Monday, January 30, 2012

Dinosaur Poo, Ruby and Me

This story, in all seriousness, began millions of years ago when a dinosaur unceremoniously took a poo. Don't stop reading because, really, truly, that's where this story begins. I don't understand how things happen but that poo, of a distinctly poo-ish shape, became fossilized over time. Then some wandering scientist interested in fossilized poo, there really are scientists who study dinosaur poo, I know because I watched this bizarre video of an excited scientist talking about dino dumps, found the poo and put it in a sack. That sack of poo made it's way through whatever labyrinthine journey necessary to become a display at the Canadian Museum of Nature. Not only that, it became one of the 'touchable' interactive displays. This is where we enter into the strange story of Dinosaur poo, a little girl and and an old man.

After lunching in the museum restaurant we headed into the dinosaur room just across the hall. We were killing a bit of time before a showing of the 3D movie Sea Monsters and dinosaurs are always fun. Just after entering, I was a bit ahead of the group and I noticed a oddly poo shaped rock out for public display and, for the courageous, touching. I saw right underneath the rock that this was Fossilized Dinosaur Dung. Just then Ruby rounded the corner, saw something 'touchable' and headed for it. Now, I tried to stop her. It was my intention to ask her to decide whether or not she wanted to touch it and then I'd tell her what it was.  She saw my attempt to block her hand from grabbing hold of the 'dung' as a game and slipped around me and wrapped her little fingers around the pointy end.

She saw the look of mock horror on my face and asked, 'What?'

'Do you want to know what that is?' I asked.

She nodded.

'It's dinosaur poop.'

Her hand flew off the rock as fast as it could fly, it was a blur in the air. Her eyes widened and her mouth opened, she was struck wordless for only a second and then, 'Oh. My. God!!' I began to laugh. For Ruby this was extremely violent language and the horror on her face was so exaggerated as to be outrageously comic. I laughed and laughed and laughed. Mike came over and asked what was going on. 'Daddy, what it that?' she asked pointing to the poo. She didn't believe me. Mike, still not knowing what had happened said, in an echo of his daughter, 'Oh. My. God. That's Dinosaur Poop.' Ruby shook her head and set her jaw, she was having none of it.

About ten minutes later Ruby reached out to me to grab my attention. I shrunk back saying, 'Don't touch me with that hand, it touched Dinosaur poop.' Now she was insistent, 'I did not.' I said, 'Yes, you, did. That was fossilized dinosaur poop'. She said to the skies, as if entreating the heavens, her arms outstretched 'That is just not possible.' Then I lost it.

I laughed, and I laughed, and I laughed. I was doubled over in my chair with my gloved hand over my face. Ruby was staring at me realizing that my laughter meant it was probably true, she had touched dinosaur poo. Disgust registered right into her pores. Then she shook it off and off we went.

Later, when we were on the elevator going down to the movie we were chatting with another family. Ruby had tired of walking and I was holding her on my lap. The subject of the Dinosaur Poo came up and I said, 'And Ruby here grabbed hold of it.' She shook her head and said, 'IT WASN'T DINOSAUR POOP.' I asked her what it was. She said with real emphasis, 'They spray painted a rock.' The elevator echoed with laughter and Ruby sank down into me with a determination that what she had said was true. I'm afraid it must have been an uncomfortable ride for Ruby because my belly shook like a bowlful of jelly.

Driving away, heading back home. I knew I had work waiting. Work that I should not have left because there is a deadline and it is close. Making the decision to cut out and head to Ottawa for family time was not an easy one. But I was glad I did. I go to work today with a determination to finish one paper and begin another. It seemed that my gas tank was empty and those moments of pure laughter and delight managed to fill the tank back up again.

That and four hugs just before leaving.

Consider this post a belated thank you to a dinosaur, long gone, who just at the right time and just at the right place took an enormous poo. Little did it know that that poo would go on to become a source of mirth and give a moments respite to a tired, slightly depressed, wheelchair guy who needed a laugh. I don't know if Hallmark makes a 'thank you' card for the gift of steaming poo, but if they did, I'd buy it, drive back to Ottawa and tuck it under the exhibit.


Shan said...

Imagine if he'd been a bit bunged up...this might never have happened.

It's like the butterfly effect, only...with more gas.

Belinda said...

I'm so glad you filled your tank, and that the dinosaur emptied his! :)

Colleen said...

Dear Dave:

Tell Ruby what she touched is actually a coprolite. She was right - it is a rock, a fossil. It used to be dinosaur dung but now it is a coprolite.


Nan said...

Laughter the best fuel!

CapriUni said...

Hi -- just echoing Colleen.

When you next talk to Ruby (and apologize for laughing at her), you can tell her you were only half-right, and she was more right than you were: it was once dinosaur poo, but the poo washed away a long time ago, and left a poo-shaped hole. And that poo-shaped hole got got filled in with rock (which is why the museum curators knew it was safe for people to touch it without getting sick). Same thing with the dinosaur skeletons in the museum -- they're not bones, but perfectly bone-shaped rocks.

Belinda said...

Hey, CapriUni, I had no idea those bones were really rock shaped bones. Really? I learned something today!

Belinda said...

Sorry, that should have been "bone shaped rocks." See, I just can't get it straight! :)

CapriUni said...

Belinda -- Yup! That's exactly what happens...

Basically, a dinosaur (or other creature, or plant, or even insect) die and gets buried in mud. Then, gradually, as more mud and earth and rock piles on top of it, the minerals in the mud around it seep into the bone at the same time the bone itself is decomposing ... or, in this case, as the poo is decomposing.

Flash forward about 65 million years, a scientist comes along and finds it and gets all excited, because here's a rock for him to study that has inside it all the evidence of all the things that dinosaur ate, so finding fossilized poo (or as Colleen rightly pointed out, "coprolite") tells that scientist a whole whopping lot about the entire world that dino lived in.

So yeah. It is exciting.

CapriUni (something of a geek)

Rhonda said...

That's hillarious. Who would have thought that poop could be that entertaining.
I find it funny how little children often check out their own poop but later poop becomes the most disgusting thing ever. They soon forget they once were poop explorers too.

Susan said...

Don't tell her a thing! Dinausaur poop is way more fun than copra-whatever-it-was! (with all due respect to dear Colleen). But to those of us whose humour got stuck somewhere around Gr. 4, nothing is funnier than poop! (Except maybe farts. And burps. And boogers - especially green ones!)

Thank you Ruby, and Uncle Dave, for making one old lady smile today! :)

Anonymous said...

Your story reminds me of the movie "Monsters Inc." where they find out that laughter is far more powerful that screams of fear. I think it's a good thing you took that time off to visit family - sounds like it was just what you needed!


Anonymous said...

The image of this child throwing her hands to the heavens and her head back to scream NO to the universe what she will not accept has made my day....Go Ruby....