The deer lay in a small open space close to a clump of acacias, and we had advanced to within several yards of our kill when we both halted suddenly and simultaneously. Whitely looked at me, and I looked at Whitely, and then we both looked back in the direction of the deer. "Blimey!' he said. "Wot is hit, sir?"
"It looks to me, Whitely, like an error," I said; "some assistant god who had been creating elephants must have been temporarily transferred to the lizard-department."
"Hi wouldn't s'y that, sir," said Whitely; "it sounds blasphemous."
"It is more blasphemous than that thing which is swiping our meat," I replied, for whatever the thing was, it had leaped upon our deer and was devouring it in great mouthfuls which it swallowed without mastication.
- Chapter 5
You might be wondering why this series is named Dinosauria Caspakensis
, given the first two
entries into its records are not dinosaurs at all. I use the term quite deliberately: the Dinosauria
was, in the first place, a loose grouping
of three creatures. Owens had little notion of the sheer variety of forms prevalent in this great dynasty of beings in 1842, and indeed, the latest taxonomic tumult
suggests in its most extreme form that an entire family
of what we used to call dinosaurs weren't members of the Dinosauria
There's also the fact that it isn't clear the "dinosaurs" of Caspak are dinosaurs as we understand them at all: likewise for the pterosaurs, plesiosaurs, prehistoric mammals, and even (especially) the humans. If we go by our current understanding of evolutionary biology, many creatures on Caspak must, logically, all be members of the same species
, undergoing metamorphic upheaval
that makes the life cycles of insects & amphibians positively stagnant in comparison. Nonetheless, for the sake of simplicity, and to evoke the style of the time - to pick the most dynamic and thrilling name - I decided to stick with Dinosauria
over the more prosaic Fauna
, which would probably be more technically correct.
In fact, only three members of the Dinosauria
are actually named in The Land That Time Forgot
. The first of these was encountered by Tyler and Whitely while out hunting for some venison: I figured that since Olson was immortalised
by the crew of U-33, and Tyler already has an eponymous taxon
, that the very strange creature they encountered should be named Allosaurus whitelyi
("Whitely's Different Lizard").