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搜寻恐龙告诉了我我们在宇宙中的处境

Hunting for dinosaurs showed me our place in the universe | Kenneth Lacovara

怎样找到恐龙?
How do you find a dinosaur?
听起来不可思议 不是吗?
Sounds impossible, doesn’t it?
其实并不难
It’s not.
答案依赖于古生物学家都会用到的一个公式
And the answer relies on a formula that all paleontologists use.
而且我将会把这个秘密告诉你
And I’m going to tell you the secret.
首先 找到相应年代的岩石
First, find rocks of the right age.
第二点需要注意的是 这些岩石必须是沉积岩
Second, those rocks must be sedimentary rocks.
然后 岩石表面需要自然暴露在外
And third, layers of those rocks must be naturally exposed.
就这些
That’s it.
满足这三点 然后自己要到这个地方就可以了
Find those three things and get yourself on the ground,
找到化石的可能性还是很大的
chances are good that you will find fossils.
接下来 咱们来具体分解一下这个公式
Now let me break down this formula.
生物只在特定的地质间隔时期存活
Organisms exist only during certain geological intervals.
因此你必须找到特定时期的岩石
So you have to find rocks of the right age,
这取决于你的兴趣是什么
depending on what your interests are.
如果你想要找三叶虫
If you want to find trilobites,
那你必须找非常古老的古生代地层岩石
you have to find the really, really old rocks of the Paleozoic —
年龄在5到2.5亿年间
rocks between a half a billion and a quarter-billion years old.
那么问题来了 如果你想找到恐龙
Now, if you want to find dinosaurs,
别去看古生代的岩石 那里找不到
don’t look in the Paleozoic, you won’t find them.
恐龙还没有演化呢
They hadn’t evolved yet.
你需要去找中生代的岩石
You have to find the younger rocks of the Mesozoic,
并且是有恐龙存活的年代
and in the case of dinosaurs,
大概是2.35亿至6600万年前
between 235 and 66 million years ago.
目前找出这些正确年代的岩石还是很容易的
Now, it’s fairly easy to find rocks of the right age at this point,
因为我们已有了地球的大致地理
because the Earth is, to a coarse degree,
地质面貌
geologically mapped.
这是来之不易的信息
This is hard-won information.
地球的编年史是写在岩石里的
The annals of Earth history are written in rocks,
一章接着一章
one chapter upon the next,
也就是说最久远的在最底层
such that the oldest pages are on bottom
年代最近的位于最上面
and the youngest on top.
然而 如果要真这么简单 地理学家就会欣喜若狂了
Now, were it quite that easy, geologists would rejoice.
其实并不简单
It’s not.
地球像是一个古老的图书馆
The library of Earth is an old one.
它并没有管理员来为每一本书进行排序
It has no librarian to impose order.
来对如此大范围的时间序列进行操作
Operating over vast swaths of time,
无数的地质过程对岩石年龄的判断造成了
myriad geological processes offer every possible insult
一切可能的不利影响
to the rocks of ages.
地理编年史中的书页 大多数也许刚被写成就遭到毁灭
Most pages are destroyed soon after being written.
有些书页又有重复
Some pages are overwritten,
造成了久远年代地貌难解的重复赘述
creating difficult-to-decipher palimpsests of long-gone landscapes.
在时间推进的流沙之下找到庇护之所的书页
Pages that do find sanctuary under the advancing sands of time
也从来不完全是真实可靠的
are never truly safe.
和月亮这样没有生命的顽石不同
Unlike the Moon — our dead, rocky companion —
地球是活的 同时具备创造和毁灭的力量给了它生命
the Earth is alive, pulsing with creative and destructive forces
也促进其地质的新陈代谢
that power its geological metabolism.
由阿波罗宇航员带回的月球上的岩石
Lunar rocks brought back by the Apollo astronauts
可以一直追溯到太阳系的年岁
all date back to about the age of the Solar System.
月亮上的岩石是永恒的
Moon rocks are forever.
从另一方面来说 地球上的岩石也面临着一个活着的岩石圈所带来的危险
Earth rocks, on the other hand, face the perils of a living lithosphere.
一切都将遭受毁灭
