All Dinosaurs Are Jewish
A comedic essay by a Jewish Paleontologist who nearly went the Rabbi route
In Judaism and Jewish culture, the word for life, chai, has a value of eighteen in Jewish numerology. As such, this essay has 18 points. However, I am sure I could think of more, if pressed.
Well we can start with the easy one - people don't actually know what either of us actually are. What people typically think of when they hear or say EITHER "dinosaur" or "jewish person" is usually far, far off from the reality for either group! We are both deeply misunderstood among most people.
People think we aren't still here, either of us - they think all dinosaurs are extinct, when birds are still around - and many people think, or at least act, like all Jewish people are dead - or irrelevant to the modern world, whichever. And yet, both Jews and Dinosaurs are keep kickin'!
Not only are both of us still here, but we're thriving! Despite suffering through hardship after hardship, both Dinosaurs *and* Jews are still here. We have chutzpah.
People keep ascribing us managerial skills we have never demonstrated having??? Whether it's saying "Dinosaurs ruled the world during the Mesozoic" or "Jews control the media" or "Birds are just governmental drones", people think we're controlling things when all any of us are doing is just vibing
We love music! Whether it's the toot toots of the Lambeosaurines, the casual harmonization of the niggun, the lovely songs of Passerines, or the delightful energy at a tisch, music is a thread that unites Dinosaurs and Jewish folk across millennia
Similarly, from the dozens of display structures we've found in extinct dinosaurs as well as modern birds, in addition to dancing and performances in living birds, and the pagentry of Jewish ritual life and ritual objects - all the way back to the clothing worn by the Kohenim during the First Temple period - one thing Dinosaurs and Jews *definitely* have in common is a DEDICATION to STYLE, unparalleled for both - we are fabulous, and that alone proves we are one and the same
We are truly cosmpolitan - not a lot of groups can claim as far flung of membership as dinosaurs/birds (not a lot of animals live in Antarctica today... but birds sure do like it) and Jewish folk (there have been enough Jews in Antarctica for a minyan!)
I mentioned earlier that we aren't really perceived as we actually are - in that vein, we are both extremely diverse and varied groups that have taken many forms and aesthetics over the years! I mean, just look at the juxtaposition between, say, a Titanosaur and a Hummingbird, and then a Bukharan Jew and a Beta Israel! Still part of a cohesive whole, but one diverse and heterogeneous in a wonderful way!
People keep focusing on a single major tragic event in our past - the End-Cretaceous extinction, and the Shoah - as if we don't both have a rich and vibrant history before and after those events that is wroth focusing on, discussing, and celebrating!
We also both have a fairly famous member of each of our groups that isn't exactly indicative of what we're like as a whole and also people are way more obsessed with that individual species/person than they are with actual living dinosaurs/Jews (Tyrannosaurus rex and Jesus)
A lot of folk act like our old members - the Israelites/Biblical Jews and Nonavian Dinosaurs - are very distinct fro our living members - modern Jews and Birds - when... no, we're just continuations and the natural evolutions of the past...
Similarly, the general consensus is that we were both "replaced" - dinosaurs by mammals, and Judaism by Xtianity. This is very false - both Jews and Dinosaurs are still here, thanks, and actually Dinosaurs are doing better than ever, and better than mammals
Both of us are mistakenly called "lizards" (whether people or terrible) despite neither of us being anywhere close to lizards
People are obsessed with us in a conspiracy-minded way?? We're always the subjects of weird conspiracy theories for no other reason than this public fascination with our existence??? For Jews the list is infinite, but there's a surprising amount for dinosaurs too (the whole "birds aren't real" thing, for a start...)
Our modern members are being attacked in truly alarming quantities - birds are killed in droves by outdoor cats, and antisemitic hate crimes keep rising dramatically in the United States and elsewhere - and yet no one cares outside of specific circles??? Wtf???
