This week we continue on with the first chapter of my “Remnants of Eden: Evolution, Deep-Time, & the Antediluvian World.” God bless, and stay with me as the story unfolds with the next post…
My interest in the past and the beasts that populated it only continued to grow throughout my adolescence. That night at the wake, reading quietly in the church kitchen, the book in my hands that fascinated me so was Michael Crichton’s The Lost World, the sequel to Jurassic Park. Having never read Jurassic Park itself, this was, in fact, my first experience with Crichton’s writing, and I was utterly immersed. The book, which I had gotten the day before, consoled me through distraction, and in doing so established a precedent within my mind, the extent of which I could not yet know.
Later, in the months after the funeral, in searching for my own “lost world” of sorts, I looked not only to the science of fossils and deep-time, but also fields rooted in the living world around me. College was, after all, only a few years away. Perhaps, I reasoned, the past would become ever clearer to me if I set my attention on the relatives of the Dinosauria, and such study could possibly lay the groundwork for a career as a herpetologist ¹ or ornithologist. ² Through that course of thinking was born a small menagerie, a hodgepodge of personal research animals that dominated a great deal of my time for several years.
The plan initially was to acquire only a few animals, perhaps one or two birds and a few lizards, in order to better understand their physiology and behaviors. My grandpa Barry, as always, was more than willing to oblige me. From my earliest memories on, he was always dedicated to giving me whatever my heart desired. His devotion to me actually saddens me now quite a bit, as I have come to realize that I never actually took the time to consider the price he often had to pay for my happiness. Even so, no matter how frivolous the pursuit, he was there, checkbook in hand, especially after my grandmother’s passing.
As I continued to grow my menagerie, I became as interested in the act of collecting as I was the research itself. By the end, just two years after my endeavors had begun, I had over two-dozen birds, with a blue-front amazon, a Vosmaeri eclectus, a rainbow lorikeet, a sun conure and quaker parrot, and many cockatiels, canaries, and finches. I even had an emu! Beyond those, I had more than a dozen varieties of iguana, gecko, crocodilians, and amphibians within my collection. From them I learned much, but my prospects of entering the scientific fields dedicated to them quickly lost out to another, less conventional pursuit.
Mid-Spring 1998, while sitting in class, my mind wandering amidst the humid jungles of the past, a strange thought occurred to me. This thought, an absolute fool’s errand, would rapidly overtake all of my sensible protestations and come to dominate my life in as significant a way possible for the next thirteen years. Instead of dismissing the notion as I should have, my ingrained interests fueled it, driving me deep into a world of bleeding-edge technology and unbridled ambition.
Inspiration had touched me in that moment, electrifying my heart, invigorating my mind, and clarifying my focus. As the day carried on, I became ever more lost in thought as the world around me fell away and a single, crisp line of thought grew to dominate my consciousness. My imagination presented me with questions: Though others had failed, could you succeed at the impossible goal of resurrecting the past? Are you willing to try? Could you make Jurassic Park real?
- The study of reptiles and amphibians
- The study of birds
The Story Continues with the Next Post…
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