28

Theoretically speaking, if tyrannosaurs were still present these days, or in some way or another brought back, would they be kosher?
Let's assume that they are properly slaughtered and prepared.

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    off the cuff, no, as it lacks the signs of a land animal and is not on the given list of birds. chabad.org/library/howto/wizard_cdo/aid/133726/jewish/… – rosends Dec 11 '14 at 17:04
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    They are not reptiles, and birds apparently descended from them. – Earwin Dec 11 '14 at 17:06
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    Earwin, welcome to Jewrassic Park(1), and thanks very much for bringing your interesting question here! I hope you'll look around the site and find other information that's to your taste. Here is a slightly more practical question about dinosaurs, and here is a parallel speculative question about hypothetical kosher pigs. (1) I mean, Mi Yodeya. Sorry to get your hopes up. – Isaac Moses Dec 11 '14 at 17:12
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    @Scimonster, regardless of heritage, I'm pretty sure that "bird," as far a Jewish Law is concerned, means something like "a thing with wings that's not a little bug." The definition is based on certain aspects of the phenotype, not on the genotype. – Isaac Moses Dec 11 '14 at 17:22
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    I'd have to agree with @IsaacMoses about the phenotype of birds. Also, as a general rule, birds of prey are on the bad list. – Seth J Dec 11 '14 at 18:39
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No. No matter how they would be classified:

  • Fish: Scales could not be removed without ripping skin.
  • Reptile, insect, animal (Behema/Chaya): Neither a grasshopper, nor split hooves. See picture below.
  • Bird:* No mesora for Ashkenazim. For Sefardim, it would need characteristics (simanim):

    1. Extant crop: Subject to observation of specimen.
    2. Peelable inner lining of gizzard: Subject to observation of specimen.
    3. Extra claw. Depends on rabbinic opinion. See picture below.
    4. Not a bird of prey. Well, yes. Very much so.

So if not for anything else, it is certainly a bird of prey (doreis), which is only kosher with a tradition (mesora), which tyrannosauridae of course do not have.

T. Rex foot


* If it would look like this, it may actually be considered a bird: Feathered T. Rex

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    There really isn't any reason to think that Chazal, when formulating the bird-rules, would have accounted for extinct species. Their application here is highly questionable. – Double AA Dec 11 '14 at 19:01
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    @DoubleAA I am applying the rules to an extant animal, as per OP: were still present these days, or in some way or another brought back. – Adám Dec 11 '14 at 19:12
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    I know what you're doing. I'm saying applying those rules to species Chazal thought were extinct is questionable. – Double AA Dec 11 '14 at 19:13
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    @DoubleAA Please source that Chazal thought T. Rex was extinct. :-) Why wouldn't the rules be universal in time? – Adám Dec 11 '14 at 19:17
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    Torah classification of wildlife is never related to genotyping, evolutionary background, etc. but rather straightforward physical similarities (e.g. what would a guy on the street consider it). The famous example is that bats are classified as birds even though they're zoologically classified with mammals. Vayikra 11:19. I recommend Prof Yehuda Felix regarding topics of Torah + wildlife. Also Slifkin discusses classification in his The Camel, The Hare, And The Hyrax. I think then it's likely that dinosaurs would have been classified as a chayah. – ChaimKut Dec 12 '14 at 5:09
12

I would think not, because they probably wouldn't be kosher animals.

The basic requirements for being a kosher animal are laid out in Deuteronomy 14:6:

וְכָל בְּהֵמָה מַפְרֶסֶת פַּרְסָה וְשֹׁסַעַת שֶׁסַע שְׁתֵּי פְרָסוֹת מַעֲלַת גֵּרָה בַּבְּהֵמָה אֹתָהּ תֹּאכֵלוּ

And every animal that has a split hoof and has a hoof cloven into two hoof sections, [and] chews the cud among the animals that you may eat.

( Chabad text and translation )

I don't think that tyrannosaurs had split hooves; I'm pretty sure that they didn't chew their cud, either.

If you'd rather consider them birds, they would be forbidden anyway.

