What Life Would Be Like If Dinosaurs Never Went Extinct

Despite roaming the Earth over 50 million years ago, dinosaurs have captured the minds of children and adults alike in the centuries since their first fossils were discovered. The giant lizards dominated the landscape for millennia until an enormous asteroid struck Earth and caused a mass extinction event for not only dinosaurs but 75% of the species on Earth (via BBC). Had the asteroid struck a little later, a little earlier, or went a few miles off course, life as we know it would be very different today — though not necessarily filled with dinosaurs.

The meteor that killed the dinosaurs struck shallow waters near the Yucatan Peninsula. The impact sent out a force that dwarfed the bomb detonated on Hiroshima, created a wave of tsunamis, and even generated a radioactive fireball. The atmosphere might have burned, leaving any land organism larger than 55 pounds with little to no chance of survival. Yet had the meteor landed deeper in the ocean, water might have absorbed the blast, dampening its effects and forever changing the course of history.

Dinosaurs would still have a lot to do to meet humans

According to The What If Show, even if the meteor missed Earth completely, dinosaurs would need to overcome a lot to make contact with any form of humans. Approximately 11 million years after the extinction event, temperatures on Earth rose, sprouting rainforests and new vegetation. Although herbivores would be able to adapt, they would have shrunk in size as the new plants would not provide as much energy. And 20 million years after that, South America and Antarctica split, cooling temperatures across the globe. Dinosaurs that had survived and evolved would have had a big advantage in terms of hunting, and the predecessors of several big animals today would have been targeted by evolved dinosaurs.

Had dinosaur species survived the ice ages of around 2.6 million years ago, they would have come into a likely violent relationship with humans. Ice Age-era humans already survived despite the freezing temperatures and beasts like the saber-tooth tiger and woolly mammoth; dinosaurs would be a similar threat, and prone to being over-hunted. The heartiest dinosaurs that overcame all those obstacles would likely exist today, almost certainly as an endangered species. They would likely roam a nature reserve and coexist peacefully among us like their distant avian descendants do today.

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