Dinosaurs in Space: A Paleocosmological Rebuttal
by Becky Ferreira
Last week, chemist Ronald Breslow made a splash the size of the Yucatan crater with the greatest non-sequitur in the history of academic papers: he decided that the concept of chirality (that is, a molecule’s dominant orientation) probably means that there are Star Destroyers manned by T-Rexes floating around in our galaxy.
Well, friends, here we go again. Breslow is yet another legitimate scientist who is clearly trying to nose his way into the highly exclusive field of mad science. Listen, I didn’t go through 1.21 years at the fictional Emmett Brown College just to have some highly trained, intellectually rigorous and eminently qualified thinker like Breslow swoop in to tell me what to think about dinosaurs in space. Um, hello? I literally wrote the book on paleocosmology — the study of extraterrestrial dinosaurs — two years ago (by “book” I mean it’s a Tumblr that I posted on four times two years ago) and I’ve been on the lecture circuit about this important issue ever since. So guess what Breslow, you’re about to gain a smackdown with a real expert on paleocosmology and it’s going to be about as pretty as an Oviraptor (the ugliest of all dinosaurs, despite serious contenders Alxasaurus and Psittacosaurus). Let the rebutting begin!
1. You’re not the first kid on the paleocosmological block.
The concept of dinosaurs in space is hardly a novelty. While I founded the actual discipline of paleocosmology, I did so only by standing on the shoulders of giants. I am like totally the same as Isaac Newton. Mad scientists and philosophers have long suspected that creatures as epically monstrous and powerful as dinosaurs would not be taken out by some measly space rock, and this has led to a rich, speculative mythology regarding our extraterrestrial dinosaur brethren. Take the paleocosmological prophets Calvin & Hobbes, who worry about the toll such groundbreaking revelations will have on our naïve, superstitious society. They are like totally the same as Charles Darwin.
Long have we also told stories of Captain Raptor, the intrepid astrosaur of yore, bastion of justice and peace on planet Jurassica.
In fact, paleocosmology goes back even further than that: some crazos have even speculated that this carving on Ta Prohm temple in Cambodia is evidence that an alien Stegosaur cooled its heels back on Earth about 1,000 years ago.
Finally, the threat of extraterrestrial dinosaurs is not even a new concept to the scientific community. Just last month, NASA astronaut Ron Garan discussed the potential dinosaur space program with his fans on Reddit:
If the dinosaurs had a space program, we’d all be in trouble.
Human-Dinosaur tensions would mount as they developed a rocket capable of achieving high orbit. An arms race would ensue, followed by the stalemate of Mutually Assured Destruction.
Mankind would act first, with a strike upon the Dino capitol, the warhead would be a several-megaton ICBM with a dozen MIRVs. It would be nicknamed ‘The Meteor, Pt. 2.’
Point being: step off, Breslow. If you want to be a part of the paleocosmological community, at least do your research first!
2. Extraterrestrial dinosaurs are not a toss away point.
This one’s pretty simple. If you’re going to throw out the possibility of super-intelligent tyrannosaurs piloting starships, make sure it’s actually the focus of your paper. Painstakingly accounting for the lack of diversity in molecular chirality, then mentioning offhand that other planets must have evolved space-faring dinosaurs, is something most journalists would consider to be “burying your lede.” So the next time you want to shoot us in the face with crazy, don’t waste our time trying to earn it. Just take out your crazy gun, fill it with dinosaurs from space and go Patrick Bateman on us. Which brings me to my final rebuttal….
3. Real science or mad science: make your choice.
As many legitimate scientists have already pointed out, Breslow’s conjecture about alien dinosaurs isn’t exactly a stellar example of the scientific method. The direct quote from his paper is as follows:
An implication from this work is that elsewhere in the universe there could be life forms based on D amino acids and L sugars, depending on the chirality of circular polarized light in that sector of the universe or whatever other process operated to favor the L a-methyl amino acids in the meteorites that have landed on Earth. 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. We would be better off not meeting them.
While it’s possible that creatures like dinosaurs evolved on other Earth-like planets, it’s weird that a scientist like Breslow makes the same basic mistake Creationists do in assuming evolution is a straight line with a definite purpose. I see where he’s coming from: if the KT extinction event hadn’t occurred 65 million years ago, mammals might not have evolved and who knows what brainy dinosaurs like Troodons and Philosoraptors would have done with all that extra time on the planet?
But the major reason dinosaurs came to rule the world in the first place was due to another mass extinction event around 200 million years ago between the Triassic and Jurassic — those beasts were so goddamn epic that they were both created and destroyed by humungous cataclysms! This is not even to get into the utter lack of eschatology in evolution — I mean, have you ever seen a platypus? How can you believe in an evolutionary endgame after that?
Clearly, nature is making this crap up as it goes along. When famed chaotician Ian Malcolm asserts that, “life finds a way,” what he actually means is that life finds infinite ways, some of them super-weird and unnerving (take another look at the Oviraptor if you need a reminder). So yes, a dinosaur-like species may have evolved on another planet, but in terms of the multitude of weird life forms that might exist instead, I’d say that’s really hedging our bets.
So, Breslow didn’t exactly uphold real science, but has he made a contribution to mad science? NO! I mean, really, dinosaurs evolving separately on other planets? How ridiculous! Obviously, dinosaurs were catapulted off Earth by an air pocket caused by the KT extinction event asteroid, and were then sucked up by a wormhole and delivered unharmed to a planet in the Messier 94 galaxy, about 15 million light years away. I have evidence of all of this because I invented a time-traveling camera. Watch my lecture, Dr. Breslow, and take some notes, because that’s what mad frakkin’ science looks like, my friend.
In conclusion, I’d like to say on behalf of all mad scientists that it’s not that we don’t respect those who have chosen the path of legitimate science. But let’s all get on the same page. We won’t infringe upon your strict empiricism and rigorous intellectual standards so long as you agree to leave stuff like dinosaurs in space up to us. We can, of course, still both share the tradition of messy hair and off-putting gesticulations that have gravitated to the overlap of our Venn Diagram.
Oh and by the way, the descendants of the dinosaurs originally catapulted off of our planet are scheduled to return to Earth any day now, so none of this matters much anyway. See you in the belly of a Space Rex!
Previously in our dinosaur section:
• Please Bring Back “Jurassic Fight Club”!
• Sauropod Swindle! The Monstrous Lies of “The World’s Largest Dinosaurs”