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Intelligent Alien Dinosaurs?

Article Updated: 23 Dec , 2015

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I for one welcome our alien dinosaur overlords…maybe.

Dinosaurs once roamed and ruled the Earth. Is it possible that similar humongous creatures may have evolved on another planet – a world that DIDN’T get smacked by an asteroid – and later they developed to have human-like, intelligent brains? A recent paper discussing why the biochemical signature of life on Earth is so consistent in orientation somehow segued into the possibility that advanced versions of T. Rex and other dinosaurs may be the life forms that live on other worlds. The conclusion? “We would be better off not meeting them,” said scientist Ronald Breslow, author of the paper.

The building blocks of terrestrial amino acids, sugars, and the genetic materials DNA and RNA have two possible orientations, left or right, which mirror each other in what is called chirality. On Earth, with the exception of a few bacteria, amino acids have the left-handed orientation. Most sugars have a right-handed orientation. How did that homochirality happen?

If meteorites carried specific types of amino acids to Earth about 4 billion years, that could have set the pattern the left-handed chirality in terrestial proteins.

“Of course,” Breslow said in a press release, “showing that it could have happened this way is not the same as showing that it did. An implication from this work is that elsewhere in the universe there could be life forms based on D-amino acids and L-sugars. Such life forms could well be advanced versions of dinosaurs, if mammals did not have the good fortune to have the dinosaurs wiped out by an asteroidal collision, as on Earth.”

But not everyone was impressed with the notion of dinosaurs from space. “None of this has anything to do with dinosaurs,” wrote science author Brian Switek in the Smithsonian blog Dinosaur Tracking. “As much as I’m charmed by the idea of alien dinosaurs, Breslow’s conjecture makes my brain ache. Our planet’s fossil record has intricately detailed the fact that evolution is not a linear march of progress from one predestined waypoint to another. Dinosaurs were never destined to be. The history of life on earth has been greatly influenced by chance and contingency, and dinosaurs are a perfect example of this fact.”

For further reading:
American Chemical Society paper
ACS press release
Dinosaur Tracking blog

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Angelo Ventura
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Angelo Ventura
April 13, 2012 9:56 PM

Uh-uh. Crocodilotarses and marsupials, neanderthals and opabinia tell us. We are exquisite products of chance and luck. On other planets, there won’t be beings we could classify as “dinosaurs” “human beings” or “Aardvarks”.

Zoutsteen
Member
Zoutsteen
April 13, 2012 10:48 PM

depends if evolution has a baseline. chasing prey or munching gras tends to lead to similarities beyond luck. the way food is devowered, mobility etc will all add to forced baseline evolution.
So maybe expect a tusk using earthdigger with a flattend nose to smell the hidden food at least on multiple planets.
Or maybe expect sensitivity to electrical signals to be better developed than smell on a waterplanet.

moozoo
Member
moozoo
April 13, 2012 11:42 PM

I agree with Zoutsteen.

For example I don’t see animals evolving helicopter rotors to obtain flight. Even if they did I can not see those being more popular than flapping wings.

If somethings possible then chances there is already some life form on earth that already does it.

I do think that if you wanted to know what an alien might be like then considering the body shapes of dinosaurs and kangaroos etc would be a good place to start.

Donald Kines
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Donald Kines
April 13, 2012 10:17 PM
Evolutionary biologists are fond of saying that evolution does not follow a linear path toward complexity and intelligence, but when we look at evolution on earth, at least when viewed from the perspective of the most advanced creatures on earth at the time, it seems too; when went from prokaryotes to eukaryotes to multicelled organisms to animals to vertebrates to ever smarter vertebrates to primates to archaic humans all the way up to humans. Now, of course, not every creature becomes more intelligent, evolution just wouldn’t work if every creature occupied that niche, but throughout earth’s history I think it’s fair to say that the most complex and intelligent creatures have continued to be surpassed by ever more… Read more »
bfmorris
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bfmorris
April 14, 2012 2:29 AM
“but throughout earth’s history I think it’s fair to say that the most complex and intelligent creatures have continued to be surpassed by ever more complex and intelligent creatures and that the pace of this change has been increasing exponentially.” I think environmental conditions shape all of this. I think that when conditions are ‘tough’, we see less survivors thus less innovation on exhibit; perhaps tough conditions were conducive to intelligence developing though life cannot make predictions regarding future conditions anymore than any of us can. Life apppears to be not a predictor of what is to come but more of an expression of what has happened. Perhaps intelligence marks a change because it does appear to help… Read more »
SteveZodiac
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SteveZodiac
April 14, 2012 7:44 AM

