Hi readers of “Green tea and Velociraptors”, my name is Sabine Lengger, I am a scientist, and I am an avid reader of Jon’s blog too. I started out my scientific career as a chemist / biochemist, and became more and more fascinated by the fields of environmental chemistry and molecular palaeontology. Since Jon spends all day [apparently] writing his thesis these days and asked for a guest writer, I thought I could add the occasional thought on fossils from my perspective. Below there’s a little introduction to palaeontology from the organic chemist’s point of view, and the stuff that we get excited about … molecules!
Back in the Mesozoic, lavatories probably didn’t exist. In fact, dinosaurs and other animals were probably pretty poorly mannered and just pooped wherever they felt like. But what or who cleaned up after them? In modern biomes, poop is decomposed by insects and bacteria of all breeds, and actually forms quite an important part of energy flow within ecosystems. But was it the same million of years ago during the reign of the dinosaurs?
Imagine a natural world without decomposers. Carcasses would litter landscapes, and there’d be a neat smattering of faeces decorating everything like jam. Humans have adapted beyond this need for decomposers by creating the loo – dinosaurs weren’t so technologically efficient, and one can only imagine the issues T. rex would have trying to flush anyway.