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Fighting Fossils

Updated: Sep 9, 2021

V hasn't eaten in days. Beneath her feathers, the skin is dry and cracking. Ticks burrow into her, draining the last life blood her body has.

She has been wandering the land alone after the death of her family. After weeks of suffering with tick-related fevers, they all eventually succumbed to the disease, down to the very last chick.

The days of malnutrition have caused V's muscle mass to drop to a dangerous level - her body is eating itself.

If V's thoughts could be translated into what we would call language, she would be thinking: if I don't eat soon, I will die.


The midday sun scorches her skin while the humidity makes every breath harder than the last. V keeps her head close to the ground, trying her best to keep her eyes shielded from the glare of the sunlight hitting the sand in front of her.


Ahead is a small rocky outcrop, poking up from the jungle floor. V will be able to survey the land in front of her and hopefully spot something to eat.

The small hill proves to be an endeavour as V's legs buckle under the weight of her tiny frame. After what feels like hours, V reaches the summit. She was right, she now has a good view of her surroundings.

No water. Not a river nor a stream flow anywhere near her. How about food? The immediate vicinity is no better than what she has seen, save for a small dark mass, a few hundred or so metres straight ahead. Something is struggling in what looks to be a pool of dark mud...

V musters her strength and makes her way down the hill to investigate.


A Protoceratops.

The sheep-sized ceratopsian struggles violently as it tries to get its body free of the heavy mud its become stuck in.

V approaches quietly but with no intention of hiding - the animal in front of her shows no sign of getting out of this predicament.

While not the largest ceratopsian wandering around what is now known as Mongolia, a Protoceratops is large enough to put up a fight, certainly a herculean task for a single velociraptor, however, this is a unique circumstance and V realises: It's now or never.

She flares her teeth at the flailing animal. It grunts back, kicking its hind legs even more furiously as it tries to face the raptor head on.

V circles slowly, looking for a weak spot. If she can get a clean bite at the Proto's throat, it won't take long for it to bleed out. She keeps her eyes fixed on the animal's sharp beak. She's seen first-hand how deadly that weapon can be if it finds its mark.

V can see that the Proto is losing strength with every minute it struggles. Soon its own head will be too heavy to lift. V has one chance. When the attack starts, it won't end until one of them is dead. She waits for her moment...

The bite comes swiftly - V's jaws clamp around the back of the Proto's neck, behind its frill. The animal lets out a frantic cry as it shakes violently, preventing V from digging her teeth deeper. V is rocked from side to side, mud and debris flung into her eyes as she fights to keep her hold. In the struggle, the Proto makes one last effort and lunges at V's right arm, grabbing it between her beak.


V feels the bone break like a twig. Her body is beyond pain, it begins to shut down as blood spills from the wound. V uses her last amount of strength to plunge the claw on her left foot into the side of the Proto - embedding the knife-like weapon as deep into the animal as she can - a last act of life before she is committed to oblivion.

The Protoceratops dies shortly after the raptor. Unable to lift its head any longer, the animal suffocates in the mud now enveloping their bodies.


Some 80 million years will pass before their remains are discovered and re-homed in the American Museum of Natural History.

Here, they continue their battle - never to rest.


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