The past is a vast and mysterious land
that begins at the big bang and ends in the present,
expanding with each passing moment.
It is the home of everything that came before, the key to understanding our present.
Here we find the most amazing creatures to ever roam our planet,
hundreds of millions of species
so diverse that our imagination cannot do them justice.
Unfortunately the past carefully guards its secrets.
While there are a lot of things about the past we know,
there are way more things we know we don’t know.
there are probably even more things we don’t even know that we don’t know about.
Think of the wonder of life:
We now recognize about 1.5 million eukaryotic species
but there may be as many as 10 million alive today.
And although we are adding some 15,000 new species
to our collective knowledge each year,
the vast majority of life on earth is still undiscovered.
This is just what is around today.
An estimated four billion species
emerged on our planet in past eons
But at least 99% of them died out, way
before humans spoke the first words.
The vast majority of all the different species that ever existed are so utterly deleted that
they have become part of the “unknown unknown” part of the past,
他们已经成为过去 “未知的未知 “中的一部分
lost to us forever.
Or are they?
Could we use science and imagination to glimpse a shadow of the unreachable past?
Let us start with what we do know.
To learn about creatures of the past we need fossils,
any sort of remains preserved from past geological ages –
bones or shells, impressions or imprints, things preserved in amber.
The totality of all fossils on earth is called the fossil record
and it is the most important window on the past we’ll ever have.
For a dead animal to fossilize a number of things must go just right:
The right environment, timing and conditions.
And then the fossil needs to survive for millions or hundreds of millions of years
and then get back to the surface –
and then be discovered before natural processes dissolve it.
So it is kind of a miracle that we have what we have and know what we know.
所以 我们拥有我们所拥有的 知道我们所知道的 这是一种奇迹
Take the dinosaurs since they were
one of the largest and most successful groups of animals for some 165 million years
and are also a lot of fun to animate.
What were they really like and what are we missing?
In the last 200 years
we’ve found tens of thousands of fossils from over 1000 dinosaur species.
Lately we’ve entered a golden era of discovery
and about 50 new dinosaur species are discovered each year,
expanding what we know and what we know that we don’t know about them,
which is amazing.
But it also makes us aware of all the things lost to the past forever.
Imagine if we took all the animals that lived in the last 50 million years
and randomly chose 10000 individuals from 1000 species to fossilize.
Think about all the things that would be missed,
or that seem too weird to be true.
Like the Giraffe,
a yellow animal with brown patterns
that looks like a horse and an antelope had a baby,
with a long neck and two tiny hairy horns.
How many “dinosaur giraffes” were there?
Animals so weird and selected for ecological niches so specific
that evolution molded theirbodies very absurdly –
today they might seem made up to us..
We know a lot of species are lost forever just because of the environment they lived in.
For example, lush jungles basically prevent fossilization as the chances
that an animal will be buried here are low.
Countless scavengers of all sizes break down freshly deceased animals extremely quickly
and the soil is often so acidic that bones are dissolved.
And so fossils of dinosaurs from jungles are practically nonexistent.
Today half of all known species live in the few remaining rainforests
that only cover 2% of earth’s landmass.
Millions of years ago when dinosaurs roamed earth,
jungles covered much more of the planet.
So besides some insects and other small animals trapped in amber,
there should be millions of species that emerged and vanished,
without leaving any trace.
Trapped deep inside the unknown, unknown.
But just in general biology trips us up.
Look at your body.
It’s mainly squishy, gooey, soft stuff.
Which does not preserve well.
What remains the longest are the crystalized parts of your bones
and so most dinosaur fossils are bones or teeth –
usually fragments, not entire skeletons.
This means that almost all boneless or shell-less animals are practically wiped from the fossil record.
If we take a look at the stunning diversity of weird animals
like worms, jellyfish and slugs alive today
we can only speculate what we are missing.
many mostly soft and gooey species
also left us an incredible diversity of shells
that tell us an amazing amount about our past,
so at least we have that.
Still when we think about all the boneless species
that may have existed in the last half billion years
even our best attempt at imagining them falls short.
But it’s not like reimagining something based on its bones is straightforward
and so the way we envisage what dinosaurs actually looked like
has changed a lot in the last few years.
In the past many illustrations had a bony, minimalistic look,
在过去 许多插图都是瘦骨嶙峋 极简主义的样子
with a toothy grin to signify fierceness and danger.
