Find a palaeontologist. Have him watch a whole lot of science fiction time-travel movies. Guide him into philosophical conversations about pivotal moments and alternate history. Then set him in front a keyboard, and see what spills out about what he might have studied if not dinosaurs.
Okay, that's probably not how this article was written, but that's how I'm going to imagine it. This is an intriguing peek at the practice of science, and a case study for how researchers end up studying the particular fields they do.