Jerry Zezima: In the Jurassic dark

When I was a kid, I knew all the dinosaurs — not personally, of course, because they were extinct by then, and woolly mammoths roamed the earth. But I was a fan of such prehistoric stars as brontosaurus, Tyrannosaurus rex and especially Raquel Welch, who wore a cave woman bikini in one of my favorite movies, “One Million Years B.C.”

I have since gone in one era and out the other. Now there are more dinosaurs than I ever thought existed. My grandson knows every one of them, and he proved it by beating my old bones in a board game called Dinosaur Bingo.

It sounds redundant, because geezers like me are considered dinosaurs by younger people (almost everyone else) and are supposed to play bingo and other geriatric games that don’t require any real skill beyond the presence of a pulse.

But my grandson, who is almost 6 and wants to be a paleontologist when he grows up, loves Dinosaur Bingo. So do his 3-year-old twin siblings, a girl and a boy who are dino aficionados. All three kids have dinosaur-themed clothes, toys, books, pillows, backpacks and lunch boxes and frequently watch TV shows featuring — you guessed it — Raquel Welch.

No, sorry, I mean dinosaurs.

In my youth, during the Boomer Epoch, behemoths such as allosaurus, ankylosaurus, brachiosaurus, diplodocus, stegosaurus and triceratops were the most popular dinosaurs. Then there were flying reptiles like pteranodon and pterodactyl, pterrible ptitans from an ancient ptime.

But scientists have since discovered many other dinosaurs, some of them herbivores, which ate plants, and some of them carnivores, which didn’t like vegetables and ate the herbivores. This is known as the “balance of nature.”

Or it was until an asteroid hit Earth, wiped out the dinosaurs and began the Age of Mammals. That includes humans. Males of the species invented beer, television and professional football. Females of the species just ignore them.

But I am getting ahead of myself because of my humiliation at the hands of my grandson in Dinosaur Bingo.

“Let’s play, Poppie!” he said during a recent visit.

“How?” I asked as I looked at the cover of the box, which featured illustrations of herrerasaurus, maiasaura, ornithomimus and other dinosaurs I had never heard of.

“It’s simple,” he replied. “You pick a card with a dinosaur on it and put it on a space on the board with a picture of the same dinosaur.”

“What if you don’t have a picture of the dinosaur on your board?” I wondered.

“Then you put the card in the box and wait until it’s your turn again,” my grandson said.

It sounded easy enough — for him, that is.

Because I had only two matching dinosaurs (centrosaurus, a first cousin twice removed of triceratops, and nodosaurus, the brother-in-law of ankylosaurus), and my grandson had a board full of matching dinos, including the winner (herrerasaurus, the shiftless uncle of T. rex), he breezed to victory in the first game.

Along the way, I learned that herrerasaurus had a big mouth.

“So do I,” I said.

“That’s because you’re always telling jokes, Poppie,” my grandson noted.

And pachycephalosaurus had a hard head.

“Me, too,” I said. “Could I be Poppiecephalosaurus?”

“You’re silly!” remarked my grandson, who also romped in the second game.

At least I learned about irritator (“the most irritating dinosaur,” I surmised), fabrosaurus (“he must have been fabulous,” I said) and therizinosaurus (which had such long claws that, I noted, “it could have used a manicure”).

“Dinosaurs didn’t get their nails done, Poppie,” my grandson stated.

He should know, not just because he is already an expert in paleontology, but because he is a champ at Dinosaur Bingo.

The one thing he doesn’t know is that my favorite prehistoric creature is still Raquel Welch.

Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Tribune News Service and is the author of six books. His latest is “One for the Ageless: How to Stay Young and Immature Even If You’re Really Old.” Reach him at [email protected] or via