That would be the more interesting exploration, how inevitable, in an environment with the variations of Earth , is the development of vertebra? Four limbs? Five digits per limb? Were these just the result of random paths taken a long time ago or are they the ordered domains of a chaotic system. If they could be shown t0 be the most probable outcome of RNA/DNA based evolution then we could expect the same on other goldilocks worlds.

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
April 14, 2012 12:30 PM
I think it’s fair to say that the most complex and intelligent creatures have continued to be surpassed by ever more complex and intelligent creatures and that the pace of this change has been increasing exponentially. That is not fair at all. – I don’t know how and why you define complexity, but biologists looks at either food webs, species diversity or trait diversity of species. Already the Cambrian era surpassed ours in trait diversity, in fact we lost a lot of interesting body plans. It’s food webs were much simpler, but its species diversity was not terribly smaller and you certainly can’t show exponential increase in any of this. – Intelligence, how is that defined and compared?… Read more »
Donald Kines
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Donald Kines
April 14, 2012 7:20 PM
By complexity I was referring to the complexity of the most intelligent creature living at any one time, not the complexity, or perhaps better put, the diversity of species throughout time. From this point of view complexity has most certainly increased. Also I am not disputing that simpler life dominates by sheer numbers, but I think you are being disingenuous in saying that all complex multicellulars are unsuccessful, surely you do not think that we are unsuccessful from a number of perspectives: we have increased our numbers from perhaps as few as a 1000 breeding pairs to around 7 billion in 100,000 years. We have increased our average lifespan from around 20 to nearly 80 in the western… Read more »
bugzzz
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bugzzz
April 16, 2012 8:09 PM

thanks for your thoughts. i’ve found the whole thread interesting.

Zoutsteen
Member
Zoutsteen
April 15, 2012 3:30 AM

nice story Larsson,

2 things i want to add:
– Oxygen was a poisenous! byproduct
– Endosymbiosis is a given. Symbiosis on cellular level is normal enough that at one point any accidental fusion could turn into a permanent endosymbiosis.

And 1 speculation: If there is an Endosymbiosis that is more favorable than we current have, it might have to start from the bottom. As such, there might have been different Endosymbiosii which couldn’t compete within rising oxygen levels.

weeasle
Member
weeasle
April 15, 2012 12:12 PM

quoting:

We won’t see humans elsewhere. Worse, we won’t see elephants either. Or even kittehs (*sob*).
— end quote

I have come to realise TL has a soft side. It turns out our resident scientist has been misunderstood by many here (myself included at times)…

Wezley

ps. I feel you on the kittehs thing brother…

Donald Kines
Guest
Donald Kines
April 13, 2012 10:17 PM
Evolutionary biologists are fond of saying that evolution does not follow a linear path toward complexity and intelligence, but when we look at evolution on earth, at least when viewed from the perspective of the most advanced creatures on earth at the time, it seems too; when went from prokaryotes to eukaryotes to multicelled organisms to animals to vertebrates to ever smarter vertebrates to primates to archaic humans all the way up to humans. Now, of course, not every creature becomes more intelligent, evolution just wouldn’t work if every creature occupied that niche, but throughout earth’s history I think it’s fair to say that the most complex and intelligent creatures have continued to be surpassed by ever more… Read more »
Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
April 13, 2012 11:09 PM

For all we know dinosaurs might return. In fact they never left, they just down sized into birds. If there is some mass extinction of mammals birds might evolve in an upsized direction, so 50 million years from now is “the age of dinosaurs; the sequel.”

