Since we first began to uncover dinosaur bones, we’ve been finding more and more every year, but the thing that has started to bother scientists recently is the question of will we ever run out of dinosaurs to find.
We Don’t Know how many Species Existed in the First Place
It seems as time goes on we are finding the fossils of more and more existing species and fewer new species. This is made all the more difficult by the fact that they never rally knew how many existed in the first place. To get estimates and predictions, scientists use maths to calculate probabilities of a population based on a small sample, and researchers applied this to the fossil record of known species of dinosaur to try and get an idea of how many species there may be left to discover before we run out.
We May Have Less than 200 Years of Discovery Left
in 2006 researchers began compiling all the data from the fossil records, including very rare species, and at this point in time it was thought we had only discovered about 29% of the fossils out there, which is good news for some palaeontologists.
The rate of new growing technology means we are finding more and more dinosaur species and genera every year. When we first began to discover them in 1824 we have basically discovered 1 a year since then, for 150 years we followed this pattern. Technology and science improving means this number has shot up to a whopping 15 genera discovered a year. Using maths again, recalculations that suggest we may have discovered 50% of all dinosaur genera by the year 2056 and by 2102 we should have found about 75% of dinosaurs left.
The More We Find The Scarcer They Get
This seems like common sense, the more you dig up the less they are, but in terms of species it also makes perfect sense. The reason we haven’t found many species is simply that they were so rare or ancient we haven’t come across them, but the time we have found 75% of dinosaurs, the remaining ones will most likely be the rarest, so will take much longer to find. Scientists predict this time as stressful for palaeontologists studying them. They estimate we will have found 90% of dinosaurs by the mid 22nd century.