Mishna, Chullin 3:6

סִימָנֵי בְהֵמָה וְחַיָּה {ל} נֶאֶמְרוּ מִן הַתּוֹרָה, וְסִימָנֵי הָעוֹף לֹא נֶאֱמָרוּ. אֲבָל אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים, כָּל עוֹף הַדּוֹרֵס, טָמֵא. כֹּל שֶׁיֶּשׁ לוֹ אֶצְבַּע יְתֵרָה, וְזֶפֶק, וְקֻרְקְבָנוֹ נִקְלָף, טָהוֹר. רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר בַּר צָדוֹק אוֹמֵר, כָּל עוֹף הַחוֹלֵק אֶת רַגְלָיו, טָמֵא

The signs by which the clean animals, domestic and wild, may be distinguished [from the unclean and prohibited ones] are mentioned in the Holy Law, but not those of fowl. The sages have, however, established, "That every [predaceous] bird, which strikes its talons into its prey, is of the unclean: every bird which has an additional claw, a crop, and of which the internal coat of the stomach may be readily peeled off, is of the clean species." R. Eleazar ben Zadok saith, "Every bird which [when placed on a perch] divides its toes equally, is an unclean one."

( Sefaria translation )

I think we all agree that the T-rex was predatory :)

Also, if it would be classified as a bird, it would be missing the critical aspect of "מסורה," a "tradition" that was passed down that this "bird" is kosher.
See Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 82:2:

וְעוֹף טָהוֹר נֶאֱכָל בְּמָסֹרֶת, וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה דָּבָר פָּשׁוּט בְּאוֹתוֹ מָקוֹם שֶׁזֶּה עוֹף טָהוֹר

Kosher birds are eaten by "tradition," which means that it's known by the people of that place that this is a kosher bird.

See also Rema to Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah 82:3:

וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים שֶׁאֵין לִסְמֹךְ אֲפִלּוּ עַל זֶה, וְאֵין לֶאֱכֹל שׁוּם עוֹף אֶלָּא (ח) בַּמָּסֹרֶת שֶׁקִּבְּלוּ בּוֹ שֶׁהוּא טָהוֹר (בְּאָרֹךְ כְּלָל נ''ו ובתא''ו נט''ו), וְכֵן נוֹהֲגִין, וְאֵין לְשַׁנּוֹת

Some say that you cannot rely even on this (to check the size and shape of the beak), and one cannot eat any bird unless there is an accepted "tradition" that this is a kosher bird. This is how we've decided to act, and one cannot change from this.

( above translations are my own )

  • It may be worthwhile to tighten this to indicate that it refers specifically to something like "non-bug land animals." – Isaac Moses Dec 11 '14 at 17:17
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    @IsaacMoses I thought the list is of unkosher birds. – Scimonster Dec 11 '14 at 17:39
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    @IsaacMoses Please source T. Rex not having wings. – Adám Dec 11 '14 at 17:45
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    @Scimonster No, you are the Motzi Mechaveiro as you (are defending Shokhet who) is trying to answer the question. The onus is on the one trying to answer to show that they did not have wings. – Double AA Dec 11 '14 at 18:17
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    @Earwin Yes, that's a very good question. One specific bird that has been under discussion for this reason for some while is the American turkey. See the discussion here for more about the tradition of turkeys. Rabbi Ari Zivotofsky also published an article on turkeys a while back....if I can find it again I might post another answer to that question ;-) – Shokhet Dec 12 '14 at 18:18
5

Let's see. What exactly are dinosaurs?

For a long time, they have been considered lizards. Lizards are not kosher, due to lack of kosher signs.

For the sake of argument, they might be mammals. In that case, they're still not kosher, as they don't have split hooves and chew their cud. (Also brought by Shokhet)

What if they're birds? The Torah (Devarim 14:11-20) gives a list of non-kosher birds, so it seems that everything else is kosher. Now, it might just be me, but דינוזרים (dinosaurs) aren't on that list. But wait! Maybe they are - the word "dinosaur" is relatively modern.
The truth is that we've lost the mesorah for what most of them are, so we only allow birds known to be kosher.
One thing all of the no-noes have in common is that they are birds of prey, or at the very least, scavengers. T. Rex was either a hunter or a scavenger.

A more interesting question would be about herbivorous dinosaurs - could those possibly be kosher??

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    "Lizards are not kosher." Why not? What if the requisite foot-structure and chewed its cud? – Double AA Dec 11 '14 at 18:16
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    Yeah, but lizards don't have the "requisite foot structure" or chew their cud. – Scimonster Dec 11 '14 at 18:21
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    All extant lizards TTBOMK do not have those properties. So what? Is there a reason there couldn't be a lizard that had them? – Double AA Dec 11 '14 at 18:23
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    @DoubleAA, then it wouldn't be a lizard. How's that for an answer? If you discovered a scaly, cold-blooded creature that chewed its cud and had split hooves, you'd have discovered a new Class of animal. – Seth J Dec 11 '14 at 18:47
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    How's that a circle? It's a straight line (albeit in reverse, the way you've stated it). – Seth J Dec 11 '14 at 19:56

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