All will suffer ruination,
地球上的岩石在经历了撞击 压缩
through some combination of mutilation, compression,
折叠 撕裂和高温的作用后
folding, tearing, scorching and baking.
因此 纵观地球历史 它是不完整而且是散乱的
Thus, the volumes of Earth history are incomplete and disheveled.
地球这个图书馆浩瀚且宏伟
The library is vast and magnificent —
但却衰老破旧
but decrepit.
正是由于岩石记录这种破碎的复杂性
And it was this tattered complexity in the rock record
使之失去了直到最近为止的记录的意义
that obscured its meaning until relatively recently.
大自然并没有为地理学家留下任何记录
Nature provided no card catalog for geologists —
而是让他们去总结
this would have to be invented.
在苏美尔人学着记录想法的五千年后
Five thousand years after the Sumerians learned to record their thoughts
关于岩石上
on clay tablets,
地质史对于人类来说还是高深莫测
the Earth’s volumes remained inscrutable to humans.
我们可以说对地理其实是一无所知
We were geologically illiterate,
对地球的古老也是一知半解
unaware of the antiquity of our own planet
并对我们与”久远时间”的联系
and ignorant of our connection
很无知
to deep time.
直到19世纪的到来
It wasn’t until the turn of the 19th century
我们的无知才渐渐消失
that our blinders were removed,
首先 James Hotton所著的《地球理论》
first, with the publication of James Hutton’s “Theory of the Earth,”
向我们揭示了 地球的初始毫无痕迹
in which he told us that the Earth reveals no vestige of a beginning
终结也会毫无预兆
and no prospect of an end;
随着William Smith的英国地图
and then, with the printing of William Smith’s map of Britain,
给我们提供了
the first country-scale geological map,
第一张国家疆域范围的地图
giving us for the first time
我们得以预见哪里会有特定年代的岩石
predictive insight into where certain types of rocks might occur.
由此 你可以这样说:
After that, you could say things like,
“我们去那儿 应该能找到侏罗纪”
“If we go over there, we should be in the Jurassic,”
“爬过这座山我们能找到白垩纪”
or, “If we go up over that hill, we should find the Cretaceous.”
好吧 如果你现在想找三叶虫
So now, if you want to find trilobites,
先要有一张好的地质地图
get yourself a good geological map
寻找古生代的岩石
and go to the rocks of the Paleozoic.
如果你想像我一样去寻找恐龙的痕迹
If you want to find dinosaurs like I do,
那就先去找中生代的岩石
find the rocks of Mesozoic and go there.
当然 你只能在沉积岩中找到化石
Now of course, you can only make a fossil in a sedimentary rock,
这种岩石又沙和泥土形成
a rock made by sand and mud.
你找不到一块化石
You can’t have a fossil
在岩浆形成的火成岩 比如花岗岩中
in an igneous rock formed by magma, like a granite,
那种经受高温和挤压的变质岩里也没有化石
or in a metamorphic rock that’s been heated and squeezed.
你一定要去沙漠
And you have to get yourself in a desert.
不是说恐龙只生活在沙漠
It’s not that dinosaurs particularly lived in deserts;
他们生活在每一片大陆
they lived on every land mass
和所有可以想的到的环境中
and in every imaginable environment.
你需要去沙漠的原因是
It’s that you need to go to a place that’s a desert today,
沙漠中的岩石没有太多植被覆盖
a place that doesn’t have too many plants covering up the rocks,
并且其风蚀能够使岩石暴露于地表
and a place where erosion is always exposing new bones at the surface.
所以 去寻找这三样东西吧
So find those three things:
特定年代的岩石
rocks of the right age,
沙漠的沉积岩
that are sedimentary rocks, in a desert,
然后让自己
and get yourself on the ground,
自由的行走在地面上
and you literally walk
直到你看到岩石表面有显露出来的骨化石
until you see a bone sticking out of the rock.
这是一张南巴塔哥尼亚的图片
Here’s a picture that I took in Southern Patagonia.
你现在看到的地上的每一片圆石
