penguin)!

so how do we all fit together. well this is a simplified coelurosaur family tree. at the bottom we have our primitive nearly "normal" theropod ancestors that evolved into true coelurosaurs sometime in the early the jurassic period (others claim possibly even as far back as the late triassic). as the lineage progressed through time the various families would break off on their own unique evolutionary path. remember this "progression" is just time going by. the evolution itself was random, and not destined to produce birds or t-rexs (in fact the tyrannosaur family is one of the earliest to branch off on its own meaning we're sadly the furthest removed from birds) it just did...

though the birds and dromaeosaurs appear the at the top of this lineage they still evolved fairly early in the overall dinosaur time frame. all this breakup into different families occurred within the jurassic period. the first primitive bird archaeopteryx was already around well before the cretaceous period some 153 million years ago.

speaking of the cretaceous that would be the time period that we coelurosaurs really took off though. the tyrannosaurids began their enlargening here due to the extinction of many of the old guard carnosaurs. in my neck of the woods, western north america, by 90 million years ago the only theropods around were coelurosaurs. man those would have been the days...

wait starting to sound like larry come to think of it...

well that's the coelurosaurs in a nutshell. i'll probably end up talking about them more in detail later. also if you have any questions let me know through an email or comment, and i'll make it a priority for my next palaeo FACT!

okay so come to think of it having told mike all this, and than some it was neither a quick nor brief explanation of the event going on in my life...

right mike! by now he was a little more than irate with me for wasting an hour... and HOUR!!! holy moly! poor mike...

i rushed my story, and asked if he could use his contacts in section 241 try and find me something out about the pack of the primordial feather.

this seemed to pick and wake mike up a bit. "the pack of the what?" he inquired.

"their the coelurosaur group i've been telling you about," i clarified. "i don't know much about them other than larry is a part of it, they have considerable push in the museum world, and are otherwise very secretive and top secret."

"really?" mike was enthralled. he's one for knowing something about everything. to not know is like torture to him. "i'll see what i can dig up for you."

i was confused. "no mike i don't need you to dig up anymore members for them. i'd goto a palaeontologist for that. i just need information on the ones that are out of the ground already," i instructed.

"he wakes me up at what time? and he's the one saying dumb things," mike mumbled. "you dummy. i meant dig up the information."

"oh," i answered. "okay. thanks than!"

with that i let mike get back to sleep. he had a possibly big task ahead of him in the morning (well later in the morning technically).

i still had one more call to make though...

somehow larry had found out i was in new zealand... this despite the fact only three people in canada knew i'd left in secret to new zealand. mike was one of them, and he'd never met larry that alone known anything about the pack. though i'd royally pissed off craig , it was due to larry's arrival in dunedin. craig had spent my whole life trying to keep me away from the pack so it couldn't have been him.

that only left bond... peter bond ... my special talent agent. who had told me a couple months ago that i should expect a visitor... who funny enough arrived, and has wrecked total havoc on everything!

bond better have a good explanation for this!

"traum baby, so glad to hear from you," cheerfully answered his phone. i clearly had caught him in a different time zone as well. only here he was having a nice relaxed evening. so relaxed it was evident in his conversation with me. "i trust things have been interesting over there?"

"something like that," i carefully replied waiting to see what peter would say next.

"now remember i didn't tell you on the record, cause i'm not technically supposed to know about it, but wasn't that offer he made you sweet?" peter mused.

"which offer was that?" i veined ignorance. though it wasn't entirely faked. what did peter know? most important what did he know that i didn't already?!?

peter laughed thinking i was playing into his game of him not having told me. "that's my boy."

i made my voice as serious as i could. "no which offer was it your talking about?"

"i get it. mum's the word," peter happily replied. "your cousin letting you into this ubber dinosaur network of his. the pack of the something or other. sounded like the gig of a lifetime for you my friend. we might just make something of you yet."

"what are 'we' going to be making of me?" i pressed.

"why the game of twenty questions?" peter joked. "well it's like i've been telling you traum baby. we've got to start looking at a bigger future for you than new zealand and that security guard gig."

technically it was peter telling me that i needed to expand. not me.

"so how's this pack going to help me with that?" i hoped peter had done his job in looking out for my needs...

"is larry listening in on this call?" peter realized i was pressing. "cause i didn't tell traumador anything."

"he's not listening peter," i assured my agent. "i need to know some things before i join the pack."

"what?!?" peter exclaimed spitting out some of his beverage. "you haven't joined yet!?!"

"no," i sternly answered. my impatience with all the lies and secrets going on around me from peter to larry to even craig welled up to the surface. "because i'm sick of people not telling me what they have 'in mind for me'. i can make my own choices, and so unless you start telling me something i'm definately not joining this pack!"

"okay okay," peter backpeddled. "calm down my little green friend."

"let's start off with how you even know larry?" i demanded.

"pretty simple. remember i came to negotiate with him on your behalf during the whole vancover storyeum incident," peter reminded me. "well during the talks i gave larry my card thinking nothing of it... networking never hurt an agent. then suddenly a few months ago he calls me up wondering if i knew where you were. he tells me he was a very promising offer for you."

"that's when you called me to ask my address, and you told it to someone else on another phone line. that was larry than?" i was starting to get the picture of how peter got involved.

