Lately, I’ve been thinking about the dinosaurs—you know, those goofy-looking, lumbering, unsophisticated creatures who became extinct about sixty-six billion years ago. Boy, were they dumb. They just couldn’t hack it, could they? I’ll bet those dumb dinosaurs thought their 700 species were invincible, destined to remain inhabitants of planet Earth forever. I’ll bet they went about their business, eating, sleeping, hanging out with their friends, fighting off enemies, raising their kids, all without the slightest inkling that one day, there would be no more dinosaurs. How stupid can a group of creatures be?
Sure, they managed to thrive for between 165 and 177 million years but after that it was so long, dinosaurs. And just like that—poof—they were gone.
Once humans came along and evolved a bit, we brought some much-needed progress to this place. We got the thumb thing happening, discovered fire, invented the wheel, and designed tools, boats, hairspray, galoshes, wall-to-wall carpeting, and iPhone apps. We’re very sophisticated. That’s why our species has lasted for . . .
[Please hold on while I look this up. This will only take a moment thanks to man’s brilliant invention, the internet . . . Okay, this number must be wrong. But that’s the great thing about the internet. Within seconds, I can find more accurate . . . hold on . . . hmm . . . Let me just check this again. Ah, here we go . . . no, this source seems to agree with the others and . . . oh dear.]
Thanks for your patience. It seems we’ve been around for just a bit less time than the dinosaurs. In fact, that number falls somewhere closer to 200,000 years. So, yes, that puts a small dent in the narrative. Still, I’m sure we’ll outlast them by . . . oh dear.
It seems our mockery of the dinosaurs may have been premature given the high probability that we’ll be gone in a much shorter time than they were. Sophisticates that we are, we’ve managed to come up with all kinds of ways to destroy ourselves. We invented tools specifically designed for throwing things at each other, like fire or pieces of metal. We figured out how to produce artificial foods less expensively by adding low-cost poisons to the recipes. We invented trash, without considering where we might put it. We made a lot of that. And believe it or not, we fought for the right to contract a deadly virus. True story.
And by virtue of some very special sophisticated qualities which the dinosaurs probably lacked—greed, ambition, selfishness, competition—we managed to come up with a way of rendering our very own planet uninhabitable, pulling the proverbial rug out from under ourselves. Now that’s talent.
It took an asteroid to wipe out the dinosaurs. We’ve managed to do it on our own.
So perhaps some humility is in order after all in these, our final centuries. Five minutes from now, when there are no more people, the earth will begin to reset. Eventually, it’ll be ready to put the welcome mat, as it were, for whatever species comes next. And I’m sure those folks will be cracking jokes about us, about how we threw things at each other and madly hoarded the silly currency we’d invented, and how we were done in by our own schmuckiness.
Perhaps there will even be a blog someday, much like this one, with a mocking article entitled “Dumb Humans.” In that case, however, the mockery will be well deserved.