rodlox (rodlox) wrote,

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Three topics

Once again, modern science and science fiction create strange lines of thought in my brain. Granted, that’s not all that goes through my mind, but its what opened this post in my livejournal.

First, a question...
Am I wasting my time? What does it matter just who replaces who, if the K-T extinction still happens?

To be honest, I’m not sure if it matters or not – certainly it can matter if the changed outcome alters just which species survive on to the other side of the K-T…if the outcome doesn’t change who reaches the Tertiary period, then I suppose maybe it doesn’t matter.

What do you think?

Another take on how the Cretaceous could’ve been
At first, I was just going to suggest finishing the job I started in my last what-if LJ post {this time, exterminating all of the bird-hipped dinosaurs}…

But then I started to wonder “isn’t that too easy? Isn’t that too similar to the other post?” And that was followed by “What would the Cretaceous look like without the lizard-hipped dinosaurs?” So yes, another early-Cretaceous mass extinction of our targets and only our targets.

For those of you who don’t know what dinosaur hips had to do with anything, here’s a fact that might help: the sauropods, the therapods, and even modern birds are all lizard-hipped. Stegosaurs, duckbills, nodosaurs, and pachys, on the other hand, are all bird-hipped.

Let us shed a tear for the passing of titanosaurs and tyrannosaurs and oviraptors…and get back to work.

At first, I suspect the crocodiles – both land crocs and those aquatic crocs still able to walk* – would be the initial replacements for the therapods. Pterosaurs would seize upon the niches left vacant by the up-and-coming birds. I’m not sure which of the bird-hipped genera would be the biggest beneficiaries of the sauropod extinction, though.

For that matter, I’m not sure what bird-hipped genera would be suited for taking up the mantle of either ‘large-bodied carnivore’ or of ‘small-bodied carnivore.’ Would the crocs and mammals (respectively) come to control those niches before any dinosaurs could? Would anything try to be a serious rival of the pterosaurs in the field of actively-flying vertebrates?

* = some crocodiles had become so specialized for life in the sea, that they had given up their feet in favor of paddles.

Humans and Neanderthals & Humans and Wraith
I was going through reams of magazines that I've bought over the years, and I paused when I came across Discover magazine December 1995, with the cover article about how, for 50,000 years, humans and neanderthals lived alongside one another -- and never* mated with one another.

And, stargate fan that I am, it reminded me of the Wraith. Yes, those improbable genetic hybrids of human and alien insect. For at least 10,000 years, the Wraith and the humans lived in close proximity as well, and they also didn't interbreed with one another. Then again, the Wraith had good reasons not to: they spent most of that time in hibernation, and their brief intervals awake were spent feeding on humans.

But let's assume - just for the moment - that a Wraith ends up on a human-filled world. Would anyone there wish to create a child with that Wraith? (aside from Torri Higgenson's comment about how her character Elizabeth Weir would do a Wraith, I doubt it) And why not? Humans are visual creatures, we orient ourselves and define ourselves in large part on how we look one of many results of our distant ancestors having to keep an eye out for predators which camouflaged with the landscape and flora -- with that in mind, there is no way around the fact that the Wraith are undeniably Other.

The humans entering Europe from Asia and Africa, on seeing the neanderthals, probably felt the same way: "those things look overall like us, but they are different from us." And that is very likely the reason why the only fossilized human-neanderthal hybrids are of children - the offspring probably were too human-looking for acceptance among neanderthals, and too neanderthal-looking for acceptance among humans.

That's why I don't have the patience for any of the racial or ethnic conflicts here on Earth for the last 30,000 years: because compared to the neanderthals, every member of Homo sapiens looks the same.

One last thought -- how do you tell the difference between an infertile hybrid (like a mule), and a fertile hybrid (like a wolf-dog mutt) ? A number of fossil disputes might be settled if we could figure that out.

* = or next to never.
Tags: cretaceous, crocodiles, dinosaurs, evolution, pterosaurs, sga, speculation, wraith
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