"yeah that's pretty much how that happened," peter answered.

"what did larry tell you this 'gig' with the pack would be?" i asked.

"he didn't say exactly. just that the pack would ensure you got a position at a museum or theme park more worthy of your status than security guard," peter frankly answered. it didn't help me though. larry had already told me this line.

"that's not all you know though is it?" i probed. "you looked them up more didn't you. that's why you insisted i take their offer? you know more about the pack than you're supposed to."

"there isn't putting anything past you is there traum. are you sure you're brain is as small as you say it is?" peter sounded a little worried. "yes i looked into them a bit."

"so?" i insisted.

"their connected traum," peter told me in a very serious voice. "more connected than any dinosaur should be... in the sense that you guys are extinct for the most part."

peter's voice was quieter as though he were worried about being overheard. "traum they have a member in nearly every museum across the world. if they aren't in a place it's not worth looking at... probably why larry's not too happy about your being at the otago."

my eye ridge raised. how did peter know that larry didn't like my working at the otago?

"the pack has the influence to decide what dinosaur exhibits do and don't go up," peter carried on. "even those ridiculous creationist museums traum. they make those guys pay through the nose for pack members to be on display. they call it a reputation tax. the creationist want to smudge tyrannosaur's reputation than they have to pay for it."

"dinosaurs who aren't members have to be careful not to get in the packs' way traum. if you aren't a member you have to make sure their happy with you or you could be through. only the morrison union and the carnosaur latino pack have any clout against the primordials traum, and you're not going to be given an invite into those groups."

who were the morrison union and the latino pack? how did peter know about them? why hadn't i heard of any of this in the dinosaur community before?!?

than came the line that made my spine sever. "traum after everything larry's done for you during this visit, you have to join or he'll be furious with me," peter pleaded.

it suddenly made sense. larry had been getting information about me he shouldn't have all trip. in particular my rivalry with the germ-man... he'd been getting it all from peter. everytime larry went off for a walk through the garden he'd been calling up bond to get intell.

"are you working for the pack? or do you work for ME?!?" i yelled into the phone. a fury i'd never experienced flowed through me... if peter had been there i would have bite him in the throat!... i felt so betrayed... i felt so... so ... in need of the hunt... was this more of my tyrannosaur nature coming through?!?

"wow i never meant..." peter actually sounded scared. "i was just trying to help."

"how were you trying to help?!?" i found myself growling, driven by an uncontrollable angry deep within me. "how does helping the one dinosaur you know i hate above all others help me?"

"look traum i'm sorry," peter tried to reason. "i admit that i got a little caught up in how helping you get in the pack might help me. let's face it traum you're not exactly making either of us a profit in your current job, but in this pack of larry's we might both just have a chance at the big time."

"so you don't actually work for larry?" i pressed on, but the intense rage was fading, and i was starting to think more rationally. "you're not working for both of us?"

"no traum," peter assured me, but i felt suspicious. why i couldn't tell. was it this primal anger or my intuition. there was just something about peter's next sentence that had me on edge. "i was only trying to facilitate a deal that would benefit you. larry and his pack, well to be frank they have more experienced management representing them, and don't sadly need my services at the moment."

i calmed myself, and decided i'd alienated enough people in my life these last two weeks. "okay. i'm sorry too peter. i don't know what came over me there," i admitted embarrassed.

peter's usual charm kicked back in. or was it really charm, and not something more subversive. something trying to catch me off guard?... "it's okay big guy. you've just had a lot to think about. it's normal to crack under pressure with someone as close to you as me. i get more often than you'd think."

larry had gotten me on edge... that's all... he'd gotten to me to the point i was seeing enemies and tricks where none existed... or was it just in my head? peter had been providing larry with information up until now. could i really trust him?

"let me know how you decide in either case traum," peter started to conclude the call. "i stand by you which ever way you decide." yet i somehow doubted he meant that. he clearly had a preference in which way i picked.

we hung up.

that hadn't answered my questions completely, but it had filled in some gaps. this pack of the primordial feather was trouble. my next step was going to be critical. i had to think of something fast so that larry didn't do something i'd regret.

interrupting my train of thought my "cell" phone went off... weird i never get calls.

"hello," i answered expecting it to be mike with some information for me.

to my surprise. "hi traumador it's ms. rhonwyn," came my bosses voice. oh no! what was larry about to do? no wait what was he doing?!? worse what had he already done to her?!?!?

"that was amazing!" she said thrilled. "thank your cousin for me again!"

my jaw dropped (which considering how large and muscley a tyrannosaur jaw is, is saying something.

"i sadly have just gotten a very urgent call from work," ms. rhonwyn said quite frankly. "i have to leave the country on critical business. there's just one thing traumador." her voice became more earnest.

"yes," i said in anticipation.

"things like your cousin. extreme, bizarre, and potentially dangerous things like your cousin. you've dealt with them a lot?" she asked hopeful of my reply.

"yeah i guess so," i answered.

"are you certain?" she asked fearing my reply to this double checking.

"weird, big, and scary things," i rephrased her criteria. "yeah their pretty routine where i come from."

