Pterodactyls are Pterrifying

I have known for a long time that dinosaurs are awesome.  This weekend I learned something about my favorite dinosaur that I never knew before. 

The whole family went to the Turtle Back Zoo with our next door neighbors on Saturday August 25, 2012.  On the drive there, the skies opened up and it poured rain for most of the drive.  When we got to the bottom of the hill where the zoo was, the rain stopped – the ground was completely dry and our day at the zoo was on.

Our first stop in the zoo was the reptile house.  The first thing you see when you walk in is a giant pterodactyl hanging in the ceiling.  We had been here before, and I had seen it hanging up there before -but I never thought to question “why?”

Why is the coolest f’ing dinosaur ever in the reptile house?  I asked myself.  The pterydactyl is a bird!  It has wings.  It flies.  It makes that scary-ass screeching sound when it swoops down to catch its prey with its super sharp talons.  At least, it probably did anyway.  It is the scariest BIRD to ever flap its wings.   It had no feathers – it was the bird equivalent of those freaky bald cats that the Egyptians had on the walls of the pyramids.  Hell, even the way you spell its name is frightening.

I asked my wife, “Why is there a pterodactyl in here, aren’t they birds?”  No sooner did I finish my question to her, when she pointed to the info written out below the display.  Pterodactyls are REPTILES!  My mind was blown.  My entire childhood and grown life I thought that they were birds.  I began to question if everything I had known up until that point had been a lie to me.

So I quickly took that picture that you see above, and texted it to my oldest friend ChuckO.  We always used to say to each other: “OH NO!!, THE PTERODACTYL!!”  I have no idea when we started saying that to each other, or why it started in the first place – but to this day if one of us were to use a super stupid high pitch voice to say “OH NO!!” – the other one would continue “THE PTERODACTYL!!”

I did a bit of research while I was writing this and learned even more about Pterodactyls.  Apparently, the term pterodactyl, isn’t even their real name. 

1. There’s no such creature as a “pterodactyl.”

It’s unclear at what point “pterodactyl” became a synonym for pterosaurs in general, and Pterodactylus and Pteranodon in particular, but the fact remains that this is the word most people use. Working paleontologists never refer to “pterodactyls,” preferring to focus on individual pterosaur genera.

Thanks to this website for crushing my childhood dreams even further.  10 Facts About Pterodactyl

While my childhood may have been turned upside down at the zoo this weekend, the kids had a blast.  And if I can’t have my own pet pterodactyl, then I want a Pterodactyls are Pterrifying tshirt.  Even if they aren’t the scariest birds ever.

August 8th, 1998 – Phish – Merriweather Post Pavilion – Columbia, MD

I spent a week and half in August of 1998 traveling the east coast in my 1985 Toyota Camry with my college roommate and good friend DanO.  We left New Jersey on the night of August 7th and would be staying the first night in Alexandria, Virginia.  We merged onto the Garden State Parkway just as the sun had set and it had just turned dark.  A beat up car with its windows rolled down passed us just as we entered the highway.  The two long haired guys in the car had big smiles on their faces – and a Phish sticker on the back of the car.  We were more than 200 miles and 4 hours away from where the concert was the next night, and the first car we saw when we got on the highway was going to the same place as we were.

It was dark, and they did not have their headlights on.  I pulled up next to their car and yelled for them to turn them on.  “You going tomorrow night?” I yelled.  They both nodded yes.  “We’ll see you there.”  And we drove off into the night towards an adventure that would feature many more moments of magic like this.

I have zero recollection of what we did the next morning and day leading up to our departure for the venue.   We left for the show at 4:20.  The only reason I know that is because we wrote it down on the back of my setlist pad for the night.  The drive was supposed to take about 45 minutes.  It took us more than three and a half hours.  We sat on the exit ramp in the same spot for almost 2 hours.  It was a party on the highway.  People were out of their cars tailgating, riding skateboards, kicking around hackysacks and having a great time.  The most fun you can have in traffic is on the way to a Phish show.   It started to get a little nerveracking once showtime was approaching.  Luckily we found the Smooth Jazz station on the radio and got to listen to some Sade which helped calm our moods.  Traffic finally started rolling again, but we were still quite a way from the parking lots.  We made a decision that would go on to be a common theme for all of my future concert going excursions.  Get off the highway and take the backroads.

It was 8:00 by the time we finally parked our car.  The ticket time said 7:30.  We quickly walked to the venue and found a spot on the back of the lawn.  Just as we sat down – the house lights went down, and the band came on stage.  The stars were aligned for us on this night.  Even though we didn’t have good seats – the fact that we made it there was all that mattered at that point.  They opened with a song called The Wedge.  The chorus of it appropriately sang – “Take the highway, to the Great Divide.”  We had arrived at the Great Divide.

I don’t think I was able to see the band on stage the entire night.  I watched the show mostly on the monitors above the roof of the pavilion.  The show was extremely well played from start to finish, but the biggest memory from this night was the Encore.  The only time I was able to see the stage was when they started playing Sabotage by the Beastie Boys.  To put it bluntly, the place went fucking crazy.  I jumped so high in the air that for a brief moment I was floating above the entire lawn and caught a glimpse of the stage.

The first night of our tour was a wonderfully stressful but perfect way to start the week ahead.