Head of Stegosaurus

If the Dinosaurs had not Died out how might they have Evolved

Head of Stegosaurus
Paul Rance's image for:
"If the Dinosaurs had not Died out how might they have Evolved"
Caption: Head of Stegosaurus
Image by: Paul Rance
© Paul Rance 

Dinosaurs could be said to still in the world, but just under a different name. Though it's universally accepted that the dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago, some animals, birds, reptiles and fish can provide a living glimpse of what dinosaurs would have evolved into.

Alligators and crocodiles are reptiles and cousins of the dinosaurs. The skin of crocodiles and alligators is reminiscent of the leathery skin associated with dinosaurs. Also, the predatory nature of alligators and crocodiles has aspects of how dinosaur predators are perceived as ferocious killing machines.

The First Bird

Archaeopteryx was the first bird. Interestingly, without being able to determine its feathers, a skeleton of one Archaeopteryx was famously mistaken as being those of a dinosaur. That the Archaeopteryx evolved from dinosaurs seems certain.

Modern birds are often said to be living dinosaurs and birds of prey particularly have a look that seems prehistoric. J.H. Ostrum, a professor at Yale University, concluded in 1969 that there were, in all, 22 similarities between modern birds and dinosaurs. Birds, like dinosaurs, have scales on their feet, but birds feathers are also created by a similar process that creates scales on a reptile's body. Birds also have similarities to dinosaurs, which not even some reptiles have. For instance, birds generally have large eye orbits along with dinosaurs.

Some dinosaurs would have emerged into birds, but many would also have emerged into animals. Horned dinosaurs such as Triceratops may have evolved into an animal strikingly similar to a rhinoceros. Some herbivorous dinosaurs would have evolved into animals that look similar to the vegetarian animals of today. Ichthyosaurs were predators that dominated the oceans much as sharks do today and they were alike sharks in appearance and swimming style.

A Living Dinosaur

People now tend to think of advanced lifeforms as having fur or feathers, apart from cetaceans. But dinosaurs lived for many millions of years and it seems that they were only wiped out by the sort of catastrophic event that even mankind would have struggled to cope with.

The coelacanth is a fish that is a living dinosaur, having survived the extinctions that affected so many species 65 million years ago. The coelacanth was believed to have suffered the same fate as the dinosaurs until it was rediscovered in 1938. With many areas of the world's oceans still a mystery, proof of the existence of other dinosaurs may well come to light in the coming decades.

More about this author: Paul Rance

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