Friday, February 20, 2009

Mormons and the Utahraptor

Recent scientific discussion about the possibility of cloning a woolly mammoth has set imaginations alight, but the joyous possibility of throwing caution to the wind by tinkering with the genomes of extinct species is not placating everyone’s fears.

Some groups are understandably concerned about the ethics of bringing back creatures that were killed off in their entirety, either by nature, or the violent floodwaters of a vengeful God - so, again, nature. Others, like mathematician Ian Malcolm of Jurassic Park fame, are primarily worried about the consequences of reintroducing a foreign species into the global ecosystem, and secondarily keen to note that the lack of italics means that it’s a real place.

Mormons, predictably out of sync with the rest of society, are however worried about the implications should dinosaurs return for a second round on Earth. Indeed, as it turns out, one in particular - Utahraptor ostrommaysi – features prominently in Mormon lore, and they have no wish to see it return. 

The Utahraptor, thought to have first been discovered in 1991 in the Cedar Mountains of Utah, was heralded as a great find by the scientific community. Scientists quickly became aware of its awesome ferocity after it stole the italics of the novel it featured in while refusing to become a work of fiction in return. Its classification was welcomed as filling a void in evolutionary theory between the turkey-like scariness of Velociraptor and the holy-fucking-shit-is-that-thing-real scariness of the aptly named Giganotosaurus.

According to their own endearing historical opinions, however, Mormons believe that Utahraptors were extant in the American West when they first settled the area in the 19th Century. While this might strike some readers as laughable, one imagines that the threat becomes much more credible as one’s gullibility approaches the Mormon threshold.

It's science!

Rather than merely being amused bystanders like the rest of us as the Mormons went about setting up their fun new religion, Utahraptors were frequently openly antagonistic, to the point of nearly eating the whole lot. Apparently, early Mormons were so unwitting that they frequently did not realize they were being hunted and preyed upon. Scientists now believe that the Utahraptor was especially good at leading its quarry into a false sense of security, often toying with them and giving them false hopes of imminent salvation, before brutally finishing them off. On one occasion, a Utahraptor was even convicted of bank fraud – ok, maybe that's far enough with the allegory.

What killed off the Utahraptor remains unclear. In any case, Salt Lake City is dizzy with fear at the prospect of its return. A worried resident voiced her concerns to Frodology that “if just a single scientist prays for the raptor’s resurrection, we’re screwed.” Affirming that this is indeed how science works, she added “I got learned about it at school.”



It's history!

12 comments:

yunshui said...

I think you may have just introduced a new term into the field of theology. The idea of the "Mormon Threshold" (defined as the point at which evidence required for a belief is minimised in inverse proportion to the absurdity of said belief) could be a useful shorthand in future religious discussions. As in: "In passing the Mormon Threshold, William Lane Craig demonstrates the inherent instability of the Kalaam Argument", or, "As Ray Comfort approaches the Mormon Threshold, we see an increasing desperation enter his polemic."

I like it!

flipsix3.co.uk said...

So let me get this straight, the Mormons hold "The Valley of the Gwangi" sacred as a historical documentary, and not some half-baked King Kong rip-off?

piggymceatsalot said...

I'd really like to see Jurassic Park IV: 'Raptors and that frilly-spitting-dragon-dennis-nedry-killer come to BYU campus'.

The annoying lawyer and whiny Lex would be replaced by Mormon missionaries in standard-issue black pants, white shirt, black tie. There would be NO sexual tension between Alan and Ellie, though occasionally she'd show a saucy glimpse of her temple garments.

Frodo Scribe - please more mormon + dinos!!

piggymceatsalot said...

P.S. best bell curve I ever did see. Is it a cliff off which lemmings jump, to splat into their next lives as Mormons?

piggymceatsalot said...

Sorry - 3 comments - excessive I know...but I just noticed the dinosaur in your historic Mormon photograph and it's sensational. Well done.

FrodoSaves said...

Flipsix,

I had to Google that, but having done so, I can say that it definitely looks like the kind of thing I would watch (and enjoy), and also that yes, the Mormons take that story very seriously. After all, you'd need to be serious around dinosaurs wouldn't you? What with all the sharp, pointy teeth and all. And the syphilis. North American dinosaurs were early vectors of syphilis. Incredible, I know.

Yunshui,

Thanks I was quite pleased with that. We should be able to order society based on who is which side of the Mormon Threshold. John Travolta, Dr. Bisconti, and David Blaine to the right; Mormons on the knife edge; everyone else to the left.

Piggy,

The Mormons didn't notice the dinosaur in their midst at first either. Much to their lasting dismay...

PersonalFailure said...

I am going to Utah tomorrow with my Utahraptor repelling rocks. Utahraptors have never been seen in Pennsylvania, clearly as a result of these rocks I hold in my hands, which I will sell for the low, low price of . . . what do you have in your pockets, again?

And Mormon Threshold is definitely going to be used in future posts of mine.

FrodoSaves said...

PersonalFailure,

I have some lint and a receipt which I forgot to take out of my pants last time I washed them. How many raptor repelling rocks can I get for that?

Please, feel free to use Mormon Threshold. After all it's a scientific term! I'd appreciate it if you link to this post when you do, but otherwise, knock yourself out!

Vitamin R said...

Recent scientific discussion about the possibility of cloning a woolly mammoth has set imaginations alight, but the joyous possibility of throwing caution to the wind by tinkering with the genomes of extinct species is not placating everyone’s fears.

You're damn right--we all saw what happened when velociraptors figured out how to turn doorknobs. I don't wanna see that kinda power in the hands of a woolly mammoth. Granted, they're not carnivores, but . . . they look way mean.

Its classification was welcomed as filling a void in evolutionary theory between the turkey-like scariness of Velociraptor and the holy-fucking-shit-is-that-thing-real scariness of the aptly named Giganotosaurus.

Laymen's terms! Is that too much to ask?

On one occasion, a Utahraptor was even convicted of bank fraud – ok, maybe that's far enough with the allegory.

Meh. You coulda gone farther.

I plan to use "Mormon Threshold" around a Mormon coworker. She's pretty lapsed, but still. Should be fun.

Irradiatus said...

I somehow missed this when you left a comment on my blog, but it's really freaking brilliant!

Hilarious!

FrodoSaves said...

Irradiatus,

Thanks, I appreciate that!

Dr.N.E.Mesis said...

I hate to be a quasher but the creature that has been identified as a dinosaur in the historic daguerrotype is actually an archeopteryx.

These creatures are still to be found in the fastnesses and solitary places of West Yorkshire, and I have witnessed them many times.

I have some digital mpeg-4 video footage of them somewhere but cannot lay my hands on them at the present time.

Dr N E Mesis