Time travel has just been invented. And — congratulations — you’re being sent 200 million years back to the Jurassic period. After hurling through time and space, you wake up to chirping birds and lush trees as far as the eye can see. The air is warm and moist, and the stresses of your modern life are beginning to melt away.
That’s when you hear leaves crunching behind you. Your skin starts to crawl and you can tell you’re being watched. A Tyrannosaurus Rex is deciding whether to have you for lunch, so you had better think quick.
The Jurassic Period is the second of three periods in the Mesozoic Era, also known as the Age of Dinosaurs. It began right after one of the largest mass extinctions on Earth and lasted around 56 million years. So if traveling back home is out of your hands, you’re settling in here for the long haul.
During this time, the supercontinent known as Pangea, split apart because of all the tectonic plate movement at the Earth’s crust. The rifting created new continents, as well as the central Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. These conditions allowed for marine organisms to diversify. And on land, plants and dinosaurs began to thrive. But living alongside dinos wouldn’t exactly be a walk in the park.
What would you do for shelter? How would you find food to eat? And could you defend yourself from some of the largest creatures ever to roam the planet?
Step 1: Find Shelter
Finding a safe place to rest your head for the night won’t be an easy task. Many dinosaurs have strong nocturnal vision making them highly capable night hunters. And others have a keen sense of smell, so hiding isn’t an option either. Your best bet is to set up camp in a far away cave. Just make sure it’s not already occupied.
Step 2: Become a Vegetarian
Realistically, a human wouldn’t be able to single-handedly hunt and kill a dinosaur. And even if you could, the massive amount of meat left behind would attract too many other predators. Another option would be to steal dinosaur eggs for a protein boost. But only go for the nest if you’re ready to face off with a protective mama dino. The safest route is to stick to eating the surrounding vegetation. Flowering plants haven’t evolved yet, so you won’t get any tasty fruits. Hopefully you like seaweed and mushrooms!
Step 3: Defend Yourself From Predators
The Jurassic Period was full of extremely dangerous predators. This one is over 15 meters (50 ft) long and can swim, this one hunts in packs, and this one’s bite is three times stronger than that of a great white shark. Since you won’t be able to outmuscle these massive creatures, try outsmarting them instead. Memorize their patterns of behavior to stay one strategic step ahead in your newfound existence.
Research suggests that a human couldn’t throw a spear hard enough to pierce a dinosaur’s skin, so devising slingshots and traps might be a better use of your time.
Step 4: Adjust to the Climate
Lucky for you, the Jurassic era is believed to have had a favorable tropical climate, much like today’s Central America. Global temperatures then were a few degrees Celsius hotter than modern day because volcanic activity released extra carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. But hot and humid weather is manageable to withstand, as long as you stay hydrated. Until we figure out how to go back in time, the chances of you walking with dinosaurs are slim. When technology finally catches up though, you’ll be ready.
- “Jurassic Period | Climate, Plants, Animals, & Facts“. 2020. Encyclopedia Britannica.
- “Curious Kids: How Many Dinosaurs In Total Lived On Earth During All Periods?“. 2018. The Conversation.
- “Where Were The Continents Located During The Jurassic Period?“. 2020. Ebrary.
- “Jurassic Period Facts“.staff, Livescience.com. 2013. Livescience.Com.
- “How The Earliest Mammals Thrived Alongside Dinosaurs“. 2019. Nature.Com.
- “The Eight Deadliest Dinosaurs“.Montanari, Shaena. 2020. Forbes.