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Thread: Evolutionary Paths

  1. #1 Evolutionary Paths 
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    If the dinosaurs hadn't been wiped out by the asteroid, (or by whatever else caused their extinction) what path would evolution have taken? Would Homo sapiens still have evolved regardless? Also, did this event stall evolution on Earth by millions of years?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Janescloud View Post
    If the dinosaurs hadn't been wiped out by the asteroid, (or by whatever else caused their extinction) what path would evolution have taken? Would Homo sapiens still have evolved regardless? Also, did this event stall evolution on Earth by millions of years?
    You'd probably be scraping your outer layer of skin off against a rock.


    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Also, did this event stall evolution on Earth by millions of years?
    Quite the opposite. Just like all the other big events in paleo history, what generally happens when a lot of species has been killed off is that there are all these ecological niches just waiting to be filled.

    The general view of after the dinosaurs is that all the large above ground creatures died out, not just the dinosaurs. There were some larger mammals and the like. What survived were mainly little critters with little need to feed regularly - think snakes and hibernating creatures - so some of them could survive the long period of nothing to eat. (And the kind of explosion we're talking about would have meant that there was very, very little in the way of plants available to feed on. The initial blanketing dust then the ensuing months/years of darkness would have suppressed continuing growth as well as killing off quite a substantial fraction of flora.)

    Once conditions improved though, these survivors had lots and lots of opportunities to move. To take up new roles in new food webs and in ecology generally. What followed was a massive branching out. An evolutionary bonanza, if you like.

    As for us? Our survival and flourishing had pretty small odds in the first place. Would we be here if the dinosaurs hadn't died out in that particular way? Even less likely than how it did turn out. But even if it were possible, that precondition means that it wouldn't just be us that was different, it would be the whole world. Would grasses have developed as they did? If they developed differently, or not at all, we certainly wouldn't be as we are.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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