"excellent," ms. rhonwyn stated. "traumador consider yourself promoted effective immediately to my personal assistant. you will get a pay raise, and the privileges to go with it soon enough."

my heart nearly skipped. what was happening. out of larry's visit something good was happening?

than the catch. "keep your mobile on you at all times, and await possible instructions at any moment. most important of all though truamador... tell no one of this promotion. i mean no one! you are to keep up your security guard duties as though everything is normal. i pray that things don't come to my having to call upon you, but if i do please understand it will be situation of most dire importance to the museum."

"uh okay," i was baffled. was she playing a trick on me? why was she suddenly running out of the country again?!?

another phone call down.

it occurred to me than that if ms. rhonwyn was jet off (literally perhaps) that larry was being left unattended. something i very much could do without!

rushing back out to find him, larry greeted me back. "i entertained your human for you all nice and polite just as you asked. i even granted closer inspection of my teeth and jaws as she requested." i can only wonder at what ms. rhonwyn would want with a very close up of larry's terrifying maw.

"thank you larry," i genuinely told my cousin. my heart sank. i expected this to be the last truly pleasant exchange we were going to have during this visit of his. "about your offer to join the pack..." i trailed off.

larry's head craned with clear anticipation.

"follow me dear cousin, and i'll give you your answer," i told him as my brain raced through what i was going to have to do next...

to be concluded...


clashes to go round... (the visitor part 12) (the pack part 2)

today has been something of a revelation. my cousin larry has finally told me his reason for visiting me unannounced. he has just offered me membership in a exclusive club of for only surviving coelurosaurs of today, called the pack of the primordial feather...

i was about to accept his offer when the most unexpected interruption cut in.

craig my legal guardian (who also kinda found my egg and hatched me) stood looking ready for trouble...

"it's been a while larry," craig stated. "i got lucky that you made the news everywhere here or i might have missed your visit."

larry's lips curled upward reviling the full length of his threatening fangs. deep from within his chest came a low rumbling roar (very similar to our primitive ancestors the crocidilians).

"you sound like you're not happy to see me larry," craig mocked. "well i can't say i'm to pleased to see you either larry, but there is one thing i can say for sure. you're not taking him larry. not over my dead body!"

oh man... why'd craig have to word it that way? cause there really wasn't much keeping larry from arranging a dead body...

craig seemed very content on a confrontation, but i couldn't for the life of me, or craig's see any reason for my guardian to be so confident around my 6 tonne relative...

larry leaned down. his teeth as exposed as he could physically get them. he was curling his lips so bad i thought they might start bleeding or tear.

"you have some nerve human," larry growled. "but if it is a corpse you need human, i may be able to oblige."

i grew nervous larry's body language was shifting to a very aggressive one. i knew craig could tell this (he's spent a great deal of time around us dinosaurs, and tyrannosaurids in particular). yet he didn't seem phased or even slightly scarred...

i had no idea what had changed. the last time i'd seen craig around adult tyrannosaurs (who weren't skeletons) was at a family reunion in canada in 2005...

craig had been nice enough to drive me to the reunion... (come to think of it i wonder. were all my family members there part of this pack?)... oh right sorry story at hand!

my relatives having told a few too many stories of past glories on the hunt started to get restless. that's when they realized i'd brought a human with me to the event...

next thing you knew zoe tyrannosaur insisted that larry had chased people wrong in jurassic park. to illustrate she took after craig like a giant reptilian cat on a poor tiny mammalian mouse (well okay mice are mammals, but you get my point)...

poor craig had no means of defending himself for the initial part of the chase. larry drunkenly ran after the chase taunting zoe how she wasn't doing much better than he had in JP. unlike his character in the movie zoe could see none moving objects and yet she couldn't catch craig.

had craig not locked himself in the campground office (with a very terrified camp staff) he'd probably have been a pre BBQ snack...

why this tale of 05. well craig was next to no different now in the year 2007 than he was back then. yet here he was deliberately making my cousin angry...

larry leaned closer. his intent would have been clear to anyone, that alone a trained dinosaur tender like craig.

craig in calm low voice clearly trying to keep me from hearing. "central knows i'm talking to you right now larry, and you know what will happen if i don't call them back."

who or what is central? why was larry supposed to be scared of it? how did my normally boring guardian craig know about it? but most important what was this central?!?

larry lunged forward upon hearing this cryptic response. my heart froze.

craig barely flinched. i'd never seen him like this before...

instead of chomping down on craig, larry let loose a great angry bellow right in craig's face. the angriest i've ever heard him. this made his roaring at the germ-man seem friendly.

apart from from some drool and the initial gust of air propelled at him direct from larry's lungs craig was unmoved. "about done larry?"

"i should have killed you when i had the chance," larry growled.