LC

Aqua4U
Member
April 14, 2012 3:22 PM
Yasss…. live and learn! Life is like spinning an evolutionary wheel – and where it stops, nobody knows. We just happen to have been very very lucky! i.e. the ‘right time’ the ‘right space’… SciFi short story subject: 550 million years ago an intelligent species of dinosaur evolved. Relying on ‘hive consciousness’ these creatures evolve into an extremely advanced society. Attempts are made to increase the brain capacity of other species of dinosaur, none of which works. Competition for resources becomes crucial as climatic flux becomes relentless and many species, unable to adapt, go extinct. The ‘eintelligent’ dinosaurs come to the realization that Earth is not big enough to sustain the radially exploding population of species. They decide… Read more »
Lawrence B. Crowell
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Lawrence B. Crowell
April 15, 2012 12:39 AM
A few facts to quibble with here. 550 million years ago was about the start of the Cambrian period. This was the time period which brought about the trilobite. It was the start of complex life forms, and where life began to colonize the land. Dinosaurs emerged in the Triassic after the Permian extinction about 220 mya. I do suspect that dinosaurs had behaviors somewhat similar to birds, or at least this is maybe the case with the dienychus (sp?) line of raptors. The brain of a T-rex was about the size of a baseball, and this brain managed an animal that weighed several tons. Even the Troodons or raptors had golfball to baseball sized brains. This is… Read more »
krenshala
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krenshala
April 17, 2012 4:04 PM

Corvids of various types (crows, ravens, etc) have been observed making, using and keeping tools, and in some cases showing their offspring how to make those same tools. e.g., http://www.google.com/search?q=crow+tool or http://www.google.com/search?q=crow+sledding.

The brain is not well enough understood to say for sure that size is all that matters.

Aqua4U
Member
April 17, 2012 11:57 PM

‘What if’ scenarios are part and parcel to SciFi, but so is accuracy! Thanks! You are right about the dating of course but since all was done for fun and grins, I hope no harm done… I will pay attention in future…. ~@; )

Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
April 14, 2012 12:20 AM
Evolution at its core is random. The thing about life on other planets is the most we might expect is they have the same generic make up with DNA, polypeptides and lipids and metabolize sugars or carbohydrates. Beyond that things could be wildly different. The organization of cells, where I am presuming they are so organized (and there are some reasons for this), could be completely different. They could use polypeptides that are completely different from those on Earth, and have radically different biochemical pathways. As one goes up the chain of complexity the diversity of forms only becomes vaster. If there are complex life forms they are likely to be almost impossible to imagine. It does make… Read more »
bfmorris
Member
bfmorris
April 14, 2012 2:03 AM

Looking at life is like looking back in time. Life is an expression of what previous conditions were like. Thus ET life (should be) will be in whatever body form that survived whatever conditions on whatever planet at whatever time. If conditions warrant there could certainly be life forms that survive to make use of the less than most efficient biochemical pathways; this is assuming, of course without proof, that life has multiple origins derived from multiple conditions at its onset. Perhaps that is a rather long bow to draw.

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
April 14, 2012 12:01 PM

The other way around is much more difficult to envision. The universe is large, transpermia has lousy survival rates if it works at all beyond perhaps the local system.

bfmorris
Member
bfmorris
April 14, 2012 7:38 PM
“The universe is large, transpermia has lousy survival rates if it works at all beyond perhaps the local system.” Yes, it would appear so, from where we sit relatively distant to other stars at present. Perhaps transpermia could work over billions of years, stirred amongst some of the stars in our galaxy in the form of large ice chunks trailing their detritus. It’s possible there could be millions of lost planets in interstellar space; perhaps a large oceanic planet teaming with life that found itself ejected from it’s system due to interaction with a second body or star. Frozen, then broken up by tidal forces or collisions that caused ejective spray of large pieces of microbe containing ice… Read more »
delphinus100
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delphinus100
April 14, 2012 2:07 AM

I suspect you’d still have an evolutionary path to mammals occur on some continents, though it would have been slower, and resulting in different mammals (and not necessarily including any kind of primate) from those we know…

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
April 14, 2012 11:57 AM

Right. The original mammal clade is older than dinosaurs. Much older, the synapsid split occured ~ 300 Ma bp.

