Falcon2909

Why aren't there any Dinosaurs in Westeros or Essos?

38 posts in this topic

Maybe that's what the Shrykes are.

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5 hours ago, SeaWitch said:

Euron? Yeah, I think he poked something with a stick. And it poked back.

I wonder what happened to the dragon horn he found in the ruins?

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On 5/21/2017 at 9:01 AM, The Fattest Leech said:

THAT WOULD BE AWESOME!!! 

(But seriously, Jon is the "sandking" and Dany is Simon Kress, complete with the sword coming from the sky and destroying castles) 

Jon is the Snow King. It is known. Also great analogy.

On 5/21/2017 at 0:05 PM, Prof. Cecily said:

But there are dinosaurs in Braavos, in the Sea King's menagerie:

 

https://www.reddit.com/r/asoiaf/comments/6c84e7/what_do_we_know_about_the_sealords_of_bravos/

 

True and a well known awesome fact. I think the OP was wondering why they aren't in the wild though.

18 hours ago, SeaWitch said:

Euron? Yeah, I think he poked something with a stick. And it poked back.

Indeed.

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On 5/21/2017 at 8:46 AM, Lord Wraith said:

I am terrified to think that the Sand Kings are hiding somewhere in Sothoryos.

I looked up the Wiki entry to the story

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandkings_(novelette)

So much is explained about the horrors in ASOIAF. 

 

21 hours ago, Wolfgirly said:

Sounds like a fantastic idea to me also! 

I would love to see explorers visiting the Valyrian ruins and studying the worlds ancient past.

And Asshai. And those five forts. Hazmat suits, anyone?

 

20 hours ago, SeaWitch said:

...and there's another spin-off.  Maester 'Skagos' Jones and Lady Lyanna Croft.

("We called the direwolf Skagos.")

 

Of course!

17 hours ago, weirwoodface said:

Maybe that's what the Shrykes are.

 

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17 hours ago, weirwoodface said:

Maybe that's what the Shrykes are.

Yes! And our intrepid explorers could go to K'Dath, as well.

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19 minutes ago, Prof. Cecily said:

I looked up the Wiki entry to the story

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandkings_(novelette)

So much is explained about the horrors in ASOIAF. 

I know right. Martin has written some really strange, horrifying, and interesting things before going to write ASOIAF.

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Why are there sloths in South America, but not in Africa?

Why are there armadillos in Mexico, but not in Morocco?

Why are there panda bears in China, but not in Europe?

Not every animal species exists in every continent of the world... Maybe dinosaurs got extinct in Westeros during the Long Night due to cold. Maybe those dinosaur-like reptiles evolved in Sothoyros and never reached Westeros.

 

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There are ravens and crows, birds are dinosaurs.

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Just to clarify: Westeros is the only continent experiencing "Winter," correct?

Climate differences would make the most sense. 

I, for one, would LOVE to learn more about the secrets of the "known" and "unknown" world. 

 

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Posted (edited)

There could be a lot of reasons as to why dinosaurs are endemic only to Sothoros (and possibly Ulthos, and possibly the lands east of Asshai, of which we know nothing at all) Climate, habitats, available food sources competition by other species and humanity (and Giants and COTF)

We could just as well ask why unicorns only exist on Skagos, Direwolves only exist beyond the Wall, COTF and Giants only seem to exist on Westeros, why there are no Basilisks on Westeros etc. etc. etc. etc.

It would be nothing out of the ordinary to have Sothoros be the only place to have dinosaurs.

On 16/05/2017 at 11:29 PM, GyantSpyder said:

 

In A Song of Ice and Fire, Valyrians are said to have bred dragons from wyverns and fire wurms using some lost magic or technology.

It seems reasonable to assume that way back in the day before things went pear-shaped humanity had magic or technology capable of engineering extinct life forms.

 

No, not really. Nothing at all points towards that. Zero evidence or even hints. As you write Dragons were bred from existing animals, not "engineered" out of bones or trace DNA.  That all doesn't mean that they had 1)knowledge of long extinct species (which is a very recent thing in our world) 2)magic to ressurect them 3) let alone technology to resurrect them. 

