A new study suggests that a real-life “Jurassic World” could currently exist, just on another planet.
Planets farther away from Earth could harbor species resembling terrestrial dinosaurs, and humans may now have the potential to find them, according to a new study published in the Monthly Notices of the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society.
“The light footprint of modern Earth has been our model for identifying potentially habitable planets, but there was a time when this fingerprint was much clearer — better at showing signs of life,” study author Lisa Kaltenegger said in a statement to The Sun.
According to the study, researchers on Earth can discover such life by searching for compounds that do not currently exist on our planet but existed in the age of dinosaurs. This is because the Earth had higher levels of oxygen, about 30%, during the time of the dinosaurs, which allowed complex creatures to grow. Today, oxygen levels on Earth have stabilized at 21%.
The researchers say that these high oxygen levels could be evidence of the type of life existing on a distant planet, noting that special telescopes could be used to detect conditions similar to what dinosaurs faced millions of years ago.
One clue scientists can look for is whether the planet is in the Phanerozoic stage, allowing the planet to host large, complex life forms.
“The Phanerozoic is the most recent 12% or so of Earth’s history, but it includes almost all the times when life was more complex than microbes and sponges,” Rebecca Payne, a Cornell University scientist, told The Sun. “This gives us hope that it might be a little easier to find signs of life — even large, complex life — elsewhere in the universe.”
According to Kaltenegger, searching for planets with higher levels of oxygen could lead to the discovery of interesting life forms while also facilitating research.
“We hope to find some planets that have more oxygen than Earth right now because that will make the search for life a little easier,” Kaltenegger said. “And who knows, maybe there are other dinosaurs waiting to be found.”
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