One of the twins galloped up, big dark eyes gleaming. "Are you the Paer that rode the T-Rex in that movie?"
"Uh . . . Quick, right?"
A vigorous nod. "You were, weren't you!"
"Yes. It was very dangerous. But it was the only thing I could think of, to save my friends."
"I want to ride a dinosaur!" Jumping up and down.
El Zee was snickering.
"Well, you can't ride a Tyrannosaur. But, as it happens, you guys aren't the only ones to have pet dinosaurs. How would you like to meet my Triceratops?"
Ugly Puppy and Cute Chick weighted over a ton each and their backs were two meters off the ground. And they still loved tomatoes.
Knock Knock retreated to try and hide behind Kit. "He was kicked by a horse at a young age, making him very cautious."
"Good." Paer gave Ugly Puppy a good hard scratch around her eyes and then climbed up her face to settle with a foot on each of the top horns.
They steered like an elephant. That is with a tap to their head in the direction you wanted them to go. Starting, stopping, and speed were pretty much whatever the dino felt like.
They lumbered happily along, stopping occasionally to sample the foliage, and switch passengers, until everyone had had a ride. Then Paer rode them out a couple more kilometers past where they were working.
Knock Knock trotted along with them, occasionally darting out to snap up something small. Lizards and snakes, that she was sure of. Still no dinos in sight, but the grass and other growth was thicker. Paer hopped off while Ugly Puppy was sampling a bush and walked away.
The scientists finally admitted that they couldn't excavate everything, and would need many field seasons to do it justice.
"With students to do the digging!" Witty put in.
Nods from the others, with a glance toward the Clone gang.
"And that Kit boy to teach them detection and levitation." Dr. Yffi pointed.
Kit grinned. "I don't work cheap! Well, not too cheap."
Paer invited them to ride in the crawler, and save their gas.
Kit waved an arm and scooped Knock Knock up into a bubble, then accepted the invitation.
The treated the crawler like a toy, and dragged Kit around to show him "what we need in the bus."
Fifty kilometers on they found their first dinosaurs.
Small herbivores that had the scientists running their vid recorders full time and pointing things out to each other.
"It's only been twenty years since the catastrophe!" Yffi glared at the others. "Evolution hasn't happened yet. These are random survivors, who are able to reproduce successfully in this new environment. Just because we never found fossils exactly like them means nothing."
Dr. Idlo shook his head. "Natural selection has already happened. Look at the difference in the atmosphere! I swear Helios must have sucked off at least a third of it. I doubt that any large dinosaurs that survived both the encounter and things like this vulcanism could function with so much less oxygen."
Yffi scowled. "Yes, yes, there was definitely a huge extinction event. But those things out there are survivors, the first step in what will probably be an explosive diversification event. And if I may point out? The triceratops have done perfectly well in thinner air."
"But they haven't had to run, or fought for their lives, or reproduced." Whitty entered the fray.
"They're both female." Paer snickered as they glared at her. "And dinosaurs did live at higher altitudes, right?"
Which had them all discussing partial pressures and lung efficiency.
Paer grinned at the boggled Earthers. "I love scientific expeditions."