On 30/05/2017 at 9:54 PM, Ser Lepus said:

Why are there sloths in South America, but not in Africa?

Why are there armadillos in Mexico, but not in Morocco?

Why are there panda bears in China, but not in Europe?

Not every animal species exists in every continent of the world... Maybe dinosaurs got extinct in Westeros during the Long Night due to cold. Maybe those dinosaur-like reptiles evolved in Sothoyros and never reached Westeros.

^This, basically.

Edited by Orphalesion
added "available food sources"

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On ‎8‎/‎12‎/‎2017 at 0:42 PM, Orphalesion said:

No, not really. Nothing at all points towards that. Zero evidence or even hints.

The hints are in the sections we're talking about from the World of Ice and Fire. Here are the pieces of the puzzle:

First of all, the city of Yeen exists - a ruin made of black stone. The places in the world made of oil or fused black stone speak to earlier, more advanced civilizations, with magic/technology that current civilization does not have. Like Asshai, Yeen has some sort of problem that prevents people from resettling it that is probably something like radioactivity or a biological hazard (Asshai has no animals).

Second, Southyros has a ton of terrible plagues. We have a formerly powerful and advanced civilization that underwent some sort of radioactive or biological catastrophe (whether it's magic or technology doesn't matter), and it's surrounded by tons of horrible viruses not found much in other places in the world.

Third, Southyros does not have large-scale human settlement, but the interior of it has "ghouls and cannibals."

So, what do a catastrophe at a technologically advanced place, a whole bunch of terrible viruses, and flesh-eating undead have in common?

It looks like Southyros might have been the site of a Resident Evil style zombie apocalypse.

Then there are the Brindled Men - they come off as Neanderthals, but if Yeen was this big advanced civilization, it doesn't really make sense for Southyros Neanderthals to be remnants from earlier hominid evolution - if humanity had just not spread to Southyros, there would have been no Yeen.

Also the quality of being "Brindled" refers to the bred fur patterns of some domesticated animals - dogs, horses, cows, guinea pigs. They are seen as savages, but they do seem to be at least reasonably intelligent enough to navigate human society and, like, migrate and get jobs.

This all suggests the Brindled Men might not be natural, but were *made* by others for some reason. In their general comportment, in where they live (in and around the jungle near isolated human settlements), and the death of their technological masters for their arrogance, the Brindle Men resemble the Beast Folk from the Island of Doctor Moreau, with Yeen serving the Doctor Moreau role.

Either that or with the story of Yeen being overrun by the creatures it created - the Planet of the Apes.

Of course another story along the lines of the Island of Doctor Moreau would be Jurassic Park. And sure enough there are dinosaur bones.

And there are Kings Kong on Southyros, another story about humanity thinking it can control nature that turns out very badly.

On ‎8‎/‎12‎/‎2017 at 0:42 PM, Orphalesion said:

There could be a lot of reasons as to why dinosaurs are endemic only to Sothoros

Sure - of course. It's not proven or anything. But there is some evidence that Southyros reflects stories of this sort - sci fi horror stories about catastrophic scientific overreach - in a similar way to how the Ironborn reflect H.P. Lovecraft stories about eldritch horrors - a world full of mythologies and genre references has room for different sorts of regions of classic speculative sci fi / horror genres.

The other reason is just that G.R.R.M. has written a lot of other stories both about how humans recontextualize life from other planets to make it fit into their own mythologies, and also how humans in his distant future preserve things like dinosaurs and are able to resurrect them.

So it's not like there are *actual* unicorns on Skaagos - there are animals that reminded humans who came from somewhere else of unicorns, and so they named them like that. We hear some of this sort of thing from the Children of the Forest, who get named as such because that's the comfortable way for humans to think of them, even though they are very different than the impression the name gives. Giants, too.

People want to make their worlds into something familiar to them from their own history.

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On 17/5/2017 at 3:41 PM, SeaWitch said:

Okay, so firewyrms and wyverns fill the 'bloody great lizard' niche in the ecology.

The world-building is very Old School pulp fantasy.  Lost empires of magitech. He's got Lovecraft, Vance and Howard in the blender, and when you have weird inbred albinos riding dragons, there is one outstanding example. If somebody's sword doesn't try eating people's souls at some point, I will be surprised.

