Theirs was the classic boy-meets-girl story in a fast-tracked Cretaceous-era courtship as the final epoch of the Mesozoic age drew to a close. Aroara was what Snarler took to calling her, and it wasn’t long after, when in true Discovery Channel form, two scrappy offspring, Ferocity and Clawdette, were chipping their way through eggshells to join the family.

By this time the supercontinent Pangea had split into Laurasia and Gondwanaland which were further subdividing into the smaller continents we know today. There was volcanic activity, pushing up mountains where open space had been before. Inland seas were on the rise, submerging the tropical vegetation vital for the plant-eating dinosaurs upon which Snarler and his family fed. Day by day, year by year, the climate turned dryer and colder. 

The herds of crested Hadrosaur and long-necked Diplodocus moved on, leaving scarcely any prey in Snarler’s territory. Hungry and desperate, he had no choice but to trek far beyond his usual hunting grounds, only to be set upon by an equally hungry Spinosaurus. Although he threw off the sail-backed monster’s attack and managed to escape, it took the injured T. Rex days to limp painfully back to the safety of the family den.

Aroara licked his wounds and while he rested, she took to what remained of the conifer forests and marshy lowlands to resume the hunt. The scent of the Diplodocus and Hadrosaur eluded her, however. The ravenous Spinosaurus that wounded Snarler had frightened off the last of them. She had to settle instead, for the tough and spiny Nodosaur she came upon at the diminished water hole late that afternoon.

She brought home what she could from the kill, and the Tyrannosaurus family feasted. In appreciation, Snarler belched and waggled his tail a bit. Ferocity playfully nipped at the nape of his neck while Clawdette nuzzled up to him. With full tummies for the first time in weeks, the three were asleep before sunset. Drowsily, Aroara watched the purple shadows stretch across the walls of the cave and the daylight dwindle into darkness. Then, she too fell fast asleep.

A low rumble broke the stillness of the dawn. The sheltering granite cliffs shook for a few seconds and then were still. Pebbles rattled down onto the floor of the cave. The ground shook again, harder this time, and Aroara and her family were jolted awake by the rumbling tremors signaling the approach of another massive object from deep space.

Smashing to earth, the solid rock under their feet shuddered violently. More stones broke loose and came flying down. Terrified, Aroara scooped up Ferocity and Clawdette and hauled them out into the chill morning air. Snarler struggled to his feet, dodged the falling boulders and scrambled after them. 

Wind streaked the morning sky with thick gray clouds growing larger by the minute. Soon, they would completely enshroud the planet. The Tyrannosaurs staggered around blindly in the confusion. Then, with a horrible wrenching crack! –the ground before them split open and collapsed, separating Aroara from her babies. She leaped across the trembling chasm to join them, but could only watch helplessly while Snarler was swallowed up by the convulsing earth.

Years later, when the sun feebly penetrated the thick clouds of dust and volcanic ash, it illuminated a dim world of ice and howling winds. Other creatures managed to survive the cataclysm and adapted to the planet’s altered climate. Some were even close relatives of the dinosaurs; the amphibians, the reptiles and the giant flightless birds like Diatryma. But the ones best able to cope were the mammals; warm-blooded, fur-bearing animals like the shaggy musk-ox, the mammoth and the knobby-horned Uintatherium. Later came the Humans, creatures who learned to communicate and passed on their rudimentary language of guttural growls and grunts to subsequent generations who improved on it. 

Most archaeologists contended the hand-painted images left in their rocky cave dwelling interiors were the first recorded history. But Dr. Chelsey Bonesteel’s discovery of a communal hearth from the Pleistocene era challenged all that. She concluded these unusual pictoglyphs representing flames and animal parts were not a chronicle of some ancient forest fire, but were in fact, a primitive menu. Dr. Bonesteel had discovered the earliest known advertising. 

Fast forward sixty-five million years, and the humans have the run of the planet.


    Episode 3  The Ice Queen


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