I have always had an interest in ancient elephants. Ever since I first laid eyes on the woolly mammoth at the Royal British Columbia Museum, they have always held a spell on me. It has only been in recent years that they have drawn me in as a research interest. Despite being a diverse and very successful group with a broad array of adaptations, not a lot of work has been done on them outside of naming new species and studying their Ice Age members. However, the first serious research question I ever came up* with involves our old friend the American mastodon.
Today marks a momentous occasion: the release of Gareth Edward’s Godzilla! This is the first Godzilla movie on American soil since Roland Emerich’s disastrous (no pun intended) take on the iconic reptile in 1998. Considering the poor critical response and the perpetual ire of the fan boys, the G-Man would not get an American outing for 14 years. Godzilla is often used a comparison for any giant reptile. Most often it is applied to dinosaurs, since Godzilla is supposed to be a resurected dinosaur. But I think the title of Godzilla incarnate is better applied to a much different animal. Dinosaurs were related to birds, not lizards, and Godzilla is often called a lizard. We fear what we don’t understand, but often fear can come when something familiar (and maybe already terrifying) is taken to the max. And I’m not talking about feathered dinosaurs (“Would I like to see an enfluffled Tyrannosaurus chasing after hapless humans? Absolutely. I’d be thrilled to view such scientifically-informed nightmare fuel.”- Brian Switek. A featured tyrannosaurus is a can of worms for another time) I’m talking about something more insidious to our primitive monkey brains. Something that, unlike dinosaurs, early man would have encountered. I’m talking about the most famous of Australia’s Pleistocene menagerie: Megalania.