"if horses were wishes than we could have hyracotherium back," craig dismissed larry's menace. "in the meantime i'll be taking traumador, and you can get the hell out of town."

i was paralyzed by not only the epic tension, but more the confusion of were it came from. since when had larry and craig hated each other?

i could understand a little bit of dislike after the reunion chase in 05, but craig had told me on the drive home that "a tyrannosaur will be a tyrannosaur" as though he'd expected it when he drove me there in the first place...

the source of my confusion...

when i moved out of craig and dan's apartment, while packing i found an old discarded photograph in the basement (where i'd been living). i think craig had intended to throw the photo out, but the waste basket had been in the midst of the jungle that grew in the basement because of my poor cleaning of my room (just watch this video to see the apartment and the jungle). meaning the photo had never been properly thrown out...

it captured a moment of time when craig and larry appeared to be friends. they posed nicely together for the picture. more to the point on the back of the pic craig had written 'the end of the best field season ever of 2003'.

this photo in general has always been a intriguing mystery to me...

it was taken in the year 2003, the same year craig found and hatched my egg.

the photo clearly showed both craig and larry in the badlands, and not just any stretch of badlands. one i knew (sure there are a lot of them even in just alberta that alone the rest of the world). somehow i could tell it was a patch outside of huxley... close to where me and my mother were buried 65 million years ago.

the photo states it was the end of the field season. meaning that craig, and presumably larry were out in the field looking for fossils...

all these put together to form a very interesting story... craig and larry had set out into the badlands together, and found me!?!

this one scenario raised all manner of questions!

the most relevant to today's ordeal, how could it have been the best field season if they hated each other?

if they had been friends the scene playing out in front of me was proof they certainly weren't 4 years later.

"you dare order me around pest," larry roared.

"to be honest no. i guess i can't," craig conceded. "on the other hand, i can you on the other hand young man." craig pointed at me. "let's go traumador. we're leaving!"

"what?" i said in shock. i'd hoped they'd both calm down before bringing me into this. "i don't want to go right now."

next thing i knew i received an angry look from craig the like's of which i hadn't seen since i was a hatchling. "traumador! the! tyrannosaur!" oh no my full name... craig stormed over to me and took my by the collar.

next thing i knew craig was dragging me from the botanic garden . "hey stop. please. where are you taking me?" i protested. craig just relentlessly dragged me from the park.

larry just stormed off in the opposite direction clearly furious... great so now i had to deal with a really grumpy larry when i got back!

not that craig seemed any less grumpy right now.

he hauled me the whole 2 blocks to his home at salmond hall. right back up to his room. which i have to note was much cleaner since i was last crashing there...

"what gives?" i demanded once he'd let go of me.

"that was for your own protection," craig answered quickly glancing outside his window suspiciously...

"from who?" i challenged.

"your cousin," craig answered a little boggled. well okay i guess i could forgive him that. normally me and larry didn't get along. what with his being a JERK! and all...

"i was fine," i tried to assure craig, and made as though i was heading out the door.

"sit down right now young man," craig ordered.

"you can't just show up and boss me around," i countered. "i'm not a hatchling anymore. you said so yourself when you kicked me out of the apartment in drumheller!"

"than stop acting like one," craig snapped. "i've come to help you. so stop acting like i'm the one using you."

"and larry is?" i asked grumpily. craig had no right trying to pull the angry father thing on me. i was living on my own now, and had taken care of myself just fine this last year since being fired by the tyrrell museum.

"do i even have to answer that question?" craig was baffled. "larry shows up under the radar. crashes your place, makes you put your life on hold for him, and than starts manipulating your life. you're asking me if he's using you!"

"he is not," i feeibly reply.

"please traumdor it's all over the news what you two have been up to," craig calls me on my line of logic. "it doesn't take a brain the size of peanut to see he's trying to manipulate you. scarring the german half to death. somehow i'm just not seeing that as your idea. rampaging around dunedin and getting tyrannosaurs into the new zealand public's mind. again not something in your best interest traum."

"why would he do that?" i asked seriously unable to think of any reason. my rage at craig clouding my thinking. "why would he try and get us on the news?"

"to get you to join the pack," craig cut to the chase. "he's here trashing the hardwork you've done on your own all just so he can have another member in his wife's little club."

"he is not. he's just... wait how do you know the pack?" i requested.

craig's face lightened. "traum i've spent a lot more time in museum's around dinosaurs than you. i've heard things. besides you late cretaceous dinosaurs can't keep a secret even if it was going to kill you. the pack of the primordial feather likes to pretend it's existence is pretty hush hush, but if you know a thing or two, you catch wind of it."

"you've known about the pack this whole time, and you never told me about it?" i was shocked.

"i've done my best to keep you clear of it. i didn't raise you just to become another carnosaur," craig responded.

i was completely taken back. i took offense to almost every part of that sentence.

"you kept me clear of the one way i could fit in with my own kind?" i chocked out.
craig's eyes focused on me. "traum let's get one thing straight i'm not the one who banished you from dinosaur kind. larry is one of the principle culprits there. i wasn't the one withhold your membership on this coelurosaur club. larry was. he could have told you anytime."

"how am i the bad guy when they want you is to fill up the ranks of the pack you're better off without them."

i was getting mad at craig for some reason. i couldn't figure why at the time, but i think my tyrannosaur instincts had kicked in, and we get mad and aggresive when confronted. even with just mere information.

"well maybe as just 'another carnosaur' i'm better off in this pack," i mocked craig's earlier statement. "you don't even recognize the fact i'm a coelurosaur, and not a dumb old primitive carnosaur!"

"oh that's rich traumador," craig voice sharpened. "of course i know the difference. before you take the superior coelurosaur angle over the carnosaurs, take a long hard look at larry and the rest of your living relatives. carnosaurs may be brutes and thugs, but at least their honest about it! larry and the pack are subversive and deceptive. they've got their claws into all sorts of other people's and dinosaur's business. i respect carnosaurs more than most coelurosaurs."

