A small male Eocarcharia dinops lurked in the margins of the forests of the megacontinent Gondwana, stalking a Nigersaur heedlessly grazing in the clearing. The Eocarcharia dinops of course didn’t think of itself in these Latinate terms (“fierce-eyed dawn shark”); indeed, the Roman Empire was still millions of years away, its precursors still small, egg-stealing rodents. If this predator had any sense of self at all, it likely thought himself named something simple and reasonable, perhaps Craig. More likely, however, the hungry theropod was merely focused on finding a meal, that he might have the strength and energy to fight the other males in his territory, impress a female, and rut vigorously with her to ensure his DNA would survive at least another generation.
Craig the Eocarcharia dinops was impatient and clumsy in his hunting, however, and he began his charge too early, from too far back, and was far too noisy; the Nigersaur sprung to attention and bounded away, terrified, not thinking of which direction to go, not caring, the only concepts in its tiny reptile brain being: Go! Anywhere else! Don’t get eaten! and failed spectacularly on the last count by stumbling (to Craig’s dismay) into the waiting grasp of a bigger and more experienced Eocarcharia dinops.
If we are to assign intelligence and motive and personality to these predators, as so to better conceptualize unfamiliar saurian psychology in familiar sapient terms, we might imagine the resulting conflict playing out as such, between Craig and the larger male, who we might call Ian.
“God dammit, Ian, that one should have been mine,” cried Craig, shrieking and wagging his head and brandishing his teeth in an aggressive display.
“Fuck you, kid. Maybe if you weren’t so fucking noisy you could have gotten him yourself,” responded Ian, kicking Craig in the face with his big fucking claw foot.
“Knock it off, asshole. Let me at least have a leg. I drove him right to you. I’m so fucking hungry.” He lowered his head, signaling a challenge, and Ian matched against him.
“I said no, and I meant no.” They bashed their bony brows against one another, and the smaller Craig stumbled, toppled to the ground. Ian returned to the kill and mawed a big mouthful of guts and stuff.
“Jerkoff…” muttered Craig as he slunk away in disgrace.
“Haha! You chickenshit!” roared Ian, triumphantly slobbering his face in gore. “I’m going to have spectacular sex with all the breeding-age females and fertilize lots of eggs with my great big dinosaur cock!”
Weakened and wounded, Craig would last another few days, none of which portended any better success in hunting. Finally, he would succumb to exhaustion after becoming inextricably stuck up to his knees in a muddy bog of slime molds. It is here that our interest in him ceases to be Darwinian and becomes instead taxonomic. His body sank into the bog, and with several tons of decaying vegetable matter slowly becoming coal around him, his bones froze in place. Here was his carcass protected from the cataclysmic chunk of rock that fell from outer space and vaporized most traces of others like him. And though he failed to reproduce, his unremarkable death would be uncovered and cataloged millions of years later by a race of curious primates with a peculiar habit of assigning inappropriate names to things that no longer exist.
The first evidence of Craig Eocarcharia dinops was uncovered in Niger in 1932 by a 14-year-old orphan named Balewa Pierre. A French missionary had given him this name, but the mission abandoned the area not long after, and Pierre was eventually press-ganged into a coal-mining camp. When he uncovered the unusual-looking bones with his pick, he shouted to his foreman, who reflexively whacked Pierre upside the head before bothering to look at what had gotten the boy excited. There was soon after a flurry of activity and the area was closed to the laborers; some days later a group of well-dressed white men arrived with magnifying glasses and delicate tools and immaculately-groomed mustaches.
Craig was extracted from his carbon prison and put under a glass case which would serve as his new prison for years to come. After some months of study and confusion, he was written off by the bookish Frenchmen as an unremarkable incomplete skeleton of something-or-other and relegated to the dusty back storage of a museum collection where Craig would sit, unidentified, for another seven-odd decades. During that span, several Nigersaur (“Niger lizard”) were discovered and so named for the territory so claimed by Homo sapiens sapiens. Finally, the hearty spawn of Ian would be unearthed from a nearby site, classified as a new species, and Craig would finally be categorized. (“Ha!” Ian would have laughed from the grave. “Can’t even get yourself fossilized right!)
Balewa Pierre would spend another two years in the coal mine, during which he and all the other minor miners would routinely discard chunks of pitchblende, or uraninite—raw, unprocessed uranium which had not yet been identified as having either curative or destructive properties. In 1934, however, it was found that uranium could be used to very quickly and very effectively blow up human beings, and several governments found this to be quite useful in eliminating the genetic pools of their competitors. Demand rose sharply, and Pierre found himself sorting exclusively for the pitchblende rocks and ignoring now the plentiful coal.
For another five years Pierre would do this work, utterly unaffected by the latent properties of uranium, as it was too weak in its raw form to cause him any harm, even should he have inhaled or ingested it. Cancer was not a worry of his; he did not have the term in his vocabulary, and no one he had ever known had lived long enough to be threatened by it. Pierre knew about drought though, and thirst, and he went days without pissing, or he would piss a little bit and it would dry up and disappear from the ground in seconds, or he would think maybe he could begin to piss a little, but it would sputter out as dust he was so dry. His skin was cracked and turning to leather and if he could have fallen down and died in a bed of sand and stay there undisturbed for a hundred million years maybe he would one day find himself under a glass case like Craig, and like Craig, be renamed in a similarly arbitrary analogue to “Eocarcharia dinops.” But he died instead sitting against the side of a building seeking a moment of shade during the workday, having never known a woman’s touch and never having had the opportunity to pass on his DNA. He was prodded and kicked and called lazy several times before anyone realized he was dead, and was then unceremoniously tossed into a mass grave where other expended workers were deposited.
The pitchblende, though, would have much more scrutiny over its provenance. It was put onto trucks which drove miles and miles and miles to the sea, where they were loaded in giant metal bins and onto enormous diesel ships, then carried to the United States. A lump of ore that spent millions of years beside Craig the dinosaur and mere seconds passing through the hands of Pierre the teenage laborer was pulverized in a processing plant into its component particles and spun very rapidly in a centrifuge. Over the course of many years, the process of refining became more refined, and the science of exploding other humans became perfected to the point where several tens of thousands of people called Japanese stood no chance of ever becoming fossilized.
In the years to follow, the uranium kept arriving and kept being processed into devices which approximated the impacts of large asteroids, although no more were ever used. The governments, finding that they already had enough bombs and such, used some of the extra uranium for making electricity to power the Modern Home. A few intrepid technicians at a nuclear power plant on the outskirts of Outlook Springs, New Hampshire, USA, acted against all sorts of regulations and took home a half a pound of depleted uranium, which, they (wrongly) assumed, was harmless. One Arthur McGinnis, in the machine shop in his garage, cut the uranium into cubes and drilled tiny holes on each of the six sides. The technicians, after the long days at the plant, would then come together and drop the uranium cubes onto a table, and, according to how many of the holes appeared on the side facing up, would exchange with each other pieces of paper representing material wealth.
While no longer radioactive, the depleted uranium was still quite toxic. Arthur McGinnis, having inhaled a not insignificant amount of the uranium particles in the process of cutting and drilling the dice, would never realize it was ultimately the cause of his testicles being unable to effectively produce viable sperm; would not, in fact, ever realize that his sperm were biologically inert, nor that the children borne by his mate, for which he provided food and shelter, contained none of his DNA. His wife, Gina, was having an affair with one of the other technicians, a larger, more aggressive male named Ian. Ian was particularly fond of having spectacular sex with all of the breeding-age females and fertilizing lots of eggs, and had, on more than one occasion, referred to his penis as his “great big dinosaur cock.”