The Dinosaurs That Didn’t Make It
By Rick Meyerowitz and Henry Beard
Dodosaurs were born during the time my son was infatuated with dinosaurs. He often asked me to draw dinosaurs for him. After a while, I began adding evolutionary details of my own. My thinking was, dinosaurs were so weirdly constructed, who would notice a few changes here and there? Doug Kenney, who, with Henry Beard, had founded the National Lampoon in 1970, saw these drawings in my studio, noticed every detail, and asked me to do it as a Lampoon piece. The Dodosaurs first made it into print in 1972. Doug wrote captions based on my finished drawings and notes. We received such a flood of enthusiastic fan mail, (this was unusual; since the Lampoon wrote its own Letters to the Editor column, it was rare for readers to write to the magazine.) that in 1974 I brought them back for an encore – Return of the Dodosaurs – this time with captions written by Henry.
Henry and I sold the idea for a Dodosaur book to Crown and it was published by Harmony in 1984. It was a great collaboration. I’d draw and Henry would write to the art. He is a brilliant editor, and I’d like to make a case for him being the funniest American writer since S. J. Perelman. To have worked with him on this book was a terrific experience.
Will the Dodosaurs have another life? Can it be published once again? Who can know? But I’d have to be a dodo to rule it out.
Everyone has heard of dinosaurs, the “terrible lizards” that ruled the earth for millions of years. But, not many know about their long-lost cousins, the Dodosaurs, or “silly lizards,” which lived at the same time. Evolution isn’t a smooth, orderly process – it’s actually a giant game of chance, and for hundreds of millions of years Mother Nature has been gambling like a little old lady in Las Vegas casino. Every once in a while she came up with snake eyes, or fish teeth or lizard eggs, or something else useful for the creatures that got them, but most of the time she was taken to the cleaners. For every animal that developed the ability to fly or acquired acute hearing or night vision, there had to be thousands and thousands of animals that got feathers on their lips and fins on their elbows, and ended up hearing garlic, smelling beige, and seeing in the A.M. radio band. Needless to say, foremost among these animals were the Dodosaurs, also called Ineptiles.
The blade backed Conostegosaurus rolled itself across the vast prairies with sharp thrusts of its spiked tail. Maneuvering, particularly in hilly areas, was tricky for this dodo, and making sure that its head was in the proper position when it arrived at a tasty plant put quite a strain on its three minute brains (one in its nose, two in its tonsils).
Last but no means least of the aquatic Dodos was the amazing leviathan pictured here, the Titanicasaurus Rex, which, as its name suggests, grew to enormous size and then, quite simply, sank.
A ferocious Chopstichthyosaur preys on a group of Toklyosushishimuses. Their name was a mouthful and so were they.
In this panoramic view of a boggy coastland two mighty swamp browsers dominate the scene: A sluggish Ascensaurus, who spends his days waiting for his head to climb to the top of his throat so he can swallow, and a spoon-faced Gastronomicus, seen here gobbling a mouthful of green gumbo. A bloodthirsty flying Ptakeoutyl circles above looking for a meal to bring home. In the middle distance, a Tryunclogosincus plumbs the gooey depths.
Stretching almost ninety feet from the tip of its tail to the tip of its tail, the majestic Blunderdon, or Doublediplodicus as it was sometimes known, stands in solitary splendor in and ancient swamp. If this awesome behemoth were alive today, it would dwarf even the largest trailer truck. On the other hand, considering its monumental defects, if it were alive today, it would almost certainly be dead.
The head of the forty-foot-long Dilapidocus was literally not screwed on right. Luckily, its brains were in its feet.
In an autumn wood, near the end of the Dodosaurs’ long reign, a Triceratush, spiked, armored and impregnable from behind, but vulnerable to frontal assault, is pummeled by a clumsy, ham-handed, dim-witted Palookasaurus.
Among the last Dososaurs were the group of Dementodons illustrated here, poised precariously over one of the great rifts which had opened up in the shifting landscape and looking as though they were posing for a fossil. All of the last Dodosaurs behaved as if there wasn’t going to be any tomorrow. For once in their long history, they displayed good sense because, of course, there wasn’t.