The herd of triceratops grazed peacefully. The young ones kept close to each other. Their small horns, just beginning to sprout, gave them the look of having being hit all over their tough little heads! Before they quite realized what was happening, the adults had pushed them into the centre and formed a protective circle around them. Then they turned to meet the snapping jaws of the two great beasts that threatened their young.
Throwing their heads back and bringing their three horns into fighting position also brought down their “fireman’s helmet”, a fan-shaped shield that helped to protect their vulnerable necks. These massive eight meter long, ten-ton beasts were formidable enemies and they were the only living creatures who where a match for the king of the fresh-eaters-the eighteen-foot high engine of destruction, the terrible, tyrannical Tyrannosaurus Rex!
Now the two giant tyrannosaurs circled warily. Although they had tiny brains they knew instinctively that their triple-horned opponents could charge at great speed, faster than our present-day rhinoceros.
Without warning, without giving the slightest indication, the triceratops abandoned their defensive position and thundered towards their two enemies-leaving the squealing babies totally defenseless. With an agility that they have never been given credit, for the larger of the two Tyrannosaurus Rex slipped nimbly through the stampeding herd, lifted one of the babies in its powerful jaws and lumbered away with its prize before the triceratops could intercept it.
The other tyrannosaur lay dying, impaled on each soft side by six lethal horns. The battle was over almost as soon as it had begun and the huge predator chewed on its young prey, standing hardly a few feet away from the herd of triceratops that now moved off to continue their grazing as if nothing had happened
This was the age of the Reptiles, two hundred and thirty million years before the birth of Christ. They were at their peak. Later, the Greeks were to call them “dinosaurs”- terrible lizards. But were they like today’s reptiles? Were they really the sluggish cold blooded failures, only famous now for being extinct? Did they, like today’s reptiles, depend on the sun for warmth instead of generating their own internal heat as mammals do? Or were they warm-blooded after all? They certainly flourished in all parts of the world for about 165 million years and so were obviously great survivors in spite of their large size and small brains. They walked like mammals and birds, unlike modern reptiles.
The Jura Mountains form a natural boundary between eastern France and western Switzerland. They have been there from what is called the “Mesozoic” period, a period in the evolutionary time scale named after these mountains. The Jurassic era is about 181-165 million years along the route.
Although the Mesozoic period was dominated by reptiles, the first birds slowly appeared then as did the first mammal. Both were obscure and unimportant for a long time. These early mammals were tiny, nocturnal, shrew-like creatures and could very well be our early ancestors. While evolution guarantees nothing (it is in fact accepted as a wholly random process) these little mammals did one day become the dominant species? For the moment though, dozens of different types of dinosaurs some as small as a bird and others as long as a house, leaped, ran or waddled over he earth in this incredibly ancient period. Paleontologists’ claim that dinosaurs came in a riot of bright colors and bold markings. Obviously very little skin has survived, but living by hurting they would certainly have needed camouflage.
Every time a new fossil is discovered, buried in ice or caught in amber or rock, it adds a few more words to the history of life upon earth, which scientists are endeavoring to translate for all to read.
Man has evolved to the point where he can reason, remember, read, write and devise scientific instruments and laboratories. Out of this growth then came the momentous discovery that there is such a thing as evolution! Out of that came the science of genetics and with the key to shaping the further course of evolution! Out of that came the science of genetics and with it the key to shaping the further course of evolution. It is a possibility that man will never let himself is replaced as the dominant species again on earth because he had the ability to linker with development.
The ‘sudden’ disappearance of the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago may have lasted as long as two million years. Many theories have been put forward. It could have been due to the impact from a large meteorite which could have fallen somewhere near Mexico, some even claim, near Mumbai. Such an enormous meteorite most probably disrupted the entire life-systems of the planet setting off volcanic eruptions and which would have been a great deal more destructive than any major out-of-space impact. Or a giant swarm of comets orbiting the sun beyond Pluto may also have some connection. Some scientists believe that an undiscovered “death star” traveling round the sun could, every thirty million years, send millions of comets towards the sun and some could strike earth, in spite of the moon which takes a lot of hits disturbing our climate and causing extinction of certain species. There is no doubt that the dinosaurs ate each other’s eggs and this too could have been a contributing factor in their extinction.
The question today is this: with cloning now an established way of reproducing a species and given the yet unexplored depths of the sea where dinosaurs could still be existing, will these creatures ever make it back to our world? The prospect is exciting and frightening!