"even me?" i snapped back.

"notice my use of the word most. of course i respect you," he replied.

"what kind of respect is it to walking in out of no where, and make my decisions for me?" i demanded.

"wait you were going to actually accept his invitation traumador?" craig responded shocked. "please tell me your just mad because no one ever told you the pack existed. you're not going to join are you?"

"i was," i proudly responded.

"traumador," craig slowly started to plead. "i raised you to be better than the pack. you can do so much more on your own. you don't need their help."

my angry boiled to the top. "who else is going to help me? you? and where do you get off saying that you raised me to be better than my own kind? what are you saying tyrannosaurs are inferior, and that i should be more like you dumb humans."

i could see craig's patience was wearing thin. "i never said any such thing about tyrannosaurs. if you want my honest opinion your cousin larry and the other members of the pack on the other hand are among the worst of surviving dinosaurs. not because their inferior, but because they think themselves better than the rest of the world."

"maybe we are?" i challenged. "what do you have over us. we existed for millions of years more than you. we were kings of all dinosaurs. the dinosaurs being the most successful land animals ever! and we were their kings!"

"oh so that's it is it?" his voice was now angered as well. "we're going to go by evolutionary and geologic success are we? well than mr. tyrannical king lizard both of us better get on our hands and knees. cause i have some news for you. we vertebrates have nothing on the invertebrates. come on let's see you get worshipping the cockroaches! come to think of it bacteria really should be the lord and master of your world than!"

"that's not what i mean," i angrily rebuttal. "you're just jealous because we tyrannosaurs are so much more than your pathetic mammal linage. that's why you raised me to fear and loath myself!"

these words appear to cut right through craig his voice dropped soft. "3 years of my life i gave up raising you. years i could have done other things, but no i decided. i'd rather use these years to bring you up better than other coelurosaurs. who just wander around bullying and intimidating everyone to get what they want. crushing everyone else's dreams so they can pretend their still in their prime."

"guess what traumador. as much as your cousin likes to pretend he's a big shot in the world he's not. none of you are! dinosaurs are extinct... and if you think you mean anything anymore outside of the museum community think again!"

"i tried to raise you to a sensitive and caring dinosaur so you could surpass your relatives, and maybe make a good name for tyrannosaurs and a place for yourself in that small museum world."

"back when you were at the tyrrell i was so proud of you. you exceeded my every expectation. you were loved by everyone at the musuem. sure you weren't the highest up the ladder, but if you had been the pack would have knocked you down anyway. just like they did to lillian ."

"so you tried to make me something i wasn't. something better, all because you thought my kind are monsters and jerks?!?" i screamed. "well thanks for the favour! look at me... thanks to your humanizing me i was kicked out of my home! forced to leave the whole country! and settle for being a mere security guard! and worst of all made a joke among dinosaur kind!"

"you're welcome," a tear erupted from craig's eye. "so this is what a 'true' tyrannosaur is then? i'd always wondered. were they all selfish rude brutes? i had hoped it was just the ones i'd met, and that in theory they were capable of much more deep inside. turns out i was wrong. maybe we are all just the sum of our parts, and tyrannosaurs are monsters and jerks."

"i hate you!" i shouted in response to that. how dare he call us monsters...

craig walked to the door and opened it. "well than mr. tyrannosaur since i've ruined your life so effectively, you can leave," his ordered. "we wouldn't want to keep you from paying your tribute to get in to the pack."

"trib-what?" i asked puzzled.

"oh that's rich," craig said flustered. "so you don't even know what you need to do to get into the club, and still i'm the bad guy..."

"on your way out maybe think about a few things traumador," craig's voice was the crossest i'd ever heard it. "ask yourself, what do you really know about the pack? if your cousin really have your best intentions in mind, like you keep telling me, why did larry lie to you about filming a movie in new zealand? most importantly ask yourself is it really 'humans' you're mad at or actually the coelurosaurs for treating you terribly? joining the pack isn't going to change who and what they are traumador. its only going to change you!"

"now go," he concluded.

part of me was eager to go, and end this conversation. at the same time in my head a sharp pain of guilt crept up as i started to think about craig's question.

craig was right. i knew next to nothing about the pack... it had almost all the world's surviving coelurosaurs as members. i did know of one instance it destroyed someone (lillian) for it's own purposes. other than that i didn't know anything. what was i going to have to give them to join? what did the pack do? what was i going to have to do within it?

"wait i just..." i started to ask hoping to reverse where this conversation had somehow gone.

"leave now!" craig cut me off. he's voice was heavy with emotion "i don't need to hear anymore about how much i destroyed your life thank you very much."

"no that's not what i meant," i stuttered as craig ushered me out of the room. "i'm confused. please i'm sorry."

"so am i traumador. i'm very sorry too, but i've heard about enough for today," many tears now ran down his face. "you think about who you are hard before answering larry."

