Friday, March 3, 2017

Flash Fiction: Paleontology Lecture

I'm still working one the first installment of the new Nile High, but while we wait I have a special treat for you.  I have an original flash fiction story of mine entitled Paleontology Lecture.  This actually isn't the first time this story appeared.  This was my entry in Escape Pod's flash fiction contest from about a year ago.  Overall, reception was reasonably positive, but not enough to advance me beyond Round 1.  Nevertheless, I'm glad I got to participate and see some of my favorite Escape Artists members critiquing something I wrote.  

I've shopped this story around, but I think it's best home will be right here on my blog.  There's no much more to add, I'll let the story speak for it's self.  Be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments.  And now, I'm very proud to present, "Paleontology Lecture":

Hello, and thank you all for taking time out of your busy schedules to come to this paleontology conference.  Now, I'm perfectly aware that is quite the lovely day, and I apologize in advance for keeping you all cooped up in here.  I'd like to draw your attention to the fossil that is next to me.  This is just one example of a series discoveries very much like it.  It dates back to sixty-five million years ago, and is one of the oldest such specimens that has yet been discovered.

The first thing you’ll notice is of course skeletal structure.  Though a bit odd to our eyes it was quite common among creatures of the era.  The small size of the head has often been assumed to be an indication of low intelligence.  However, recent studies have concluded that these creatures may in fact have established some sort of society.  Ah, I see some of you rolling your eye-stalks already.  Do understand that I don't mean to suggest anything on the scale of our own civilization.  Rather, they could have at least built the rudimentary aspects of a civilization before they became extinct.

It is certainly humbling to think that these ancient organisms may have been starting civilization while our ancestors were still swimming in the oceans.  Now then, let's examine some of the other physical features.  You will notice the large eye sockets and reduced brow ridge.  Based on surviving members of this animal's class we have determined that mostly likely they were primarily nocturnal.  Their teeth are rather flat, which seems to indicate a primarily vegetation based diet. You will also notice the pronounced backbone; again, quite common among chordates.

There are several competing theories as to why these creatures were ultimately driven to extinction.  The presence of shocked quartz within the strata these fossils are found in does seem to suggest that an asteroid impact played some role.  The only other known source of shocked quartz is a nuclear explosion, and I think we can most certainly rule that out as an explanation.  Granted, the higher that average presence of radioactive particles within the strata does raise some question.  However, we really shouldn't throw our skepticism out of the window in favor of such conspiratorial ramblings.

As many of you are aware, these creatures are thus far the only known example of their genus that we have discovered.  This would suggest that they simply died out due to not being adapted to a changing environment.  Whatever the reason I am fully confident that we will find the answer in time.  If you'd like to see the answer faster may I suggest donating to my university?

Okay, bit of shameless self-promotion there.  I will now turn things over to the Q&A section.  Please raise your tentacles in the air if you would like to participate.


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