Dinosaurs appeared ~ 230 Ma bp, but got dominant ~ 200 Ma bp.

Mammals appeared ~ 210 Ma bp. We were the contenders, presumably.

Matt Hickman
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April 14, 2012 3:52 AM
Our Earth dinosaurs did not have the advantage of mammalian brains, which led to cooperative hunting and tool use for us. They did, however, have the advantage of a more efficient respiratory system (currently exhibited by modern birds)–which probably gave them the initial and stronger advantage in a lower oxygen Triassic world and led to dinosaur dominance for 150 my or so. On a hypothetical alien world, the mammalian brain and the dual air sac respiratory system of the dinosaurs may have evolved in the same evolutionary line. If that happened, intelligent, tool using dinosaurs could have resulted. These creatures would be quite something. But without the evolution of the mammalian brain it is doubtful that dinosaurs would… Read more »
Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
April 14, 2012 11:47 AM
Though as I remember it the evidence of air sacks in the bones et cetera is suggestive but not conclusive. I.e. showing the evolution of the system but not the timing. Someone (Switek? Lane?) mentioned recently that dinosaurs won the evolutionary crap shot in that mammals can never be as large on land but would top (have topped re mass, I think) at about half the size. This is because dinosaurs choose the bird stomach/reptile dentistry and didn’t slow feeding with chewing. The long necked dinosaur in the image illustrates that, a small head so could have a long neck, the food being processed in the neck going down but also in the large stomach. Similarly T. rex… Read more »
Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
April 14, 2012 11:47 AM
Though as I remember it the evidence of air sacks in the bones et cetera is suggestive but not conclusive. I.e. showing the evolution of the system but not the timing. Someone (Switek? Lane?) mentioned recently that dinosaurs won the evolutionary crap shot in that mammals can never be as large on land but would top (have topped re mass, I think) at about half the size. This is because dinosaurs choose the bird stomach/reptile dentistry and didn’t slow feeding with chewing. The long necked dinosaur in the image illustrates that, a small head so could have a long neck, the food being processed in the neck going down but also in the large stomach. Similarly T. rex… Read more »
Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
April 14, 2012 11:47 AM
Though as I remember it the evidence of air sacks in the bones et cetera is suggestive but not conclusive. I.e. showing the evolution of the system but not the timing. Someone (Switek? Lane?) mentioned recently that dinosaurs won the evolutionary crap shot in that mammals can never be as large on land but would top (have topped re mass, I think) at about half the size. This is because dinosaurs choose the bird stomach/reptile dentistry and didn’t slow feeding with chewing. The long necked dinosaur in the image illustrates that, a small head so could have a long neck, the food being processed in the neck going down but also in the large stomach. Similarly T. rex… Read more »
Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
April 14, 2012 11:47 AM
Though as I remember it the evidence of air sacks in the bones et cetera is suggestive but not conclusive. I.e. showing the evolution of the system but not the timing. Someone (Switek? Lane?) mentioned recently that dinosaurs won the evolutionary crap shot in that mammals can never be as large on land but would top (have topped re mass, I think) at about half the size. This is because dinosaurs choose the bird stomach/reptile dentistry and didn’t slow feeding with chewing. The long necked dinosaur in the image illustrates that, a small head so could have a long neck, the food being processed in the neck going down but also in the large stomach. Similarly T. rex… Read more »
portlandeastside
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portlandeastside
April 14, 2012 7:23 AM

Hmmm… The Gorns?

