Dinosaurs died out long before Christopher Columbus “discovered” America and the pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving. But what if they didn’t? The fact is that you will most likely have a dinosaur at your Thanksgiving (and we don’t mean Grandpa). So if they didn’t die out, how would dinosaurs celebrate Thanksgiving?
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Would dinosaurs celebrate Thanksgiving?
I guess this question is critical, but we don’t have to answer this as it is a fantasy anyway. This summary assumes that the dinosaurs that populated North America in the Late Cretaceous Period survived the meteor hit and the aftermath. Later, when the pilgrims moved to the “new world” they found a way to make friends with the dinosaurs and not become the next meal or use the dinosaurs for their next meal.
These dinosaurs included the Triceratops, titanosaurs, Ankylosaurus, Velociraptors and the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Perhaps, if dinosaurs were still alive, Thanksgiving would be the celebration of this new-found friendship.
I have images of a family of 4 dinosaurs in a truck on their way across the country to celebrate Thanksgiving with family.
What would dinosaurs be thankful for?
There is a myriad of things that the dinosaurs could be thankful for, but two main events come to mind:
- That the meteor missed the earth, even if it was only just. That space rock could have done some real damage and forced the earth into an ice age or something if it had actually hit.
- Bird flu was bad, also for dinosaurs (we’ll explain why in a moment). Many succumbed. The dinosaurs are thankful that COVID-19 does not seem to be contagious for birds or dinosaurs.
The dinosaur at your Thanksgiving
Most likely, there will be a real dinosaur at your Thanksgiving. It will take pride of place on your Thanksgiving table and will probably even be the star of the show.
Yes, the turkey on your table is a farm-raised dinosaur.
I know your carnivorous dinosaur guests will be delighted.
Why is your Thanksgiving turkey a dinosaur
Birds and certain dinosaurs display synapomorphy: shared anatomical characteristics, derived from their evolution from a common ancestor.
If you look closely at the wingtip of your Thanksgiving turkey, you will see that it is made up of three bones – two longer bones and a nub. The second of these is the longest, just as it is is in saurischian (tetanurae) dinosaurs.
Birds and theropod dinosaurs, like T-Rex, are the only animals (ever) to have wishbones (furcula). They are actually a fused collarbone used to support flight muscles in birds. Birds and theropod dinosaurs also have hollow bones (snap open a drumstick to see). This makes birds lighter so that they can fly and therapod dinosaurs were probably more agile.
More specifically, birds are descendant from maniraptors, a group of theropod dinosaurs that includes the velociraptor. Both are synapomorphic: they share similar hipbones that point backwards.
The feet, neck shape and feathers also show similarities between certain theropod dinosaurs and birds.
The difference between avialae (birds) and dromaeosauridae (theropod dinosaurs) is the tail. Bird no longer have a boned tail like dinosaurs, they just have a nub (pygostyle) that supports the feathers.
So the real dinosaur at your Thanksgiving is actually the roast turkey on your table. It is a direct descendant of dinosaurs.
What would dinosaurs eat for Thanksgiving?
The carnivorous dinosaurs will likely be very happy to eat the turkey. All of it. And at least three more for each dinosaur. Your oven will be working on overtime.
While the turkeys are cooking, the dinosaurs would be celebrating Thanksgiving in the traditional way and chowing on some snacks.
The Triceratops dip would be a hit until the carnivores discovered there was actually no meat in it and it just looked like a Triceratops.
Instead, the meat-eaters would probably enjoy the coprolite dip (date and bacon dip with bone toasts, made to look like fossilized dinosaur poop). I know the small-minded dinosaurs would get a kick out of the name.
In addition to the turkeys, the main course would need to include some green side dishes, such as a spinach and kale salad with pomegranate seeds and nuts.
Green beans and brussel sprouts would work well too. Though the herbivores would prefer them if they are raw and not done up in a casserole (though this Brussel sprout gratin is delicious).
If you have a Spinosaurus or other pescatarian guests, you might like to add some steamed or grilled salmon.
Would there be pumpkin pie?
That is debatable.
