Saturday, 3 July 2010

A little excursion into paleobiology

I like science. I am interested in it. Any science, or nearly because there is science and science. You can study subjects at a university that may be worthwhile but only remotely related to science. So you can become a major in political science meaning you have got some coaching and training to con people into believing you will do something for them.

Or you can study theology so as to be mentally equipped to become a priest, a bishop, mullah, ayatollah, rabbi. Fully trained to speak convincingly about a specific eternal truth. However, you cannot study for a degree in animist religion, cargo cult (invented in Borneo), scientology, vodoo. Not yet. No, you cannot become a Science Major in Louisiana or Haitian Vodoo. That's a pity but so it is, for the time being!

No, the kind of science I am interested in are those branches where people try to find out, to understand, to improve.

Well, sorry, the stuff above is a digression. The subject right now is paleobiology, linked to evolution of animals and plants. People working in this field try to find out the evolutionary history of life.

The point I am interested in is the extinction of the dinosaurs about 65 Million years ago. There was this big comet crashing somewhere on this unhappy planet and wham, all the dinos died. Those living on the land, on the ground and in the air and those living in and under the water.

In a nutshell: I don't believe it. Some must have survived. Why shouldn't they? The sharks exist for more than 400 Million years and they managed to stay with us. Same for the crocodiles that crawl around for about 200 Million years and they are still here. So why only the dinosaurs vanished totally in a very short time?

So my idea is that though most died when this killer planet made Mother Earth dive into a long Winter, some survived and carried on. I am even convinced the first humans must have met some of those last dinosaurs, the biggies, kind of Tyrannosaur, I suppose.

Why I think that? Because in all civilizations there is talk of dragons. And when you look at pictures of those dragons one frequently sees a kind of big, snake-like lizard with big claws.

Here, please look at this Chines bronze showing how these people imagined a dragon.

And this one is a German engraving showing Hercules slaying the Hydra, the ancient Greek mythological dragon.

This is the Klagenfurt Lindworm. Well, I don't think that proves anything but I show it nevertheless because this is a beautiful stature. However, if you have a look at the old coat of arms of that city, the dragon there looks very convincing.

This last sculpture shows a very impressive dragon on the Kaiserbrücke in Mains/Germany.

This is a bit out-of-the-way subject. I wonder if I have convinced anybody and some of my readers might think "I don't care". Sure, right or wrong, nothing changes either side. But the same is true for evolution vs. creation. However, the outcome of this little quarrel might have huge implications.


  1. This is completely off the topic here, but good luck to Germany, your team in the World Cup, you know that my team is Spain, and may the better team win on Wednesday : )

  2. or are dinosaurs completely a thing of imagination

  3. Oh Georg, how I love this post. You and I could have a ball discussing all of the probabilities.
    You have given me a idea for a new post in the future.

  4. To Id

    Well, continuing to stay off the topic, we lost but gcot status N° 3. Maybe they'll do better in 2014.

    To Anrosh

    Don't understand you.

    I am looking forward to read what you have to say.


  5. Hi George,
    I like your observation. I think you have some points in here. If you Google "Human and Dinosaur", there are some links that suggest the co-existing of the two. there might be some fossils belong to the same era which shows the end of dinos and beginning of early homo-sepians.

  6. Hey Hiva,

    Glad to hear that, really. You are the very first person who says that I might have a point.
    If possible, please let me have some of those links.


  7. sure,
    here are some:

  8. To Hiva,

    Thanks so much for the links. I looked them up but realized that, unfortunately, in the USA, the subject seems to be hijacked by the creationists.

    These people, the creationists, belief god has created everything about 6000 years ago, no evolution of species. If the cr. get the upper hand in America, byebye to science. The country would go the way nations like Egypt, Mesopotamia or Greece went: straight down to mediocrity.


  9. I totally agree. I didn't know that Darwin Evolution Theory is not being taught in U.S.

  10. George,

    let me correct myself. there is a battle between evolution and creationist in Public schools in US.