Every pebble that you see on the ground there
都是恐龙的骨头
is a piece of dinosaur bone.
所以当你身处这种环境下
So when you’re in that right situation,
能否找到化石已不再是问题
it’s not a question of whether you’ll find fossils or not;
你一定会找到
you’re going to find fossils.
问题是 你发现的东西是否具有科研价值
The question is: Will you find something that is scientifically significant?
为了帮助理解 我将为这个公式加上第四条
And to help with that, I’m going to add a fourth part to our formula,
那就是
which is this:
离那些古生物学家越远越好
get as far away from other paleontologists as possible.
[笑声]
[Laughter]
并非我讨厌他们
It’s not that I don’t like other paleontologists.
而是如果你去一个相对未被探索的地方
When you go to a place that’s relatively unexplored,
你不仅更容易找到化石
you have a much better chance of not only finding fossils
而且更有可能为科学带来新发现
but of finding something that’s new to science.
这就是我的恐龙寻找攻略
So that’s my formula for finding dinosaurs,
我在全世界都使用过
and I’ve applied it all around the world.
在2004夏季
In the austral summer of 2004,
我去到位于南半球南美的最南端
I went to the bottom of South America,
阿根廷的巴塔哥尼亚最南部
to the bottom of Patagonia, Argentina,
去探究恐龙
to prospect for dinosaurs:
那儿有特定年代的陆相沉积岩
a place that had terrestrial sedimentary rocks of the right age,
在沙漠里
in a desert,
一片片还未被古生物学家发掘过的地方
a place that had been barely visited by paleontologists.
我们找到了这个
And we found this.
这是一个巨型
This is a femur, a thigh bone,
食草恐龙的股骨
of a giant, plant-eating dinosaur.
这块股骨有2.2米宽
That bone is 2.2 meters across.
也就是7尺多长
That’s over seven feet long.
遗憾的是 这是现存的唯一一块
Now, unfortunately, that bone was isolated.
我们不停地挖 然而再也没有别的发现
We dug and dug and dug, and there wasn’t another bone around.
这使得我们来年又再一次踏上这片土地寻找
But it made us hungry to go back the next year for more.
在新探索的第一天
And on the first day of that next field season,
我发现了这个:第二块两米的股骨
I found this: another two-meter femur,
这是这次 它不是唯一的发现
only this time not isolated,
我们又发现了145块
this time associated with 145 other bones
食草恐龙的化石
of a giant plant eater.
在三次艰苦的现场挖掘后
And after three more hard, really brutal field seasons,
挖掘现场场变成了这样
the quarry came to look like this.
你可以看到 这只大型野兽的尾骨在我身边蜷曲
And there you see the tail of that great beast wrapping around me.
躺在挖掘现场的这个大型生物 是恐龙的新物种
The giant that lay in this grave, the new species of dinosaur,
最后它被命名为”Dreadnoughtus schrani“
we would eventually call “Dreadnoughtus schrani.”
Dreadnoughtus 从头到尾有85英尺长
Dreadnoughtus was 85 feet from snout to tail.
站起来肩部有两层半楼这么高
It stood two-and-a-half stories at the shoulder,
活着的时候身体有65吨重
and all fleshed out in life, it weighed 65 tons.
人们有时候问我 它比暴龙大吗
People ask me sometimes, “Was Dreadnoughtus bigger than a T. rex?”
实际上 它有暴龙的8至9倍大
That’s the mass of eight or nine T. rex.
话说 成为古生物学家很棒的是
Now, one of the really cool things about being a paleontologist
你可以为发现的新物种命名
is when you find a new species, you get to name it.
我常常觉得羞愧的是
And I’ve always thought it a shame that these giant, plant-eating dinosaurs
这些大型的食草恐龙在图画中
are too often portrayed as passive, lumbering platters of meat
往往被描绘成笨拙的一大团肉
on the landscape.
[笑声]
[Laughter]
然而并非如此
They’re not.
大型食草动物是很有领地意识的
Big herbivores can be surly, and they can be territorial —