Well, valyrian steel swords apparently require blood sacrifice and they are nearly black ...

 

On 21/5/2017 at 9:46 AM, Lord Wraith said:

I am terrified to think that the Sand Kings are hiding somewhere in Sothoryos.

I'll be surprised if they weren't. Martin has already refferenced most of his previous work in ASoIaF. The Boltons are a dead giveaway for those who had read "The Skin Trade" and "In The Lost Lands".

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On 15/08/2017 at 5:00 PM, GyantSpyder said:

Speculation passed off as "hints" and "evidence.

Sorry, but this is all just so much completely unsupported Fanwank.

Rather than evidence for an a technologically advanced civilization that cloned dinosaurs from amber, what you list are standard tropes of 19th century adventure literature about Africa. The Lost Cities, the terrible diseases, the unexplored, the supposedly demihuman inhabitants with their dark gods and terrible rites.

It all smells of "She" rather than "Jurassic Park"

Quote

(whether it's magic or technology doesn't matter)

Oh but it does very much matter. Magic is something we see in Planetos, advanced technology would add an additional scifi plot that we have no evidence of and that is, imho not needed.

Quote

So it's not like there are *actual* unicorns on Skaagos - there are animals that reminded humans who came from somewhere else of unicorns, and so they named them like that.

Uhm, no? There is, again, no evidence at all for what you claim right here. Why wouldn't the unicorns of Skaagos be the "actual" unicorns of ASoIaF?

The only thing Leaf said about Unicorns is that they are "all but gone" - almost, or as good as extinct. Wouldn't stop a few of them surviving here and there.

All of this does nothing to support the idea of the dinosaurs of Sothoryos being the product of some ancient, highly technologically advanced Jurassic Park.

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Posted (edited)

8 hours ago, Orphalesion said:

Why wouldn't the unicorns of Skaagos be the "actual" unicorns of ASoIaF?

Okay, so it seems from how dismissive you are being that you have not read much other George R.R. Martin. This is, of course, fine - it not like a class or anything. But it would explain why you and I would have very different reactions to the same batch of evidence - where I might look at it and think "Oh yeah! I recognize that! I see what he is doing!" whereas you might see it and not think it is important or not really see it as evidence at all.

And also there is probably a case to be made that reading George R.R. Martin's other fiction warps your reading of A Song of Ice and Fire around it - he just reuses so much - names, characters, locations, religions, plots, lines of dialogue - it's really hard not to draw associations between when he originally used them and when he reused them. Honestly, reading his other work changes your opinion of the series permanently and in big ways, for better or worse.

Although it is of course possible to think of the reuses as more referential and less symbolic - though why would you do that?

It all gets complicated. And it creates a bit of a barrier of interpretation between people looking at this comparatively across his body of work and people just reading this series and mostly comparing it to other fantasy.

So I'll go into the unicorns in a bit.

But first:

8 hours ago, Orphalesion said:

The Lost Cities, the terrible diseases, the unexplored, the supposedly demihuman inhabitants with their dark gods and terrible rites.

It all smells of "She" rather than "Jurassic Park"

This is the most interesting of your points, and I wish you had focused more on this and fleshing this out than on just disagreeing in the flatter and less interesting way - claiming there is "no evidence" when obviously there is a load of evidence.

I don't care what you think of my ideas. I didn't put them here for you. I care about your ideas, if they're interesting. So show me ideas rather than your judgment.

Okay, so unicorns.

8 hours ago, Orphalesion said:

Why wouldn't the unicorns of Skaagos be the "actual" unicorns of ASoIaF?

So, throughout the story, we have a bunch of creatures with familiar fantasy names, but which don't quite match up with the fantasy creatures they are named for. I don't think we're supposed to just take these differences for granted.

A great example of this is "manticore" - the creature that almost kills Daenerys way back in A Game of Thrones.

In A Song of Ice and Fire, a manticore is a scorpion-like insect, highly venomous, and highly symbolic, that shows up in a lot of cultural iconography. There is no sign these manticores are intelligent.

In real-world mythology, a manticore is a venomous monster, with a tail of a scorpion, but the body of a lion and the head of a person.

So, why would the "manticore" of A Song of Ice and Fire be called a "manticore?" It's a totally different animal. The only similarity is the scorpion tail and being venomous.

The story is written in English (even though people presumably don't really speak English), and so there's a suspension of disbelief with the function of things like idioms and thought in an English-speaking manner. And here we have a word that is basically Old Persian for "man-eater."

With all this in mind, let's introduce two possibilities, in the context of the world of the story:

  • The word "manticore" originated to refer to these creatures. That is, they are the "actual" manticores. We write off the whole exoticness of the language of origin. They are in the story playing the role of the fantasy creature "manticore" which lives in this world because it is a fantasy world populated by fantasy creatures.
  • The word "manticore" originated to refer to the fantasy creature with the human face and lion body from our own culture or something like it, and was adapted to refer to these venomous insects when humanity discovered the insects and wanted to name them. They are not the "actual" manticores, but are animals that didn't have a human name, and so humans named them for something familiar.

This is easy to explore with regards to manticores than it is with regards to unicorns, because we have actually seen manticores in the story very clearly. We know exactly what they look like and how they work.

So, the problem with the first interpretation (the "actual manticore" hypothesis) is that it is not clear what about the original fantasy creature these insects recall that is at all useful or interesting from a fantasy or story perspective. They are really nothing like the manticore from Persian legend. One of the first things to notice about them is how jarring the description of what they are is relative to what they are called. The difference stands out more than the similarity.

There's a similar setup in the G.R.R.M. story "Bitterblooms," where a girl has to deal with being hunted by "vampires" - which are not blood-sucking people or anything, but wild nocturnal predators that flap about with bat-like appendages. The difference from "actual" vampires stands out much more than any similarity. It raises the question "why does this girl call them vampires?"

Now in Bitterblooms, the answer is that the girl lives on an Interregnum planet - a planet that was colonized by human beings who can eventually trade their language and culture back to Earth, but who, after a war, lost touch with other planets, lost space travel technology, and rebuilt their cultures from the scraps they had.

So they have the word "vampire" for these monsters, but they don't have Bram Stoker's book anymore. There's no Lestat or Robert Pattinson sparkling. They don't know that their word "vampire" was handed down to them by ancestors for whom it meant a very different thing. And this turns out to be critical to understanding the plot of the story, which is mostly mysterious, told through an unreliable point of view, and never clearly defined in an objective way.

Going back to the manticore, this brings us to option 2 - the idea of a "manticore" has to come from somewhere. Otherwise why not just call it a scorpion or a Deathvenom Scorpion or whatever. There's a reference to a myth from our own world, with a strange twist on it - a twist in the definitive direction of the unfamiliar. Here, a manticore came to refer to a specific sort of poisonous insect, and any other meaning for the word is lost.

Other G.R.R.M. stories  with similar phenomena are:

- The "worms" in In the House of the Worm (which are not natural worms but the society doesn't really know this)

- Sandkings, where a guy gets what seems like an ant farm of creatures that seem like ants, but which turn out to be something very different

- The cobolcats and other creatures in "A Beast for Norn," where, because of their name and appearance, the Lyronicans take for granted that animals that look familiar are the same as animals that are familiar, and make the tragic mistake, over and over, of not considering the actual role of specific species in their ecosystems, as opposed to the role they think the animal might fit because of what it looks like or what it is called

It's a lot of different animals where there is a pre-existing idea in a fictional culture of what that animal is supposed to be like that is drawn from our own Earth culture or something similar to it, but where the desire to call the strange animal something familiar prompts people to misunderstand it, often to horrific effect.

Other organisms that are like this in A Song of Ice and Fire (who appear to be named in ways that refer to Earth organisms or legends, but which exhibit properties jarringly differently from how those terms or legends might lead one to expect), include:

  • Children of the Forest
  • Giants
  • White Ravens
  • Harpies
  • Valyrian Sphinxes
  • Basilisks

And of course there are various sorts of megafauna that did not go extinct when expected, which is odd and draws attention, but is less relevant.

I am tempted to include dragons in this, since George R.R. Martin dragons are very clearly animals and not intelligent creatures, but also have four limbs instead of six, but the interpretation of what a dragon is versus a wyvern or drake gets complex enough and arbitrary enough that it's not a clear enough example to include. Although certainly the book title "Unnatural History" suggests some shenanigans with these creatures other than the usual ancient fantasy origin.

And it's not like cultures do not come up with entirely new names for animals they discover. Hrakkar are a good example - the white lions hunted by the Dothraki. So not all animals get names in the same way - the ancestry of all animal names seems to not have emerged organically. This further draws attention to the names that do seem weird.

As for unicorns, even though we have not seen them much, they fit right in with all this - they are described as goat-like, rather than horselike, and don't seem to have any association with virginity or invisibility or sparkly princesses or any of that. They are sure-footed on mountains, which as far as I know is not especially characteristic of mythological unicorns, and they are ridden into battle by exotic hominids or quasi-hominids, which is also weird and not particularly "unicorn-y."

It seems likely that if any animals in A Song of Ice and Fire are being given artifact names that have a forgotten origin in a previous culture, unicorns would be an example of that kind of animal.

Hopefully this at least introduces the concept and how it might work.

Edited by GyantSpyder

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8 hours ago, Orphalesion said:

Sorry, but this is all just so much completely unsupported Fanwank.

I'd say some of the ideas presented are strongly hinted at in the sources.  Valyria was basically the Golden Empire 2.0 and Valyria conducted magical 'genetic' experiments on Gorgossos with slave women being bred by beasts.  It is likely that The GE also performed such experiments, particularly when we have hints that they created dragons.  So, the basic premise that the two great dragon empires were involved in manipulating the very fabric of life seems a reasonable conclusion.  Add in that Yeen seems to indicate that the GE had a presence on Sothoryos and combine that with the fact that Sothoryos seems utterly inimical to human life in a way no other region seems to be, aside from Asshai (which isn't as discriminating as Sothoryos).  Its not unreasonable to think that much of the flora and fauna has supernatural origins rooted in the GE's forgotten history.

Myself, I'm a bit more mundane in my opinion.  I think its simply a matter than Sothoryos is the only continent that has a climate suitable to the dinosaurs, so thats where they are.  It seems that Planetos dinosaurs are jungle dwellers only, and the only other major jungles are either small and isolated (Summer Isles) or heavily populated (Yi Ti), so its likely that the dinosaurs simply couldn't survive in those regions, due to competition.  Its also possible that the ecosystem in Sothoryos has a good niche for the dinosaurs.  Maybe their main prey is native only to that continent, or there is some other symbiosis.

Or, perhaps my theories on the shifting climate drying out much of Essos and Westeros are to blame, and there used to be dinosaurs on those continents, as well.

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On 5/16/2017 at 5:54 PM, Falcon2909 said:

Sothoryos has them.

Why not the other 2 continents?

What in the world makes you say there are dinos there? It's barely mentioned in TWOIAF or the books. 

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On 8/21/2017 at 1:59 PM, GyantSpyder said:

It's a lot of different animals where there is a pre-existing idea in a fictional culture of what that animal is supposed to be like that is drawn from our own Earth culture or something similar to it, but where the desire to call the strange animal something familiar prompts people to misunderstand it, often to horrific effect.

But, unlike many of GRRM's other works, there's no hint of people misunderstanding any of these species to horrific effect. Nobody seems to misunderstand these creatures at all, at least not in any of the stories we've heard about. They treat manticores like people treat scorpions in medieval tales, not like people treat intelligent demons in ancient legends. They don't expect unicorns to be able to cure tainted water. They fear the bite of the basilisk rather than the gaze. And so on.

And the translation convention actually explains things better. The story has a poisonous scorpion that's notable because its head looks unsettlingly like a human face, so the author translates the actual Common word into "manticore" to get across the human face idea. None of the other connotations of "manticore" impinge on the fictional world, as we'd expect from a GRRM story where they were actually using the Persian-via-English word "manticore" because of vaguely retained notions from folk tales (or AD&D games).

Of course we don't get too many stories about manticores or unicorns—but we do get quite a bit about dragons, legends going back thousands of years, and no indication that people have tragically mistaken them for being more like legendary Earth dragons.

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