Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Who Really Cares About Dinosaurs Anyway?

When doing events for museums and such one of the common questions I get from the adults is “Why do you study dinosaurs?”  The simple answer to that question plain and simple is because I think dinosaurs are cool.  If you ask a paleontologist I wouldn’t be surprised if he or she would give a similar answer to mine.  It is a valid question though.  After all what do dinosaurs have to do with us anyway?  They all died out millions of years ago and have no effect on how we live our lives today right?  Well not exactly.  I can think of two big ways dinosaurs affect us almost every day off the top of my head.  I’m not just talking about scientists who study them either.  I’m talking about most people all over the world. 

Who likes fruit?  Go ahead let me see a show of hands.  Let’s be honest, fruit is awesome.  It tastes great and its 0 points on weightwatchers!  (Sorry.  My parents are going nuts with this weightwatchers thing.  They aren’t even overweight either.).  Seriously though, you can pretty much gorge yourself on berries, apples and bananas all day if you wanted and it’s totally healthy!  (I think?  I’m not a nutritionist.)  Well either way we have dinosaurs to thank for fruit.  “What the heck do dinosaurs have to do with fruit?” you may be asking yourself.  Well I’ll tell you.   Way back in the Cretaceous period when dinosaurs were still around, the first flowering plants evolved.  Previous to this there were only plants like evergreens and ferns to name some…but no flowers.  Only flowering plants produce fruit.  What is fruit exactly besides delicious?  Well fruit is a flowering plant’s way of spreading its seeds around.  You see, many fruits are actually meant to be eaten.  The tree wants an animal to come along and eat its fruit in order to produce more of its kind.  This is because all naturally occurring fruit bears seeds.  The animal eats the fruit (and the seeds along with it) walks away and then later on the seeds come out.  How do they come out you ask?  Well how do you think they come out?  The animal poops them out.  Teehee!  Poop.  The seed is then in its own little pile of fertilizer and may grow into a brand new plant itself!  It’s a nice little symbiotic relationship that fruit-bearing plants have with certain animals.  (For those of you who don’t know, a symbiotic relationship is where two different plants, animals or other organisms help each other out).  The animal gets a meal and the plant gets a chance to spread its seeds around.  

I put a lot of love and detail into this sketch right down to the tiniest "plop".

Today, the animals that carry out this duty (Teehee!  Poop.) can be anything that eats fruit like monkeys, birds, bats and even some lizards.  But the first animals to do it were probably dinosaurs.  Think about it, who else were the only animals big enough back in the Cretaceous when fruit first appeared to do this?  Thank you, dinosaurs!  

I am aware Titanosaurs didn't coexist with monkeys and apples.  Just go with it for now.

The Second way dinosaurs all affect us today is simply because many dinosaurs never went extinct in the first place.  In fact, one of the most important animals alive today that people rely heavily on for food is actually a dinosaur.  Birds are dinosaurs, no ifs, ands or buts about it.  There is so much information to prove this fact I could easily spend several blog posts writing about it.  Instead I’m just going to show you pictuers of of two dinosaur skeletons (one modern and one prehistoric) and you can check out the family resemblance for yourself.   

Modern Dinosaur

Prehistoric Dinosaur

That being said, animals that we use for food like turkeys, ducks and most importantly, chickens, are all actually kinds of dinosaurs.  Who likes to eat eggs?  How about chicken nuggets?  Any fans of  Thanksgiving out there?  Thank you dinosaurs!  

Mr. Turkey decided to invite HIS family for Thanksgiving that year.

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