There is clear evidence that some Pleistocene megafauna (i.e. oversized Ice Age animals that roamed the earth after dinosaurs died out), such as the Mastodon, did eat prehistoric pumpkins and gourds. It is therefore likely that herbivorous dinosaurs would eat them, too, had they survived the meteorite.
However, it is quite possible, that pumpkins would not be the pumpkins that we know and love and use in pie.
Prehistoric pumpkins were quite hard and bitter. They were also toxic to neanderthals. Instead, early humans used them to make bags. It was only when the mastodons and other Pleistocene megafauna died out that the pumpkins lost their toxicity and bitterness and became edible for humans.
If dinosaurs did not die out, there is a good chance that pumpkins and gourds would still be toxic for humans. In other words: if there were dinosaurs at your Thanksgiving (other than the turkey), there would probably be no pumpkin pie.
If pumpkins were like those we know and love today, herbivores would likely eat them. Of course, they would love pumpkin pie.
Why not make some dinosaur pumpkin pie? Or your favourite pie, whatever that is.
How to make dinosaur pie
I am going to try making dinosaur pie this festive season. If anyone wants to get in before me, here’s how you do it:
- Grab a dinosaur mask template for inspiration. We have this book or you might want to use one of these from the Senckenberg Museum.
- Make your pie with your favourite base and filling, making sure that you have some pastry left over.
- Using the mask as a guide, cut out the pastry to reproduce the mask with layers of pastry. If I made the parasaurolophus on the front page of the book, for example, I would have one piece of pastry for the whole face, one for the nose and crest (with nostrils cut out), probably two pieces for the purple on the crest and little bits for the eyes and jaw.
What about dinosaur decorations?
How would dinosaurs celebrate Thanksgiving? Would they dress up? Or have Thanksgiving decorations?
Dinosaurs look really cute with pilgrim hats!
Why not use dinosaurs in your Thanksgiving decor to go with the farm-fed dinosaur at your Thanksgiving?
How would dinosaurs celebrate Thanksgiving?
What other traditions would the dinosaurs follow when celebrating Thanksgiving?
Would there be the pardoning of a Thanksgiving turkey? Or of a Velociraptor for eating the turkey?
Would they break the wishbone? Can you imagine two Tyrannosauruses trying to break the wishbone? Emphasis on the trying… What would they wish for?
Would the dinosaurs watch football? I can imagine some dinosaurs could be very good at football – ceratopsians could make a good defensive line, perhaps aided by Pachycephalosaurus. Galimimus could make a good wide receiver and Utahraptor the running back. And don’t you think “Las Vegas Raptors” has a ring to it? Or the “Texas T-Rexes” or “Detroit Dinos”(given that both are built on fossil fuels and fossil fuel consumption)?
Would the dinosaurs play tag outside while waiting for dinner to be ready? Some dinosaurs would have a distinct advantage. And hide and seek would be difficult for other dinosaurs, especially the hide part.
Logically, the dinosaurs would also watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – it is one of the few times a year where the dinosaurs are smaller than most of the entertainment. Currently, their favourite balloon is Sinclair’s Dino – one of the only balloons in the parade to be life-sized.
Books on how dinosaurs would celebrate Thanksgiving?
- Dino-Thanksgiving by Lisa Wheeler and Barry Gott
- The First Thanksgiving: A Dinosaur Story Book, by Sam Reed
- Can My Dinosaur Say Thank You? by Emily Joys
- Dinosaurs’ Thanksgiving by Liza Donnelly – this one is even available on Kindle Unlimited if you have a Kindle.
There are also numerous dinosaur and Thanksgiving-themed colouring and activity books, though I fear many of them only have Thanksgiving on the cover.
Will you be celebrating Thanksgiving with dinosaurs?
Isn’t it fun to imagine how dinosaurs would celebrate Thanksgiving?
Technically, if you will be having a turkey, there will be a dinosaur at your Thanksgiving. Even if you are not, why not add a little prehistoric fun to your Thanksgiving? Just a simple change to your snacks or a dinosaur-themed after dinner game could make this Thanksgiving one to remember for your little dinosaur lover. And you can teach them about evolution at the same time!