    " State creationism laws were passed during the 1980's in Arkansas and Louisiana, to force the teaching of creationism in place of evolution. In a 1987 case, Edwards v. Aquillard, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that these laws were unconstitutional because they violated the establishment clause of the 1st Amendment of the U.S. constitution. Creation science was seen to be a expression of religious belief. It was judged to be not a true science because it could never be falsified -- i.e., it was firmly held as a religious belief by its adherents that no amount of contradictory physical evidence could change."

    "During the mid 1990's, creation science groups started to persuade school boards to give equal time to creation science."

    "In recent years, the emphasis has been on encouraging teachers and students to be skeptical of the theory of evolution. Various legislatures have introduced bills to encourage teaching that the theory of evolution contains internal contradictions. These are typically called "academic freedom" bills. By the end of 2008, they had been introduced in about seven states and failed in all but Louisiana."

  11. salut George!!!!!!!!
    En lisant ton billet et surtout en regardant les illustrations, je me suis demandé si la disparition des dinosaures ne serait pas survenue par le fait qu'ils aient pu devenir homosexuels.
    C'est un sujet à approfondir si je puis dire!
    A plus george!
    au fait! as tu reçu les photos du 10 juillet?
    la bise à Elisabeth.

  12. Hallo Georgy,
    Good observation indeed. :oD I guess we should first define what counts as a dinosaur and what doesn't.

    As far as I know, the extinction event that did in the 'dinosaurs' also did in about 50% of all species living at the time. Any mass extinction like that will affect the species at or near the top of the food chain more, of course (they require a lot more resource to survive), so the big reptiles were properly done in... No more fossils of them found above the KT layer.

    That extinction event happened some 65 million or so years ago while the first human (Homo sapiens) didn't turn up until about a million years ago. That is quite a wide time gap.

    I think there might have been some weird monstrous species that were in the process of dying out as the early humans were starting to thrive and preserve what they saw on records... Though they aren't likely to be one of the dinosaurs like those that roamed the planet before the KT extinction. Heck, there are big things living in the really deep areas of the ocean right now that will look positively extraterrestrial if they wash ashore tomorrow morning.

    And there are also the animals afflicted with unfortunate-looking birth defects (humans included... Siamese twins can look pretty icky to those not used to seeing them) that make them look really monstrous. So perhaps the two (or more) headed snakes existed, and perhaps oversized snakes, too. But folks in the older days tend to embellish the monstrosity of those things a bit in re-telling what they saw.

    I also think a lot of the mythical animals are really mis-reconstruction. A while back a bunch of skeletons of people and animals were found on one of the volcanic Greek islands. The skeletons are no longer intact, of course, so bones of humans were found mixed with bones of their livestock. I think they were trying to flee a volcanic eruption but were overtaken. Anyhow, it seems likely that when ancient people run into bones like that they reconstructed them wrong and put human torso on top of the horse or mixed chicken bones in with the dogs... and whatever. And we end up with myths of the hippogriffs or the centaurs and other half/half things.

    Anyhow! This is getting hugely long! :o) Great post as always, my friend. It is always a treat to read you thinking out loud. Greetings and best wishes from overly sunny San Diego!

    Smorgy :o)

  13. To Smorgy,
    Thanks for commenting. And it can never be too long! You added another point of view to the subject.

    One of the main raison I don't accept the idea of total extinction is that birds evolved from them. And it seems there are no fossil finding of birds living side by side with the dinos. So they must have evolved later!

    And secondly, there are those big beasts like the Warans in Galapagos. They must have evolved after that happening 65 Mio years ago.


  14. ...haven't posted in a while...
    Hope all is well : )

  15. Hi Id,

    Thanks for asking. Yes, I am fine, fully alive and kicking. It's only this is Summer, I am mostly outside. And when I touch the computer it is the Flight Simulator.