你不会想和河马、犀牛或是水牛这样的动物胡来
you do not want to mess with a hippo or a rhino or a water buffalo.
黄石公园的野牛比灰熊伤的人要多得多
The bison in Yellowstone injure far more people than do the grizzly bears.
所以你能想象一个65吨的公牛
So can you imagine a big bull, 65-ton Dreadnoughtus
在繁殖季节
in the breeding season,
会怎样保护自己的领土?
defending a territory?
它们会难以置信的危险
That animal would have been incredibly dangerous,
对于周围都是一种威胁 而它自己则无所畏惧
a menace to all around, and itself would have had nothing to fear.
所以他才被称为“Dreadnoughtus”
And thus the name, “Dreadnoughtus,”
意为“无所畏惧”
or, “fears nothing.”
为了能长到
Now, to grow so large,
像Dreadnoughtus这样体型的动物
an animal like Dreadnoughtus would’ve had to have been
他们生来就就很有效率
a model of efficiency.
其长颈和长尾能够帮助散热
That long neck and long tail help it radiate heat into the environment,
间接地调节了自身的体温
passively controlling its temperature.
长颈提供了一个极度有效的进食机制
And that long neck also serves as a super-efficient feeding mechanism.
Dreadnoughtus 能够站在原地
Dreadnoughtus could stand in one place and with that neck
用它长长的脖子把一大片植被一扫而光
clear out a huge envelope of vegetation,
摄入数以万计的卡路里而同时消耗很少
taking in tens of thousands of calories while expending very few.
这些动物进化为牛头犬似的宽步动物
And these animals evolved a bulldog-like wide-gait stance,
这样能够有更好的稳定性
giving them immense stability,
因为如果你有65吨重 并且像房子那么大
because when you’re 65 tons, when you’re literally as big as a house,
摔倒的后果
the penalty for falling over
是死亡
is death.
没错 这些动物又大又坚硬
Yeah, these animals are big and tough,
但是他们承受不了这样的打击
but they won’t take a blow like that.
Dreadnoughtus摔倒后肋骨会断裂并且刺伤肺部
Dreadnoughtus falls over, ribs break and pierce lungs.
导致器官爆裂
Organs burst.
如果你是一只65吨的Dreadnoughtus
If you’re a big 65-ton Dreadnoughtus,
你绝不想摔倒 一次都不
you don’t get to fall down in life — even once.
现在 在这只恐龙的躯体被埋葬
Now, after this particular Dreadnoughtus carcass was buried
肉体被各种细菌和虫类侵蚀
and de-fleshed by a multitude of bacteria, worms and insects,
它的骨头会变质
its bones underwent a brief metamorphosis,
和地下水进行分子交换
exchanging molecules with the groundwater
变得越来越接近埋葬它的石头
and becoming more and more like the entombing rock.
当一层一层的沉积岩慢慢积累
As layer upon layer of sediment accumulated,
各方面的压力会像石套一样向内增压
pressure from all sides weighed in like a stony glove
其坚硬而持久的握力把每块骨头牢牢的包裹在内
whose firm and enduring grip held each bone in a stabilizing embrace.
而后就是旷日持久的
And then came the long …
虚无
nothing.
经历了一个又一个纪元
Epoch after epoch of sameness,
什么都没有发生
nonevents without number.
在它的石头坟墓里 恐龙的骨骼长久的
All the while, the skeleton lay everlasting and unchanging
处于一种恒定不变的
in perfect equilibrium
完美的平衡状态
within its rocky grave.
同时 地球历史也随着展开
Meanwhile, Earth history unfolded above.
恐龙会统治另一个1200万年
The dinosaurs would reign for another 12 million years
直到它们在地球大灾难中灭绝
before their hegemony was snuffed out in a fiery apocalypse.
然后大陆漂移 哺乳动物随之而生
The continents drifted. The mammals rose.
冰河时代来临
The Ice Age came.
然后 在东非
And then, in East Africa,
一种没有希望的猿猴 却进化出了一种能够思想感知的奇怪把戏
an unpromising species of ape evolved the odd trick of sentient thought.
这种有头脑的灵长类并不是特别快或者特别强壮
These brainy primates were not particularly fast or strong.
