Author: Rev. Ivan Stang
There is a lot of silly talk going around about how the cavemen killed the dinosaurs. I am setting the record straight.
We all know that dinosaurs were big, dangerous critters and that there aren't any of them around any more, except in very remote places like lost islands and unreachable plateaus, and invisible canyons out West. But there are lots of people around. Obviously the people killed off the dinosaurs, but how? They must have done it a long time ago, before guns, because even the newest dinosaur carcass you can find has been picked so clean that there is not a speck of meat on it, and the bones don't even smell bad. Might as well be rocks left out in the rain.
So, the question is, with no guns much less bazookas, how did the people of the olden days kill dinosaurs?
I have been studying cavemen and dinosaurs since before I could read. When I was a little child I had every toy dinosaur known and could name all twelve of them by their scientific names, like for instance the Brontosaurus. I also got hold of every comic book and library book about cavemen that I could find. Little boys are about as smart as a caveman was so I have a pretty good idea of how a caveman would approach a problem like dinosaur killing.
But mostly I have seen nearly every caveman and dinosaur movie ever made. I have seen most of them several times, especially DINOSAURUS! And One Milllion Years B.C. along with its lesser-known predecessor, One Million B.C.
Well first we have to discount weaponry and tricks that were not available to cavemen who were fighting against dinosaurs. One thing we can throw out along with guns is bows and arrows. If cavemen ever had bows and arrows, I sure never heard anything about it. I did my research and it looks to me like bows and arrows were invented by the Indians and Robin Hood, and both of those came a long time after cavemen. In fact in all the TUROK SON OF STONE comic books, when the Indians use bows and arrows, the cavemen are always amazed, scared and covetous.
Besides, everybody knows that a dinosaur's hide is too tough for an arrow to do much damage. Even if it is a poison tipped arrow it will probably just bounce off that scaly hide. But we already figured out that bows and arrows were not an option for these cavemen, anyway.
We can also toss out the notion that cavemen killed dinosaurs by throwing rocks. You can't kill a dinosaur by throwing rocks. Now, a bunch of cavemen might could smush a dinosaur if they pushed a giant rock off a cliff onto the dinosaur, but they would have to be quick about it, or else get the dinosaur to stand still, and we will get to that, if I remember.
This all leaves pretty much just the one option: spears. Yes, cavemen used spears to kill dinosaurs. Mostly. They could use a couple other things and we will get to that too. But first, you have to understand that not just any old spear will do for dinosaur killing, unless it is baby dinosaurs you're talking about, and that would just be cruel and not sporting. So the big question is, just exactly what kind of spear did the cavemen use to kill dinosaurs?
Well the one thing we know for sure is that you had to have you a BIG spear. Some kind of half-assed little sharp stick just ain't gonna cut it. Your dinosaur is a big critter and some of them are pretty fast too. The ones in the more modern movies are a little faster than the ones in the older movies. Plus the ones in old movies move kind of jerky. Perhaps this is simply because they are old.
No matter how you angle it, it has to be a big spear, and a sturdy one. And it should have one of those flint spearheads on it, good and sharp. I have rarely seen caveman spears that did not have a good sharp flint spearhead strapped on with leather strips. And the stick you use for the spear has to be good and thick, and longer than the caveman himself, lest the dinosaur be able to reach past it and grab the caveman. But it can't be too heavy to throw, with a couple of exceptions.
From the evidence in movies we know that sometimes a caveman might throw his spear and hit that old dinosaur smack-dab in his middle, but then the dinosaur just brushes it off like it was nothing but spear grass stuck to your wool sweater. This is because the caveman didn't throw hard enough. Also, sometimes the dinosaur springs on you too quick for you to get a good throw in. There's no time to rear back and give it the thrust you need.
In these cases, what the caveman does is, he lures the dinosaur into charging him, then he sets the butt of the spear in the ground and that dinosaur, being stupid as dinosaurs tend to be, runs right into that spear belly-first and his own weight and speed cause that spear to go in deep.
I have known cavemen who were very fast thinkers, which is rare enough in cavemen, to use a handy tent pole when their spears is all used up. It has to be a fairly sharp tent pole though or the dinosaur will just bump into it and that will make him even madder.
Now here is another trick that I have seen used by cavemen who weren't prepared and had only a small, regular spear, like what you would use for say deer hunting if you were a caveman. In this case, of course, needless to say, the caveman tries to jab the dinosaur in the mouth or eyeball, but the dinosaur snatches that spear away with his teeny little arms and snaps it in two. Or part of the spear is stuck in him, but all it does is rile him up, and again he just snaps it off. This leaves the poor caveman with only a half a spear and not the sharp half at that.
This is where it gets tricky.
The caveman has to move fast, but it is possible to wedge that broken bottom-spear-half right into the dinosaur's open mouth so that it is stuck in there and holds the dinosaur's mouth open. Then when the dinosaur is fretting about the thing in its mouth the caveman has time to get his buddy's spear or otherwise figure out some way to escape the dinosaur until a proper spear can be made up. Of course this won't work with your four-legged vegetarian dinosaurs, which aren't trying to bite you to death but instead are trying to gore you with their horns or whatnot.
There is a way to kill this kind of dinosaur, or in fact just about any old dinosaur, without a spear, but you need to have a deep and sticky tar pit or else a quicksand pit around. Given enough cavemen I suppose they could dig a pit and cover it with a false top so the dinosaur would fall in, but we're talking a pretty big pit and I doubt if you could rally a bunch of cavemen into doing that much work.
But anyway that's another way to do it, lure the dinosaur into a tar pit or a pool of quicksand. Quite a few dinosaurs have been disposed of this way. The problem is, it's a waste of good meat. How you gonna get that carcass out of that pit? So you see, again, a spear is the best way, because then you have you a dinosaur carcass that'll feed a whole tribe of cavemen and cavewomen and cavechildren.
Cavemen used extremely big and sharp spears to kill dinosaurs whenever they could do it that way.
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[Caveman in bear suit via Shutterstock.com.]