This “what if ” factor, and the scenarios based on it, has of course long been a staple of popular literature and films. On chilly nights over a whisky, paleontologists, too, have sometimes let their minds wander into these realms, in part because of their love for the vanished creatures on which their research and studies focus. If the asteroid hadn’t struck the earth, would engravings of upright, sentient dinosaurs parade across Egyptian tomb walls, and would the Sphinx have a theropod’s head? If modern humans hadn’t left Africa, would Neanderthals have one day sailed to populate the New World?
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Fall 2020 # 135