Tuesday, 13 March 2007

If dinosaurs hadn't gone extinct: the evolution of dinosauroids

DinosauroidsHorizon: My Pet Dinosaur was broadcast on BBC Two on 13 March at 21:00GMT. The idea behind the program is what would have happened if the dinosaurs hadn’t gone extinct? This sounds like a fantastic idea for a program and I am all for popularizing science, I believe public interest in scientific research is important. But some of these popularizations go to far; there are bound to be small anatomical mistakes in TV shows, even some hypotheses based on limited evidence, but what I hate is unreined wild speculation.

Several palaeontologists including Kristi Curry-Rogers and Phil Currie lent their names to this show and make reasonable statements about a world of dinosaurs today including:
“Adaptable dinosaurs had it all covered. Dinosaurs could have comfortably colonised many environments, from polar conditions to regions of rivers and forests, jungle and deserts”.
"We wouldn't have the modern animals that we're used to. Giraffes and elephants and so on; they just wouldn't have evolved because dinosaurs would still be here.”

But the show then goes on to state that dinosaurs like the bipedal Troodon with its good vision, long grasping hands and problem-solving abilities made it a candidate for a human-like evolutionary path.

Dr Simon Conway Morris says: "The human is extraordinarily well designed," he says. The whole arrangement is actually designed for a particular mode of life, which, as you can see looking around us, is incredibly successful…If it's such a good solution for us, is it so difficult to imagine it could be a good solution for a dinosaur, therefore a 'dinosauroid'?"

The show even includes full-sized, bold constructions of ‘dinosauroids’. Ok so maybe I am being to harsh and this is just a little fun, but I like my popular science to at least have some element of science.


Darren Naish said...

ARGHHHHHHHH!!! Now I'm glad I missed it. Thanks for the writeup Sarda.

Anonymous said...

Dale Russell's "dinosoids" make me sad. Specworld is much better. Also, the "dinosoid" seems to glorify the human form, when actually we're not all that well built in the first place.

carlos said...

I liked most of it, except for the 'dinosauroid'. I'd seen it before, and my reaction then, as now, was the same:

A._ This is silly, and

B._ Why is it so hard to imagine intelligent life in any other form but as a little man in a tacky costume?

Also, whoever believes that humans would coexist peacefully with these things has a much more optimistic view of human nature than I do. Throughout history humanity has happily sought to exterminate those with different skin tone/religions/feeding habits/language/you name it, so why would little scaly green thingys be spared?

Disclaimer: I'm not condoning humanity's crimes, and I wish we could all just be nicer to each other.

sciencesque said...

My aching back suggests that we humans are not "extraordinarily well designed". Ouch!