In the 90’s when Jurassic Park aired on TV, it was stop-everything-and-watch-TV time. Back then I thought dinosaurs were pretty cool, albeit terrifying. But now I realise that everybody at some point has thought dinosaurs to be fascinating. What is it about these prehistoric giants that amaze us? Is it their sheer size makes us humans pale in comparison? Is it because all we know of them is a prehistoric mystery since they dominated Earth at a time humans didn’t exist? Or is it simply because Yoshi was your favourite Nintendo character? Whatever the reason, there is truth to each of these (Yoshi is debatable).
The Mary Annings of today have uncovered some amazing dinosaur remains all over the world, from deserts to forests, to mountaintops and oceanic sediments. Just recently, near Broome on Australia’s west coast, 1.7m footprints have been found belonging a giant herbivore (the length of this footprint is taller than me). But what fascinates me most about these giants is not their size, which as a 1.57m tiny human is actually terrifying, but the fact they were on Earth for so long. We humans, or specifically Homo sapiens, have been on Earth for 2 million years. Dinosaurs, extinct from a global tragedy that wiped out 75% of all species, roamed Earth for over 160 million years. If you do the math, mankind has so far existed only 1.25% of their time.
The mystery of dinosaurs
No one really knows how dinosaurs stayed on Earth for 160 million+ years. It definitely wasn’t because of their intelligence. Perhaps one of the reasons that they were so successful in dominating Earth was their diversity. Their varying biology meant they could live anywhere and everywhere. There were treetop-eating titanosaurs in Argentina that were the length of three 891’s end-to-end, and there were feathery tailed forest floor creatures that were the size of sparrows. A few years back, remains of a dinosaur were found in China (coined muddy dragon on the road to heaven?!) to have feathers, beak, wings and claws (or was it a prehistoric bird?). Did you know there were dinosaurs in Antarctica before rising carbon dioxide emissions turned it into an icy barren tundra? And these are only a few examples of dinosaurs that lived on land.
The mystery of dinosaurs including: How did they come to be? Are birds really related? Why do T-rex’s have giant heads and tiny arms? How did they communicate? These are all questions the scientific community, and I’m sure everyone who love or has ever loved dinosaurs (which is everybody), would like to know. One thing’s for sure, no one thinks of dinosaurs and says, “that is one big pile of shit.” Well, maybe no one except Jeff Goldblum.