FUN FRIDAY: Four-Winged Dinosaur

First of all that’s weird. Second of all it’s even weirder that we can recreate the look of a dinosaur that has been extinct for 160 million years. Keep in mind I don’t remember what I had for dinner last night.

Apparently, according to our friends over at Gizmodo there’s a bunch of scientists who are — I am not making this up — shining lasers at fossils and somehow (I do not claim to understand how) this means they can see traces of soft tissue and contours of flesh and feathers that you can’t see with the naked eye.

The technique is called laser-stimulated fluorescence and it was used to help scientists get a better understanding of this handsome specimen who goes by the name of Anchiornis. This dinosaur is one of the oldest feathered creatures known to exist.

Now, I think this is awesome. First of all it could only possibly be geekier if the dino-bird was wearing Spock ears. I mean, laser and dinosaurs? Both in the same discussion? Throw in a discussion of geology and you’ve hit the geek trifecta. Then, when you realize how it’s becoming possible to really see our planet as it was so far in the past, it makes you realize how truly insignificant humans are. This may not even be the first time intelligent life has sprung up on this planet. Keep in mind that humans as we know them now, the kind who farm and build homes and wear clothes, have been around maybe 20,000 years and we have just a tiny fossil specimen to explain the billions of years that other creatures have been around. Maybe we just haven’t found a fossilized McDonalds wrapper or smartphone from an older culture.

And maybe, just maybe, 160 million years from now, some scientist in some distant civilization will be doing some laser-based reproduction of me, sitting at my desk, blogging.

Or, maybe, we haven’t the slightest idea what we’re doing, all our methods are leading us in the wrong direction, and 160 million years from now some scientist will think that I’m a four-winged dinosaur.

Think about that for a minute.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.