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Paradox25's avatar

How would mankind have evolved if dinosaurs didn't die off?

Asked by Paradox25 (10174points) December 13th, 2012

Would humans have evolved from reptiles, mammals or both? How would humans have evolved if our ancestors came from reptiles? Would humans even exist today with dinosaurs being in abundance up to our current point in time?

I know, many possible questions here, but feel free to answer just something pertaining to this question.

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24 Answers

janbb's avatar


tedd's avatar

1) Mankind in it’s present form would very doubtfully have ever evolved from reptiles. That’s not to rule out some kind of intelligent being that is similar to man, but not us.

2) If the Dinosaurs hadn’t died out, it’s almost certain mankind wouldn’t have evolved at all, as it would completely change the environment of the various species that we evolved from, hence changing what would’ve been the “fittest” form for said species.

ucme's avatar

We’d have moved under the radar, like the sneaky little bastards we truly are…..doyathinkhesawus?

LuckyGuy's avatar

Let’s assume we still originate from mammals. Sine we would no longer be top predators we’d be prey. Usually prey animals have eyes on the sides of their heads so they can see in all directions. So I’d expect eyes to be where our ears are located.
Our hearing would need to be acute to detect the lumbering yet fast moving creatures. We might be equipped with steerable ears like a white tailed deer.
Gestation period would need to be shortened and our young would need to develop faster. Multiple births would be more common to increase the odds of survival. .
Let’s assume our brain growth was about the same. However since we would need to spend more energy avoiding predators it would take us more time to develop skills. It would happen but it would take an extra 200,000, 500,000 years or so. Once we had language, tools, fire and larger numbers, look out. T-rex would not stand a chance.

How would I take down a T-rex? .... OK… My tribe would make large rings of old dried hemlock trees and leave them out to dry. We would girdle tree inside the ring so they would dry out. These rings would cover acres. In the center we would tie up the largest animal we could capture and use it as bait. When T-rex was within we would use fir pistons made form bamboo to ignite the ring at multiple points setting the forest and girdled trees on fire. We’d be eating BBQ T-Rex for weeks.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@LuckyGuy A better way to take one down: Dig a deep hole and line it with ashes. Then put peas all around the hole. When the T-rex comes to take a pea you kick him in the ashhole.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe I thought of digging a hole but after imagining the muscular tail and legs I realized it would have to be tremendous. It would take more energy and resources than my tribe could muster.
Given enough time you can be sure mankind would produce a lot of shallow ashholes. They’d be used as bait.

ragingloli's avatar

They did not die off.
Dinosaurs are still around today, and they are one of the most diverse and numerous clades on the planet.

ucme's avatar

They are indeed around today, here’s an old fossil dug up only recently.

ragingloli's avatar

I am not going to argue with that.
here is another one

Kropotkin's avatar

There wouldn’t be a mankind. The extinction of the various dinosaur species left lots of ecological niches to be filled by the surviving species, many of which were small shrew-like mammals.

Without the extinctions, there are no ecological niches to be filled by the mammals, and they remain small and elusive creatures, burrowing and feeding on insects and small fruits and things.

I don’t know if dinosaurs could ever have evolved human-like intelligence. It’s hard to imagine the myriad conditions required over countless millions of years that would suit one species in one area in the right sort of ways. The smartest dinosaurs today are crows and parrots, and as entertaining and charming as they are, they’re still birdbrained…

BhacSsylan's avatar

Actually, @Kropotkin, that’s not entirely fair to the Corvidae family, specifically Corvus (Ravens, crows, etc). They’re highly intelligent, actually, are tool users, learn through play, and are capable of understanding human language (Ravens can be trained, for instance). I think that, given a few more million years and the proper selective pressure, we could see a Corvidae of human intelligence.

The selective pressure is the key, though, and makes these questions really hard to answer (fun to speculate on, though). In keeping with @LuckyGuy‘s predictions, I would have expected mammals to stay mostly small prey species, though I’m not sure we would have ever evolved such high intelligence. Larger brains are extremely expensive pieces of equipment to use and evolve. With large ecological niches opened up by the deaths of the large predators, we were able to evolve to capitalize on the mammalian adaptability and become predators in our own right, then were able to use larger brains for a predatory as well as adaptability advantage. With large predators still existing, we may never had had the ability to evolve in this way, and smaller mammals with decent but still modest brainpower may have been all we got.

Now, I do think (going of my Corvidae rambling above) that dinosaurs may have been capable of evolving intelligence, given enough time. Exactly like mammals? Probably not. But the various raptors were quite possibly intelligent as well as social, such as Velociraptors and Deinonychus. Also, the advent of efficient flying reptiles, already on their way in the form of feathered raptors, may have given them enough of a competitive advantage to allow a large degree of diversification and evolution of higher intelligence.

So, yeah. I doubt mammals would have come to the fore without the extinction event, but I think it still possible we would have had higher intelligence of some kind. Raptors that can use door handles, for instance.

wundayatta's avatar

Squish, squish, chomp, chomp! Bye, bye little monkey!

glacial's avatar

Ummm… humans cannot have evolved from reptiles. I’m not sure what you mean by that. Do you mean, would some descendant of reptiles have become sentient and started wearing clothing and using language? Probably not; our brains are very different. But regardless, such a descendant would not be human.

rojo's avatar

Think mice and hamsters.

Coloma's avatar

I’d have been the first to domesticate a T-Rex. Being the blonde snow white of the forest and accomplished horsewoman, I’d have had that T-rex eating out of my hand in no time. It wouldn’t take long for it to come to trust the girl holding the goat.
The T-Rex whisperer,” whoa big fella, easy, easy…” lol

Then I would have fashioned a T-rex saddle and bridle and we’d be galloping along the Jurassic trail, at one, roping our dinner as a finely tuned unit of T-Rex and rider.
Hi Ho T-Rex, awaaaay!

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Coloma You have an interestingly different take on the situation
You’d have T-Rex eating out of your hand while I would be eating it with my hands.

ragingloli's avatar

The T-Rex would be eating you. Without hands.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@ragingloli :-) Is the glass half full, half empty, or twice the size it needed to be?

Something tells me I’d figure out a way to be the one doing the eating.

ragingloli's avatar

Not when you are a 10cm rodent cowering in a hole. Because that is what you would be, had the big dinosaurs not gone extinct. You do not get to evolve to to be a 1.7m tall tool using ape with the big lizards stomping around.

Coloma's avatar

T-Rex humor….if you’re happy and you you know it, clap your…. oh

LuckyGuy's avatar

@ragingloli I figure since mammals were already around at that time it would have just taken them longer to find their niche. Triconodonts and their buddies would continue to spread and would adapt and live in places the big boys could not. Isolated islands, cold climates vs. warm climate. Wet climate vs, dry, savannah vs forest, etc. Evolution is a pretty powerful force. Wouldn’t you love to do the experiment? Of course it would take 65 million years or so but hey, with the right research grant funding…
I’ll give you a hand filling out the paperwork. ;-)

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