Terrin Owstro And The Bakker Dilemma
“Bakker’s coming.” Those two words changed my world. And most likely every other Paleo-Hunter who heard what Titanus said at breakfast. Just as he finished saying it, everyone burst into cheers, squealing, and other assorted excitement noises. All I did was consider this for a second. Robert Bakker is one of the world’s most renowned paleontologists, and a role model to us all. The only thing was that he wasn’t a Paleo-Hunter, and only Paleo-Hunters could know about living prehistory all around us. That meant we had to keep all of this a secret. Imagine how hard that would be.
First of all, we had to herd all of our resident bluebucks into the forest. Then, the training course would have to be shut down for a week, since that was how long Bakker was staying. Of course, we had to make sure that no prehistoric creatures could come out of the woods, so we established a small border guard system. Finally, we flew the Ornithocheirus transports to Pterosaur Roost, which was deep in the forest. The day Bakker came, we welcomed him with a ticker tape procession and a few very realistic dinosaur-themed floats. He was staying in Titanus’s guest room, so we could visit him from time to time. The first morning he was there, everyone in the camp was awoken with a massive crash.
I woke with a start and was the first one outside. Smack dab in the middle of the cabin semicircle was a giant sauropod about fifty feet long.
Unfortunately for me, Bakker was the second one outside. He gaped in shock and possible horror. The sauropod was slowly thrashing about, laying on its side like a dead whale. It’s neck looked a bit pink, and from studying sauropods in the forest, I knew what was happening. “Argentinosaurus,” I blurted out. “About half the size of a fully grown one, maybe seventy tons. My guess is that it has an inflamed throat. I’ll need some soaked gastroliths, stat.” Bakker looked at me with even more surprise. “How did you… is that… what’s going on here?” he said in a shaky voice. “Sir, let me explain.” I began to say, but I stopped when everyone else ran outside to see what had happened. Luckily, Titanus quickly cleared everything up, that this was just a display of our dinosaur knowledge. He still seemed surprised, but he believed it. A stegosaur camper got me a bag of soaked gastroliths, which, when fed to the injured Argentinosaurus, slowly helped him recover. He was escorted out of the camp by the sauropod campers, who perfectly understood him. That was a close one.
Two days later, we heard a loud scuttling noise come from outside. We peeked out the windows to see thousands, maybe millions of Leptictidium covering the grass and dirt.
No kidding. The ground was covered with them. I had to use my Anurognathus summoning skull just to carve out a pathway through the tiny mammals. Naturally, Bakker ran out next. I explained that someone had accidentally spilled some acorns, and it was just an all-out squirrel race. It was lame, but I think the poor guy was so close to fainting that he would probably believe anything other than some extinct mammals had ganged up on the camp. The campers rushed out to help get us out of the middle of the swarm and Titanus secretly morphed to Titanoboa form. Combined, we shooed off maybe a few hundred of them at best. Other than that, we were helpless. Just then, a deep bellowing came from the forest.
Dozens of wild Chasmosaurus stampeded from the forest, straight into the Leptictidium swarm.
As you can imagine, we couldn’t stop four dozen wild ceratopsians from destroying the camp, so we just waited for them to tire out. Luckily, in evolution, they traded stamina for brute force. They had only destroyed the dinosaur floats. Then, we managed to lift them with my fellow pterosaur campers’ powers. We had just dropped them off in Protoceratops Clearing when Bakker came out of his wild trance. “Mr. Bakker,” Titanus said nervously. “I think there’s something you ought to know.”
While I like to say he took the news well, lets just say we were a bucket of ice water short that day. After getting over the main shock, he went into excited mode, which meant tears of joy and laughter. Then he was begging to see what else we had. So I demonstrated my summoning weapon, the Anurognathus skull. He loved it, and almost fainted again when he saw the training course and the pterosaur riders. Naturally, he wanted to stay, but Titanus advised against it. “We want you to return the work and continue the great art of paleontology. Without people wondering, the field would no longer exist.” Robert considered that, and agreed. All in all, he stayed for the rest of the week and spent time doing everything. I’m not sure what he thought when a young bluebuck bit his index finger, though. He also helped us explore the forest, and we even discovered a massive Maiasaura nesting ground. He helped us find ways around the hazards in the training course, and also joined us a rafting trip where we were nearly capsized by a surprised Deinosuchus. Now that was funny. I’ve always thought Robert Bakker was a fun guy, and now I’ve proved it.
Note From the Author-Robert T. Bakker is a real person, and is really one of the world’s most renowned paleontologists. He is also one of my paleontological idols, along with “Dino” Don Lessem, who I have met, and Susan Hendrickson, discoverer of the most complete T-Rex skeleton to date. He has written many books, including one of my favorite realistic fictions, Raptor Red. This story is dedicated to Robert, Don, Susan, and all paleontologists out there. May generations continue your work.