Could a dinosaur survive in today’s climate conditions?
Whatever Jurassic Park would have you believe, dinosaurs roaming the Earth today might need a bit more puff if they want to catch up with hapless tourists.
Asked by: Liam Farmer, Birmingham
It’s doubtful. Tyrannosaurus Rex, and Triceratops for example, lived in the Cretaceous Period 145-66 million years ago (whatever Jurassic Park would have you believe). The average global temperature at the time was about 4ºC higher than today, with much less difference between the temperature of the equator and the poles. The sea temperature averaged 37ºC, so even tropical seas today would be too cold for marine life of the time.
But land dinosaurs would be quite comfortable with the climate of tropical and semi-tropical parts of the world. That is, until they all died of altitude sickness. Studies of air bubbles trapped in amber show that the atmosphere of the Cretaceous may have had up to 35 per cent oxygen, compared to today’s 21 per cent. For T. Rex this would feel like he was at the base camp of Everest. In such thin air dinosaurs would be too breathless to chase hapless tourists.
Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.