Saturday, 13 December 2008

All about the timing

Humans have been around for either 5-6 million years or a few hundred thousand years, depending on how generous your interpretation of 'human' is. That may seem like a long time, but it's all relative. Certainly, you would have given up on a take away delivery by that point. By geological terms, however, it's the blink of an eye. Despite our impact on the planet, we've barely arrived.

Dinosaurs were around for a very long time. The first true dinosaurs appeared at around the start of the Triassic, roughly 248 million years ago, and disappeared during the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous, 65 million years ago. Kind of puts us humans in the shade. So - despite all the jokes about walnut-sized brains, dinosaurs were a very successful line in animals.

I'll re-hash that nice illustration of our place in time - the planet's history imposed over the 24 hour clock. If the Earth was formed about 4.55 billion years ago, we take that as oo.oo - midnight. Current thinking has life beginning at around ten to six in the morning, just in time for a very early breakfast. Dinosaurs pitch up, with a flimsy, insincere apology and a paw full of wilting weeds from next door's rockery at a ten to eleven at night. We humans arrive, heads hanging in shame, at about a minute and a half to midnight. Civilisation, that important afterthought, happened within the last second. But that doesn't excuse using the wrong spoon for your soup.

The more observant among you will have noticed that if dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago, and we have only be here a few million years at most, there is a significant gap between our periods of WORLD DOMINATION. So there wouldn't have been cavemen throwing little wooden spears at bewildered Triceratops. A shame, but I've come to terms with that, and you will too, in time.

Still - a lot of the fun of films is bringing the impossible to life. I would like to see a dinosaur. Much more than I'd like to see a caveman.

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