Many of the dinosaurs that once roamed our planet were pretty spectacular, based on the numerous skeletal remains they’ve left behind.
The largest, like the massive Diplodocus, must have been quite a sight to behold, but a fairly recent find in Argentina was even bigger than any previous giant specimen. A forty metre long member of the Sauropod family, this Titanosaur weighed as much as fourteen African elephants and had testicles the size of Space Hoppers. Possibly.
The few surviving dinos we see today are not quite so impressive, although I personally have no desire to prove my manhood by wrestling any sharks, crocodiles or alligators to demonstrate my superiority. I’d rather challenge them to a game of scrabble and then see who’s the boss. Mind you the smallest living dinosaur descendant, the Bee Hummingbird doesn’t look that tough. I reckon I could take it, with the right preparation and coaching.
There are also a few rock dinosaurs still in existence. The Keithrichardsosaur is reckoned to be one the oldest still-living examples. It is a small but hardy creature, surprisingly spry for its age and is thought to survive mainly on a diet of raw meat, cigarettes and bourbon.
The extraordinary diversity of the dinosaurs is breathtaking. From the fierce predators of movie fame, the Tyrannosaurus rex, to the smaller flying species that evolved into modern birds, they dominated our planet for over one hundred and fifty million years. Pretty good going for creatures with no fire, wheels or Wi-Fi.
The majority of them disappeared around sixty-five million years ago. The most widely accepted explanation is that their salad days ended gradually after a massive meteor strike in the Yucatan Peninsula, an event that triggered a huge shift in the Earth’s climate and affected much of the flora and fauna on which they depended. Probably already weakened by previous climate change and volcanic activity, it was the final nail in their coffin.
An intriguing possibility is that some of the smarter ones, sick of the unpredictable weather, endless volcanoes and lack of Wi-Fi decided to get the hell out and leave Earth for a more friendly planet. Of course there were several obstacles to this plan for creatures who had not yet evolved much in the way of basic tools, language or abstract thinking. Or even learned to use small sticks to clean out their ears.
Luckily, according to one theory*, a fair number were saved from their terrible fate by the sudden and quite unexpected arrival of an alien spaceship. Having mixed up their star charts and flight co-ordinates because of an administrative cock up, the aliens arrived expecting to greet the Emperor his highness Mochalatte the tall and his lovely wife Dorito on the day of his appointment to the head of the galactic federation. Instead they found a lot of pissed off and not very bright creatures, with terrible breath and an attitude problem.
Things looked grim for the captain and his crew of commendably diverse species. In order to save face and avoid a massive bollocking from the Space Council, they decided to make the best of it and rescue as many of the natives as possible from a world less inviting than a real-ale festival on a wet bank-holiday weekend in Scunthorpe.
Of course most had to be left behind, because let’s face it you can’t fit many dinosaurs into a flying saucer. Even a flying saucer the size of Mexico. You need to save a lot of room for other stuff, like food, water, breathable gases, toilet cleaner and a lot of movies and board games to pass the time on those long trips.
So what became of those ancient astronauts, boldly going long before Captain Kirk and crew ever set foot in a TV studio? Some suspect that they might have found a new home planet to colonise. Over millions of years they might have evolved, perhaps with a little friendly push from the more impatient members of the Space Council, into an intelligent space-faring race of beings. They may have wondered about their origins, dreamed of one day finding the pale blue dot from which their ancestors escaped so long ago.
If you’re out walking late one evening and see a strange fast-moving object dramatically plunge to Earth, make sure you get some decent pics and a video clip up on Youtube, pronto.
If you come face to face with the ship’s occupants, try to remain calm and don’t run or scream. Especially if they look like Keith Richards.
*I use the term very loosely
Copyright J.Lennick 2016 All rights reserved.
Picture source- livescience.com