Are Plastic Dinosaurs Made from Real Dinosaurs?!

Are Plastic Dinosaurs Made from Real Dinosaurs?!

Here’s a fun connection that people
on the internet like to make: plastic is made of oil, and oil is made of dinosaurs, so when you’re playing with plastic dinosaur toys, you’re basically playing with the remains of real dinosaurs. It’s fun to think about but it’s not that simple. For one thing, oil and natural gas
that we pump out of the ground are not the chemical leftovers of dinosaurs. Instead, they’re made from the ancient remains of a whole bunch of much smaller creatures. The internet might want you to think that
oil equals dinosaur corpses, but the fact is that the petroleum we use to make plastics actually comes from ancient ocean floors, where there weren’t any dinosaurs. But those ocean waters did and still do
support a mind-bogglingly huge mass of tiny microorganisms, plants, and animals. And not all that biomass gets eaten by bigger creatures. Some of it dies and trickles down
through the ocean as so-called marine snow, a sort of perpetual rain of organic matter
that falls to the seafloor. If enough of this material builds up faster than it decays, then you wind up with a layer of
organic goo at the bottom of the ocean. After a while, the goo can get buried under
sand and other sediment and then time, pressure, and heat
turn that organic layer into oil and natural gas. Changes in sea level and the movement of the Earth’s crust sometimes force those old ocean floors to the surface, which is why some oil and gas reserves are found on dry land, but others are still underwater like in the Gulf of Mexico. And there’s one more twist to the plastic equals oil equals dinosaur story: not only is oil not made from dinosaurs, but plastic isn’t always made from oil. Frequently it’s made from natural gas. The main precursor to plastic is a byproduct of petroleum refining called hydrocarbon gas liquids. They’re made of relatively light carbon compounds that can be condensed out of natural gas by cooling it. These compounds are used in the
chemical reactions that we use to make plastic. And in the United States they’re the source
of most of the plastic that’s made. So in the end, oil and natural gas come from the same place, but it’s not some dinosaur graveyard. It’s ancient ocean floors, where countless billions of tiny animals, plants, and microorganisms wound up, so that your kid
could play with their plastic t-rex. Whether you choose to explain that to them
is totally up to you. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow and thanks to all our patrons who keep these answers coming. If you’d like to submit questions or get some videos early go to, and don’t forget to go to and subscribe. Hank: …bowling ball to the head suddenly Fred Flinstone can’t remember who he is, another bonk and everything goes back to normal. It makes for some Pleasant cartoon hijinks, but in reality concussion induced amnesia…

100 thoughts on “Are Plastic Dinosaurs Made from Real Dinosaurs?!

  1. Natural Gas is 91% Methane.
    Cracking is used to make plastic.
    How the fuck do you break down the simplest of alkanes into smaller alkenes? Doesn't make sense ¯ (ツ) /¯

    Or maybe what I learn from school is wrong.

  2. Hi Scishow,
    I just wanted to say that your Show is awsome!! you explain everything so good, that Even I, as a not
    native speaker , understand everything
    btw Olivia is a very good presenter☺
    just keep on being awsome

  3. actually its from deads organism not just dead dinosaurs or trees. i know the history channel talked about it which is way more credible well used to be

  4. when you say "T-Rex", are you sure thats what in the picture?
    i dont actually know, im just asking cuz american movies never showed one with a front horn.

    thank you, you are a lovely girl. f*ck the haters.

  5. I think the issue folks seem to be having relates more to contrast than anything. Some have mentioned Michael catching crap when he first started, but that was a matter of presentation style (for the record, I never watch John Green videos because his voice is super-annoying to me).

    But the biggest difference I've seen with Olivia is her contrasts – she is often framed from a distance, in a big space, and she fills only the middle of that space. I find it harder to watch her when she is on a dark background with a white shirt because she seems farther away. Forget the hair and glasses, ffs, John's hair is legendarily unkempt and I see reflections in Hank's glasses all the time. Bring the camera in closer to her, and/or change the background/add graphics to better frame her.

    Feel the need to add that I have a bit of face blindness, I see people more as composites of a whole rather than their facial expressions. It takes alot for me to read facial expressions, it's much easier onscreen than in person, and I just can't get a read on Olivia through the way she is presented. I hope none of this sounds mean, because I like to listen to her and I just want her to be easier for me to watch.

