I love dinosaurs. Love ’em. I’m grateful to Robert Bakker for his book Raptor Red, for his ability to translate cold fossils into a well-considered and touching portrait of Red, a female utahraptor. The book follows her through a particularly trying year as she struggles to survive in the harsh Cretaceous wilds. Her year is packed raising her young, taking down Astrodons, hunting in collaboration with pterosaurs, and fending off herds of Deinonychus. She lives more in a year than most animals do in a lifetime. But before you feel dwarfed in her shadow, like you wasted 2021, she did have 5 extra days in her year to get it all done.
You see, back in the Cretaceous, the earth was spinning faster than it spins today. In one full orbit of the earth around the sun, Red would see 370 sunsets and 370 sunrises crest over the arid mountains. In the 100 million years since her last sunset, a lot has changed, including the number of days in a year. As long as we’ve had tidal shifts, our planet has gradually been slowing it’s rotation (source). To balance it out, though, while there were more solar days in a year, a year was still 8,766 hours. This sadly means that each of Red’s 370 days were shorter than ours, coming it right around 23 hours and 40 minutes. A time machine to take me back in time would likely not make me more productive.