Hop into your DeLorean, Phone Box, or time machine of choice, and travel back 65 million years.
The Dinosaurs, who have been the dominant animals on the planet for roughly 165 million years (compared to our current measly few thousand), are about to become extint. The exact nature of the event that wipes them all out is still unknown, but that doesn’t matter.
I sometimes wonder what would have happened if this event never had occurred at all – our mammalian ancestors only had the chance to grow and diversify because the food chain had been reset, resulting eventually in our first ancestors – so if the dinosaurs had had another 65 million years to evolve, would there have emerged a saurian intelligence? We know that all dinosaur species had the kinds of social patterns that were present in our own furry four-legged ancestors, so what would the world look like now if mankind had failed to take the stage? Dinosaur society? Or was the special spark of intelligence only something that could have emerged from a mammal-origined brain?
Presumably, the technology this hypothetical intelligent dinosaur race would have come up with would be very different to our own, and it poses the question of whether, under the dominion of the dinosaurs, our planet might not have fared better. If, however, they had fallen to the same failings as us, with their tens of millions of years ‘head start’, the planet would presumably have been overfarmed/overmined/over populated long before the time we find ourselves approaching now. Maybe Earth is actually better off for having us, and has managed to buy itself a bit of time…
Another thing I wonder about is the slightly disturbing idea that in a few tens of million years time, we will all be gone too, and some all-together different sentience will find, in humans, the same source of fascination and intrigue of ages gone that the dinosaurs hold for us today.
Enough rambling methinks. And yes, The Land Before Time is one of the best films ever ¬_¬