A new dinosaur discovery has been made in Alaska. If you don't care, you definitely should. Not only is it a fascinating success for science, but it's also a humbling reminder that humanity doesn't really know anything about anything.
At one time, giant monsters walked around in the same places we live and go to work. It's not something you think about all the time, but it's bizarre to remember.
Long before society was established, huge cities were erected, or mankind was even a twinkle in Mother Nature's eye, dinosaurs roamed the countryside...just pretty much eating each other. That's all they did.
You can't really blame them. When your arms are that short, Yo-Yos and Gameboys aren't exactly an entertainment option.
Although generations of scientists have spent the last couple hundred years dedicated to uncovering as much knowledge as they can about what we'll from here on out refer to as `Dinosaur Times,' there's still so much that modern society is in the dark about.
Scientists are discovering new species of dinosaurs all the time, realizing that species they thought they discovered don't actually exist, and just generally making it extremely difficult for Hollywood to write the new Jurassic Park movie.
Well, screenwriters, you'd better start on that fifth draft because they've discovered a new species of dinosaur.
Bones from the pygmy tyrannosaur, a tiny cousin to the mighty T-rex, were discovered in Alaska about six years ago. The paleontologists who made the find are only now discovering that they belong to a previously undiscovered species.
The pygmy tyrannosaur looks almost exactly like a T-rex, but is half the size. Its official name, Nanuqsaurus hoglundi, appropriately means 'polar bear lizard.'
The paleontologists, Anthony Fiorillo and Ronald Tykoski, didn't realize the bones they'd discovered belonged to a new species until now because they'd spent the last six years identifying another new species also discovered on the same dig.
Since 2006, the two scientists had been finishing their work on the discovery of Pachyrhinosaurus perotorum "“ a horned, plant-eating dinosaur. It wasn't until they decided to take a look at some of the other bones that they realized they'd made two discoveries in the Alaskan tundra.
"As paleontologists, you're trying to study the history of life on earth and anytime you find something new you think it's cool and, in this particular case, I'm just kind of overwhelmed by the magnitude of the interest in this particular cool story,"
The Nanuqsaurus hoglundi is an interesting find because we've never seen a tyrannosaur this small before. Fiorillo and Tykoski explain that the dinosaur evolved into its small size to better adapt to the long and dark Alaskan winters.
"So animals that lived up there had to cope with really long, dark winters if they stuck around, and from a variety of evidence, we feel that they probably did stick around over the winter months," they said.
Ok. Let's drop the science jargon and put our human condition bibs on.
The reason that scientific discoveries like this are important for us as a society is because they show us that we never quite know the score.
We like to think like we have everything figured out. Up is up, down is down, venture capitalism is great, and nobody will ever use Sprint phones.
But scientists are constantly redefining what we know about the Universe and history, and if people actually pay attention it will help them to understand that we don't really know anything about anything. Things we understand as objective facts are always being changed, disproved, or reexamined.
We laugh when we read stories about explorers who thought the Earth was flat, but we've got to have enough humility to accept we are no different than those guys. We'll always be in the dark about something because the Universe is an insanely intricate and mysterious entity that our fingers don't even begin to have a pulse on.
In two weeks, we could find out that we're all actually meat robots built by a race of lizard people. We could find out that ice cream is good for your health. We could find out that Rush Limbaugh was right about everything. I don't think any of these things are true, but I'm just a stupid monkey. What do I know?
So stay humble, people. Society's next Nanuqsaurus hoglundi is just around the corner.