Many years ago, a child asked me this question. I didn’t know quite what to say and maybe i was right. Except for crocs and Komodo dragons, they have all dissapeared as far as we can tell for sure.
We do have a fragmentary record of their existence on this planet. Much of the earth is covered in deep layers of sedimentary rock and soil. Great reservoirs of oil, methane and natural gas exist deep below the planet’s surface. Perhaps the residue of a once lush landscape that was suddenly buried under enormous amounts of earth and rock.
The pressures of all that sediment and earth upon these remains has turned vegatation into vast layers of coal. Our economy today is dependent on these, “fossil fuels”. If it has any truth to the suggestions that dinosaurs died out “10’s and 100’s of millions of years ago, then all the remains of these creatures should have completely dissolved by now.
None of us can imagine the length of time just one “million” years represents. Living material, even bone and teeth were all formed by the most precise processes imaginable. They seem quite durable to us, but i have seen personally what can happen to them in only a few thousand years.
One summer i volunteered to help with an archeological excavation in Jerusalem. I handled many bones that were over a thousand years old and the were extremely fragile. If i even squeezed these bones just a slight amount, they would crumble in my hand. Even as big as many dinosaurs bones may be, there is no reasonable way to support that they could be even 1 million years in age.
After a million years, it would be impossible for any original bone or soft tissues to remain intact. Yet, dinosaur bones are often found with the original tissues, even soft tissues.
I don’t know what happened to the dinosaurs, but i am quite sure that they walked the planet in a not too distant past. Many died suddenly so that fossil remains could be preserved. Most likely by floods and landslides and other natural disasters.
I was recently reading an AP story about a university professor who was being criticized for his interest an devotion to the Sasquatch or Bigfoot as it’s better known. Thought it was interesting that many of his collegues were angry that he was pursuing such a study on campus and appearing in TV shows as an expert on the subject.
Many who have studied the sasquatch, yeti, and other legendary wildmen consider them to be relic ancestors to “modern man”. It’s interesting to me that even though such creatures are a central part of man’s supposed evolution, to suggest that any sort of hairy free roaming wild man is still living in the world should draw fire from scientists.
I guess it’s because of all the litereature out there claiming that man’s more apelike “ancestors” have long since dissappeared. Or it could be due to bigfoot’s association with UFO’s and fortean science in recent years. Fortean science is the informal study of all things “out of place” or OOP and other sorts of strange phenomena.
Cryptozoology is a wonderful science that studies mysterious, legendary and elusive creatures. Animals that people claim to have seen, but aren’t recognized by mainstream science to currently exist. My favorite is the “ropen” or featherless flying reptilian animals similar to the pterosaurs of old. People periodically report seeing such things in various places around the world, but so far none have been captured or recorded in clear photos.
So, you might wonder, “with all the people in the world today with cameras ready or video cameras in hand at any given moment”, why hasn’t anyone taken some? On the other hand, we do know that there are still many new creatures being found every day. “New to science”, is a commonly used expression.
The problem with “cryptids” as they are called may be that often they present problems for “well established scientific” claims that such creatures went extinct many “millions” of years ago, as in the case of flying reptiles. Do such things still exist? Who knows? It’s only an issue if you make claims about things you really don’t understand.
Science is becoming more and more sterile and self focused these days. A society obsessed with it’s own ideas and self promotion. Or maybe the “society” has just lost touch with what science is really all about. That is, understanding life and the world around us.