Dr B Redfearn
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Dr B Redfearn
April 14, 2012 10:01 AM
Any English person (probably man actually in those days!) born in WWII, will remember a boys’ comic called Eagle. On the front and inside page ran a series strip cartoon in colour featuring Dane Dare (Pilot of the Future). Landing on Venus he found an high-tech civilisation of advanced intelligent green humanoids called Treens led by a large headed dwarf called the Mekon. I cannot recall if it was ever suggested that they were evolved dinosaurs, probably not. Try Googling Dan Dare for details. I have an idea that possibly a Sunday colour supplement in the 1960s ran an illustrated science fact article speculating how dinosaurs could progressively evolve to an intelligent anthropoid species. Interesting the projected result… Read more »
Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
April 14, 2012 11:32 AM
If the eminent Switek has brain ache from Breslow, the astrobiological part is making my brain hurt as well: – Molecules has at least 2 different kinds of rotational symmetry breakings, from chiral centers (R/L) over interaction with EM (d/l, DL). Breslow is, as most people, referring to D/L. Which suggests the most common explanation, how small differences in enantiomer (the molecule of some chirality) concentrations can be selected for. The suggestion that asteroids seeded Earth with an initial excess is an old and arguable hypothesis. It isn’t really needed, but the small AA L excess in our planetary system is suggestive. The problem is how to test it. – It is the groups that are D/L chiral.… Read more »
Andre M Slade
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Andre M Slade
April 14, 2012 9:55 AM

What is your opinion on some of the archaeological finds that proves intelligent life forms on earth as far back as 2,8 Billion years? In the bigger picture of earth, Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods were mere moments in time. Humanoids as far as I can gather showed no development for more than 55M years. Alien interference on this planet is a given without a doubt but why fearsome lizards?

Torbjorn Larsson OM
Member
Torbjorn Larsson OM
April 14, 2012 11:35 AM

My opinion? “-Prrrttttbbbhhh!”

Which I say to all claims without presented evidence, trying to make the level of response fit the childishness of such proposals.

Jim Krug
Member
Jim Krug
April 14, 2012 12:07 PM

Torbjorn is one of the worst posters here. He either writes 56,789 word responses trying to show everyone how intelligent he is, or highly condescending remarks such as this one. He should be happy people still respond to him at this point.

Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
April 14, 2012 1:33 PM

TL is right here. Ancient astronaut theories about our evolution or development of culture are pure buncomb ideas.

LC

Jim Krug
Member
Jim Krug
April 14, 2012 4:01 PM

Actually, the people promoting the theories do far more research into the matter than the people dismissing them. There is a significant amount of compelling evidence that human history is much more complex than originally assumed.

Duncan Ivry
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Duncan Ivry
April 14, 2012 10:46 PM

It is rather obvious and boring that human history is more complex than we know, because many traces of what happened in previous times have been destroyed by nature and by humans, and historians know and regret this. So, your statement is a little bit over the top, I think.

Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
April 15, 2012 12:25 AM

I would go and ask an archeologist about ancient astronaut ideas. I think you will not find your ideas supported very well.

LC

Jim Krug
Member
Jim Krug
April 15, 2012 4:42 PM

Are you referring to the same archeologists that continue to turn a blind eye to things like water damage on the Sphinx, only possible far older than 3,000 BC when they say it was built? Or their continued belief that the Great Pyramids were the burial plots for pharaohs, despite never finding a single one inside, or (if you’d like to argue tomb robbers), not a single hieroglyphic inside any of them explaining their purpose, despite the commonality of hieroglyphics throughout Egypt?

Archaeologists fall victim to the same peer pressure that befalls other scientific disciplines: They’ll outright ignore the scientific method when its results do not adhere to their previous assumptions.

Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
April 15, 2012 5:34 PM

I can’t comment a whole lot about Egyptology. I can say that in general the idea of ancient astronauts fits within the same sort of stuff as Velikovsky, the planet Nibiru, moon hoax conspiracies, Loch Ness monsters, creation science and the rest. Archeology is not very close to my scientfic area of study, but I have a loose sense of what people in the field are doing and saying. I think what you are arguing is hokum and bull twaddle.

LC

Jim Krug
Member
Jim Krug
April 15, 2012 6:44 PM

Sorry, Mr. Crowell, but I have to call you out on a very obvious straw man fallacy. Nobody is talking about Nibiru or the Loch Ness Monster, but you’ve made that comparison to make the initial argument seem ridiculous. We can agree to disagree, but I would encourage you to investigate some areas that mainstream archaeology cannot explain. Thanks.

