Dino Dad’s Primeval Playlists (Ratfish Wranglers Edition)

I’ve seen others complain online about an apparent dearth of quality music relating to dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. Well, let me assure you, such songs do indeed exist! They simply don’t get the promotion they deserve, making them hard to find if you don’t already know about them. If you’re anything like me, you may feel frustrated by this state of affairs. Well, grumble no more! I’ve had the good fortune to run across quite a bit of paleo-themed music in the last few years, and I collected some of them here for you to enjoy! (I’ve embedded a lot of Youtube music videos, so if your browser starts to slow down halfway through the article, consider refreshing the page.)

While I’d assembled an eclectic mix of songs for this post, as I began writing, I realized at least half of the ones I wanted to feature belonged to the Ratfish Wranglers. Given my recent review of Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline, however, I thought I’d embrace it and split this topic into two posts, the first focusing on the Wranglers and the second featuring assorted others. Ray Troll, illustrator of the “Cruisin” books, is a local fixture of Alaskan culture, best known for his funky artwork featuring both fossil and fishing themes which grace many a t-shirt around the Pacific Northwest. (I highly recommend checking out his online gallery.) Troll also plays with the Ratfish Wranglers, along with Russel Wodehouse and several other collaborators. They’ve put out several albums that generally feature the same sorts of themes as Troll’s artwork: fish and fossils. One of their albums was even specifically released as a companion to Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway, Troll & Johnson’s first book collaboration. I’ve picked my favorite paleo-themed songs for this post, but The Ratfish Wranglers have plenty more fun songs you should check out for yourself! (All these songs are available on both iTunes and Amazon. I provide direct links to where you can buy them in each of the song titles.)

I’ll start with the most on-theme of the bunch. Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway can be found on the book-tie-in music album of the same name. I’ve embedded the standard version below, but if it doesn’t make me too much of a hipster to say it, I think I prefer the unreleased alternate version you can find at The Ratfish Wranglers’ website (main page here, direct link to song here). Funnily enough, though performed by different singers in rather different styles, both versions remind me a little of Randy Newman for some reason. The alternate version in particular sounds a bit like “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” to my mind.

I had the opportunity recently to visit the Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline museum exhibit at the Anchorage Museum on a recent trip to Alaska. It was pretty fun, and possibly worth a blog post on its own. Most relevant to this post however was the video screen playing the music video for Ages of Rock on repeat. My little ones have since fallen completely in love with it, and enjoy listening to it again. And again. And again. And again…. (Fun tip: try pairing this song with The Nature Timeline Wallbook to help kids learn about the geologic eras!)

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I have a big soft spot for those cutest of paleo-bugs, the trilobites. I love these little roly-poly arthropods! So I’m sure it comes as no surprise that the corresponding Wranglers song, Trilobite, ranks among my favorites! I love the folksy sound of this tune, which I think perfectly fits the character of these little critters. (You can also listen to an alternate version as part of a medley with another song on the album, Ammonite. The original version of Ammonite isn’t quite my thing, but the medley is nice.)

If heavy metal is more your speed, Hell Pig is pretty epic! The problem with many plaeo-themed songs one finds is that they often feel a bit forced. Well, no fear here! This vicious entelodont feels perfectly suited to this rockin’ tune. Give it a listen, and all hail Archaeotherium!!!

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Image from Ray Troll’s gallery. Go check out his awesome illustrations!

Going back to more folksy-sounding fare, that brings us to Whorl Tooth Sharks of Idaho, a bit of a ballad recounting the history of the study of Helicoprion, the eponymous whorl tooth. This ancient shark relative captivated Ray Troll for many years, as he doggedly sought out every expert he could find on this mysterious creature in order to figure out what this strange-jawed fish looked like in life. As the song recounts, things finally clicked when Jesse Pruitt contacted Troll and together assembled a team to finally make some sense of this strange creature. (Stay tuned for my next Primeval Playlist, which will feature an alternate version of this song.)

Only a couple more! I rather like Devonian Blues. It’s got a nice groove to it, and some clever lyrics.

This one I won’t try to hype up. I admit Tusker Tippin appeals entirely to my own idiosyncrasies; you’re mileage may vary! Written by Russel Wodehouse and based on a Ray Troll illustration, the whole things is so silly I just can’t help but give out a giddy chuckle every time I listen to it. Would a prehistoric bison have perhaps made more sense than Amebeledon? Maybe! It wouldn’t be as funny though.

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Also from Troll’s online art gallery.

Thanks for reading and listening along with me! I hope you had as much fun with these songs as I did. If you like this post, I’ve got a couple more like it planned for the future! See you soon! Subscribe to Dino Dad Reviews on Twitter and Instagram for the latest updates.

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