[General] Dinosaurs would have been terrifying creatures.

emsr2d2

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No, we know dinosaurs existed but, because no human being ever saw them and there are no examples of a living one (and no videos!), everything we know about them is an educated guess/assumption. We know, for example, that some of them were absolutely enormous. We know that some of them had incredibly sharp teeth and claws. We know these things from their skeletons. We can extrapolate, therefore, that they probably were terrifying. However, I think the writer used "would have been" because dinosaurs would have been terrifying if a human being had ever met them.
 

Soseki

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dinosaurs would have been terrifying if a human being had ever met them.

Thank you vey much, emsr2d2.

Does the 'would have been' in the quote mean 'were probably'?


Soseki
 

Tdol

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Not to me- we didn't see them. They were probably less terrifying to each other and other big animals that lived then. However, they would definitely have terrified any human, though we had the good fortune not to be alive when they ruled the world. The terror is the human feeling, which is an imaginary past because we weren't there.
 

Soseki

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Does the 'would have been' in the quote mean 'were probably'?

Does the original sentence turn out to be 'Dinosaurs were probably terrifying creatures.' after all?
 

Tdol

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No- sharks may terrify us, but they don't scare killer whales as much. The sentence means that humans would have found them terrifying if humans had been alive at the time.
 
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