The Ugs adopt a little stranger

Last updated at 10:07 01 August 2005

Scientists report that the oldest dinosaur embryos ever found, dating back to 190 million years ago, appear from their lack of teeth or means of feeding themselves, to have been the earliest creatures dependent on parental care to help them grow to their 16-foot maturity.

The news failed to stir Mr and Mrs Ug who, having been awakened one night by an almighty crash, found that it was a baby dinosaur that had fallen out of its nest. At Ug's insistence, since he believed it would make a useful guard-monster when it grew up, they promptly adopted it and brought it up as their own.

Over now to the Ugs' bijou cave where Ug is attempting to spade-feed the little fellow - little, that is, in prehistoric monster terms - a light lunch of strained worm.

"You spoil that dinosaur," snapped Mrs Ug. "It's already had six breakfasts and they're only supposed to have 14 meals a day. Anyway it shouldn't be eating chopped worm - it's not a carnivore." "What's a carnivore?" asked Ug.

"It's what you are, Ug, when you gnaw your way through a whole elk, on your tod, leaving me with nothing but the rib cage. So I'm not having that poor dinosaur eating us out of cave and home. It'll be a vegetarian and like it." "What's a vegetarian?" "It's where you have to live on greens and berries and plant life and that. So if it wakes up screaming for a feed while I'm out at bingo, just give it a tree to suck."

"And suppose it wants a drink?" "There's a fresh puddle on the floor. But don't let it lap it all up, because we'll be needing that puddle for making tomorrow's soup."

"And what if it wants to go while you're out?" "Go? Go where?" "You know. What if it wants to leave the cave?" "It's only a toddler, Ug. It's not old enough to leave the cave on its own yet. You know how frightened kiddies get by big holes in the ground - they think they'll be swallowed up." "So what do I do if it wants to go?" "You do what other mums and dads do. Use disposable cabbage leaves." "I thought the cabbage leaves were for the soup." "Any kind of big leaves then." "How about nettles?" "Don't be so stupid. Haven't you ever changed a baby before?" "No," confessed Ug.

"Now's your chance to learn, then," said Mrs Ug, throwing her bison wrap over her shoulders. "I'm off to bingo now. And when its had its next feed, don't forget to bring its wind up." "Last time you brought its wind up," said Ug, "next door thought it was an earthquake." Sniffing, Mrs Ug took herself off to bingo, leaving Ug to baby-sit. She returned some hours later in a bad mood, not having won any pebbles.

"Well, Ug - did you change the baby?" "Did I not!" beamed Ug. "The bloke next door came round to see what all the racket was when I was bringing its wind up. He took a shine to the little chap so I changed it for his cave-trained pterodactyl."

Evening all

With London and other major cities literally heaving with police officers over the past few days, the question many innocent bystanders have been asking is where did they all come from? They can't all have been playing cards in the staff canteen when the call came, or have put aside all those acres of paperwork to join in the chase.

Be that as it may, these exciting street scenes with snipers straddling the pavement, supernumerary cops draping whole neighbourhoods in "Do Not Cross" tape, and suspects being frog-marched into waiting police cars in their underpants, are becoming a feature of metropolitan life. Next, will open-topped buses with megaphone-brandishing guides tour the streets where suspects were rounded up? Who knows where it will all end? When, I suspect, you can't find a bobby any more because of lack of "resources".

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