A mind is a terrible lizard

I recently came across the following sentence:

I, for example, cannot imagine how the giant sauropods mated, except through the use of telekinesis.

I have two modest proposals for a solution to this conundrum.

1) Face-to-face

Find a lake with a depth equal to a little under twice the height of a sauropod torso. (If you can’t find such a lake, get a sauropod to dig you one. Tell the sauropod it gets to mate when it’s finished.) Put a sauropod in the lake. Tell it to roll over. Don’t take no, or, more to the point, blank incomprehension, for an answer. Note that the long neck conveniently allows the sauropod to keep its head out of the water while lying on its back. Put a second sauropod, of the opposite sex, in the lake. Presuming a reasonable amount of buoyancy on the part of sauropods, it should now be possible to fire up “Swan Lake” and have them dock together.

2) Oral sex

A male sauropod could perform oral sex on itself then on a female, or, conversely, a female could attend to a male first and then herself. While this explanation, like the previous one, would show selection pressure for long necks, it’s less clear there would be all that much selection pressure for gender discrimination, and sauropods may have gone around having oral sex pretty much at random. Cue outrage about how Darwinists want to teach your kids about gay dinosaurs.


The source of the quote is the 1987 novel Daughter of the Bear King by Eleanor Arnason, which features an appendix providing an evolutionary explanation for why dinosaurs were magical. The novel is one of the odder SF/fantasy hybrids I’ve come across, and so far I can’t really convince myself that it works, though it is interesting. However, Arnason would go on to write A Woman of the Iron People and Ring of Swords, two of the best anthropological sf novels around.

40 Responses to “A mind is a terrible lizard”

  • Writing this has given me a strong case of déjà vu for some reason.

  • What I don’t get is how the dinosaurs got into the pony costumes.

  • How about the quantum teleportation of sperm?

  • Substance, with enough telepathically enslaved small mammals to do the sewing, that’s the easy part…


    I remember reading some Arnason, like, decades ago. I think it was “Ring of Swords”. Anyway, I looked it up again, and found this gem of a review.

    By the time you finish reading Ring of Swords, you will know what the Hwarath consider ethical and honorable, who really calls the shots, what is sexy, what is going on that Hwarath hide from other Hwarath, what they think is exceptable human chow, what their music sounds like (ouch), a touch of their mythology, what they wear when they aren’t trying to impress humans and what their theater is like. Especially their theater! I know more about the Hwarath now than I know about Canadians, and I live in Minnesota and have Canadian cousins. And Canadians really do exist.

    Yay! Canadians exist!

  • Evidently, Mister Punko passed the “Fuzzball Test”.

  • You misspelled telekenecksis.

  • I’m sure bimler has woodcuts illustrating all of it.

  • For my part, I find it more unlikely that stegosaurs could mate than sauropods.

    Mandos: As I recall, the classic demonstration of the existence of Canadians involves first proving the misery caused by the Canadian Curling Association, though I’m fairly sure this proof required treating “cobag” as a primitive.

    Jennifer: fossilized or geologically recent?

  • That’s exactly right, for every painful reaction caused by the CCA, there must be an action, an action manipulated by lizardly phalanges puppeting strings connected to an empire of evildoers and piano wire around our collective neck.

  • I welcome our inundation of “dinosaur sex” Google enthusiasts.

  • They’ll be flocking in on a tsunami of tawdry pterosaurs, Pinko.

  • Boing Boing is zoinking our dino-smut????

  • A different set of evolutionary brackets is needed to narrow down what a dinosaurian penis might have looked like.

  • I’m afraid that modus-CCA inferences do not always work in the Canadian existence-proof, unfortunately. Sometimes the CCA redefines the truth tables.

  • Words of Wisdom

    Dick Cheney is so evil he sponsors a little league team just so he can get them addicted to chewing tobacco.

    -Pinko Punko

    I might have to quote you, P.P. (IF that is your real name!)

  • A. I haven’t read this post, so there.
    B. Whilst trying to think of something clever to say, your Security Question caught my ADD eye. So anything clever that I subsequently write will probably be math inspired.
    C. I can’t think of any clever math comments.
    D. Wait – Q: “What did 1 two say to the other 2?”
    A: “Four-geddaboutit!”
    E: No, I don’t think that was clever. I’m not an idiot.
    F: I am Calming Influence, AKA the commenter formally known as jexter. I have returned to 3Bulls. Alert the press.

  • Mandos has a point. If we posit that CCA is infinitely sinister, then it is possible that Canada is only a shadowy shell, whose sole purpose is to provide a veneer of legitimacy to the CCA. In fact, they might merely be projecting this image in our minds.

