Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dinosaur Livestock

 Many fantasy settings, including the one I am designing, include dinosaurs.

I was curious which dinosaurs would be used by people as livestock.  Unfortunately, searching the internet for the phrase "dinosaur livestock" merely informs you that Dinosaur, Colorado is a ranching town.

(Tangentially, it has a population of 320.  Is that still a town?  Do we have villages anymore?  I know historically that hamlets are too tiny to have a church whereas villages are larger but do not qualify as towns because they lack either the palisade wall or the regular market that attracts visiting merchants.)

Books about dinosaurs were quite simple when I was a child.  They all features a few dozen varieties.  We even believed in the brontosaurus back then.

For extinct animals, dinosaurs have apparently done very well during the past few decades.  Now there are hundreds of them.  I have no idea which are amazingly obscure and which are known to all today's five-year-old boy dinosaur fanatics.  So in my RPG I cannot simply list a few examples of dinosaur livestock.  Attempting to be specific will either confuse readers or doom me to recite a list of dozens of names.

The web's main resource for finding small dinosaurs seems to be the table at the bottom of a web page so brightly colored that at first I doubted its reliability.  But it seems to be well-researched.

As five examples, let's consider both carnivores and plant-eaters.

Among the "lizard-hipped" dinosaurs the saltopus and lesothosaurus are bipedal carnivores the size of rabbits or chickens.  As reptiles they lay eggs, so in a fantasy setting they might resemble chickens that also keep the farmer's rats under control.  But owning too many would make them difficult to feed and not cost-effective.

For plant-eating dinosaur livestock there were several varieties of sauropods suffering from insular dwarfism, including the magyarosaurus, europasaurus, and ohmdenosaurus.

1 comment:

Jonathan Lovelace said...

Thank you for posting this; I've been having similar difficulties (in different categories, as I hadn't gotten to dinosaurs yet ...) in creating content for Strategic Primer, the pen-and-paper (or, rather, in practice, play-by-email) open-world/open-ended strategy game I'm designing.

To follow your tangent: In Michigan, where I live, many municipalities are "villages"; the difference between a "village", a "township", and a "city" is in their form of government (though I don't know much in the way of details), so that some "villages" are bigger than some "cities". "Town" isn't used under this classification scheme.

I've gotten the impression, from what I've read, that reptiles tend to keep growing all their life to the limit of what their diet and environment will support. So small dinosaurs could be allowed to grow as livestock (and pest control and a source of eggs---which is a wrinkle I hadn't thought of) until they're too big (and start becoming a danger to pets, children, or other livestock, or take too much of the food supply), then slaughtered for food (and other uses---leather from their skin, perhaps).