Paleontologist and geologist Anthony Martin looks at movies, like Jurassic World, and can't help but wonder: “Where are the dung beetles?” This insect would be one of the many ecological necessities in order for a dinosaur to live.
In his article for The Conversation, he writes:
“Accomplishing this goal would require a huge team of scientists, consisting (at minimum) of paleontologists, geologists, ecologists, botanists, zoologists, soil scientists, biochemists, and microbiologists.”
It looks like Masrani Corporation has a few more positions to add to its career page.
One key issue these kinds of scientists could solve was touched upon quite smartly in the first Jurassic Park film with the ill Triceratops. Recall how paleobotanist Dr. Ellie Sattler looks through the dinosaur's feces in order to determine whether or not it had digested a toxic plant. Martin points out that this is a great nod to the evolutionary complications of having millions-of-years-old herbivores eat modern plants. They have evolved over the years to defend themselves against certain plant-eaters. The same issue could be said for the meat eaters.
On this point Martin notes:
“So despite a century of dinosaur flicks portraying Tyrannosaurs and other predatory dinosaurs gratuitously munching humans, one bite of our species — or other sizable mammals — might make them sick.”
Indeed, we humans may have a War of the Worlds' effect on people-munching raptors.
What's interesting about this fanciful discussion of recovering and recreating an ecosystem is that scientists are doing it today. It's often referred to as “rewilding” projects, where scientists try to “restore ecosystems by closely mimicking their previous iterations, [and] often include reintroducing locally extinct animals.”
Some of the most notable ones include reintroducing wolves to Yellowstone National Park after they were driven from the land in the early 1900s. This lack of a predatory presence caused the elk population to spike causing “erosion and expanded floodplains.”
The dung beetles for the dinosaurs would help remove the dinosaurs' waste, as Martin writes “wastes, bodies, and other forms of stored matter and energy must be recycled in functioning modern ecosystems.”
Read more at The Conversation.
Photo Credit: Ian Gavan/Getty Images