Date
26 July 2017
After unearthing a new dinosaur species, paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara has issued a grim warning about the harm that humans are inflicting on our planet.
After unearthing a new dinosaur species, paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara has issued a grim warning about the harm that humans are inflicting on our planet.

Why a paleontologist is warning about ‘sixth extinction’

Given the already extensive research and decades of excavation activities by paleontologists around the world, the chance for someone to discover a new species of dinosaur is very small.

Paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara can count himself as one of the lucky few.

In 2014, the American unearthed a new super-massive dinosaur species after a dig in Argentina. Finding an almost complete skeleton that was about 85 feet long, Lacovara helped the world expand its knowledge of the ancient animals.  

Recently, the paleontologist shared some insights on his find.

Since the person who discovers a new species gets to name it, Lacovara called his species Dreadnoughtus, which means the creature would fear nothing.

Dreadnoughtus has no natural enemies because it is simply huge, Lacovara noted in a seminar, according to information uploaded on knowledge sharing platform TED.

The 77-million-year-old sauropod was as tall as a two-storey house and as heavy as a jumbo jet, Lacovara said. That would mean a weight that was equivalent to 8 to 9 T.Rexes.

Lacovara also gave some hints on the formula to securing a new find.

The first is to look for rocks of the right age, which means those that are 235 million to 66 million years old.

Second, one must look for sedimentary rocks, which formed at temperatures and pressures that do not destroy fossil remnants.

While his study enabled him to understand more about how these huge creatures lived their lives in the deep past, Lacovara’s epiphany from years of research is more about the humans.

“Why study the ancient past? Well, the reason is it gives us a perspective about humanity,” he said.

Dinosaurs became extinct after the globe was hit by a massive asteroid. And here is a message for the humans, who are doing damage of all sorts to our planet.

“The dinosaurs were snuffed out in a cosmic accident through no fault of their own. They didn’t see it coming, they didn’t have a choice,” noted Lacovara.

“We, on the other hand, do have a choice.”

“The nature of the fossil records tells us that our place on this planet is both precarious and potentially fleeting.”

Lacovara warned that “right now, our species is propagating an environmental disaster of a geological proportion that is so broad and so severe that can rightly be called the sixth extinction”.

“Unlike the dinosaurs, we can see it coming. Unlike the dinosaurs, we can do something about it,” he said. “The choice is ours.”

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RC

EJ Insight writer

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