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Jurassic World: Could we live with dinosaurs?

The new Jurassic World the film imagines a time there dinosaurs is no longer every amusement park’s nightmare for health and safety, but has instead begun to reintegrate as a normal part of our modern wildlife. Velociraptors chase the forest like wolves. Men on horse herd Parasaurolophus as cattle. A Tyrannosaurus Rex disturbs a drive-in movie that … a fucking mass Tyrannosaurus Rex.

It is a premise that raises interesting questions. For example, what impact would reintroducing dinosaurs into nature have on our ecosystem? And how would it go for dinosaurs in a world that is so profoundly different from the one they originally lived in?

Prof Steve Brusatte, paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh and advisor at Jurassic World Dominiontheorizes that one introduces, say, a T Rex entering the British countryside would not be a good idea.

“There have been many cases where a predator is introduced to an ecosystem and causes devastation,” he says. “It happened when we took rats or dogs to new islands, so just think of it T Rexs scale. It can certainly lead to the extinction of some mammals. “

However, it is not just carnivores that would disturb the ecosystem. Giant herbivores like Brontosaurus can have a profound effect on crops and other plants that are medically important, says Brusatte. “Even the most conservative estimates say that sauropods would have eaten hundreds of kilograms of leaves and stems every day.”

But the question is whether dinosaurs could even survive long enough in our modern world to have any lasting impact at all. “Dinosaurs like Brontosaurus, Diplodocus and Brachiosaurus lived in law, says Brusatte. “There were no fruits or flowers. Flowering plants were not even around until the beginning of the Cretaceous.

“Most dinosaurs would never have seen a flower. Their diets were based on completely different types of plants. So if they could even eat most of the food available to them today, that would be a really big issue.”

© Sam Brewster

And so we have our climate. There is a lot of debate about whether dinosaurs were primarily cold-blooded or warm-blooded, with new studies (and Brusatte) concluding that they were likely a mixture of both. In any case, the answer would have a huge effect on how easily dinosaurs can adapt to our environment.

“The global temperature baseline was much higher during the time of the dinosaurs,” says Brusatte. “If they were completely warm-blooded, they would probably be able to live in the kind of places that many mammals can today. If they were more cold-blooded, it’s different. We do not have crocodiles here in the UK for a reason. So if the dinosaurs had more of a cold-blooded physiology, there are large parts of the world today where they could not live. ”

Brusatte is optimistic, however, that dinosaurs can adapt to whatever the natural world throws at them – except for an asteroid. Instead, he suggests that their greatest danger would be coexistence with humanity’s predators.

“I think we would really just kill all the dinosaurs,” he says. “I mean, if some crazy scientist suddenly announced, ‘hey, I’ve cloned 10,000 T Rex and they have all escaped, ‘the first thing we would do is chase them. Maybe we should coexist with Triceratops or Brontosaurus, but large predatory dinosaurs? We have such deadly weapons and are really good at killing things – I do not think we would coexist. “

Life, it turns out, would not find a way.

Judgment: In the same way that we would like to live with some dinosaur friends, our ability to destroy wildlife and the world means that it is probably not possible.

About our expert, Prof Steve Brusatte

Prof Steve Brusatte is a paleontologist and evolutionary biologist who specializes in the anatomy, genealogy and evolution of dinosaurs and other fossil organisms. He has written over 110 scientific articles, published six books (including the popular science book for adults The rise and fall of dinosaursthe textbook Dinosaur paleobiologyand the coffee table book Dinosaurs), and has described over 15 new species of fossil animals.

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