If we measured success by longevity, then dinosaurs must rank as the number one success story in the history of land life.(full size dinosaur costume) Not only did dinosaurs exercise an airtight monopoly as large land animals, they kept their commanding position for an extraordinary span of time—130 million years. Our own human species is no more than a hundred thousand years old. And our own zoological class, the Mammalia, the clan of warm-blooded furry creatures, has ruled the land ecosystem for only seventy million years. True, the dinosaurs are extinct, but we ought to be careful in judging them inferior to our own kind. (Animatronic dinosaur costume)Who can say that the human system will last another thousand years, let alone a hundred million? Who can predict that our Class Mammalia will rule for another hundred thousand millennia?
If we measure success of a zoological dynasty by the defense of its borders, then the Dinosauria must rank as the most robust of ruling clans. Dinosaurs were not unopposed in the world-game of competition and predation. As the early Dinosauria spread their species into every role open to large land creatures, the dinosaurs were driving out the last remnants of very advanced and very specialized clans, zoological tribes which had been evolving and perfecting their adaptive equipment for tens of millions of years. (full size dinosaur model)Like the Mongol hordes sweeping across the old cities of eastern Europe, dinosaurs wasted little time in expelling these wellestablished kingdoms. And during their long reign, the dinosaurs faced potential threats from dozens of new clans that evolved even higher grades of teeth and claws, bodies and brains. Despite the evolutionary vigor of the potential opposition, dinosaurs kept their ecological frontiers intact; no other clan succeeded in evolving to a large size as long as the Dinosauria existed.