Michael Delahoyde

Repeatedly ignoring the small matter of some sixty million years which irredeemably separated the two species, films depicting the lives of our cave-dwelling forebears or the adventures of intrepid modern explorers in uncharted territory usually opt to pit humankind against dinosaurs in battles for survival. Since an inherent condition of this sub-genre of action film is the stripping away of the trappings of developed civilization, dinosaur films allow basic anthropocentric assumptions to emerge freely and in their most stark forms. We see a paranoid speciesism read back into pop-cult pre-history which consistently takes the form of humankind not in harmony with, but in opposition to, an objectified natural world. Oddly, the immediate antagonism, which rests on the assumption that the animal kingdom poses an ever-present threat, frequently becomes a battle for supremacy in carnivorous terms. Dinosaurs, even the vegetarian kinds in some cases, are automatically cast in the role of the predatory aggressor voraciously hungry for humans. Occasionally the dinosaur can be killed and serve as food for the humans instead. Thus, survival comes to mean domination, and that expressed in a culinary mode. These films depict culture's anthropocentric contortion of the "survival of the fittest" principle by focusing obsessively on who succeeds in killing and eating whom. Persecute or perish is the code of the cave. The dinosaur films arrogantly strive to validate humankind as a categorically different and superior kind of creature deservedly destined to outlive the other species.