Wit and wisdom for wordsmiths

The Pig From Hell: Why Science Writing Is Fun

evi entelodont large 2 The Pig From Hell: Why Science Writing Is Fun

Bruising Battle

“Tetrapod Zoology” sounds like a weird thing to read with a glass of wine, doesn’t  it?

But how about if it had a story about a truly ugly, scary-looking prehistoric beast called The Pig From Hell, aka the Terminator Pig? Something you could tell people about at your next party? (Or your kids if they like that sort of thing, as most little boys do.)


This is why writing about science is fun. 

If you’re a science blogger, subscribe to a dozen  journals and blogs, read til your eyes bleed, then write a post like this one.

If you’re a zoologist, you have two options in addition to peer-reviewed journals.

You can write about that hideous pig for your own blog.  Or, you can share the story with non-specialists who are just plain curious — and there are millions of them out there.  (Just be ready for the Creationists to weigh in on evolution.)

What the Beast Looked Like

Scientist or journalist/blogger, you’d probably note that there’s a model of this beast  at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science .

That the biggest ones stood 6 feet high at the shoulder and weighed more than a ton.  That their teeth could bite little camels in half, and their brains were the size of an orange.

This so-called Pig from Hell, aka the Terminator Pig, belonged to a group of killers called “entelodonts” that roamed North America, Eurasia and Africa for 20 million years, from about 38 million to 16 million years ago.

Its jaws opened 90 degrees, and its teeth probably clamped down harder than a crocodile’s.

Biggest Beast of the Badlands

A 2007 National Geographic series on prehistoric predators called it “the biggest beast of the Badlands.”

Despite its name, though, it turns out that as pig-like as it looked, this entelodont (the word means “even toothed” ) was probably more closely related to whales and hippos than to the porcine family.

Whatever clan it belonged to, this was clearly not a critter  you’d want to run into.   Watch this YouTube video from “Prehistoric Predators” to be glad it’s extinct.


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2 Responses to The Pig From Hell: Why Science Writing Is Fun

  1. Jean Gogolin says:

    And they still have brains the size of oranges!

  2. Peter Cohen says:

    This beast’s modern day descendants drive those lane-and-a-half-wide SUVs that barge normal sedans onto the shoulder.

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