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A dad just got mad at me because I wouldn’t call Tyrannosaurus rex “the meanest dino”.

He told his three kids that T. Rex was the “meanest dinosaur there ever was”. When they saw me, one asked if this was true.

“Well,” I said, “‘Meanness’ is hard to judge. T. rex certainly ate meat and was probably a top predator, but it’s impossible to tell from the fossil record whether it was ‘mean’. It had to eat other dinosaurs in order to survive and didn’t have a choice about that. Meanness and cruelty are human concepts that are difficult to apply to other animals, especially those that have been dead for tend millions of years.”

The dad rolled his eyes and led his kids away by the arm, leaning down to assure his son that T. Rex was definitely the meanest - just look at how big and vicious he was!

I had a flashback to first grade, when another boy tried to bully me in the library by telling me that sharks are evil, and I tried very patiently to explain why “evil” only applies to human values. He didn’t care, just called me a rude name and said he’d kill all the whales before I could study them. Eat shit, Blake.

Another frustration: white dads LOVE to challenge me when I refer to a carnivorous dinosaur specimen as “her”. They do not ask how I know its sex if I call it a “he”. This is probably the same crowd who unconsciously assume that all cats are female and dogs are male.

God forbid I tell him that most paleontologists believe that females were generally larger than males. They’re downright offended that the biggest, scariest dino might have been a girl, and that the largest and most complete T. rex fossil found to date has an effeminate name like “Sue”!

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