Wednesday, April 17, 2013

If Dinosaurs Roamed

A question I have recently posed, multiple times, to the growing irritation of my coworkers: What if, rather than animals, modern earth was populated by dinosaurs?

Brontosauruses in place of cows.

Tyrannosaurs in place of horses.

Velocipedes in place of raccoons.

That...smashy-head guy in place of goats!

And I am not talking about that uber-domesticated Dinotopia crap*. I'm talking stomp-stomp, roam-and-graze, stalking-city-buses wild dinos. Sure, some could be trained, the same as some animals can be trained. But wild creatures are always going to go native when they get the chance--dog, cat, pig, human. We all get the munchies and we all have certain instincts and urges that are never going to be deleted for realsies.

There are many, many changes we would see, no doubt.Yard fencing would be a whole new game. Transits would have to be refortified--the morning commute would see an astronomical rise in fatal possibilities. Buildings would have to be constructed to a new superhuman level, too--perhaps even underground. Were there any burrowing dinosaurs? I hope so, because that is an awesome mental image, but I KNOW there were winged, soaring dinos, so taking to the air wouldn't solve much for we little morsels.

Want to visit Grandma for the weekend? Stay the verb out of that river and wear your armor through the woods, because some of the deadliest predators of literally all earthly time are just hanging out, waiting for you to drop your guard. Want to work in the garden? Unless you've got an impossibly powerful greenhouse, with laser defenses and an air-raid siren, that ain't happening. Kids want to play outside? Not unless Mom and Dad have spares.

Which sort of brings me to the meat (hur) and bones of this query: if we lived in a world with infinitely higher mortality rates--one where perils are unavoidable even if you use extreme caution--would it alter our compassion?

Stick with me here (or don't, it's a free internet).

Say the likelihood of surviving into adulthood was...2 out of 5 (I don't speak ratio so well). So, if you want to have two children survive Stegosaur stomps, you need to have five in all, understanding that three of them are probably going to bite it (or get bitten).

The likelihood of surviving into the middle-age-range is 1 in 7 (again, killer commutes). So out of all of the people you have known in your entire life--assuming you are that one--pretty much all of them die.

Again, I'm bad with ratios.

The point is, at a certain age, all but the most insanely lucky of us would have lost someone in our immediate families and closest groups of friends. We would understand that death is an extremely unavoidable, common, and early onset part of life.

Would we then feel great empathy and grief for those who lose someone, or would we be better able to shrug off their--and our own--losses?

I have further thoughts, but I'll continue them in tomorrow's post. Do let me know what you think, though.

Also, let me know if there was a burrowing dinosaur. Primarily that.


*I say 'crap' but I actually love Dinotopia. It's awesome. Even the ranky cheese-fest television adaptation. Luuuurve.


  1. Your brain is cool. I like that you let me visit sometimes. It makes me laugh AND think. bonus! ..and um... yeah. I think grief would still suck (think it hurt any less in the middle ages when it was lots less safe to be a human: plague, death, disease, pillaging).. as well as make people more paranoid. (Talk about helicopter parenting...)

    I think we'd have to have learned to at least try and domesticate some of them as a defense mechanism. totally spitballing here.. Like a pet guard dino like T-Rex. (dumb, and trainable?) or a velociraptor, smart and vicious. Or maybe a carnivore might not tame so well... um, a stegosaurus. Fierce looking, but pretty stupid. Nope.. I think a guard pet triceratops would be the best. You may have to have spares on hand, but they'd totally deflect your own personal eat-ability. I mean, who'd go for a tiny donut hole, if you have a 10 tier cake in front of you. Pleistosaurs in your swimming pool.. (unless they were carnivores, I don't recall)....

    ..and I want to know about burrowing dino's too. But am also too lazy to look it up. dammit curiosity overcame me... Lo and behold though (drumroll) THERE IS!

    1. Liesel, I think you may have spent TOO MUCH time in my brain, because all of those thoughts are pretty much my thoughts.

      Seriously! Even the comparison to the middle ages! I totally brought that up with my dino-convo-betas! And I agree. My thoughts ere towards thinking better of people--that loss causes empathy, not apathy, to grow. People who are embittered by their own experiences are the sad exception.

      And omgosh! You found a burrowing dino! THIS DAY IS MAGICAL.