EdR
Member
EdR
April 14, 2012 4:09 PM
It’s amusing to have pointed, intelligent remarks referred to as “condescending.” I appreciate the depth of Torbjörn’s knowledge and his willingness to take time to explain things that may not be apparent to many readers, including myself. The original article is a a piece of fluff and seems to have little scientific basis or use. You could substitute almost any past dominant species in place of “Dinosaurs” and the article would read the same. And the conclusion is the same in almost any scenario: in the staggeringly unlikely event we will ever meet a more intelligent alien species (or any intelligent alien species), evolutionary logic makes it unlikely they will give a fig about us! I apologize for… Read more »
Jim Krug
Member
Jim Krug
April 14, 2012 4:17 PM

How in the world can you consider it a “piece of fluff?” The author didn’t say there ARE “dinosaur aliens” or whatever out there; he merely pointed out that, due to the flexibility of evolution, if life evolved elsewhere with an opposite ammino acid preference, it could be very different than what it is on Earth.

Until other life is found out there, I think brushing off a premise like this is rather ignorant.

EdR
Member
EdR
April 16, 2012 11:15 AM

I apologize for using the term “piece of fluff”; it was uncalled for. I think I was just getting weary of the dinosaur analogies in discussions of evolution. To me, it’s like watching yet another TV show on the Titanic. smile

Duncan Ivry
Guest
Duncan Ivry
April 14, 2012 10:51 PM

I beg your pardon! Could it be the case, that you don’t know anything about the motivation of Torbjörn Larsson?

StockportJambo
Member
StockportJambo
April 14, 2012 4:07 PM

In a Universe of infinite possibilities, it’s equally possible that dinosaurs evolved to the point where they saw the asteroid coming and left the Earth by their own means.

Mervl
Member
Mervl
April 14, 2012 4:36 PM

Harry Harrison’s “West of Eden” is a what-if novel about a world where the Chicxulub Impactor never happened.

Jim Douglas
Guest
Jim Douglas
April 14, 2012 6:05 PM

One could conceive of a numerous what-if scenarios… However the nuanced and unpredictable interplay of timing, geology, and cosmological events… just name a few… place such thought squarely in the realm of science fiction.

David Hutchinson
Guest
April 14, 2012 6:54 PM

Hey. I saw this before. Only instead of an article, it was THE WORST EPISODE of ST:Voyager.

StockportJambo
Member
StockportJambo
April 15, 2012 1:42 AM

That’s a bold statement, considering how many there are to choose from.

weeasle
Member
weeasle
April 15, 2012 12:02 PM

I thought it was great! Especially how the earth-alien dinosaurs ended up 70,000 ly from earth… But then again I ascribe to the philosophy that bad sci-fi is better than no sci-fi wink

Ray Fowler
Guest
Ray Fowler
April 14, 2012 6:41 PM

It’s nice to know that everyone is so willing to plaster pictures of dinosaurs in their articles about how this story is not really about dinosaurs. Even PZ pimped the story with a dino-graphic on his blog.

Dinos = web hits, so no one should be indignant that the original story had a silly reference to dinos when everyone else is following suit for the same reason.

GiantHogweed
Guest
GiantHogweed
April 15, 2012 10:10 AM

This reason and very much others: only think, here on Earth, between the differences, essentially technical, but not only, which exist between… Say, 19th Century and 20th Century… And, at a certain point, this becomes exponential… So, we can easily think that seeking to meet an other civilisation is a way to open a sort of Pandore Box, in which we can be the Poor… or the meat!

DrumaSanduma
Guest
DrumaSanduma
April 15, 2012 6:01 PM

I’m starting to imagine how a donkey would play his version of Xbox? grin

Jessica Frankie
Guest
April 16, 2012 12:47 PM

Really love the idea. Never though about it.
My question is one and only – how many species are up (or down there in the Universe), really? I am very curios and wishing to see one of these species, even dinosaurs, even if they eat me. I love the idea of meeting alien species to see how they look, how their cities are made, or made of.

What if inteligent dinosaurs (or some of them) got out from the planet before the big event. What if they are watching us? How does it sound?

disqusaurus_rex
Guest
disqusaurus_rex
April 16, 2012 1:15 PM

Dinosaurs actually are the dominant form of vertebrate life – right here on Earth. There are about 9,000 species of birds in the present day, as compared to about 5400 types of mammals.

wpDiscuz