What's really scary about dinosaurs is eating away at me

MIKE LITTWIN

June 11, 1993|By MIKE LITTWIN

You don't have to wonder why "Jurassic Park" (already one of your top three parks, after Central and Palisades) is going to be the monster hit of the season, with theater lines as long as a brachiosaurus' tail.

It's got dinosaurs. Big ugly ones. You get just one look at these bad boys and, bam, you're up to your eyes in dino-mania -- guaranteed.

I hope Steven Spielberg can live with himself.

We start our kids off on Barney -- "harmless," we tell the little tykes, and before you know it they're dino-hooked -- and then we've got them running to the movies where we scare the heck out of them with the real thing, just to sell a little popcorn.

That is what's really frightening here. Dinosaurs are no 'u phoney-baloney monsters like Godzilla gobbling up helpless and badly dubbed Japanese people. Dinosaurs are the real thing. They shook the Earth. They ruled for millions of years. I know this for sure. I watched "The Flintstones."

And what makes this movie even scarier is that maybe dinosaurs actually could make a comeback.

Here's the premise. As they say in Hollywood, if you buy the premise, you buy the movie.

Here goes: Some prehistoric mosquitoes get trapped in prehistoric amber after the prehistoric mosquitoes have been sucking blood out of prehistoric dinosaurs. About 100 million years later, give or take an eon, post-historic scientists find the prehistoric mosquitoes and grab the prehistoric DNA from the prehistoric blood to clone real dinosaurs.

So what do they do with the cloned dinosaurs, who obviously need some space? Open a theme park. Of course.

Guess what. Just the other day, some real-life scientists announced they found one of those mosquitoes, chock-full of DNA. Really.

I didn't get this from reading a tabloid either, although I did recently see this headline while standing on line at the grocery story: "Elvis, Dead at 58". No, the prehistoric-mosquito-in-amber discovery is being published in one of your major scientific magazines. No dubbing required.

Scary?

There are, of course, many frightening things in the world. There's a Mike Mussina fastball up and in. There's the people who actually believe Neil Diamond can sing. Mostly, there's the future of the Democratic Party.

But dinosaurs are pretty much in a class of their own.

Let's look at a typical dino. The thing to remember about the Tyrannosaurus rex (which literally translates from the Latin as "big, ugly, mean and can rip your lungs out") is that it's got teeth that won't quit and yet he never, ever smiles.

He's the dino from hell.

You know the one I'm talking about. Forty feet long. Seven tons of mean. And he's got those funny little arms that, if I've got my dino-movie memory working properly, grabs its prey, toys with it, shakes it up and down, adds salt and then does that big teeth thing.

In other words, Tyro, as I like to call him, makes a great white shark look about as dangerous as a hamster.

He was one of the three major dinosaurs of my childhood. I remember having a toy Tyro, with which I would terrorize my sister's Betsy Wetsy doll: "You wanna wet? Here's a reason to wet."

There was brontosaurus, a huge dinosaur about 200 miles long that had a head the size of a pin (just the opposite of Nancy Reagan, the small-bodied, giant-headed one). He was a herbivore and seemed harmless, except now they tell us he never existed. Guess he wasn't mean enough.

Then there was pterodactyl, the flying dinosaur, and let's just say he wasn't after your bird feeder. The way I remember it, he had no problem consuming small (boy-sized) mammals.

Of course, the scariest dino was Jimmy J. J. "Dino-mite" Walker, but that's another story.

The point is, it was a real long shot that the dinosaurs ever became extinct. They pretty much had their way with the world for a long time. To give you some perspective, the dinosaurs lasted longer than George Burns.

There are many theories on why they finally disappeared. One is that a giant asteroid crashed into the Earth and basically destroyed the ecology. I think they call it the Exxon asteroid.

But do you really want to give the dinosaurs a second chance? And it isn't just dinosaurs. You start cloning dead things into life, and, before you know it, they find a way to bring back disco.

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