Have a look at this picture:
Looks a lot like the aliens in all the abduction stories, doesn't it? The interesting thing is that it's not meant to be an alien at all, but a possible evolution of a dinosaur:
The dinosaur is Troodon, sometimes called Stenonychosaurus, a relative of the velociraptors that lived at the end of the Cretaceous. These interesting little critters had stereoscopic vision, grasping hands, and one of the highest brain-body ratios known for any dinosaur.
Carl Sagan in his 1977 book The Dragons of Eden wonders what might have happened had these been given more time to develop their intelligence. In 1981 the Canadian paleontologist Dale Russell and the artist Ron Sequin made this model of just such an intelligent "dinosaurid". (For more details, read the chapter in Dinosaurs Past and Present, edited by SJ Czerkas and EC Olson, published by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.)
What does this have to do with the X-Files? Well, the most commonly reported aliens look like the dinosaurid; seem to have no trouble with our atmosphere, micro-organisms, or even food; and in many cases have compatible DNA. This leads me to
Clearly, some genuine aliens visited earth and took away some Troodon specimens before the rest of the dinosaurs became extinct. Over millions of years the Troodons have evolved just as Russell and Seguin predicted (rather like the Old Ones in Frederik Pohls Beyond the Blue Event Horizon). Now they have spaceships, and they want their planet back!
In the Star Trek Novel First Frontier aliens did exactly what I surmised above, the intelligent Troodontoids becoming the Clan Ru. (Thanks to Steve Leahy for lending me the book.)
The third season of Voyager had an episode Distant Origin which also featured intelligent humanoids evolved from dinosaurs. Through either scientific ineptness or a misguided attempt to be "original" the writers picked hadrosaurs as the ancestor, the cows of the Cretaceous. Sigh.
If you enjoyed this page, you might also like my Ecological Study of Ripleys' Alien
To my surprise, this page has been linked to from a few places on the Net, once even from a perfectly respectable evolutionary discussion group. If you've just jumped straight here, I wrote this for the amusement of the aus.tv.x-files news group, nothing more. The scientists quoted are real, but they wouldn't believe anything as silly as this...and neither do I.
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