Sunday, November 29, 2009

My Pet Dinosaur

What if the Cretaceous-Tertiary impact that ended the reign of the Dinosaurs never occurred? Would these magnificent creatures, which could only be described by superlatives, still be walking the Earth? Would these creatures have gone on to evolve intelligence and perhaps a technological civilization? It is perhaps the greatest question concerning an alternative evolutionary history of life on Earth. Today on Discovery Enterprise we explore this alternative evolutionary history with the BBC Horizon documentary – My Pet Dinosaur.

It's a palaeontologist's dream: the chance to live in a world where dinosaurs are not something to be dug out of the ground but are living among us. It may sound far-fetched but dinosaurs were actually rather unlucky. The meteorite impact that doomed them to extinction was an event with a probability of millions to one. What if the meteorite had missed?

Had dinosaurs survived, the world today would be very different. If humans managed to survive alongside them (very unlikely), we wouldn't have the company of most, if not all, of the mammals with which we are familiar today. Giraffes, elephants and other mammals wouldn't have had space to evolve.

Would we be hunting Hadrosaurs instead of elk? Or farming Protoceratops instead of pigs? Would dinosaurs be kept as pets? And could the brighter dinosaurs have evolved into something humanoid?

My Pet Dinosaur