"until you've made up your mind stay away from me!" he commanded. "you've made it very clear you don't want my help." with that the door slammed in my face.

everything behind my eyes went numb for what must have been hours...

what had i just done?

in the heat of the moment i'd said what i thought were perfectly rational points, but reviewing them in my head i realized just how hurtful they must have been. craig had said it himself. he'd raised me actively for 3 years. not because he had to, but because he wanted to, and i just bite him in the heart for it...

that was the most upset i'd ever seen him... i mean ever...

not only had he been there for me before he moved out of drumheller 2 years ago, but he'd tried to help me now. i had insulted him for it. more than that i'd turned on the one person in the world who had done nothing but support and help me when it counted most. all because of what? my big wig ruffian cousin who has been nothing but cruel and malicious to me my whole life. suddenly he shows up with an invite to a no humans allowed club, and my life before doesn't exist?

i am a monster! that has to be the only answer... am i wired inside so that even when surrounded and made to be good, i must decay back into a brute myself?

oh i could convince myself this is only biology at play. that instinctively i wish to be with my own kind, and part of a pack just like we've always done. i'd be lying to myself though.

suddenly the memory of the drive home from the family reunion of 2005 came back to me.

as we drove back toward drumheller i'd asked him worriedly, "aren't you mad at zoe and larry for chasing you?" thinking he'd never let me see my relatives again.

"no," craig responded very calmly. "a tyrannosaur will be a tyrannosaur." he finished turning to look at me. he's face saddened looking at me. i remember at the time wondering why he was so sad...

i'd never realized why until just now. he wasn't talking about zoe or larry being tyrannosaurs. he was terrified of my turning out like them...

upon this realization i let out a pained howl...

i may have destroyed things with craig far worse than the beginning of this year now, but i wasn't going to throw away everything he'd done for me.

he was right. i needed to think of who and what i was. i needed answers. i needed to know more about the pack. i needed to make things right...

larry was bound to try and pounce on this moment of volatility to force the issue of my joining, and also keep me from finding answers. i was going to need to distract him above all these other needs...

than something from our visit to my work at the otago museum occurred to me.

i had the perfect plan for keeping larry busy, and i knew exactly who i needed to hit up for information...

to be continued...


what am i? (the visitor part 11) (the pack part 1)

its hard to believe that it's been nearly 12 days since my cousin larry showed up here in dunedin unannounced for a visit. what's even harder to believe is that for the last few days i haven't even noticed the time going by.

as funny as it sounds i've actually started to enjoy hanging out with larry...

had you told me a year ago, i'd enjoy a visit from larry i would have laughed in your face! larry was the biggest JERK! i knew. how many cousins would actively take delighting in denying their cousin a new home or job (at the storyeum in vancouver)? well my cousin sure did...

so what has changed my outlook on larry?

to be honest he's no less of a JERK!. he's still selfish, egomanical, and condescending to me. he hates humans, and thinks of me as a lesser being to to my upbringing by a human. okay i'm level with you. i'm still kinda holding a grudge.

so why is it i'm enjoying hanging out with larry all of a sudden?

because the rest of the world is being even meaner to me than he usually is!!!

ever since the special news coverage about larry's few misadventures around dunedin we've been public enemy number one! the mean things people say about us on TV are hurtful. even larry the apex tyrannosaur, doesn't do half the stuff everyone says we do. whenever we go anywhere the way people run away from us and scream is even worse.

it has gotten me wondering why do i bother trying to live among humans? why have i been trying to encourage human dinosaur cooperation?

it hasn't gotten me anything or anywhere. if anything i have less than most dinosaurs who are still alive today...

than i look at larry. he hasn't made any accommodations for humans whats so ever. if anything he treats them with outright disdain and disgust. he has made it a point of pride to be a pure tyrannosaur who doesn't remotely care about being in civilized world.

how has this hurt larry?

not a bit! if anything he has thrived from it...

he is a full on movie star. the most iconic tyrannosaur in the world due to his parts in jurassic parks 1, 2 and 3, king kong, and walking with dinosaurs. through these movies (especially the stupidity that was jurassic park 3) larry has made a fortune. he is easily the richest dinosaur on earth with millions of human dollars. allowing him to do whatever he pleases...

he is happily mated with offspring. larry is definitive proof that girls love jerks over nice guys. he's mated to the second hottest living tyrannosaurid alive today, teresa the tyrannosaur
(second in hotness only to the lovely lillian the albertosaur... drool). not only is she larry's mate, but they've had eggs together. hot mate and a bunch of larry jrs underfoot. again larry's not so bad off.

then there's the respect issue. dinosaurs and humans alike both respect and fear him. i wonder how much of it is from his being a celebrity or if it is the other way round?

whatever the reason, if larry wants something he gets it! no one wants to stand in the way of a full on tyrannosaur...

it's funny because my whole life i'd thought that having people fear you was a bad thing. when i look at larry (who does frighten me a bit) i realize maybe it is a good thing...

now granted i could never get the level of fear that larry does. he is a 14 metre 6 tonne giant. i barely come up to his ankle (keep in mind on most dinosaurs the ankle was way higher up the leg than on mammals... in the pics larry's ankle is the second "backwards bending knee").

despite this, larry tried today to convince me my small stature wasn't an issue. at least with none theropods.

"i don't know about that," i countered larry's claim. "who'd be scared of little old me. I barely come up to most humans belly's."

"bah, whose to say you aren't due for a growth spurt cousin" larry dismissed. "besides you of all people should know how deadly a juvenile tyrannosaur can be."

now i knew what larry meant by this, but you human readers of the innerweb may be a little confused...

