More than 65 million years ago, a cataclysmic event drove a majority of the Earth's species into extinction, and tragically, wiped out the last of the dinosaurs long before bazookas could be invented and used on them.
According to Ernest Diffey, a fossil archivist at the American Museum of Natural History, a giant asteroid struck the earth in the late Cretaceous period, forever robbing scientists of valuable data concerning the effects powerful rocket launchers might have had on the largest land animals that ever lived.
"Over the years, we've learned a great deal about their physiology, their dietary habits, and even their migratory patterns," Diffey said. "Unfortunately, however, nothing in the fossil record can reveal what it would be like to blow apart the massive front leg of a charging diplodocus and then watch it crash violently to the ground, sending a spray of dirt and dinosaur blood several stories into the air."
"There are so many questions that must remain unanswered," Diffey added. "Like what kind of blood-curdling shriek a pterodactyl would have made after being blasted out of the sky with an M20A1 Super Bazooka. It's truly a shame."
Diffey said that, while testing the effects of high-power incendiary devices on animals such as hippopotamuses and blue whales could provide some insight into the mystery of dinosaur detonation, these lines of inquiry have largely been abandoned as inadequate simulations.
"Advanced computer models can help us to a certain extent," Diffey said. "But it's still no substitute for controlled experiments in which researchers toss a half dozen fragmentary grenades into a pack of velociraptors, or send an entire herd of stampeding apatosauruses through an active minefield."
To many paleontologists, such as Richard Hollander of the University of Michigan, exploring the various ways dinosaurs might have been slaughtered with today's military technology is a vital area of study.
"It's part of human nature to wonder what it would be like to crash a fully fueled F-14 Tomcat into a 60-foot-long, razor-toothed spinosaurus and then eject just before impact to see the chunks of smoking flesh flying in all directions as one gently parachutes to the ground," Hollander said. "And it is a tremendous loss for science that we'll never be able to take one of the smaller ones, like maybe the epidexipteryx, and smash it into mush with a shovel."
"Or a golf club," added Hollander, shaking his head. "Or a chainsaw."