Monday, April 03, 2006

Did global warming have something to do with why dinosaurs were so big and we're so small?

Wow. Tornado season got off to a big start yesterday. Can't help but think about global warming — all that extra energy, looking for outlets. Katrina last year, and now a big cyclone season south of the equator —
Cyclone Glenda is the sixth cyclone to threaten the Western Australia coast during this year's cyclone season, which runs from November to April.

Glenda comes just over a week after Category 5 Cyclone Larry battered Queensland state on the east coast with 180 mph winds, devastating farming towns and flattening banana and sugar cane plantations. Insurance claims for Larry have reached $177 million, authorities said Tuesday.
Kind of makes you wonder. Nothing says the breezes on a planet must always be gentle. After all, Venus is buffeted by constant high speed winds, the apparent result of a runaway greenhouse effect. Permanent high velocity winds circle Jupiter, so much so that its most visible feature is a huge hurricane eye. Maybe when Earth was warmer it was windier. Maybe it will be again.

That’s when it struck me. The weather always seems under-imagined in our picture of the Jurrasic. Whether we imagine the dinosaurs snacking on mezoflora or on each other, the climate is always balmy and pleasant. Peaceful. But maybe it was as windy as it was warm — one non-stop hurricane. Maybe the dinosaurs evolved to be as big as they were just so they wouldn’t blow away. Then, when it cooled off and the wind settled down, the hulking creatures became obsolete, and smaller, more nimble but vulnerable mammals were able evolve.

But what if dinosaur weather comes back?

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