Jurassic Park FOR REAL — Dinosaurs 'Clever as HUMANS' Nearly Evolved
DINOSAURS would have evolved to become as intelligent as humans if they had not been cheated of their destiny by an asteroid, it is claimed.
The reptile-like creatures reigned the planet for 150 million years, until an asteroid slammed into the Gulf of Mexico with the force of a billion nuclear bombs.
The only dinosaur survivors of this apocalypse are the birds we know today, which evolved from a group of theropod dinosaurs.
But the collision — the biggest ever extinction event — was a freak accident of minute probability and should never have happened, according to research.
In fact, if the asteroid Chicxulub had struck almost anywhere else on Earth it is thought the non-bird dinosaurs would have survived.
Kunio Kaiho and Naga Oshima at Tohoku University in Japan suggested only 13% of the Earth’s surface contained the fatal mix of materials which could catalyse a mass extinction.
Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, the pair pointed out it was the cloud of light-blocking dust which helped seal the dinosaurs’ demise.
If not for their untimely end, dinosaurs might have developed intelligence to rival humans.
“They were still thriving, still hugely diverse when the asteroid hit,” palaeontologist Steve Brusatte told Colin Barras in an essay for New Scientist’s The Universe Next Door.
“If the asteroid had never hit then, then the non-bird dinosaurs would still be here today and would probably be very diverse.”
It is thought the reason us humans became so intelligent was to cope with climate change.
The challenge of a cooling planet led us to develop sophisticated hunting techniques to cope with food shortages and to build increasingly complicated structures.
So facing these same problems, might the dinosaurs have gone on to invent the wheel, nuclear power, and artificial intelligence?
The dinosaur Troodon had a surprisingly big brain for its size and even rudimentary opposable thumbs — the evolutionary trait that allowed humans to use tools.
Palaeontologist Dave Russell went as far to suggest dinosaurs would even have ended up looking like humans.
The “dinosauriod” was modelled with two long legs, arms, green scaly skin, and three-digit hands and feet.
The model was panned by many in the scientific community, but more for its sci-fi alien head and humanoid body than its supposed smarts.
And avian dinosaurs did reach an intelligence to rival great apes — crows and parrots use tools and have complex language skills.
Some species have an IQ comparable to a human three-year-old.
Perhaps when humans are wiped-out, it will be birds that rule the roost.