East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Bag yourself a Dino

9781472812827_1_3_8The postman delivered today my Halloween gift1, Steve White’s Dinosaur Hunter, freshly pressed by Osprey Publishing.
Yes, that Osprey Publishing – the one that had me spending extravagant amounts of money on marvelously-illustrated, authoritative books about pirates, samurai, assorted World Wars and what else.

Described as The Ultimate Guide to the Biggest Game, White’s book is basically a handbook for, well, big game hunters interested in bagging themselves a dinosaur.

The book – which comes in a backpack-friendly 200+ pages thick paperback – is essentially the orientation manual for those lucky individuals that have passed the preliminary selection for a Mesozoic hunting license.
Mesozoic Hunting Corporation (C) provides the gear and the means of transportation. Continue reading


Some notes on dinosaur hunting – part 2

Bring ’em back alive!

We discussed hunting dinosaurs in the classic one shot-one kill style.
A gentleman’s pursuit.

But let’s say our interest is more scientific and we want to collect live specimens…
What should we do?

scf4327-082The obvious choice is stealing the eggs and then incubate them.
A brief moment of panic and a hectic run might save us a lot of trouble.
After all, it worked for Professor Challenger, right?

But ok, let’s say we want to collect a live dinosaur.
We must somehow knock the beasties down.

The best sleeping drugs for reptiles is Isoflorane, an alogenated ether which is administered by inhalation.
Yes, we can gas the dinos.

People interested in the old sleeping gun way, the dart in our gun can be loaded with any of the classics:

Most veterinarians swear by a cocktail of Ketamine (a dissociational drug) and either Diazepan or Medetomitine (a muscular relaxant).
The volume depends on the bulk of the animal – its total weight.
It works in ten minutes.
Or it should, anyway.
It’s better to be out of the way after thirty minutes after sedation.

Now we face two problems.
The first problem is mechanical – injecting the drug.
The best way should be to inject the drug cocktail between two scales – as perforating the scale is painful for the animal and ineffective as a way to sedate it.
In other words, we might end up with a an enraged, fully awake dinosaur.
If we are dealing with carnivores or saprophages, the best policy should be shooting the dino in the neck, and from behind, thus taking advantage of the scale orientation.

But the real problem is the second: estimating the dosage.
The cocktail described above is suggested in doses of 15 milligrams per kg of mass.
This means that, for big specimens, we should shoot or anyway inject them with many litres of drugs.
Better to look for youngs, and focus on smaller species.



Some notes on Dinosaur Hunting – part 1

Two years ago, a friend asked me about those B-movies in which Army types face rampaging dinosaurs, firing tons of bullets to no avail.
Were the dinosaurs really so hard to kill?

I wrote a post on the subject, on my Italian blog, which sparked a long discussion with further Q&A.
This led to a series of articles about dinosaur hunting.

I’m currently translating and re-editing that material, planning a small ebook for the curious – what follows is the first part of a this revised stuff.
More will follow.
But for starters… let’s talk weapons.

First idea: military-grade personal weapons can be a match for dinos.
A bit of metal accelerated to ultrasonic speed (such as a P90 bullett) carves a cavity in the target as large as a basket ball, so you can be a dino, but a burst from a modern automatic weapon hurts all the same.

But it gets better, and more complicated than that.

The idea that dinosaurs had thick, armored hides comes from the early years of paleontology – working by analogy with modern pachiderms, the first fossil hunters imagined dinosaurs to be thick-skinned like rhinos and elephants
Modern studies on fossil dinosaur hide tell us a different story – dinosaur skin is just reptile skin, often revealing clear signs of bite from predators.
Tough, but not enough to shrug off a direct hit from an automatic weapon.

Does this solve the T. rex vs AK47 debate?
Not exactly.

First of all, underneath the often garishly colored, supple reptile skin we find thick bands of compact muscle.
And then there’s the matter of bone plates – normally found on herbivores, on the back, rump and neck areas.

Both can somewhat soak the impact damage from our bullets.

And with really big beasts, it can take a few seconds, from the moment the bullet impacts to the moment the pain and damage registers in the brain of the animal – due to the distance the electric signal has to cover from the periphery of the body to the head.
And a charging dinosaur can do a lot of damage in a few seconds.

Which leads us to the old problem of the riunning dinosaur…

An elephant weighs—let’s see—four to six tons. You’re proposing to shoot reptiles weighing two or three times as much as an elephant and with much greater tenacity of life.

The quotes comes from the basic required reading on dinosaur hunting, Lyon Sprague De Camp’s A Gun for a Dinosaur – which you can find and listen to, here in the X minus One archive, as an mp3.

The bottom line of the charging dino problem – you can kill it, but before it realizes it’s dead, he can still rush you and squash you.

So what?
Sprague De camp offers a classic solution

Here you are: my own private gun for that work, a Continental .600. Does look like a shotgun, doesn’t it? But it’s rifled, as you can see by looking through the barrels. Shoots a pair of .600 Nitro Express cartridges the size of bananas; weighs fourteen and a half pounds and has a muzzle energy of over seven thousand foot-pounds. Costs fourteen hundred and fifty dollars. Lot of money for a gun, what?
I have some spares I rent to the sahibs. Designed for knocking down elephant. Not just wounding them, knocking them base-over-apex. That’s why they don’t make guns like this in America, though I suppose they will if hunting parties keep going back in time.

Holland & Holland Nitro Express .700 (in the ’50s, when Sprague De camp wrote his story, H&H and Continental only manufactured a .600).
Because we don’t want just to kill it – we want to drop him on the spot.

Of course, we are talking a 7kgs (15 lbs) weapon, that kicks like a mule – not the most confortable weapon to carry around Dinosaur Valley.

We can find today even better calibres – JDJ .950 and such.
There’s even a thing called Tyrannosaurus Rex.
But the .600 and .700 Nitro Express are still the discerning dino hunter weapon of choice.

Note that we are talking single, large dinosaurs.
Dealing with velociraptors – which are small and attack in coordinated groups – is quite another story.
In these cases, suppressive fire fropm full-auto weapons might be the only choice.

We close this first article, by reminding our readers of the Servadec Principle (thus called from the classic Jules Verne novel) – accustomed tothe rumblings of the savage wilderness around them, the dinosaurs might not be scared at all by explosions, and rather react with curiosity to the bangs of our weapons, coming closer to investigate.

In the next installment – Bring ’em back alive!