The story here is that I was contracted to write some informational pieces for a major Dinosaur show at the Toronto Zoo.

As I happens, I’m a longtime fan of dinosaurs, but find myself strangely bored by the way websites and museums present the information about them. So I wondered if there was a different way to approach the task.

At some point I sat down and just began to write, and what I wrote was an interview between a Velociraptor and a paleontologist. Then I wrote another interview with a Stegosaurus. I sent them in as samples of what I was proposing and everybody loved them, so I wrote about a dozen interviews in all, to be used as rail cards beside the models or fossils.

In each interview, I tried to give the dinosaur a personality in keeping with its place in the ecosystem and its supposed intelligence.

The Velociraptor interview didn’t get  used; they had no such fossil or model in the show. But my other ones were used. I also wrote most of the rest of the display materials for the show.

Interview with a Velociraptor

Paleontologist: Your leg bones and skull tell me you are a Velociraptor. Some see traces of fur or feathers pressed into the sandstone.

Velociraptor: So that’s what you call us: “Swift thief.” Fur certainly comes in handy on cold desert nights… feathers, too.

These fossils tell even more about you: Your long, thin leg bones and a jaw full of sharp teeth say you were a fast, fierce hunter. You could sprint at 40 kilometres an hour – faster than the world’s fastest man.

Oh, I’m fast! When I join my kin and hunt in a pack at full speed, it’s like a hurricane. No prey can escape us.

You know, we found the fossil remains of one of your kin with its 9 centimetre, scythe-like talon still embedded in the throat of a Protoceratops.

Protoceratops and Velociraptor locked in combat

They are tough to kill with that armoured crest, but tasty and fairly slow. Easy to catch. How did they both die?

We think a sandstorm brought a dune crashing down on them, like a huge, breaking wave.

Well, the edge of the desert is a fine place for hunting, but not without its dangers. Next time you’re there, imagine that I’m stalking you from the top of a dune!

Yes, well….We haven’t talked about your intelligence.

Not to boast, but I am three times smarter than most other dinosaurs. In fact, I’m surprised to see we’ve been replaced by you, and that those dull crocodiles are still around after 200 million years.

For all our brains, we may yet join you if we aren’t more careful about this planet.

Yes, control the things you can and hope the things you can’t aren’t as catastrophic as gigantic, crashing asteroids.

Thank you.

My pleasure…. See you in the desert!

Interview with a Stegosaurus

Palaeontologist: You don’t have a reputation for being the brightest penny in the jar…

Stegosaurus: Huh?

You’re not a thinker. You’ve got a brain the size of a walnut.

Walnut? Is that good?

Let’s change the subject! You are one of the most recognizable of dinosaurs because of the two rows of alternating bony plates on your back and that tail full of long spikes.

Oh, yeah. It’s a hard world, ‘specially when Big Al, the Allosaurus, is around. You gotta be able to protect yourself. The smaller meat eaters are just a nuisance. I generally swat them one and keep on eating…. What’s alternating?

Tell me about your bony plates?

Well, the girls like them… or the guys… I’m not sure which I am, until I lay some eggs…or don’t. Ask that baby Stegosaurus that’s been following me. I think the plates also have something to do with heat.

You mean they radiate heat when you need to cool down and absorb heat when you need to warm up, especially first thing in the morning.

Sure. What you said.

Thanks for your time.