(a new feature of my blog to gap us prehistoric survivors with you the readers of the innerweb it's the first ever Palaeo FACT! TM)

adult tyrannosaurs like larry have indeed been amazingly molded by evolution for killing, but they have one weakness (as is bound to happen through random selective pressures!). initially we tyrannosaurs were small like the rest of our coelurosaurian keen. however through millions of years we branched off into larger and more heavily built forms.

our skulls became our main weapon, and with each new member of the tyrannosaurids (every 5 million years or so) not only had our overall size gotten bigger, but so had the size and power of our jaws. the price we paid for this constant up scaling was that to support the weight of our massive bodies and in particular our heads we had to slow down.

though our prey was large and slow like us it was hard for just adult tyrannosaurs to hunt them down. so the solution?

we retained part of our coelurosaurian legacy of nimbleness and speed. for young tyrannosaur bodies are built more like our speedy cousins the ornithomimids (the ostrich lizards!). only as we grow up and develop the larger skulls and bodies of adulthood do we slow do... meaning that it was the job of the younglings in a pack to actively pursue and hunt prey...

millions of years of ago in the cretaceous my role in life would have been to run into the massive herds of hadrosaurs and ceratopsians and try to chase out an individual for the adults to kill. though this may have sounded like an irresponsible form of child rearing, it was in larry's opinion the ultimate childhood. the younglings didn't consider it work, but more like a game. just one that could have life or death consequences...

end fact...

getting back to my discussion with larry. "it's not the cretaceous anymore larry," i told him.

"so you keep telling me cousin," larry angrily grumbled. suddenly he was very pointed, but not in his typical way. he actually was talking to me as though we were on level, and not like he was better than me. "do you know what your problem is cousin?"

"what?" i thought larry was going to say some easy to ignore insult.

"you're afraid of who and what you are," he stated.

"i am not!" i replied in shock at the accusation.

"really," larry challenged. "not once this trip have i seen you do anything remotely resemble a tyrannosaurian thing. not once... you have only spoken tyrannosaurese when you did not want humans to know what you were saying or these last few days."

"and do you want to know why i think you do not behave like one of us?" larry paused. "because you're afraid to face reality. afraid to face what a tyrannosaur in the modern world real is."

"every time you speak of the human world around us you speak as though you are some sort of lucky visitor. you speak of our past as though it was somehow obsolete and primitive in comparison to the humans and their 'civilization'. you speak as though we tyrannosaurs are some how an inferior species. when you speak like this, it sickens me, and insults not just myself but ALL of us!" larry stated.

"humans are not our evolutionary superiors. they have only been around a million years. we tyrannosaurus rexs alone were in existence for 3 million. they did not earn rule of this world or have to fight for it as our ancestors did. they and their mammalian cousins simply picked up the pieces after we bore the brunt of nature's greatest trial. you advocate and endorse these pathetic evolutionary vultures?!?

"the greatest legacy the world has yet seen, 160 million years our kind ruled this planet, and yet you'd defer to those that have only ruled it for half that time, and only due to our absence?"

"you mock and insult our traditional ways. in face of what? human 'intelligence'? what has their ways brought them and the world other than suffering and death? they destroy the environment simply to gather the means and resources to destroy each other. the tyrannosaur way was a more sustainable way."

"oh we killed all right, but only what needed to be killed for our survival. did we kill each other. yes, but if we did we never did so under the ruse of a greater or just cause. we did it because that is the nature of the world. eat or be eaten!"

"the reason you don't see all this cousin is because they've trained you to be afraid of this truth. to be afraid of what you are," larry concluded.

"why would they do that?" i couldn't see a logical reason why. some of what larry had said made some sense, but why would my friends have made me afraid of myself? why would craig have raised me this way?

"because their afraid of you too," larry asserted. "they know of your potential, and they don't want you to tap it. they'd rather you stay a good obedient little museum attraction."

"instead of what?" i wondered.

larry's composure became very pleased. "a contributing member to your family."

"what could you and aunt black beauty need from me?" i was confused. since when did a big movie star need to ask for money from his lowly security guard cousin?

"no cousin you misunderstand. about a great many things it would seem," larry explained. "i speak not of our immediate family. though they are key members, but of our greater coelurosaur family."

"we ask not for your monetary contribution, but your loyalty," larry asserted.

i just stared blankly at larry in deep thought, but he misinterpreted it as me being puzzled.

"you look as though you have questions cousin," larry prompted.

boy, did i have questions! i'd worked some things out...

"was this what you were trying to tell me about before you fell down bench hill? the 'pack'?" i asked.

larry was slightly taken aback. i don't think he'd ever expected me to remember him saying that, that alone me piecing it together. "yes cousin. that is preciously what i'm talking about."

"what is the pack?" i really wanted to know!

"the pack," larry repeated in reverence. "the pack of the primordial feather is the ancient brotherhood that has kept the various coelurosaur clans bound together since the extinction."

"i've never heard of anything like that before!" i countered. being very much a coelurosaur, and have spent a lot of time around other coelurosaurs you'd think i'd have heard of such a "brotherhood".