Despite being truly ancient groups by many standards - surviving animal clades and continuous human cultures - we are both fortunate to have complete and detailed knowledge of our histories over this vast expanse of time, one via the written record of the Jewish people preserved expertly over time, and the other via the detailed fossil record for dinosaurs extending from the Mesozoic into the Cenozoic and today. We both preserve our history - as carefully as we can!
Disney's Dinosaur, one of the better dinosaur films made post-1980, is literally the story of Moses and the Israelites wandering the desert. Frankly, dinosaurs wander the desert so much in documentaries and film, the comparisons to wilderness wandering and exile write themselves
The "dinosaur" community (at large, fans of dinosaurs, scientists, people in entertainment involving dinos) and the Jewish community have so much overlap it's embarrassing. We're drawn to each other. Jeff Goldbum. Jon Favreau. Stephen Jay Gould. Tilly Edinger. Ross from Friends. The list goes on.
The similarities are too uncanny. Dinosaurs are the Jews of animals, or Jews are the Dinosaurs of People, or both, or the same, or all dinosaurs practice Judaism in their hearts, or something. Take your pick. Whatever framework you want to use, there's no way around it - all Dinosaurs are Jewish!
Round Four: Berthasaura vs Caihong
Artwork by @i-draws-dinosaurs, written by @i-draws-dinosaurs
Name meaning: Bertha and Leopoldina’s reptile (in honour of naturalist and women’s rights activist Bertha Maria Júlia Lutz, and first Empress of Brazil and advocate for Brazilian independence Maria Leopoldina)
Time: Uncertain, likely ~121 to 75 million years ago (Aptian to Albian stages of the Early Creataceous) but may be younger
Location: Goio-Erê Formation, Brazil
Theropods are famously carnivorous dinosaurs, but many, many groups of theropods have decided “actually but what if I didn’t” and gone vegetarian, and yet it’s still wild when another one of those pops up every now and then. Even among them though, Berthasaura is special for being the only theropod that seems to have tried to just straight up turn itself into an ornithopod. The long spindly legs, the teeny little arms, and a big head with a toothless beak all come together to create an utterly bizarre little theropod that honestly nobody could have predicted.
Berthasaura is a noasaur, and those of you familiar will at this moment be saying “oh of course it’s a noasaur” because those guys were small ceratosaurs that were basically Theropod Wacky Experimental Phase 1.0. Within this group you’ve got wild sticky-outy teeth, a single weight-bearing toe on each foot in our fellow competitor Vespersaurus, and now multiple instances of beaks evolving independently. Theropods just love to evolve a beak, what can I say? Whatever the hell Berthasaura had going on, it must have been successful because as the basalmost noasaurid currently known its direct lineage has been surviving since at least the Late Jurassic!
Artwork by @i-draws-dinosaurs, written by @i-draws-dinosaurs
Name meaning: Rainbow with big crest
Time: 161 million years old (Oxfordian stage of the Late Jurassic)
Location: Tiaojishan Formation, China
It’s always a special treat to hear the announcement of a dinosaur with known colours, because it gives the most direct impression of how truly stunning these animals would have been to witness in real life. And Caihong might just be the most spectacular of them all so far, described in 2018 from an immaculate full-body fossil that preserves detailed feathers! Caihong’s feathers are longer than some other floofy dinosaurs, and would have had the appearance of a luxurious mane along its neck. Not only that, the fossil preserves feather microstructures that in life would have made this dinosaur gloriously iridescent!
Now iridescent dinosaurs aren’t new, Microraptor has been decked out in fabulous starling-esque plumage for a while now, but Caihong absolutely takes it to the next level. Its whole body was covered in iridescent black, including the enormous tail, but the real star of the show are the platelet-like melanosomes found on the head, neck, and the base of the tail. Different from the usual iridescent melanosomes, the structure of these tiny organelles reflects brilliantly iridescent colours, like those on the heads of hummingbirds and particularly the bright purple feathers on the necks of the trumpeter family. Caihong would have put on an absolutely dazzling jewel-toned display in the treetops or on the forest floor of prehistoric China!