The Cretaceous–Paleogene Extinction Event Meteor – A Blessing or a Curse?

It’s most likely that the only reason we modern apes, the rest of our primate cousins, and all other “new” species of life exist today is because of the meteor that crashed into earth approximately 66 millions years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs, causing what’s known as the Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction Event.

Thank Meteor! Destroys Giant Lizards, Enables Human Evolution

Think about it: if that meteor never hits earth and the dinosaurs never get wiped out, then there is no space for us to evolve, including many other forms of modern life.

And if you want to ponder it even further: imagine if the dinosaurs never went extinct, whether or not it was because of the meteor. We, and perhaps many other forms of modern life, still would most likely not have evolved.

This is something I briefly touched upon during Episode 10 of the Ephemeral Rift Podcast. Imagine early humans trying to survive in a world full of gigantic, carnivorous lizards (aka the dinosaurs). Imagine trying to build a hut or any kind of wall, modern house, bridge, or skyscraper with tyrannosauruses stomping around everywhere. Yeah, I don’t think so.

In this scenario, dinosaurs would still be around today as the earth’s reigning alpha predator. Of course, one could argue (as my son did with me) that the process of natural selection could have caused humans to evolve into giants in order to survive. Although one could further argue, like I did in response to my son’s argument, that it is possible humans never evolve, or evolve into giants, for two reasons. One, natural physiological and/or biological constraints would simply have prevented our ape ancestors from evolving into anything big enough to handle living with dinosaurs. Two, the dinosaurs eating our distant ape ancestors at probably every opportunity means that there would never have even been a chance for human evolution, with the possibility of apes going extinct before ever evolving into humans.

But if the meteor never hit, the dinosaurs don’t go extinct, and humans never evolve, would that necessarily be a bad thing?

Let’s ponder it some more: if the meteor doesn’t hit, the dinosaurs don’t go extinct, and humans never evolve, that means no internet, no entertainment of any kind (video games, TV, movies, anime, etc.), no sports, no podcasts, no Netflix, no YouTube, no technology, no industry, no government, no politics, no slavery, no war, no economies, no poverty, no pollution, no factories, no factory farming, no deforestation…. Wait a minute. Could it possibly be that the extinction event was indeed a very bad thing after all???

Thank Meteor? Enables Human Evolution, Humans Destroy Planet

That random space rock of a meteor crashed into the earth and pretty much destroyed most of life on the planet 66 million years ago. But eventually the planet was able to recover and thrive and prosper full of life once again.

However, fast forward 66 million years later to when we modern humans show up on the evolutionary timeline. Thanks to our ingenuity and creativity, especially in industry and technology, we have been destroying the planet once again, albeit slowly over time. Although one could argue what humans are doing in terms of pollution, deforestation, global warming, etc., pales in comparison to what our distant meteor friend did to the earth. So maybe it was a bad thing after all that the meteor hit, not because of what happened back then, but because of what transpired afterwards: our evolution and apparent slow destruction of the planet.

Sure, pollution, war, deforestation, factories, etc., are bad in terms of overall health of life on the planet. It appears that we are finally realizing this and trying to work towards a healthier future. Whether or not we’ll reach that utopia, or if we can undue our destruction, remains to be seen. But in the end, what does it matter anyway? When our sun exhausts its hydrogen core in 5 billion years, it will grow into a red giant and scorch the earth into a lifeless rock. So debating all of this is rather pointless.

But instead of the pessimistic doom and gloom aspect, let’s look at it all of this optimistically and say that it perhaps overall it was a good thing that the meteor hit and wiped out the dinosaurs. Well, good from our perspective, right? Not so good from the dinosaurs’ and other animals’ views.

So the next time, instead of saying “thank god”, or tweeting “#blessed, or whatever other catchphrase one might utter when experiencing a moment of good luck, what we should really be saying is:

“Thank you, oh great ancient space rock, for randomly slamming into the earth so many eons ago and murdering the majority of life on the planet, most specifically those overgrown giant lizards. You created a space for us and many other life forms to evolve in. Without you, we wouldn’t be here today to sit on our asses playing video games, surf the internets, drive our fancy cars, wage war with one another, pollute the air and water, deforest the rainforests, and more importantly: to offer you our prayers and sincerest gratitude, oh great ancient space rock of a time long, long ago.”