3
$\begingroup$

I am trying to create an isolated microcontinent where Cretaceous era dinosaurs/and maybe flora (specifically somewhere like Hell Creek) continues to survive with relatively little evolutionary difference (Similar to how platypus has remained relatively unchanged.) I want this area to essentially be the only landmass where non-avian dinosaurs are found as I want Cenozoic fauna in other areas of the planet. My question is, how can this be done? A KT-Extinction style event would stop photosynthesis so that's a no-go. I was thinking maybe disease or a smaller scale volcanism event (tiny Siberian Traps), that somehow doesn't affect said microcontinent. Any help would be greatly appreciated, thank you!

$\endgroup$
14
  • $\begingroup$ We're occasionally asked a question like this. With the science-based tag in play, the answer is always "it can't be done, there isn't a way to scientifically stop evolution, adaptation, or mutation." You're choice is to take the Jules Verne option: declare it to be so as a rule of your world and move on with your story. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jan 1 at 6:16
  • $\begingroup$ Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking. $\endgroup$
    – Community Bot
    Jan 1 at 6:31
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH Thanks for the comment! It helped me realize that I need to clarify that I'm not trying to halt evolution, moreso keep the ecosystem stable enough that the fauna/flora look relatively unchanged in a similar fashion to platypus and similar creatures that have changed little morphologically in the last 100+ million years. $\endgroup$
    – Cato
    Jan 1 at 6:59
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ But that's the problem: it's believable (not possible, but believable) to hold the temperature, rainfall, wind, etc., in an area to a very small amount of variation for millions of years... and you'd still have evolution, adaptation, and mutation. Humanity didn't evolve simply because the world changed around us and eventually we popped out. Every birth has a few differences. They still do! We're just getting better at working around or fixing those changes, which slows evolution down. The simple truth is, there's no scientific way to achieve what you're asking. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jan 1 at 7:06
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Also keep in mind that over millions of years the position of your geographic area literally changes. Islands are formed and destroyed. Whole continents move around. If you want to have some fun, check out this map of the globe that can be adjusted for different time periods. The one rule of science is that things change. And you're asking for a scientific way to stop that. This begs the question, how important is it to have a scientifically-defensible justification for your location? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jan 1 at 7:10

1 Answer 1

1
$\begingroup$

Fairly easily actually, so long as you are just looking for modern dinosaurs that look and act relatively like cretaceous dinosaurs, and not a literal cessation to the mechanisms of evolution. Modern crocodiles are quite physically and behaviorally similar to their cretaceous cousins, but if you had a DNA sample you'd be able to tell that they are very different organisms that have been subject to the same micro-level change over time as any other organism. There is no halting the shuffling and shifting of genes over the eons, but you can create an environment where that shuffling and shifting is unlikely to move the needle too much on the macro scale just by creating a very stable environment.

Evolution moves inexorably forward, sure, but when the environment is stable and all the niches are filled, there isn't much benefit in deviating from how you already do things, and the risks of changing jobs while everyone else is optimizing can be substantial. If the adaptations you already have are working, you will tend to lean into them and stay similar until they stop working. The primary engine that drives major evolutionary change is the freeing up of niches, as happens after a mass extinction event. The dinosaurs were around for longer than they have been gone. They didn't just fade away because of the inevitable march of time. The environment changed drastically, leading to them dying out and abandoning their niches, which, in turn, led to an explosion of diversification among mammal and bird species that were able to fill in those niches. If that mass extinction had never happened and the environment of the cretaceous remained constant, the dinosaurs would still be here, many probably looking quite similar to the way they did 65 million years ago.

The way to have a microclimate where the dinosaurs are still around is just to have a microclimate that hasn't changed since the Cretaceous. Evolution will keep going, and how these dinosaurs differ from their ancestors would be an interesting thing to consider (likely options are things like becoming smaller or changes in things like coloration or behavior), but having a T-Rex as similar to its cretaceous ancestors as an alligator is to theirs wouldn't be a stretch at all in a mythical land isolated from the K/T mass extinction, where the environmental pressures that drove dinosaur extinction and mammal diversification elsewhere never happened.

$\endgroup$
5
  • $\begingroup$ What ways do you think a microclimate could avoid an otherwise global extinction? $\endgroup$
    – Cato
    Jan 3 at 3:58
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not really sure what the limits of possibility are in your story. Silurians shielded an island with lost tech? The microclimate is the inside of the hollow earth? If you are looking for something more inside the realm of possibility I think that if 1) the K/T event were less severe. Maybe instead of a direct impact it was a near miss that broke off huge chunks that rained down on the earth, still kicking up a lot of dust but maybe making it possible for dinosaurs to eke out an existence in particularly rich equatorial environments. $\endgroup$
    – Jeremiah
    Jan 3 at 15:43
  • $\begingroup$ and 2) a particular region was left free of mammals, allowing sub-optimal designs to retain their positions in their niches even when things were tough. Animals have a tough time getting to islands so some remote island could concievably not have a mammal population (no birds are a harder sell because of the whole flight thing, but possible if remote enough, as flight designs weren't particularly optimized at this time. I'm not sure if you had the equivalent of seagulls in bird form by K/T Day, though you definitely had pterysaurs filling that role). $\endgroup$
    – Jeremiah
    Jan 3 at 15:43
  • $\begingroup$ You are left then with the question of how the dinosaurs got there, especially if you have a couple big ones, and it would have to be kind of a big island to support a population like that, but it's theoretically feasible. $\endgroup$
    – Jeremiah
    Jan 3 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ Preferably the method of shielding said climate is more in the realm of possibility than something more sci-fi. I enjoy the idea of a close fly-by and I could perhaps even tie it in with the creation of a small planetary ring of some sort. I don't have an exceptional amount of freedom in the magic or tech department(at least not yet), but I do have freedom as being that this planet isn't actually Earth, it's just immensely Earth-like. I was thinking of making it a smaller microcontinent. Maybe the size of Madagascar if not a bit larger. $\endgroup$
    – Cato
    Jan 4 at 2:14

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .