DINOSAUR, high­ly ag­gres­sive zoö­log­i­cal fran­chise com­pris­ing Earth’s dom­i­nant species. Its reign, un­chal­lenged for over 160 mil­lion years, is some twen­ty­fold in ex­cess of even the most char­i­ta­ble es­ti­mate of the en­tire span of hu­man evo­lu­tion and was on­ly mod­er­at­ed—not ter­mi­nat­ed—by an ex­tinc­tion 65 mil­lion years ago that oth­er­wise de­stroyed most ter­res­tri­al life. Owing to in­cred­i­ble ge­net­ic di­ver­si­ty, its avian de­scen­dants have not mere­ly sur­vived but now num­ber in the hun­dreds of bil­lions.

The word “di­nosaur” is al­so used non-zoö­log­i­cal­ly as a term of de­ri­sion, im­ply­ing that one is slow, slug­gish, stupid, ridicu­lous­ly mas­sive, un­able to adapt, bound for ex­tinc­tion, or (in the lan­guage of birds) a hu­man.

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