How Tyrannosaurus Rex Helped Pay Helen Keller’s Way Through School and Its Modern-Day Cuddly Cousin

My best title yet, right? You’re goddamned right Bob. So without further ado, let’s get to it.

I assume that everyone is familiar with the coelourosaurian theropod that lived in the Cretaceous period 67-66 million years ago. In case you’re not a human being and have never admired anything awesome in your life, observe this scientific reenactment of Tyrannosaurus Rex. “Where’s the goat?” Ahahahaha! Spielberg you crafty SOB, it’s like when you showed us what happened to Ben Gardner in Jaws. Okay, so obviously that was not exactly a scientific account of T. rex behavior, but it’s not altogether inaccurate. The filmmakers who worked on Jurassic Park did their research and made their CGI Rex move as much like how the common thinking of paleontologists and dino scientists in the early 90s believed T. rex moved. Now since that time we have realized a few new things about the dinosaur who packed one of the biggest bites of anything that ever lived, but we’ll talk about this later. Right now I want to talk about how even in death, T. rex helped to provide a better life for some humans.

Like a tiny-armed, carnivorous Jesus, T. rex has had an impact on all of us after it’s death. Now I’m not talking about the aforementioned love of badass ancient giant reptiles that T. rex provided any of us with hearts – no, I’m talking about the physical effect it and all of its dinosaur friends, associates, and meals have had on us. As well as the effect that every living thing in their environment has on us. Whether or not you’ve realized it, as a result of dinosaurs that died millions of years ago you have been presented with more accessible travel, fresher foods, and things to draw and print with like crayons and ink. However, there’s also been wars, higher temps, and incredible pollution that have come as a result of what I like to call dino-juice. Nerds like to call it hydrocarbon-rich liquid obtained by means of anaerobic decomp of long-deceased organisms; British people like to call it petrol; and most others refer to it as oil. Technically called petroleum, (crude) oil is what we make all sorts of things out of, but the biggest bunch of it gets refined into gasoline and similar fuels for cars, trucks, planes, and just about any other vehicle we have to get a license to operate. As those nerds I riffed on (people like myself) will tell you, oil is a fossil fuel, meaning it comes to us courtesy of things that lived a long time ago and don’t live anymore. In fact, they lived so long ago, the Earth has had some major work done since they last strolled around and covered their carcasses up like acne on the face of a seventh grader going to a junior high dance, but rather than swiping its mom’s concealer to lather over the unsightly blemishes (mine was a harsh and superficial childhood), the face of our planet saw many a new layer of dirt, rock, and water pile onto the bones, body, and all of dinosaurs, plants, and actually mostly plankton until it become supercompacted and after a long, long time made into the oil we give to our cars to slurp up to get us from point A to point B and everywhere in between a little quicker.

Oil continues to have both good and bad impacts on humanity and the planet it resides, but without wanting to veer too much off course I’ll save my rant for why oil executives are the most evil creatures to ever slink along the face of the Earth for another time and stick to the crazy point at hand. Since oil is so coveted globally, it’s no surprise that those who sell it are often filthy, stinkin’ rich. In fact, if they directly work around the oil they could be filthy and stinking in addition to being rich. Often the families of someone who gets into the oil business do quite well for generations, even making great contributions (be they good or bad) to the development of cities. Isn’t that right, Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Rogers? What’s that? You don’t immediately recall the last guy from your high school history class? Well maybe that’s because you were sleeping when you should have been paying attention to the enthralling lectures of Mr. Simon! Or maybe you did what I did and counted how many times he touched just his head during one class (final count was 55; an average of 1 touch/min). That class reassured me both that I did not desire to become a history teacher at the high school level and that I had ADD. Anyway, Henry Huttleston Rogers was an industrialist who first got rich in the whaling business (yes, every large living thing mentioned in this post is now dead apparently) and got into the oil business with Charles Pratt who does not appear to be an ancestor of my latest man-crush, Chris Pratt. Eventually they had a big enough oil company to compete with Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, but not big enough to beat them, and when you can’t beat them….

Rogers was working for Standard Oil when he was introduced to Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka Mark Twain, the Notorious B.I.G. – wait, no, just Mark Twain; I trust you remember him, at least. Twain and Rogers (sounds like a folk duo) became BFFLs and hung out all the time. In 1896, the pair of pals met Helen Keller and were thoroughly impressed by her. Keller had grown up deaf and blind after a fever rendered her such when she was only a toddler. Taught how to communicate to others by Anne Sullivan, who was also blind, Keller had aspirations to attend Radcliffe University where she had successfully passed the entrance exam. Twain feared that she would not be able to afford school, and for good reason. One does not simply breeze through one of the Seven Sisters universities. So old Mark had a talk with his oil tycoon buddy Henry Rogers and Henry offered to pay for Keller’s entire education. And he did. And he gave her a little extra too. Maybe I should just say that all current oil execs are scumbags slithering their slimy trails across the earth.

With the continued help and friendship of Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller went on to inspire many more people around the world. In addition to obviously being a major force for women’s rights just by being a prominent example of a strong woman, she co-founded the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), encouraged the use of birth control, introduced the Akita breed of dog to the United States thanks to her favorable relations with Japan, and she even touched Charlie Chaplin’s mustache. Now that is something I’m jealous of.

Okay, maybe it’s a stretch of a title now and you’ve realized that this is how writers get people to notice and absorb their material. But hey, you’ve probably learned something, and since you’ve made it this far let me reward you with the coolest bit of fun-fact information yet. Remember earlier when I mentioned that there has been greater understanding regarding Tyrannosaurus rex since the release of Jurassic Park? Well, for one, T. rex probably didn’t look as much like this as it looked like this (he looks like Steve Oedekerk in Kung Pow: Enter the Fist). Scientists figured out that most, if not all, dinosaurs actually had feathers along most, if not all, of their body, T. rex included. And remember all that talk in the original Jurassic Park about dinosaurs being like modern birds? Well that’s because modern birds evolved from dinosaurs (specifically theropods like T. rex). This of course means that all birds are actually reptiles as that’s what dinosaurs are. If that’s too much to comprehend just remember that we’re all fish anyway.

So if all birds evolved from dinosaurs, who is the closest cousin of the fearsome T. rex, the undisputed (pop culture) king of dinosaurs? The answer my friend is… the chicken. Yep, you read correctly. The chicken is the modern-day T. rex. But before you “WTF!?” all over the place let me show you the coolest chicken of them all. Ladies and gentlemen, I present for your viewing pleasure, the Silkie Chicken. Silkie, or Silky, chickens are an Asian species that was selectively bred to be a show animal. It is called Silkie because its feathers are, well silky. It’s almost like fur. Silkies are the perfect juxtaposition of adorable little fluffball of cuddliness and hellhen whose cry calls forth demons from the gates of the Inferno. They can make great pets, or they can use their practically useless-in-flight feathers to get airborne up to a foot and a half and attempt to spur your legs with their fierce not quite taloned feet (that was a weird day at work). And they have black skin, black meat, and black bones. If you ask me, the T. rex’s lineage could have gone a lot worse. Silkie chickens may not be the most ferocious looking animals, but trust me, you do not want to get on their bad side. Especially if they’re named after Chinese chicken dishes.

Thanks for fording through that slough of words and pictures. You’re a real trooper. And since you got all the way through it, or wisely skipped to the end and by-passed my kookiness I shall reward you by allowing you to contact me for future writing topics either by leaving a comment or by emailing me at monotrememadness@gmail.com. Thanks again for reading! Roar back next week for possibly a discussion of the American road trip and all its pleasures, or something else completely different.

ROAR!

Alex

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