  • It’s gotten worse than I’d imagines. The CCA has recently redesigned The Brier and Scotties. Helpless Scotland was unable to withstand the onslaught.

  • More teams added to the national championship mix, a push to springboard mixed doubles into the collected consciousness of the Canadian curling fan, as well as the adopting of a new game clock format, are all a part of sweeping changes.

    Emphasis added. Well done, curling writer!!!!

  • That article was stone-cold and rock solid.

  • I’m a little puzzled by the suggestion of introducing some kind of curling/springboard diving biathlon thingie. Inscrutability, thy name is Canadian Curling Association.

    Or perhaps that should be: Get thee behind me, Canadian Curling Association!

    Well, not sure about that last, actually. Do we really want to find out what the CCA does when it goes behind our backs?

  • I’m sure bimler has woodcuts illustrating all of it.
    I heard that.

  • I assume that it has something to do with the recent revival of the ParticipAction organization. An organization so nefarious that it inspired Margaret Atwood to name a form of brutal punishment after it.

    I assume that the springboard diving section involves blindfolded contestants. Why hasn’t “Canada” been invaded yet?

  • *Despite* the security question, my comment was still moderated. *shakes fist at CCA and emus*

  • Purrhaps you really are a fuzzball (in spite of your math skills), Mandos?

  • Aw I miss everyone. I need to get back on the Internet superhighway

  • And my (now old) comment remains in moderation *taptaptap*

  • A Kathleen sighting is almost as rare as dinosaur porn woodcuts!

  • Note that the long neck conveniently allows the sauropod to keep its head out of the water while lying on its back.
    Your argument is invalid:

  • A comment from smutty hdb:

    Comments to 3Bulls still going into Moderation Limbo.

    All I did was point out that plover’s “Face-to-face” theory of sauropod mating was invalid:
    Note that the long neck conveniently allows the sauropod to keep its head out of the water while lying on its back.

    Because of the neck inflexibility:


  • “Moderation” and “HDB” seem to be contradictory.

  • How did giant sauropods have sex? I don’t know, but here is one possible outline.

    First, one might try to connect with the inner male sauropod:

    1) To become ‘giant’, with MASSIVE bones and MASSIVE muscles, there must have been an adult anabolic hormone. The top candidates are growth hormone and testosterone, both of which are highly conserved. Between the two, I favor testosterone as the candidate primarily responsible for the massive muscle anabolism required in the post-pubescent adult sauropod. Why? Bone growth had to come first – and was more likely to be under the control of growth hormone in pre-pubescent adolescent sauropods, as is typical in current living vertebrates. This growth hormone regulated growth would set the length and height of the animal, but the musculature would not be set. As we are familiar with in human males, once bone growth is complete post-puberty, there can still be substantial anabolism in the gain of muscle mass, but no additional gains in bone growth. This type of anabolism appears to be primarily under the control of testosterone, rather than growth hormone, in the mature adult animal.

    Conclusion: In order to obtain their ‘giant’ body muscle mass, adult male sauropods where probably suffering from extreme testosterone poisoning.

    2) Sauropods only had one way of thinking – by using their lizard brain. What might this imply? We are all quite familiar with how human males, whom mother nature endowed with several ‘higher’ forms of thinking, all too frequently ‘think with their p*nis’ (i.e. their lizard brain), and the consequences of such thoughts. Male sauropods had no other way of thinking – only a lizard brain.

    Conclusion: A male sauropod was simply a giant testosterone poisoned thinking p*nis.

    Second, combining conclusions 1 & 2, I imagine something like the following scenario.

    Scene: a female sauropod, who is hungry and just minding her own business, bends down slightly to munch on some swamp grass. A male sauropod happens to glance her way from behind. The following internal lizard brain thoughts ensue:

    Male sauropod: Oh yeah – this lovely lady is ready for a romp-in-the-swamp! She must have spotted my bulging pecks, and just can’t resist. Here I come baby – (starts waddling towards her) – your knight in shining armor is here! Time for my Tyranophallus Rex to get to work! Oh-shit baby, oh – I’m almost there – I’m, I’m, oh, oh, oh…. (his legs chafing his erect penis as he waddles leads to pre-mature ejaculation. During orgasm, his muscle control falters, and he clumsily bumps into the female).

    Female sauropod: Watch out jerk! Why did you bump into me? Oh-YUCK! What is wrong with you! What an asshole! (she waddles away in disgust).

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