One of the best parts about being a father is rediscovering cool stuff from childhood.
My boys are currently obsessed with dinosaurs. I have to admit that I am too.
Consider this. Dinosaurs lived on earth for 180 million years. Homo sapiens have only been around for 200,000 years. It might help to see it in a picture.
Why do you think there are so many more dinosaur fossils than early human fossils? Maybe because dinosaurs roamed the earth 900 times longer than we have. That’s right. The earliest caveman lived 200,000 years ago, a span of time so distant that it is almost impossible to imagine. Take that span of time, and all the change that has occurred in it, and multiply it by 900. That’s how long dinosaurs lived.
Think about the implications of this for all the religious babble that you were taught to believe. The creation myths are an obvious target. God created the world in 6 days, and rested on the 7th? Really? What about 180 million years of voracious reptiles roaming the earth eating each other?? Which day was that?
The creation myths are an easy target though. The creation story in Chapter 2 of Genesis directly contradicts the creation story in Chapter 1. You don’t need to believe in dinosaurs to show how absurd they are.
Step back and think about any man-based religion. Dinosaurs were here for 180 million years. Do you really believe that God planned for dinosaurs to live for 180 million years, and then decided to wipe them out and evolve mammals into the culmination of all life forms – the human being? Really?
Let’s not dumb it down. Let’s not suck the wonder out of it. Let’s revel in it. Let’s bask in the reality of evolution and the miracle of life.
Dinosaurs started from little eoraptors, 18 inch predators that are almost cute. Here’s an eoraptor, what many paleontologists believe is one of the oldest of all dinosaurs:
Here’s a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a species that lived during the last 10 million year stretch of dinosaur life (from 75 million years ago to 65 million years ago):
They both walk upright and have the same general body shape, so it isn’t completely implausible that one evolved from the other.
The more amazing feats of evolution are the biological weaponry that some dinosaurs developed. Some little freakshow baby dinosaur would be born with bone on the outside of its body – armor. Or a horn growing out of his head – a weapon. Or giant spikes all along its back – ? Their mutation was an asset to survival, so they survived. And passed on their genes.
The most ferocious predators naturally prospered. Has anything really changed?
I find myself drawn to the dinosaurs that survived through other means besides aggression.
For example, the Maiasaura is believed to be a caretaker of its eggs. Where other dinosaurs just left their eggs in the wild, pitting even the youngest against each other in a fight for survival, the Maiasaura cared for her eggs, watched over them until they hatched. The first mom.
Some dinosaurs learnerd social behaviors to improve their chances of survival. Traveling in packs. Hunting in groups.
Pictures of dinosaurs typically show them as gray colored, or brown. I believe that they were all kinds of exotic camoflouge. If some dinosaurs evolved full body armor with spikes and whip-like tails, it isn’t hard to imagine that others could blend in perfectly with whatever crazy natural surroundings we had back then.
At some point, the continents drifted apart. It is believed that some sea creatures developed enormous lung capacity as successive generations swam back and forth between the spreading land masses. Land animals developed distinct gene pools and evolved according to their surroundings.
It is astounding.
65 million years ago, a meteor from outer space crashed into Mexico. It was 6 miles wide. It left a 112 mile wide hole in the earth and sent ash and debris into the atmosphere, blocking out light. 95% of all life on earth died.
Only the strongest survived. In those conditions, the dinosaurs that could fly stood the best chance. They could search for food over the largest possible territory.
Did you know that scientists believe birds evolved from dinosaurs? Will you ever look at a bird in the same way?
More importantly, am I going to become this obsessed with every childhood phase that my boys go through? Superheros, check. Dinosaurs, check. What’s next?