"of course you haven't cousin," larry assured me. "though we are more than well known to those in important places in the museum and palaeontology industries we attempt to keep a low profile. other dinosaurs fear to even speak our name due to our power!"

"i'm a coelurosaur. why am i only hearing about this now?" i demanded. my whole life i've been an outsider among my fellow dinosaurs, and now i learn there's been a coelurosaur only club that i wasn't even invited into to!

"because you were not of the age of passage," larry admitted. "all brethren must survive to the age of maturing before being allowed into the pack. till than they are not ready to take their place amongst the pack."

suddenly it dawned on me. my 4th hatching day had just gone by shortly before larry's visit... and larry had oddly congratulated me on it when he first arrived in dunedin...

why was that an important realization. well by the time a tyrannosaurid had reached 4 years old in the cretaceous, it had grown enough to partake in the hunt... the age of passage! from mere weak hatchling to predatory runner for the family...

"why didn't you come on my hatching day to visit me than?" i wondered.

"because i did not know you were here in new zealand," larry countered. "that is why i was visiting the tyrrell just before i came here. i was looking for you at the museum. imagine my surprise when i discovered that you were no longer employed there."

larry's voice grew angry and tense. i worried it was due to my decision to leave canada. "it seems those fools at the museum decided to under go a major attraction shuffle due to us. the pack had only wanted the tyrrell to get rid of the absconder, but they got rid of much more. you were an unfortunate sideeffect of that effort on their part. a mistake they will not make again i assure you."

wow that was a lot of information to take in.

so the only reason larry had really gone to the tyrrell was to see me? not his mom (my aunt black beauty) like he'd told me...

the museum won't have realized they had too many dinosaurs in its employment if this pack of larry's hadn't bugged it about a specific dinosaur. an absconder...

"discovering the museum had ejected you, and with no trace of where you'd gone we feared we'd lost you forever," larry continued interrupting my train of thought for a moment. "only by luck i stumbled across an agent who knew of your new location."

agent? he couldn't mean... "peter bond?"

"yes that was the human's name," larry agreed.

suddenly it hit me. peter had mentioned the possibility of a visit on not one but two occasions!what did peter have to do with larry? why had he told larry where i was?

than another thing hit me from a second before... absconder! that's what larry had called lillian before!!! the pack had taken aggressive action against one of its own?!?

"what do you mean the pack got lillian kicked out of the tyrrell?" i confronted. "i thought the pack was about united coelurosaurs!"

larry's tensness about the humans at the tyrrell clearly shifted towards me. i don't think he'd expected me to make half these connections...

"within reason cousin," larry once again was calculated in his responses like he had been throughout the earlier parts of his visit. "we are only about helping and accepting those coelurosaurs that help and accept us. lillian think herself better than other coelurosaurs, and better off without us. we simply wanted to reminder her how much her individual success was owed to those that came before her."

"so you destroyed the one thing she cared about most?" i angerly asked. lillian's only purpose for existing was to be the tyrrell's star attraction. she was the poster dinosaur for the whole museum. the international image of what an albertosaur is. this pack had taken it all away from her.

"i know you wished to court her cousin, but you are still young, and there is much about that female you do not know," larry tried to calm me. "that is part of the reason i have come to you cousin. i know all about your failed attempt to win lillian's heart, and we in the pack wish to see a happy ending to that tale."

"we have helped far more of our kind make it in this human dominated world than hinder them," larry stated. "lillian just left us no choice. you know how self-absorbed she could be. we only wanted her to realize the error of her ways."

"what do you want larry?" i cut to the chase.

"for you to stop pretending that you can fit in the human world. for you to finally accept your potential, and embrace what you are. lastly for you to take your rightful place in the pack of the primordial feather!" larry advocated.

"we am not your enemy traumador," larry addressed me by my name for the first time this whole trip. "the pack wants to do nothing but help you. we can make all your problems go away. rather be forced into being a mere security guard at a museum we will make you the star attraction of one. rather than have to live alone an outsider inbetween to worlds you could join your own kind."

"most important of all we will see to it that you find a mate," larry promised.

i could hardly believe my ears. after all my bad experiences with dinosaurs in canada, after the tyrrell had laid me off, i'd gotten used to the idea of dinosaurs being unable to get along anymore. due to the few places that humans have uses for us competition is very fierce among us to get them.

now larry presented me with the solution to this very problem, but was it true?

at moment given the way new zealand as a whole had turned against me what did i have to lose by accepting larry's offer?

just as i was about to give larry the reply he wanted, from behind us came a defiant call. "you're a bit late larry. i waited a good month for you to show up for before i stopped paying attention. looks like i should've kept my guard up a bit longer."

as we both turned around i let out a yelp of surprise. there standing before us was my legal guardian craig. larry's lips curled up revealing his massive teeth all the more (a clear bit of tyrannosaur body language indicating hatred). from larry's throat came a confrontational growl.

"it's been a while larry," craig casually remarked ignoring larry's very intimediating posturing. "i got lucky that you made the news everywhere here or i might have missed your visit."

larry's growl became a much more audible roar.

"you sound like you're not happy to see me larry," craig mocked larry. a very brave move considering the signals larry was giving off. "well i can't say i'm to pleased to see you either larry, but there is one thing i can say for sure. you're not taking him larry. not over my dead body!"

to be continued...