Not Quite Extinct
Population of supposedly-extinct creatures rediscovered
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(permanent link) added: 2011-09-22 04:59:24 sponsor: PapercutChainsaw (last reply: 2012-08-04 14:14:19)

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Do We Have This One??

So, you want to put dinosaurs in your story. However, your story is set in the present day, and there is a slight issue of dinosaurs being extinct. So how do you justify having dinosaurs? Introducing time travel opens a can of worms, and saying the dinosaurs were cloned only prompts accusations of ripping off Jurassic Park.

A popular option nowadays is to Hand Wave it by saying that they somehow survived the extinction. Dinosaurs (or other prehistoric creatures) were somehow trapped in an environment that was safe from the extinction event that supposedly wiped them out. There may be a small population of these creatures left, or only one individual who is the Last of His Kind. Don't be surprised if you see an Adam and Eve Plot thrown in there, too.

A common variant of this is to have a creature frozen in ice, to be successfully defrosted in the present day (Bonus Points if melting polar ice caps are involved.) Other variants have them trapped in a cave, in hibernation, or sealed away by Applied Phlebotinum. Sometimes they may have been just hiding.

This trope can be seen as a natural successor to Lost World, which is rapidly becoming a Discredited Trope as virtually every inch of the earth has been discovered and explored by now.


Examples

Film
  • The carnivorous, sea-dwelling reptiles in Ice Age 2, and the dinosaurs in the third film. The ending of the first film also implies that Scrat survives to the present day, (or, at least, sometime after the ice age) by being frozen in a block of ice.
  • WALL•E has plants growing and cockroaches surviving centuries after Earth became inhospitable due to trash, likely to indicate that Earth had since recovered.

Literature
  • Anonymous Rex: 5 percent of the US population is actually dinosaurs in disguise as human.
  • This is the whole premise of Howard Waldrop's short story The Ugly Chickens. A family has been raising what they think are just very ugly chickens for several hundred years. It turns out that they're actually dodo birds.
  • InCryptid a certain cryptid is believed extinct in Discount Armageddon, but it's not.
  • Wolves aren't actually extinct, but the novel and movie Wolfen presume that they didn't die out in parts of the world where they're assumed to have long been exterminated, and still prowl the streets of major cities in secret.
  • Literature
  • In E. R. Eddison's The Worm Ouroboros, our heroes need the egg of a hippogriff to complete their quest. Alas, hippogriffs are almost extinct and only a single egg is said to be still in existence. But the egg gets lost! Luckily it turns out There Is Another egg, conserved for centuries at the bottom of an icy-cold lake.

Live-Action TV
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Distant Origin", Voyager encounters a technologically advanced species of humanoid dinosaurs all the way out in the Delta Quadrant. Apparently, when the mass extinction came, they left Earth in starships and got as far away as they could.

Newspaper Comics
  • Early in Dilbert, a pair of dinosaurs is discovered hiding in Dilbert's house.

Video Games
  • Most Tibia updates handwave the new monsters as this.
  • In Star Control II, the Shofixti detonated their sun rather than surrender to the Ur-Quan, destroying both the encroaching Ur-Quan fleet and their homeworld. However, you eventually discover a lone survivor who will join you if you can convince him you're not Ur-Quan. It also turns out that there is a cache of Shofixti maidens being kept in cryostasis: if you rescue them, the Shofixti can repopulate their species.
  • The Zaterran/Raptor/Saurian race in Mortal Kombat had been driven to extinction centuries before the time of the first game, leaving Reptile as the only surviving member. That is, until Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 and Mortal Kombat Trilogy added Chameleon and Khameleon to the roster. The latter is outright said to be another member of Reptile's race, hiding in the shadows and hoping to repopulate their dying species with the help of Reptile, but there are hints that Chameleon is also one of their kin.
  • The alternate universe in the Super Mario Bros. movie is said to be populated by dinosaurs who survived the extinction.
  • In Chrono Cross, the planet counters the temporally displaced Chronopolis by pulling in Dinopolis from an alternate reality where the Reptites never went extinct.
  • The Mass Effect series has several examples:
    • In Mass Effect 1, the Rachni race, believed to have been extinct for over a thousand years, is revealed to have survived in hibernation (as a bunch of eggs) on a derelict ship found drifting in space. You can choose to destroy them once and for all.
    • In Mass Effect 2, the Collectors are actually genetically modified Protheans, believed to have been extinct for 50,000 years.
    • And in Mass Effect 3, you can find an actual Prothean, who survived in a stasis chamber, though he is more an example of Last of His Kind.

Western Animation

Real Life
  • The coelacanth fish and Wollemi Pine were both know from fossils before living specimens were discovered. See also: Lazarus taxon.
  • The Riwoche horses, raised in isolation by Tibetans for thousands of years, became famous in zoological circles when they were reported to be virtually indistinguishable from Stone Age wild horses. Subverted when DNA tests revealed they only looked ancient/wild.
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