The Human Being and the Dinosaur

Ages ago in a wasteland of time and a wilderness of space, Man, in upper case, and dinosaur, in lower, first came face to face. They stood like stones for a long while, wary and watchful, taking each other in.

Something told the dinosaur that he beheld before him the coming glory and terror of the world, and in the still air of the young planet he seemed to catch the faint smell of his own inevitable doom.

Greetings, stupid,” said Man. “Behold in me the artfully articulated architect of the future, the chosen species, the certain survivor, the indestructible one, the monarch of all you survey, and of all that everyone else surveys, for that matter.

On the other hand, you are, curiously enough, for all your size, a member of the inconsequent ephemera. You are one of God’s moderately amusing early experiments, a frail footnote to natural history, a contraption in a museum for future Man to marvel at, an excellent example of Jehovah’s jejune juvenilia.”

The dinosaur sighed with a sound like thunder.

“Perpetuating your species,” Man continued, “would be foolish and futile.”

“The missing link is not lost,” said the dinosaur sorrowfully. “It’s hiding.” Man paid the doomed dinosaur no mind. “If there were no Man it would be necessary to create one,” said Man, “for God moves in mysterious, but inefficient, ways, and He needs help. Man will go on forever, but you will be one with the mammoth and the mastodon, for monstrosity is the behemother of extinction.”

“There are worse things than being extinct,” said the dinosaur sourly, “and one of them is being you.”

Man strutted a little pace and flexed his muscles. “You cannot even commit murder,” he said, “for murder requires a mind. You are capable only of dinosaurs laughter. You and your ilk are incapable of devising increasingly effective methods of destroying your own species and, at the same time, increasingly miraculous methods of keeping it extant.

You will never live to know the two-party system, the multi-party system, and the one-party system. You will be gone long before I have made this the best of all possible worlds, no matter how possible all other worlds may be. In your highest state of evolution you could not develop the brain cells to prove innocent men guilty, even after their acquittal. You are all wrong in the crotch, and in the cranium, and in the cortex.

But I have wasted enough time on you. I must use these fingers which God gave me, and now probably wishes He had kept for Himself, to begin writing those noble volumes about Me which will one day run to several hundred billion items, many of them about war, death, conquest, decline, fall, blood, sweat, tears, threats, warnings, boasts, hopelessness, hell, heels, and whores.

There will be little enough about you and your ilk and your kith and your kin, for after all, who were you and your ilk and your kith and your kin? Good day and goodbye,” said Man in conclusion. “I shall see to it that your species receives a decent burial, with some simple ceremony.”

Page 2

Man, as it turned out, was right. The dinosaur and his ilk and his kith and his kin died not long after, still in lower case, but with a curious smile of satisfaction, or something of the sort, on their ephemeral faces.

MORAL: The noblest study of mankind is Man, says Man.

The Human Being and the Dinosaur

James Thurber

James Grover Thurber (December 8, 1894 – November 2, 1961) was an American cartoonist, author, humorist, journalist, playwright, and celebrated wit. He was best known for his cartoons and short stories published mainly in The New Yorker magazine, such as "The Catbird Seat", and collected in his numerous books. He was one of the most popular humorists of his time, as he celebrated the comic frustrations and eccentricities of ordinary people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *