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The humid air was filled with the calls of dinosaurs. The sun rose golden over a long-forgotten vale thick with vegetation. A sea of flora stretched on over the endless landscape. Conifer trees, light green, standing tall like giants, shock to the movement of a single dinosaur. It was a female. Her neck was eight metres long and her tail even longer. A pattern of deep blue scales covered most of her otherwise green scaly body. She was a titan among dinosaurs. She rolled through the forest looking for open fields, calling for her family.

There had been a thunderstorm the night before and because of a surprise attack by an allosaurus, she had lost her friends and family in the rain. But she had nothing to fear. She was a fully grown diplodocus, over thirty metres long and she could defend herself with her tail that could lash out like a whip. At her size, she did not have enemies. If any predator came for her, they would have to deal with a tail that could hit them with the force of several tons, capable of breaking bones.

The only annoyance in her current situation was the thickness of the jungle. However, her size, her legs, broke through the fruitful greenery left and right, trampling ferns, cracking wood and ripping branches. It was uncomfortable walking here. Some of the thicker branches had cut through her scales which was itchy. Besides, she was a peaceful giant. She did not like the damage she had caused. She could hear and smell the frightened animals of the forest around her, who had fled her giant body. The diplodocus had destroyed two nests of othnielia by accident. She could smell the broken eggshells and its remaining insides were now all over the forest floor. She hated that smell. It reminded her of the egg thieves, ornitholestes, two- legged dinosaurs with sharp claws, who would snatch diplodocus eggs, break them open and eat the half-evolved hatchlings. Now she was the involuntary egg thief. She hated it.

All around her there were othnielia, screeching in outrage at the loss of their young. They were small dark green dinosaurs, dwarves, who walked on their hint legs, just four metres long. They had deep purple beaks, perfect for ripping off leaves and branches to eat and built nests with. Their calls of anger and despair echoed through the forest as they fled the female diplodocus.

She answered their upset with a long call of sorrow. She was not meant to be here. Her habitat was the open fields, not the thick forest, but the thunderstorm had driven her in here. She herself had built nests and laid eggs dozens of times. She understood the care and maternal love the othnielia had put into their nests. She would be outraged too. Again, she gave a long deep bellow of sorrow and compassion.

Other reptiles fled into the air at her sight and sound. Anurognatus, flying reptiles, smaller than the diplodocus’s head, took to the sky. It was an entire family. Blue, purple, green and red little creatures, like lizards with wings escaped into the sky above the trees. They looked like colourful gems with leather wings, sapphire, amethyst, smaragd and ruby rose into the air as the sun continued to climb higher and the air became warmer. Their little nests too fell from the trees, all their hard work undone by a lost diplodocus in the woods.

‘Straight ahead! Straight ahead!’ they screeched, in their high-pitched language, hoping, begging that the giant could understand them.

As the anurognatus flew higher they could spot open fields and tried to direct the Diplodocus towards them. She was an uninvited guest. Again, the huge dinosaur called for her family, a loud, deep roar, followed by a lighter call of sorrow for the anurognatus and the othnielia.

Suddenly, all the dinosaurs heard another call far away in the distance. For the diplodocus it was a familiar sound, a call of warm welcome, and she answered it. The anurognatus of the trees and the othnielia of the forest floor did not understand the language of the long-necked giant but they understood the sound of familiarity within the voice of the diplodocus. As far as her sixteen tons of body weight allowed, she walked on a little faster, knowing she had to continue on straight ahead.

The dinosaurs of the forest looked after her, relieved that this peaceful monster was finally leaving. Immediately, they began to rebuild their nests within the underwood and on the trees. Time would mend their loss.

The path in front of the female diplodocus cleared. Fewer ferns and only smaller conifer trees grew here. Finally, she stepped out of the shadow of the trees and into the sunlight. Her blue and green scales shone clearer here, a light green on a darker deeper blue, a colour so beautiful it surpassed the blue of the sky above. It was a shade that would go extinct once these gentle giants died out. This specific blue, this pigmentation in the cells of the scales of the diplodocus was only found among this species at this time and never again. But for now, this diplodocus would pass on her genes, her very special deep blue, for many more years to come because she had found her family again. She was happy.

She moved towards her older sister, who was even bigger than she was. They greeted each other with joyful calls, light and clear, relieved that the wanderer had found her way back. The diplodocus family continued their travels and left the green vale behind to journey to their breeding grounds. They did not know that one hundred and fifty million years later, when their familiar world had long passed into legend and shadow, their bodies, their bones, had turned to stone, their shade of blue was long forgotten and the world a different place, this Diplodocus family would change the lives of three young scientists and the world they lived in.

To be continued…

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