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Terrible Lizards

I WOULD not have liked to be present when dinosaurs stravaiged aboot the Earth.

Thankfully, despite the best efforts of creationists, The Flintstones and several movies, man and monster never met. However, had such an encounter been possible, the monster I'd least like to have met might have been Anzu wyliei.

Your brow has clouded over, madam. Allow me to give old Anzu its more dramatic title: "The chicken from hell!" Yes, that made you spill your morning sherry.

The new species of dinosaur was discovered from the partial remains of three skeletons lying aboot North and South Dakota, Americashire.

Hans Sues, a palaeontologist at the Smithsonian museum in Washington, described the beastie thus: "Anzu is really bizarre, even by dinosaur standards. The skull has this extraordinarily tall and thin crest with a snout and a huge beak with sharp edges and a strange sliding jaw joint."

The size of a small car, the creature also had feathers hanging down from the lower side of its forearms, a bit like those apache tassel suede jackets worn by stylish people back in the 1970s.

However, there all comparisons with the 1970s end.

Anzu wyliei didn't even come out on strike, but spent its entire working day trying to eat stuff, of both the meat and veg variety.

You'd never have got much peace in the dinosaur era, even if you were one of the monsters yourself. You could hardly stop to scratch your ear without something pouncing on you.

That said, by battery-farming a few chickens from hell, you'd have been kept in meat yourself for a long time. I don't suppose it tasted much like proper chicken, though.

And when you tried to get the beast ready for the pot, it would very likely have your eye out. Or your entire head.

Still, those old bones tell fascinating stories. It was a different world on our own planet. An illustration on the BBC science website shows Anzu crouched in a kung fu pose, with his mooth open, roaring as usual.

I never really got the point of all that roaring.

I imagine they were just saying "Aye" all the time, just as we do in Scotland, meaning nothing in particular, but merely conveying the fact that life goes on.

But it doesn't go on for ever. An asteroid did for the monsters. And, for us, that was a blessing.

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