Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Cavemen vs. Dinosaurs
It didn't happen. There is something in the popular imagination that feels it did, though. Or perhaps we just want it to have happened. It would have been cool if cavemen fought dinosaurs. But trust us: it didn't happen.
A couple of times a term, in a loose or somewhat offhand moment, someone will write an essay about, say, nutrition, and in this essay there will be a sentence that runs something like: "People have been eating meat since the cavemen hunted dinosaurs, so you might think that..." Or someone else will be writing an essay about, say, hunting, and they will write, "Mankind has hunted animals from our earliest days: from cavemen throwing spears at dinosaurs to hunter-gatherers stalking the wildest berries, we have always..."
It's probably a combination of "The Flintstones," some cartoons in The New Yorker, and maybe some kid stuff like Dinotopia and so forth that gets this idea in our head early. It's a good idea, too: it's both fun and funny. But it's made up. And in a paper for a college class, you can't use anecdotes from an invented human/saurian culture as offhand evidence for anything.
It just didn't happen.