Paleolithic Pathways

Dwarfed forelegs and menacing jaws dangle above you. Postured in attack positions, the creatures pulsate with energy. Yet, they are frozen, immobile. Held together with metal hinges and concrete concoctions, the creatures are products of both man and nature. Manufactured by Hollywood to be the personification of wild, uncontrollable beasts, dinosaurs reside in the realm of reality as well as that of the human imagination.

The American Natural History Museum displays fragments of these monumental creatures in realistic composite models. Resetting the bone fragments upon new discoveries in proper dinosaur posture, the Museum seeks to present dinosaurs as they were, not as how we imagine them to be. However, much of what is known about dinosaurs is still hypothetical. Paleontologists utilize fossil records to make informed inferences, but due to the species mass-extinction evidence is sparse.

While awed by the monumental scale of the T-Rex and the Apatosaurus, I was more intrigued by the implications of these grand, assuming creatures being propped-up like trinkets behind glass and jimmied into lifelike positions by reinforced steel supports. Looking at the dinosaurs, I though about the depletion of natural habitats due to global heating, the extinction of animals during our lifetime, and the gradual rise and fall of the earth-dominant human species. Dinosaurs ruled the Paleolithic earth as the humans control the globe today; yet, it only took a meteor to catalyze their fall. Who or what evolves next is unknown, but as my visit to the American Museum of Natural History reinforced, those who are great, strong, and supremely powerful can, and will, fall. Thousands or millions of years into the future, it may be humans that are displayed behind glass cages.

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