Dinosaurs aren't only found in dried-up riverbeds and ancient quarries--their fictional counterparts can also be seen in TV shows, movies, comic strips and video games. Here's a selection of pop culture's most notable dinosaurs, most of which wouldn't stand a fighting chance against their paleontologically correct forebears.
In cartoonland, dinosaurs live happily alongside cavemen--and no dinosaur lives more happily than the Flintstones' pet Dino (DEE-no), who barks, slobbers, romps and cavorts uncannily like a huge, reptile-skinned labrador retriever, especially when Fred arrives home from a long day at the slate quarry. Here's an odd fact to impress your friends at parties: technically, Dino belongs to the genus "Snorkosaurus."
Way back in the '60's and '70's, "B.C." was one of the funniest comic strips in the world. Gronk, the generic dinosaur with a limited vocabulary ("Gronk!"), could always be counted on for a good punchline, as could his pal the Apteryx (standard comeon: "Hi there, I am an Apteryx, a wingless bird with hairy feathers.") Sadly, creator Johnny Hart's subsequent decline into arch-conservatism put the kibosh on all the funny.
Have any movies so relentlessly anthropomorphized dinosaurs as the Land Before Time series
? Littlefoot, a juvenile Apatosaurus
, is the ever-resourceful, ever-caring, relentlessly optimistic center of the LBT universe, even though in real life he would have been a) about as smart as a giant fern and b) a quick lunch for his bestest pals, Chomper the Tyrannosaurus
and Ruby the Oviraptor
The creators of this singing, dancing, toddler-friendly T. Rex
came in for some snarkiness when they made him bright purple. "That’s not how dinosaurs really looked!" cried the cognoscenti, apparently unconcerned that most theropods
didn't have perfect pitch or the ability to execute an upbeat two-step, either. Fortunately for science, Barney's gal pal Baby Bop sports a more appropriate shade of bright green.
It's unclear whether this star of countless Japanese (and countable American) monster movies is technically a dinosaur or not--depending on the budget, Godzilla can resemble anything from a hideously mutated bathroom sponge to a T. Rex crossed with a raptor
crossed with a crocodile
. By the way, according to legend, Godzilla's Japanese name, Gojira, is a cross between the Japanese words for gorilla (gorira) and whale (kojira).
6. Bob the Dinosaur
United Features Syndicate
It's a moment out of comic-strip legend. Using his computer, Dilbert proves that it was logically impossible for all the dinosaurs to have gone extinct. At that instant, Bob the Dinosaur (and his girlfriend, Dawn) emerge from their hiding place in Dilbert's house. Bob hasn't been seen much lately in this comic strip, but he still makes occasional cameos, usually giving Majungatholus
-sized wedgies to clueless middle managers.
Sid & Marty Kroft
Before it was a big-bucks movie starring Will Ferrell, Land of the Lost
was a campy, low-budget, 1970's TV series produced by Sid and Marty Kroft, reprised with a new cast in the early 1990's. Among the numerous dinosaurs in the original was the aptly named Dopey, a baby Brontosaurus too dumb to know it was really an Apatosaurus
. (Any relationship between Dopey and another Apatosaurus, Littlefoot from The Land Before Time
, is purely conjectural).
Part of what makes Toy Story such an appealing movie is the way the characters play against type. For example, Rex is a shy, meek, none-too-scary tyrannosaur who's constantly trying to polish his mojo (practicing his roar: "I was going for fearsome, but I don't think I'm coming across. I'm afraid I'm just coming off as annoying.”) He's afraid his owner Andy will replace him with a more intimidating dinosaur, and "I don't think I can take that kind of rejection."
A bit like the anti-Godzilla, the versatile, lovable Yoshi was introduced to the world in the ancient video game Super Mario World (for the long-defunct, but fondly remembered, Super Nintendo Entertainment System). In games and TV shows since, Mario's bright green sidekick has sometimes sported some distinctly dinosaur-like characteristics (such as hatching from eggs), but mostly he's just a resourceful, loyal, and scaly pet.
10. Big Bird
Still not convinced that birds are descended from dinosaurs? Just take a gander at Big Bird, whose huge size and dim mental capabilities are proof positive of Darwin's extra-strong grip on children's educational TV. As far as I know, Big Bird has never squared off against his PBS housemate Barney, but my money is on the enormous chicken--Barney won't get three words into his "I Love You" theme song before having his windpipe severed.