但它们很擅长占领土地
But they excelled at covering ground,
通过一种出色的散居方式
and in a remarkable diaspora
它们的土地甚至超越了恐龙所征服的领地的记录
surpassing even the dinosaurs’ record of territorial conquest,
它们分布在地球的各个地方
they dispersed across the planet,
它们掠夺每一个遇到的生态系统
ravishing every ecosystem they encountered,
在这个过程中 它们创造了文化、金属冶炼、绘画、
along the way, inventing culture and metalworking and painting
舞蹈、音乐、
and dance and music
科学
and science
还有能搭载12名特别优秀的猿猴
and rocket ships that would eventually take 12 particularly excellent apes
并将它们送去月球表面的火箭飞船
to the surface of the Moon.
随着70亿在地球上走来走去的人
With seven billion peripatetic Homo sapiens on the planet,
不可避免的
it was perhaps inevitable
有人最终会踏在这些巨大生物的坟墓上
that one of them would eventually trod on the grave of the magnificent titan
在巴塔哥尼亚南部的荒地下
buried beneath the badlands of Southern Patagonia.
我就是那个人
I was that ape.
孤独的站在沙漠里
And standing there, alone in the desert,
我没有忘记
it was not lost on me
每个人遇到化石的机会
that the chance of any one individual entering the fossil record
都十分渺小
is vanishingly small.
但是地球非常非常的古老
But the Earth is very, very old.
在漫长的时间轨迹里 不可能变为可能
And over vast tracts of time, the improbable becomes the probable.
这就是地理的魔力
That’s the magic of the geological record.
大量生物在这颗星球上生活 死去
Thus, multitudinous creatures living and dying on an old planet
留下大量的化石
leave behind immense numbers of fossils,
每个化石都是一个奇迹
each one a small miracle,
但都难以逃脱它们的命运
but collectively, inevitable.
六千六百万年前 一颗小行星撞击地球
Sixty-six million years ago, an asteroid hits the Earth
使恐龙灭绝
and wipes out the dinosaurs.
或许没这么简单
This easily might not have been.
但我们只有一个历史 那就是我们所处的这个
But we only get one history, and it’s the one that we have.
但这个特定的现实并非无法改变
But this particular reality was not inevitable.
即使最微小的对于那颗遥远的小行星的扰动
The tiniest perturbation of that asteroid far from Earth
也有可能让它远离我们的星球
would have caused it to miss our planet by a wide margin.
那个关键的 灾难的性的恐龙灭绝的日子
The pivotal, calamitous day during which the dinosaurs were wiped out,
为现代搭建了一个舞台
setting the stage for the modern world as we know it
即使我们知道这并不必要
didn’t have to be.
它完全可以是另一天
It could’ve just been another day —
或许是一个周四
a Thursday, perhaps —
在恐龙生存的630亿天中
among the 63 billion days already enjoyed by the dinosaurs.
但是在地理的时间轴中
But over geological time,
不大可能 甚至完全不可能的事情
improbable, nearly impossible events
确实会发生
do occur.
从虫子 寒武纪的祖先
Along the path from our wormy, Cambrian ancestors
到穿着正式的人
to primates dressed in suits,
不可计数的岔路带领我们到了这个独特的处境
innumerable forks in the road led us to this very particular reality.
Dreadnoughtus 的骨头在地下沉寂了7700万年
The bones of Dreadnoughtus lay underground for 77 million years.
又有谁能想到
Who could have imagined
那种精明的
that a single species of shrew-like mammal
在恐龙世界的缝隙中生存的哺乳动物
living in the cracks of the dinosaur world
却进化成一种能感知的
would evolve into sentient beings
有能力去描绘与理解
capable of characterizing and understanding
他们曾经害怕的恐龙的生物
the very dinosaurs they must have dreaded?
我曾经站在密苏里河的源头
I once stood at the head of the Missouri River
然后跨过它
and bestraddled it.
那只不过是汩汩的
There, it’s nothing more than a gurgle of water
从一块比特鲁特山脉上草地上的石头下
