Back to the index

Chapter Five
Jurassic Countdown
by June Vernau

Chapter Four

“Well, this is it then,” said Derek, walking into the entrance of the Dinosaur Museum in Dorchester. “Now we can really find out about Dorset’s Jurassic Coast.”
“Dad, there’s a full-size Megalosaurus in here!” Tom rushed into the first display room.
“Derek don’t let him go running around. Make him stay with us,” said Tom’s Mum, paying for the entry tickets. “I want him to act sensibly.”
“This is a Megalosaurus,” Tom whispered. “He lived in the Jurassic period.”
“Well, I’m glad he’s not alive today,” said Derek. “I wouldn’t like to meet him outside an Indian Takeaway at night.”
Jayne wandered over to the other side of the room to look at the display on the wall. Her Mum joined her.
“Mary Anning,” Jayne’s Mum read the words on the display. “I saw a programme about her on the television. She found lots of fossils on the beach at Lyme Regis in the early part of the nineteenth century. She was only a girl when she found her first fossil. It says here that she found her first Ichthyosaur fossil in 1811.”
“That’s an Ichthyosaur!” Tom raced over and pointed to a skeleton on the wall. “It was alive in the Jurassic. People used to call them Fish Lizards. My teacher says that the word comes from Greek - Ichthy means fish and saur means lizard.”
“The picture of an Ichthyosaur looks just like the dolphin we saw in the bay yesterday,” said Jayne’s Mum. “I hung on tight to the railings. I really thought we were going to be capsized. I didn’t think dolphins could grow to be that size.”
“I can hear Tom giving his guided tour of the museum.” Derek joined them.
“We did a project on dinosaurs at school last term,” said Tom. “The teacher told us that in some places people used to think that the fossils of Ichthyosaurs and Plesiosaurs were the bones of sea dragons.”
“That Megalosaurus would make a good dragon,” said Derek. “It only needs fire and smoke.”
Dragons… Jayne stared at the picture of Mary Anning. Did Legend World exist when Mary was alive? Did anyone see a Legend World Dragon? Maybe they did. Maybe that’s why people believed in dragons.
“Are you coming?” Jayne’s Mum touched her arm. “Tom’s getting excited because there’s a brain cast of a Tyrannosaurus Rex in the next room. We’ll have to follow him before he gets into mischief.”
“I’m after him.” Derek headed off into the next room. “Tom, what are you doing now?”
“Dad, feel this!” Tom pulled his hand from the hole in a green box. “Feathers, they’re feathers. That’s not dinosaur skin.”
“I’m not putting my hand in there. I don’t want it to be bitten off by a dinosaur.”
“You couldn’t get a dinosaur in that little box,” said Tom. “You’re supposed to guess which box has the dinosaur skin in it. But it’s not real skin.”
“That’s interesting reading,” said Jayne’s Mum. “It says that nobody knows what colour the dinosaurs were. Colour doesn’t fossilise. I never thought of that before.”
“Double Tyrannosaurus!” Tom raced towards the next room.
“Tom, stop running!” his Mum reached out and grabbed his arm. “You’ll have to go outside if you don’t settle down. There are other visitors here.”
“There’s two young Tyrannosaurus in there.” Tom tried to whisper. “Can I go in the next room?”
“We’ll all go together.” Tom’s Mum held tightly to his arm as they walked through the doorway. “Now you can tell me all about these creatures.”
“They’re flesh eaters,” said Tom, as his Mum let go of his arm. “Look at those teeth.”
“There’s something even more interesting over here.” Derek wandered over to a tall glass cabinet. “Why would someone want to make a model of Tom?”
“Me?” Tom ran over to join him. “It’s not me! It looks like an alien!”
“Derek, Tom’s still shouting. Stop teasing him,” said Jayne’s Mum. “You make him worse.”
“I was just showing him this model of a Troodon,” said Derek. “Interesting reading - they believe that if the dinosaurs had not been wiped out one of them could have evolved into this creature. Just think the earth could be populated by Troodons instead of humans.”
Jayne stared at the creature’s strange alien-like head. The arms and legs were like humans but the skin was green…like dragon skin.
“Mr. Troodon,” Derek ruffled Tom’s hair. “My own very rare dinosaur.”
“Mum, tell dad to stop teasing,” said Tom. “He doesn’t tease Jayne. I don’t look like a dinosaur!”
“All right, I’m sorry.” Derek gave Tom a hug. “Just to make it up to you, let’s say I take you upstairs to see the video gallery. Come on. We’ll give your Mum some peace and quiet. But promise to keep your voice down.”
“Now we can concentrate,” said Jayne’s Mum, “Look, there’s some more information about marine reptiles over here.”
Jayne stared at the pictures and fossils on the wall - another Ichthyosaur, a short-necked Pliosaur and it was there - the long neck curved skyward. It was the creature she’d seen in the bay. She read the words below the picture -

A Plesiosaur - a Jurassic marine reptile.

The giant Jurassic sea dragon.