So FrostDragonLiz, AKA Samantha Turner, has done it again, delivering another enjoyable game based around a running joke in the paleontological community. If you read this blog at all, you’ve probably seen my review of one of her previous games, THE BIG DIE, a runner game based on the End-Permian Extinction. While the many memes about this event inspired the creation of the game, the basic premise was nevertheless more or less self explanatory. Things… may require a little more unpacking this time around!
Samantha Turner’s Angry-Birds-style browser game Lemme Splash! is but the latest and greatest in a long, proud tradition of mocking a single idea: Brian J. Ford’s insistence on dragging the old notion of swampbound dinosaurs kicking and screaming out from where the rest of us left it in the 1950’s and presenting it as some bold new take that “Big Paleo doesn’t want you to know”. Ford has peddled this nonsense in lectures since 2012, but it has really hit the mainstream since HarperCollins made the incomprehensible decision to give him a book deal, publishing his ideas under the title Too Big To Walk in 2018. As the title suggests, it argues that dinosaurs obviously had to live in water, as they were, well, too big to walk. This also means (Ford continues, to the internet’s perennial amusement) that dinosaurs could not mate on land either, and that such an act could have only occurred in the water.
Tetrapod Zoology showrunner Darren Naish has felt the need to provide some sort of public response to Ford crankery since pretty much the beginning (see this response from 2012), but the publication of Ford’s book really brought things to a head, and Naish ended up having a “debate” of sorts with Ford. (You can read various accounts of the event online: I recommend the posts at Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs and Pteroformer for more details.) While already something of a punchline, Ford’s bizarrely aggressive presentation further solidified his reputation among dinosaur afficionados, and that’s when the memes truly began to flow. It seems not a week has gone by in Paleontology Coproliteposting without a meme about “sex lakes” or a sarcastic quip of “too (adjective) to (verb)”.
This leads us to Turner’s game today. It features two amorous Brachiosaurs, desperate to consumate their love for each other, but, being Too Big To Walk, they find themselves separated by impassable terrain. It’s your job to play literal wingman and launch one of them through the air towards the Lust Lagoon where their partner awaits. It doesn’t matter if the dinosaurs are actually touching (or even if it looks like either of them actually survived) as long as they both make it to the water. Presumably they spawn like salmon.
Incidentally, you may notice the “Turtle Nachos” bonus challenge. This dates back to a silly proposal made over at SV-POW a couple years ago, in which Mathew Wedel noted that sauropods must’ve accidentally stomped on turtles every so often, and then further joked that the resulting “turtle nachos” could have made for convenient sources of calcium. This ended up looking surprisingly prescient last year when scientists announced the discovery of a smashed fossil turtle in the bottom of a sauropod footprint from a Jurassic tidal flat in Switzerland! (See this post from Laelaps for more.) Of course the memesters starting joking that this must have been an act of voyeurism gone wrong, and when Samantha started posting screenshots of her progress on this game, I suggested (…maybe demanded) that this appear in the game as some sort of bonus feature, and so here we are!
If you’ve come across this game on your own somehow and found its premise confusingly bizarre, I hope this post helped clear things up a bit! I’m having a lot of fun with the game, and its merciless lampooning of Brian Ford just makes it that much more enjoyable. Lemme Splash! is absolutely Dino Dad Approved, though maybe avoid playing it with the kids if you want to avoid awkward questions about “The Ponds and The ‘pods”. (Try the more family friendly Zniw Adventure, or Samantha’s previous game, THE BIG DIE, for less risque material.) With that, all I have left to say is this: Brian Ford, this is your legacy. Enjoy!