What Killed the Dinosaurs?

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dinosaurs

Archaeology is an amazing science. Think about it. Without a single living dinosaur around for about sixty-six million years, we are able to reconstruct what the world was like back then. We analyze fossils and assemble skeletons, revealing a terrifying landscape for a species like homo sapiens.

I’ve been fascinated with dinosaurs since I was a little kid but that’s not unique–most children find dinosaurs super cool and maybe a little bit terrifying. In literature and movies we’ve searched for different ways to bring them alive from forgotten islands, jungles, or even the center of the earth, to rebuilding them using fossil-extracted DNA, and let’s not forget the old “travel back in time” trope. I’ve enjoyed every permutation that exists.

In a way, dinosaurs are like alien monsters. When creating a new world with terrible inhabitants, who wouldn’t connect with enormous lizard-like creatures? Let’s not discount the fire-breathing dragons, either, which crosses genres from science fiction into fantasy.

Let’s face it. Dinosaurs are fodder for our imaginations on a scale as enormous as the creatures themselves, with an added boost of excitement: Dinosaurs weren’t imaginary. They were real.

We can all agree that dinosaurs were these terrible but majestic creatures who would never have allowed humans to evolve to where we are today. Can you imagine if they were still around? Think how terrified some people become when a venomous snake slithers across their driveway. What if it was a tyrannosaurus rex instead?

“Hello, dinosaur control? A darned t-rex just stomped my car into a pancake and ripped up my wife’s roses. Can you get him out of here before he eats us?”

No, evolution doesn’t work that way. There can only be one dominant species. Most likely, if humankind still evolved with the dinosaurs around we’d all live in caves with great fear. And yes, I’m getting some writing ideas as I type this, but I won’t digress. The point is, dinosaurs did go extinct otherwise we wouldn’t be here, at least not how we are today in a modernized world with roads, planes, and heck–the internet!

But why? What wiped out such a powerful dominant life form, yet allowed smaller species to thrive and evolve into…well…us? Among others, of course.

There are several well-known theories, from global warming to a lethal asteroid strike, and maybe less-popular ones such as aliens destroyed the dinosaurs so humans would have a chance to grow and someday contribute to the universe, since dinosaurs themselves would never further evolve, therefore continuing on forever in stagnant savage perpetuity.

Personally, I’m less inclined to believe the global warming theory since I suspect at least some of the dinosaurs would have managed to survive that by heading toward the equator where it remained warmer, but concede the possibility. A meteor strike seems more likely especially since we continue to read today about near-misses and how devastating to humans it would be if a big one struck the Earth.

Here’s an interesting article that believes the space rock responsible for wiping dinosaurs out originated from the edge of space, and may have been influenced to strike earth by Jupiter’s gravity. Prior to this, the thought was this asteroid came from the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars.

Some of you may be thinking as I first did, “who cares where the asteroid came from? The results are what is important, not the source. It was just a random event that happens occasionally over millions of years.”

Then I paused, and considered. The immediate question is could it happen again with similar results to humans, and would an Oort-cloud originating asteroid be more damaging than one from the closer asteroid belt. Or…

I cleverly foreshadowed this earlier in the article. Was an alien influence involved in setting this up such that the dinosaur-ending asteroid was nudged just right for Jupiter’s gravity to slingshot it toward us, avoid the sun’s pull to break it up, and strike the Earth with sufficient force to eradicate the dominant species?

And if they so desired, could they do it again? Forget spaceships appearing in the sky blasting lasers into our cities. One carefully guided asteroid and the job is done.

As if I didn’t already have enough to keep me awake at night.

What do you think? Please comment below.