Research published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society indicates the potential existence of dinosaurs beyond our planet and hints at our ability to encounter them.
The study proposes that exploring compounds not present on present-day Earth, but existing during the dinosaur era, could yield significant revelations.
One pivotal factor that scientists identify as crucial in this groundbreaking quest is oxygen. While Earth’s current oxygen levels stand at around 21 percent, during the dinosaur era, it reached 30 percent. This higher oxygen concentration theoretically facilitated the dominance and longevity of dinosaurs on our planet.
The study speculates that if distant planets harbor similar oxygen levels, conditions might be conducive for the existence of alien-like dinosaurs in those environments.
The study’s co-author Lisa Kaltenegger said in a statement: “Modern Earth’s light fingerprint has been our template for identifying potentially habitable planets, but there was a time when this fingerprint was even more pronounced — better at showing signs of life.”
She adds: “This gives us hope that it might be just a little bit easier to find signs of life — even large, complex life — elsewhere in the cosmos.”
One clue that could unlock this discovery which scientists are looking for are signs of a Phanerozoic stage on a planet which would allow creatures like dinosaurs to evolve.
The study’s lead author, Rebecca Payne of Cornell University, said: “The Phanerozoic is just the most recent 12 per cent or so of Earth’s history, but it encompasses nearly all of the time in which life was more complex than microbes and sponges. These light fingerprints are what you’d search for elsewhere if you were looking for something more advanced than a single-celled organism.”
If they are successful in finding these conditions on other planets then Kaltenegger believes it could lead to the discovery of dinosaurs that have never been found on Earth.
“Hopefully we’ll find some planets that happen to have more oxygen than Earth right now because that will make the search for life just a little bit easier,” she said. “And, who knows, maybe there are other dinosaurs waiting to be found.”