Perfidious Yankees

Poor dinosaurs. They’re constantly getting dragooned onto the side of stupidity: the creationists love to pretend that dinosaurs frolicked with human beings, no doubt because damning them as a myth would remove them from the profitable lunchbox and Saturday morning cartoon market, and leave them without any tools to appeal to youngsters.

But now they’ve gone too far. There is a theme park in Virginia that imagines (key word, that: if only the creationists would recognize the imaginary nature of their mythology) that Yankee soldiers discover a lost valley populated with dinosaurs, and try to draft them to fight in the War of Northern Aggression. The dinosaurs will have nothing to do with it, and instead fight for the Confederacy. Of course. Dinosaurs are obsolete antiques with itty-bitty brains, so it’s only natural that they’d side with the South.


  1. says

    I must go to this theme park. This sounds like it has potential to be the greatest, funniest, most entertaining theme park on earth. Kind of like “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” but EVEN MORE AWESOME.

  2. says

    Dinosaurs were opposed to the industrial north. Pollution, you know. Killed a bunch of their avian descendants.

    Plus, enslaving the humans would always be a great idea–emancipation would interfere with their plans…

    Glen Davidson

  3. Rip Steakface says

    PZ, be warned. You may have just angered 7 year old boys and dinosaur paleontologists everywhere.

  4. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart: mad, but sadistic genius says

    Is it a bad thing that I really really REALLY want to see this?

  5. Sastra says

    I was afraid at first that this was some ghastly attempt to teach YEC — but it looks like this was put together by someone who also did “Professor Cline’s Haunted Monster Museum and Dark Maze and the fiberglass monument replica Foamhenge.” Looks like he had fun.

    I don’t mind fantasy sold as fantasy.

    Though it’s maybe a bit creepy to encourage the kiddies to see “the Yankees” as villains getting their come-uppance.

  6. kosk11348 says

    The dinosaurs will have nothing to do with it, and instead fight for the Confederacy.

    Nothing in the text suggests the dinosaurs end up fighting for the Confederacy, only that the Union soldiers’ attempt to conscript them is a failure.

  7. davidct says

    It sounds like the Giants aligning themselves with Lord Voldemort. All good fun as long as you stick to fantasy. They know it is fantasy – right?

  8. jamesemery says

    Hi Sastra, are you in that part of Virginia?

    I live just a few miles down the highway from there, in Roanoke. From what I’ve seen of the outside of the attraction, it’s rather sad and poorly-constructed. I’ve not been into the Monster Museum either, but Foamhenge is in DIRE need of some repair and a paint job. It’s all pretty hokey, but it would have fit right into Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’ ;)

  9. marcus says

    “Dinosaurs are obsolete antiques with itty-bitty brains, so it’s only natural that they’d side with the South.”
    Alright damnit! As an obsolete antique with an itty-bitty brain who grew up in the South, I RESEMBLE THAT REMARK!!11ONE!!

  10. Randomfactor says

    They would’ve fought for the north, but an assassin killed their leader, crying “Sic semper tyrannosaurus!” as he leapt onto the stage.

    “K-T Boundary or Fight!”

  11. says

    None of that would surprise me.

    1. Terrible science. Check.
    2. Revisionist history. Check.
    3. Underlying racism. Check.

    Sounds like a typical conservative religious undertaking.

  12. operkins says

    I find your snide comment about “it’s only natural that they’d side with the South” to be quite offensive. I’ve lived in the South my entire life. No dinos ever sided near me!

    In protest I’m going to boycott your blog for the next 60 seconds.

  13. says

    I am pretty sure this is not the product of religious conservatives. His Enchanted Castle Studios burned down and he believes “that it was arson, set by local Christian zealots who were spooked by his fiberglass gargoyles and demons and perhaps none-too-pleased by the “Holy Cow” statue out by the mailbox.”

  14. robro says

    #17 operkins — Dinosaurs never sided near you because they aren’t allowed to live in the same neighborhoods as the humans. But that’s ok, they don’t really want to. They prefer to be with their own kind. Also, they know there place.

  15. Loqi says

    I saw the headline and assumed another stupid creation museum had opened up. What a relief that it’s just a guy who thought it would be more fun to build a comic book than to write one.

  16. carpenterman says

    This isn’t the stupid. The stupid takes itself seriously, and that’s bad. This is just silly. And as long as it doesn’t take itself seriously, silly is good. And there’s no way anyone is taking this seriously. I mean, Holy Oyster Mother of Pearl, LOOK at this thing! Pure silly.

  17. Cuttlefish says

    In 10 years, which of the current GOP candidates will have been installed as the alternate-reality president of the CSA? Or will it be Bachmann? Perry? Palin?

  18. caveatimperator says

    Do they actually use the expression “War of Northern Aggression” in their advertising? If so, it completely invalidates anything they have to say. Not that this so-called theme park isn’t doing a fabulous job by itself…

  19. Trebuchet says

    I have a hard time taking this too seriously but thanks anyway for reminding me to bookmark Roadside America on this computer.

    Did you know there’s a genuine Muffler Man right here in my town?

  20. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    caveatimperator #23

    Do they actually use the expression “War of Northern Aggression” in their advertising?

    They don’t. They call it the Civil War.

  21. danh says

    There is a Civil War card game called “Yetisburg” which… well, here’s the promo blurb:

    “As every schoolchild knows, at the forefront of the battle stood the mighty Yetis, white-furred giants imported from the wilds of Canada to shred the opposing front lines. From the rear, powerful mastodons hurled boulders into the fray. From even further to the rear, great generals engineered the destruction of the opposing forces—and quite often their own.”

  22. carbonbasedlifeform says

    Do they actually use the expression “War of Northern Aggression” in their advertising?

    I’ve always preferred “War of Southern Treason,” which states things more accurately.

  23. unbound says

    As several others pointed out, I don’t think the guy is a creationist. He’s ticked off a number of local conservatives. He’s just one of those artistic people that do odd things.

  24. Akira MacKenzie says

    Yeah, need I remind these Confederacy fetishists that it was the Rebels who fired on Fort Sumter? “Northern Aggression” my ass.

  25. acronymjim says

    Unfortunately for the Johnnies, the dinosaurs soon found out that the confederates, due to their diet were much tastier than the Yankees.:

    From a comparison

    “Union soldiers and Confederate soldiers typically had a different mix of rations. A Union soldier might have salt pork, fresh or salted beef, coffee, sugar, salt, vinegar, dried fruit and vegetables. And if it was in season, they might have fresh carrots, onions, turnips and potatoes. A Confederate soldier typically had bacon, corn meal, tea, sugar, molasses and the very occasional fresh vegetable.

    The other difference in Civil War food between the Union and Confederate armies was the type of bread product they had available to them. Confederate soldiers had something called “Johnnie Cake” that they made in the field from cornmeal, milk and a few other ingredients. The Union soldiers had hardtack, also referred to as “tooth dullers” or “sheet iron crackers”. Hardtack was manufactured in large factories in the North and was a staple food for the Union soldiers. Hardtack got its name because it was often not used until months after it was made and during that time, it hardened rock solid which is how it got its nicknames.”

    Bacon – Bruhahaha.

  26. McCthulhu's new upbeat 2012 nym. says

    Ignorance and racism and revisionist history. Oh my!

    Scandinavia, here I come!

  27. Ray, rude-ass yankee says

    jamesemery@12, I’m in Roanoke also!
    I’ve been up to the Natural Bridge a few times and driven by “Foamhenge” but never stopped to see it. I didn’t know about this though.
    It looks pretty goofball to me, more roadside attraction than theme park. The owner sounds like he doesn’t take it too seriously.

  28. caveatimperator says

    @’Tis Himself, #26

    Thank R’Hllor. The minute someone used that phrase you know they’re up to no good. Kinda like the word “Papist.”

  29. ericpaulsen says

    A. R says: PZ, you must go there and ride the first dinosaur you see.

    I’m assuming you mean the exhibits and NOT the patrons?

  30. Rip Steakface says

    I guess little girls don’t like dinosaurs, eh? Sheesh. Fail.

    …Wow, how did I fuck that up. I’m sorry. I wish there was an edit function now.

  31. acronymjim says


    “Hmmm, why, if the Confederates were eating bacon, did they lose the war? Did they run out?”

    Because your mother/father/significant-positive-familial influence was right. Regardless of the power of bacon, you should still eat your veggies.

  32. jakc says

    Every time I hear “the war of Northern Aggression”, I think Sherman didn’t burn enough of the South.

  33. mepmep09 says

    The artist sounds like he’s just funnin’. If you’ve ever experienced truly obsessive Civil War buffs – including a large subset who prefer one of the various revisionist versions of that slaughter – you’ll know this guy is working in a target-rich environment, especially in history-obsessed Ol’ Virginny.

    A truly non-whimsical revisionist performance would be along the lines of the Stone Mountain laser light shows [sample seen in this You-Tube (6:03), amateur video of marginally passable quality) – historical context in this Wikipedia entry (and numerous other places)].

    Of course, the Squidbillies also have fun with this “culture”, getting to the point in under a minute (You-Tube, 0:47).

  34. Louis says

    Dear Sir,

    In your piece, dated 13th February 2012, you commented that:

    Dinosaurs are obsolete antiques with itty-bitty brains, so it’s only natural that they’d side with the South.

    You can mock religion, you can sneer at right wing loons, and you can scoff at woo-practitioners, but deride my dinosaurs at your peril. Rarely have I encountered such villainy. I am cancelling my subscription immediately.*

    Yours faithfully

    Louis (Col. Retd.)

    *See Eyes passim

  35. says

    I know the South developed a war submarine, with a charge attatched to a ram. It was lost with all hands on its first mission. Did the North have any similar ill-fated acts of mad science or mad engineering?

  36. KG says

    The Union had coffee, the Confederates had tea.
    At last, I truly understand the history of my country. – feralboy12

    No doubt the tea was supplied by perfidious Albion, hoping to reverse the outcome of the Revolution by re-establishing the effete European habit of tea-drinking!

