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What if humans lived long before dinosaurs?

Updated on January 7, 2015
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Craig is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter, author and project manager. He enjoys alternative universes and what if? scenarios.

Why were dinosaurs here first?

Did you ever wonder why humans are living now and dinosaurs have been long gone for 65 million years? Why were they first to populate this planet we call Earth? They lived for over 150 million years while we have been here for only a few thousand years and yet we already feel our days are numbered.

What if we were first and we died out when the big meteor hit, wiping us out? We'd be buried in the rocks and dinosaurs would be drilling for our remains and burning our oily residue. They'd be reptile kings of every continent, perhaps starring in TV shows, playing sports and sitting around Starbucks sipping capos. But no, they were first and we were second. Why?

The answer is simple. We humans got the short straw.

Who's that on the beach? Lunch?

Why, hello beautiful...
Why, hello beautiful...

Natural Selection and the Short Straw

If you believe in the Darwinian logic of natural selection, the decisions of who survives, the fittest of the fit, is a contest. Like drawing straws. The long straw wins, the short straw takes a hike. Presumably, those many millions of years ago, the first dinosaur and the first human met on a beach (because there was a lot of water and just a small amount of land), and they realized the place wasn't big enough for both of them. They were also both hungry.

The first human suggested drawing straws and bent down to find some. The dinosaur chomped on his back and ate the poor soul as he was holding the short straw. The dinosaur then waited on the beach for another beast to wander along. Maybe there was another human and they suffered the same fate. This continued until another dinosaur came along and the rest is history.

For us humans, it took the better part of 200 million years before we'd get another chance to pick straws in the old natural selection game. This time, we played the game with Neanderthals, known for their lack of common sense. They were none too swift in the cranium department and kept picking the short straw. We kicked their butt right out of the cave and never looked back, preferring to use the wheel, the axe and the hammer to craft a world of high civilization and low morality.

So, we're now making up for all that lost time, the 200 million years we let the lizard heads rule the Earth. Sure, we use their bodies to fuel our cars and heat our homes. Sure, we enjoy fantasies of their return to our world, thrilling to them in movies and books and museums. But deep down, we resent the hell out of them for enjoying our world for so many years while we waited for that meteor to wipe them out so there would be room for us to move in.

But what if we were first? Would we have polluted the world 200 million years ago? Would we have been reduced to fossils and crude oil, demonic beasts to terrorize small dinosaurs before bed? Would there even be an Earth today? Or would we have evolved into a Star Trek civilization, exploring the galaxy as big-headed braniacs?

Questions, questions. Who knows how life as we know it would have been different if we didn't pick the short straw 200 million years ago? Of course, it is no secret why dinosaurs lasted for millions of years. In all the fossils and remains discovered over the years, we have yet to find one dinosaur calendar. There you go. Their secret for longevity. Don't keep track of time.

Now we have one eye on our calendars and the other on the sky, waiting for that wandering meteor to crash into Earth and destroy everything. That is assuming we don't do it to ourselves first.

What if Dinos died out? Could we share the beach?

The ultimate dino movie: Jurassic Park

Will we last as long as the dinosaurs?

How long will humans rule the earth?

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