  6. do you wake up in the morning and say to yourself "how can i make myself as unattractive as possible to both sexes"?

  7. Whew, I was getting sick of this one. Like…how many dinosaurs did people think all died in one place? And now I have a handy video to link to when this comes up!

  8. Oil or gas is a function of pressure and temperature in the reservoir rock. And what organic matter it comes from does not matter. The initial biomass that contributed to the hydrocarbons is probably most one-celled simple organisms (algae etc.) because these organisms make up the most of the biomass in general. So the oil and gas come from a vector of different organisms that lived and died in the old shallow waters – and a tiny fraction is probably T-rexes that fell into the waters (T-rexes were bad swimmers ;)).

    But the presentation was good 🙂

  9. girl, you're sexy/funny/intelligent/etc but PLEASE remove the glasses when shooting vids, the reflection is annoying.

  10. Can you guys Debunk the "It works!" con thing?
    It's dehydration, but that explanation doesn't do it for most people.

  11. Well yeahAtoms etc don't have identitiesEach electron is really the same electron in different points in space-time

  12. Great video! Never seen this host before, but she definitely did a good job on this one!
    I personally think it's much more exiting to think about that we all breath some part of air with every breath that once was also in a dinosaurs lung! Also if we drink a glass of water, there is some small part of it that once was in a dinosaur! ;D

  13. people complain about Olivia's septum piercing but nobody says anything about Michael's gauges? People are annoying

  14. hmmm so my thought is… damn you were pessimistic in explaining this but i will say i always thought it was from algea not micro organisms like plankton so yes i did learn something and i am happy this was explained in such detail but, again you seemed just pissed at the internet… i may have not portrayed this specifically but i am a part of the internet. fuck all the haters who hate on others for being different i just wish she went about this episode in a lighter tone

  15. The title is kinda gimicky, considering a small part of almost everything that ever lived is in people/things made today.

  16. If you explain this to a child, make sure to also explain that the chicken they ate recently was 100% dinosaur. They'll find that way cooler.

  17. So what I think I've learned here, is instead of plastic dinosaurs if I want a toy made from they things it once actually was I need plastic amebas and protozoa

  18. oh no i dont think oil is made from dinosours. that theory was brought up by i fucking love science, which as we all know, posts only sensation clickbait without any regard for the truth just so they can lead you to their hoax advertisements

  19. huh, I am subscribed to this channel and I get a mail notification on all videos but this one didn't show up ?

  20. Anyone else who hates all those permavirgins that are like "olivia you're beautiful 🙂 pls fuck me im a virgin". Focus on the damn video!

    Btw nice video, didnt know how oil was actually made.

  21. Great job Olivia. Replacing fiction with fact, and well presented too. And, though it doesn't matter a damn, you look great too! x

  22. "You know that thing I'm telling you that you believed? It's wrong, you idiot. Let me tell you the real shit." isn't a very sound approach to teaching. SciShow, I am losing interest. The "Dank Memes" video was almost as useless as this. "You want dank memes? Here is 6 minutes of how DNA works and evolutionary theory". I don't know what went wrong, but it went VERY wrong when it did.

  23. @SciShow Ok, now I have a further inquiry: We know from the fossil record that oceans have also been inhabited in prehistoric times by large swimming reptiles (such as the plesiosaur) which might not technically fit the taxonomic of dinosaur, but that the average person would identify as a dinosaur if shown an image of one, and that exist in the collective consciousness of people outside the paleontology community as dinosaurs. Did these large marine reptiles exist at the same time as the goo forming microorganisms that became the bulk of oil deposits used in plastic manufacture? Is it possible that my toy ichthyosaur is in any part composed of real, once living ichthyosaur remains?

  24. Sci Show can you explain Abiotic oil production, and the cause of liquid hydrocarbons on celestial bodies?

  25. Honestly the whole comment section is full of people complaining about people who complain about Olivia, but i cant see any comments with complainings about Olivia. (i dont mean that there should be any)

  26. It's not "poeple on the Internet". It's basically US Americans. That meme appeared there and spread like wildfire probably because of bad basic education system.

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