  37. jamessweet says

    Except for the pandering to southerners who are still in their minds fighting a war to keep blacks in their place, this is actually semi-awesome. The guy is clearly not claiming that this actually happened… since he admits right up front that he only has them fighting for the South in order for it to have local appeal. I don’t see it as a continuation of Creationist claptrap; I see it as an entertaining and fanciful alt-history experiment.

    It’s too bad about the racially-infused pandering, though, that kinda spoils it…

  38. says

    TOO FUCKIN’ COOL! I Know this guy from way back. I drive past his numerous roadside attractions all the time. It’s in a really pretty part of Va. Trust me, this guy is just fuckin’ around. He’s got a great sense of humor and is delightfully weird and productive. He had a Zombie Michael Jackson in one of his Museums that was awesome.

  39. Reginald Selkirk says

    I’ve been there. It’s a hoot.
    It’s an outdoor exhibit. Go during good weather.

  40. says

    carinade almeida #50

    And the only problem Roadside America has with this is the signage and the name…WTF???

    Why not? Roadside America is about odd stuff you can visit. And from the advertising and reviews of this guy’s previous exhibits, it’s clear that he’s not trying to rewrite history or paleontology, just putting up wacky things for people to look at.
    The one time I was taking a road trip through the area (a few years ago), I really wanted to include his place but it was winter and the outdoor stuff was closed.

  41. Reginald Selkirk says

    Foamhenge is also worth a look-see. Yes, it’s a bit worn. Foam doesn’t have quite the longevity of bluestone.
    Natural Bridge is a strange little town. I couldn’t locate any fast food; it’s like the entire town is owned by one company/family, except for the Professor Cline stuff. The cavern is not at all impressive. Go to Luray Caverns instead. The wax museum has the worst likeness of Bill Clinton I’ve ever seen. And the last room was of course religious, a Last Supper tableau.
    As for the Natural Bridge itself; I guess it’s alright for anyone who’s never been to Utah. I did not stay for the Drama of Creation presentation.
    I spent a day there; got in, got out, without having my Yankee @ss molested by inbred banjo-playing yokels, so I consider it a success.

  42. ursulamajor says

    Went to Mark’s shop years ago, and he did almost get me in hot water with my late husband. When we walked in to find out the scoop (his exhibits were closed and he was just there working on some stuff), he took one look at me and said, “Baby! Haven’t seen you since the wild days!” Then my husband came around the corner with the kids. We’ve never met and he was just playing around, but boy, did it take some talking to convince my husband that we weren’t old lovers. I wonder if he ever made a stupid joke like that again. But he felt bad and gave us a personal tour. Geeky goodness all around. The man is a nut, but certainly not a religious one.

  43. Pierce R. Butler says

    Flashback time (okay, not all the way back to the Cretaceous – nor quite to the 1860s, even if the latter period did persist during my Mississippi childhood a century later).

    Something tells me “Professor” Cline has a great collection of a DC comic-book series called The Brave and the Bold. B&B was an anthology title, each issue featuring two or three unrelated stories. Batman made regular appearances, but the most consistent storyline during the few years I read the series was one of soldiers in wartime confronting hungry dinosaurs.

    Usually these unlucky – yet tasty – dogfaces were nominally engaged in the business of WWII, IIRC, but something tells me that an occasional anecdote of their great-grandfathers slipped in once in a while, and made a lifelong impression on a certain enterprising Virginia lad.

  44. PFC Ogvorbis (Yes, they are) says

    I remember reading about this a few years ago. Apparently, it was a creationist dino-museum that went belly up (did they overestimate the drawing power of Jesus and dinosaurs? Apparently yes). It was sold at auction and the buyer decided, since it is in a part of Virginia that missed the memo coming out of Appomattox, that a Civil War + Dinosaurs theme park would do well. And if it is still open after all those years, it is doing well.

    Have a hard time picturing Forrest riding into battle on a Torosaurus, though.

  45. Gnu Atheist says

    As a Southerner, and a tea drinker, I must stand up for my fellow commenters who have expressed dismay over the disrespectful tone taken in many of these comments. The Great War of Northern Agression notwithstanding, we southern folk are proud of our heritage. This is not to say that we are proud of the old traditions of slavery, segregation, and the like. Societal ills such as these are far from confined to the southern states of the U.S. and nowhere near eradicated from the planet. The South is my home and it’s a wonderful place. The people are friendly, the food is awesome, and you can hang Christmas lights wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Oh, and I know you won’t appreciate this PZ, but the SEC rules!

    I’m a godless liberal in a hotbed of conservatism, but I love it here and all you yankees can stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

  46. says

    Oh, and I know you won’t appreciate this PZ, but the SEC rules!

    I don’t think PZ cares about sports. See his most recent post on the Superbowl…

  47. Rich Woods says

    @ashleybell #57:

    He had a Zombie Michael Jackson in one of his Museums that was awesome.

    How can we be sure he doesn’t now have the real one?