What dinosaurs could look like now if they had not become extinct: what scientists say (photo)
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66 million years ago, the fall of a huge asteroid changed the course of evolution. But what would happen to our world if dinosaurs survived?
The fall of a huge 10-kilometer asteroid to Earth led to the extinction of all non-avian dinosaurs, as well as most other living creatures and plants. But this catastrophe allowed the emergence of man, thanks to the surviving early primates who evolved in us. But what would have happened to the animal world on Earth if the dinosaurs had not died out? How could they look? Would they become sentient species? And what would happen to the person? These questions are answered by Nicholas Longrich of the University of Bath, UK, writes ScienceAlert.
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“Imagine that the asteroid did not fall to the Earth and all the dinosaurs survived. Perhaps it was these intelligent beings who would have discovered the theory of relativity and flew to the moon. And these dinosaur scientists could talk about what would happen if mammals took over the planet. It may sound like science fiction, but in this context, questions arise about the ways in which evolution developed: did humans appear by chance, or did the appearance of intelligent beings have to happen?”, says Longrich.
Now 8 billion people already live on Earth, and we can say that such an intelligent dominant species should have appeared on the planet. Even 40 years ago, paleontologist Dale Russell presented his reasoning about what would happen if dinosaurs turned into intelligent creatures. According to his theory, they could have evolved into an upright, intelligent creature with a large brain and long fingers.
Possible, but unlikely
“Such a development of events is possible, although unlikely. After all, the biology of an animal limits the direction of its evolution. For example, you can consider the size of dinosaurs. For example, sauropods, huge herbivorous dinosaurs, starting from the Jurassic period, turned into 30-50-ton giants that were up to 30 meters. This is much more than an elephant weighs and longer than the size of a blue whale. But other dinosaurs did not become giants,” says Longrich.
Features of the anatomy of sauropods allowed them to become such giants that were not on Earth either before their appearance or after their extinction. In the same way, predatory dinosaurs, the same tyrannosaurus, also turned into multi-ton huge animals over millions of years of evolution.
“Although many dinosaurs had huge bodies, they had a very small brain “And over time, it didn't evolve into something bigger. While the human brain weighs 1.3 kg, the brain of a Tyrannosaurus rex weighed 400 grams, and that of a Velociraptor only 150 grams,” says Longrich.
Despite the fact that over time the social life of dinosaurs became more and more complex, there are now few hints that they could have turned into intelligent creatures if they had not died out.
“Perhaps the dinosaurs would have had a larger brain, but they certainly could not have become intelligent. Although they could dominate the planet, which would prevent the rapid development of mammals. But this probability is very low,” he believes scientist.
Did the extinction of the dinosaurs lead to the appearance of humans?
At the same time, mammals, which include humans, could not afford huge bodies, but their brains repeatedly evolved and became ever larger. According to Longrich, now the descendants of dinosaurs, in particular crows and parrots, have complex brains and can even use different objects for food. But it was in mammals, such as the great apes, that large brains and complex behaviors could evolve.
“Could the extinction of the dinosaurs be a guarantee that primates will evolve into sentient humans? Probably not. I don't think human evolution was inevitable. For example, primates that evolved into great apes with large brains, then in humans, appeared only in Africa. Some environmental factors influenced this process. Even after the extinction of the dinosaurs, human evolution required the right combination of the right factors and of course luck, “says Longrich.
Focus has already written that scientists have suggested that the famous Tyrannosaurus rex was a much larger predator than is now believed.