Jurassic Pork: Were dinosaurs and their colleagues kosher?

Dinosaurs, the so-called “paleo diet”, implied time travel, and religious theoretical sensibilities all figure in a new study called “Jurassic Pork: What Could a Jewish Time Traveler Eat?“, by Roy E. Plotnick, Jessica M. Theodor, and Thomas R. Holtz, published in the journal Evolution: Education and Outreach, vol. 8, no. 17, September 34, 2015. The authors, at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Calgary, the University of Maryland, and the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, explain:

Paleontologists use multiple methods to reconstruct the anatomy and behavior of extinct animals, including direct observations from well-preserved fossils and inferences from the phylogeny of modern and extinct relatives. We illustrate these techniques by reference to the biblical definitions of kosher and non-kosher animals; that is, how can we apply these approaches to the hypothetical question of whether an extinct form would have been kosher. The biblical categories do not readily map to modern understandings of systematics, but are heavily based on life mode. When given, distinguishing characteristics, such as the presence of fins and scales in aquatic animals, can be readily seen directly in fossils. In other cases, such as cud chewing, they need to be inferred from the phylogenetic relationships of the fossil forms. Dinosaurs (other than birds), unfortunately, are not kosher. A kosherpaleo diet” would be increasingly difficult further in the past….

“Figure 1 shows the known time range of the families whose members today are considered kosher and that occur in the fossil record. The range goes from today back to the oldest fossil occurrence of that family. Of the forty-four families that are found as fossils, only 14 go back as far as the Cretaceous, four to the Jurassic, and only one, the bowfins (Family Amiidae) as far back as the Triassic.”

fossil record

Here is an earlier, somewhat similar — though incomplete — study, the trailer for a film called “Jurassic Park”: