In my world, a combination of silly magic and technology have made all dinosaur/prehistoric animal remains come back to life. I'm assuming that this magic somehow makes the bones and other remains stick together as you might see a skeleton in a museum, as long as most of the skeleton is intact (we'll say 75%). Soft tissue like muscle and skin needn't be intact.

I'm sure there are at least millions of dinosaur skeletons still partially intact, but if they are all a mile underground they may not actually appear to humans on the surface, so let's assume only the skeletons within 10 feet of the surface.

If you had to estimate, how many skeletons would be exhumed and able to roam about, and how did you get to that number?


closed as too broad by RonJohn, Renan, Giter, Mołot, Vincent Apr 16 '18 at 19:42

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    $\begingroup$ I am 100% confident that the correct number is greater than 10 but smaller than one googol. $\endgroup$ – Renan Apr 16 '18 at 18:46
  • $\begingroup$ Depends only on your tech and magic to decide how many of them is intact enough and shallow enough. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Apr 16 '18 at 19:32
  • $\begingroup$ There are going to be a lot of mammals roaming around. $\endgroup$ – Willk Apr 16 '18 at 19:41
  • $\begingroup$ Depend on how many dinosaurs are buried. Too many factors that we don't know. $\endgroup$ – Vincent Apr 16 '18 at 19:41
  • $\begingroup$ You may get an answer at earthscience.se, "how many fossils are there/might the be?" But stone is hard, so even if a fossil is mostly showing on the surface, unless the zombies are unstoppably strong, it will still be trapped. $\endgroup$ – user25818 Apr 16 '18 at 19:44

At minimum, about 2,100 dinosaur fossils, probably not more than 200,000.

The main problem with this idea is that most of the dinosaur fossils are embedded in solid rock. While some are close to the surface, or even directly exposed by erosion, most are probably buried by literal tons of rock and sediments.

To give any sort of meaningful answer we have to make some assumptions about the magical forces and their upper limit.

Lets imagine that the magic force to hold up our dinosaur revenant can also remove at an equal amount of confining rock / sediment layer.

Some example numbers: A 15 ton dinosaur might have a surface area of 10m^2 of rock covering it. Assume an average density of 2.6 g/cm^3 for quartz based rock, and our magic dino can escape from being buried about 1/2 m deep.

0.5m * 10m^2 * 2600kg/m^3 = 13,000kg of covering rock.
15 tons = 15 * 2000 lbs/ton / (2.2 lbs/ kg) = 13,636 kg of dinosaur

Larger dinosaurs would weigh more, but would also have a larger surface area to have to escape from, so it probably balances out.

I made a ton of wild assumptions here, such as a dinosaur fossil weighs about as much as the live dinosaur, rock types covering them, and surface area. This is just to get a decent idea of what we're dealing with.

Apply some hand-wavium to adjust the strength of the magic to extract them from even further down by magically shattering the rock and having the revived dinosaurs crawl upwards through the rubble. Three meters deep is probably a decent ballpark for that.

The exact number of remains in that region is difficult to predict because we don't know how many dinosaur fossils there are in total or their distribution.

However, it is estimated that there are around 2,100 fairly complete dinosaur skeletons in museums around the world. Those will be far easier to remove from their locations in research institutions than those locked in bedrock.

Lets work with that number and say we have found 10% of partially exposed dinosaur fossils world wide, and now we can say 20,000 dinosaurs are exhumed by our spell.

Adjust that percentage as you please (or how optimistic you might be for paleontologists!) and say that our 2,100 found skeletons are only 1% of the global total in our range of the surface and you've got 200,000 revived dinosaurs.

Here is the source I used for the number in museums: https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/articles/teaching-content/unearthing-dinosaur-bones-and-fossils/

Have fun and I hope that helped!

  • $\begingroup$ That is immensely helpful! I hadn't thought to actually do the math of the weight covering the buried skeletons. Thank you! $\endgroup$ – hhoburg Apr 16 '18 at 20:03

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