Go ahead, roar like a dinosaur.
After many months of pandemic lockdowns, shuttered schools, and personal financial losses, you could forgive a D.C. resident for just wanting to, well, let out a damn big roar.
And D.C.'s public library system is here to help make that happen: The Southeast Library is hosting a dinosaur-roaring contest later this month.
"We are calling on dinosaur fans to share their best impressions of their dinosaur breed of choice," the announcement says. "Do you have a killer pterodactyl shriek, a mean tyrannosaurus growl or a wicked brontosaurus grunt?"
Before you despair and think, "Oh, that's just for kids," please note: there's various categories in the contest, including "Adult 15 & up." A certain DCist/WAMU reporter's 4-year-old daughter may think she's got a vicious dinosaur growl, but she's never seen her dad utter his own guttural roar — much less one fueled by a year of dealing with virtual schooling.
The entry form does list specific dinosaurs whose roars will be accepted: Pterodactyl, Stegosaurus, Brontosaurus, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Brachiosaurus, Raptor, and Triceratops. But there's also an "other" category; why not try out Capitalsaurus, D.C.'s official dinosaur? (Yes, this is real.)
The contest is the brainchild of Elaine Pelton, a children's librarian at the Southeast Library. She says it originally stemmed from a prank earlier this year in which a Charleston, South Carolina, man advertised a dinosaur-roaring contest and asked participants to call his friend with their best submissions.
"You could tell for some people, this was their talent. This was the thing they were waiting for all their lives. I thought it was just so delightful," Pelton says. "What's so great about it...there's this whole neglected demographic of people who love dinosaurs and love to roar like them. There are these dinosaur-roaring enthusiasts in our midst."
Beyond that, she says the contest can be a "delightful, fun, quirky way to bring us together and make us laugh."
Now, before you just loudly let out a deep bellow, some myth-busting is in order: Dinosaurs didn't just let out Jurassic Park-style roars. That's according to Julia Clarke, a professor of paleontology at the University of Texas at Austin. In an interview with NPR in 2016, she said that many dinosaurs may have made a variety of sounds — including cooing.
"Most dinosaur sounds are based on models that are more like lions and tigers and bears," Clarke told NPR. "And we know that the two groups of animals alive today that are most closely related to extinct dinosaurs are birds and crocodilians. In fact, birds are living dinosaurs."
That means some dinosaurs could have sounded more like ostriches, or made whatever sound they made without actually opening their mouths. And Pelton says she's perfectly OK with this. "I am really looking for screeches, coos — all of those are super appreciated," she says.
In short, be creative. The library merely asks that you keep your roar to 10 seconds; submit videos here by June 30. Winners will be announced on July 15. "You will win prizes, bragging rights and the heartfelt gratitude of Southeast staff for keeping us entertained this summer," says the contest's posting.
Pelton says she's already gotten six submissions since the contest was announced two days ago, including a few from adults. She played one for me, and all I have to say is: Step up your game, people.
"I really want as many adults to submit as possible," Pelton adds.
And if things go well, there's even chatter of an in-person roar-off with the winners.
This story is from DCist.com, the local news website of WAMU.