that issues forth from beneath a rock in a boulder in a pasture,
流出的水罢了
high in the Bitterroot Mountains.
它旁边的小溪只流了几百码
The stream next to it runs a few hundred yards
并停在了一个小池塘里
and ends in a small pond.
这两条小溪 看上去一模一样
Those two streams — they look identical.
但一条是无名的涓流
But one is an anonymous trickle of water,
但另一条是密苏里河
and the other is the Missouri River.
现在来到密苏里河在圣路易斯的河口
Now go down to the mouth of the Missouri, near St. Louis,
很明显它是很大一条河
and it’s pretty obvious that that river is a big deal.
但是回到比特鲁特山脉 看看密苏里河
But go up into the Bitterroots and look at the Missouri,
人类的眼光不足以让我们看出它有多么特别
and human prospection does not allow us to see it as anything special.
再回到寒武纪时期
Now go back to the Cretaceous Period
看看我们小小的 带绒毛的祖先
and look at our tiny, fuzzball ancestors.
你永远不会猜到
You would never guess
他们会发展成任何种族
that they would amount to anything special,
他们也许确实不会
and they probably wouldn’t have,
如果没有那烦人的小行星
were it not for that pesky asteroid.
现在 再创造1000个世界 1000个太阳系
Now, make a thousand more worlds and a thousand more solar systems
让它们运行
and let them run.
你永远不会有同样的结果
You will never get the same result.
毫无疑问 它们会很令人惊讶 令人感到不可思议的惊讶
No doubt, those worlds would be both amazing and amazingly improbable,
但它们不会是我们的世界 也不会有我们的历史
but they would not be our world and they would not have our history.
那里有无穷的历史是我们不曾有拥有的
There are an infinite number of histories that we could’ve had.
但我们只有一个 哇 我们得到的是一个好的吗
We only get one, and wow, did we ever get a good one.
像 Dreadnoughtus 一样的恐龙是真实存在的
Dinosaurs like Dreadnoughtus were real.
像沧龙一样的水怪也是真的
Sea monsters like the mosasaur were real.
翼展像鹰一样的一样的蜻蜓 汽车大小的飞虫
Dragonflies with the wingspan of an eagle and pill bugs the length of a car
都真实存在过
really existed.
为什么我们研究遥远的过去
Why study the ancient past?
因为它给与我们对于未来的看法
Because it gives us perspective
以及谦虚
and humility.
恐龙在地球的第五次大灭绝中死亡
The dinosaurs died in the world’s fifth mass extinction,
它们没有做错什么 那只是一场宇宙的事故
snuffed out in a cosmic accident through no fault of their own.
它们没有预见到它的到来 也没有选择
They didn’t see it coming, and they didn’t have a choice.
但我们 却有着选择
We, on the other hand, do have a choice.
化石揭示了我们在地球上的地位
And the nature of the fossil record tells us that our place on this planet
很不稳固 有可能转瞬即逝
is both precarious and potentially fleeting.
现在 我们的种族正在引起关于地理平衡的灾难
Right now, our species is propagating an environmental disaster
这种灾难既广泛又致命
of geological proportions that is so broad and so severe,
它现在可以被称为第六次大灭绝
it can rightly be called the sixth extinction.
唯一与恐龙不同的是
Only unlike the dinosaurs,
我们可以预见它的到来
we can see it coming.
与恐龙不同的是
And unlike the dinosaurs,
我们可以为此做些什么
we can do something about it.
选择权在我们手里
That choice is ours.
谢谢
Thank you.
[掌声]
[Applause]

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视频概述

当你发现恐龙后会发生什么?古生物学家Kenneth Lacovara 展示了他关于 Dreadnoughtus——一种7700万年前的与两层房子一样高,和喷气客机一样重的蜥脚类生物的发现和发现引起的关于原先生活在恐龙夹缝中的哺乳动物进化成能理解和分析的生物的想法。和他一起探索地球的地质历史和深层思考我们在宇宙中的处境吧。

听录译者

收集自网络

翻译译者

B11101001

审核员

瞌睡虫儿

视频来源

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1Z4F4e2Bw4

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