But if we draw today’s animals in a similar way, based on their skeletons,
just for the fun of it,
we get the most bizarre creatures.
Elephants, swans and baboons that look like monsters right out of nightmares.
So similar to animals today,
we should imagine dinosaurs with much more soft tissue,
fat bellies or chests, weird soft parts
like skin flaps, lips and gums
and just more pronounced features
that would make them seem like much more pleasant fellows.
Some soft features actually leave distinctive traces on bones
that we can look for in the skeletons of extinct animals,
which is where today’s animals with similar features are really helpful.
It’s a similar story with color.
Because we know what the feathers of living birds look like,
modern technology combined with the exceedingly rare fossils
with preserved remains of fuzzy feathers
give us a glimpse of the real colors of extinct dinosaurs.
We know that tiny Sinosauropteryx had a striped tail
and its tiny dino buddy Anchiornis huxleyi
was white and black with gorgeous red feathers around its head.
Still, for the vast majority of really any ancient extinct species
we have no real clue what color they were.
But we know what modern dinosaurs, birds, look like
and here we find the most amazing variety.
So some dinosaurs will have tried to blend into the background,
while others might have fielded aggressive color schemes .
to attract mates or to appear dangerous
Some might have had impressive decorations or colorful beaks.
Some may have been striped or patterned.
Similarly we don’t know that much about dinosaur behaviour,
although once again we can draw conclusions from existing animals.
For example even apex predators like lions spend a lot of their time lying around
例如 即使是像狮子这样的顶级掠食者 也会花很多时间躺在一起
and cuddling and licking each other and playing.
互相拥抱 互相舔舐 玩耍
Why would dinosaurs be so different?
When we first found the skull of T. rex with its mighty teeth
and probably the strongest bite of any land animal ever, t.
we imagined a fierce and stupid beas
But modern scanning technology has revealed
that T.rex had a larger brain-to-body ratio
than some earlier giant meat-eaters.
And it probably had very sharp hearing, vision and sense of smell
and was in all likelihood not a stupid animal.
So maybe T.rex was a cuddly fellow
that spent a lot of time playing around
or impressing potential mates when it was not hungry.
Likewise, while their horns and shields
might have made ceratopsids appear to be natural born fighters,
they were probably much more than that.
Based on the behaviour of modern animals
and the complex dances some have to go through to mate,
maybe their shields were amazingly colorful,
maybe it danced for its mates like many birds do today.
How intensely amazing these creatures must have been.
And what a loss it is to us
that we don’t get to experience them first hand.
What an even greater loss
that there is so much we will never know about them
and even more tragic,
all the absurd and beautiful beings that disappeared without a trace.
But such is life –
time marches on without any concern for our feelings
and the past expands with every moment that passes.
Most wild animals alive today will in all likelihood not leave fossils behind and also
just disappear forever.
We can do something about that though –
instead of accelerating the extinction we are witnessing
we could become the guardians of life
and preserve it where we find it.
If possible in the wild,
if not then in museums, movies and in our minds.
如果不可能的话 它们会在博物馆 电影和我们的头脑中
Because as amazing as our imagination is,
and as fascinating to think about the animals that are part of the unknown unknown –
it is even better to witness them in the present.
The land that we actually inhabit,
where we get to experience life as it happens.
There is one more exciting way to experience Dinosaurs though this year:
The 12,022 Human Era Calendar: Eons Edition.
we’re adding 10,000 years to the regular calendar to represent the Human Era
and include all cultures around the world.
But this year we’re expanding the scope beyond humanity
to showcase forgotten animals and
plants from all across the Phanerozoic Eon,
like giant armoured fish, scythe lizards or giant sloths, on 12 elaborate pages.
Witness how multicellular life has persisted for over half a billion years,
surviving asteroid impacts, volcanoes and frozen oceans.
And of course, pandemics.
In the end life, uh, finds a way –
and we want to celebrate that!
You can get the very shiny, high-quality, limited Edition now
until we sell out and then never again.
To support what we do on this channel,
to fill the void in your soul
or just to have something beautiful to look at.
As every year,
we also have bundles and special calendar deals with some of your favorite products.
Thank you so much to all of the thousands of birbs who get the calendar every year,
you enable us to create videos and to publish them for free, for everyone.
We wish you a happy year 12,022.
The past is a vast and mysterious land