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Digital Subscriptions > iScot Magazine > November/December 2018 > As old as the hills

As old as the hills

James Hutton, the Scottish Enlightenment and the North West Highlands Geopark

”Go to the mountains to read the immeasurable course of time.” James Hutton, 1788

Fred Flintstone has a lot to answer for!

Recently we had a display of fossils in the library. A young woman with two small children examined a fossilised dinosaur tooth with great interest. She then turned to me and asked if cavemen would have kept dinosaurs as pets. And to my surprise the question was serious.

It brought home to me just how difficult the concept of time can be. Especially the further back you go. All those billions of years that have gone into creating the planet we know today, including the millions it’s taken for our particular bit of it, Scotland, to reach its present form. Such a vast span of time can be hard, if not impossible, for our minds to grasp.

This ‘deep time’, as it’s called, is measured in eons, eras, periods and epochs. Geologists believe that many of these eras were brought to an end by specific cataclysmic events. Like, for example, the one 64 million years ago, when a gigantic meteor strike is thought to have set off a chain reaction so destructive that it led to mass extinctions on Earth, the dinosaurs included. Extinctions that occurred long, long before the arrival of humans. So no, if you were a caveman you most certainly wouldn’t have had a dinosaur as a pet! Fred Flintstone has a lot to answer for!

Fred & Dino Credit Hanna-Barbera
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