Interesting Facts about Dinosaurs
The word dinosaur originates from the Greek words deinos meaning terrible and sauros meaning lizard. The Latinized word “Dinosauria” was coined by British scientist Sir Richard Owen in 1842, referring to the then recently discovered large terrestrial animals. In 1841, William Buckland had given them the name Dinosauria.
Dinosaurs are a diverse group of animals of the clade Dinosauriformes (or Paraves). They first appeared during the Triassic period, 231.4 million years ago, although their exact origin and evolution is unclear. The fossil record suggests that birds are a surviving dinosaur lineage, the one which is most closely related to the Dinosauria.
The Dinosauria are divided into two groups according to their hip structure. One group, the Saurischia, has lumbar vertebrae with tightly-interlocking processes (arthropleura), such as in “Pterodactylus”. The second group, the Ornithischia, has more open hip sockets than the Saurischians and their hips usually form a ball-and-socket joint (coxa). This second group includes Stegosaurus and Triceratops. Dinosaurs are the most diverse group of terrestrial vertebrates after the crocodilians. They are present on every continent, in all environments except the sea (where they were once mariners) and in both freshwater and marine environments from the tropics to subarctic regions. Through time, some are carnivores, others herbivores. Some dinosaurs evolved into birds (the avian dinosaurs), while others evolved into modern reptiles. A few lineages such as prehistoric mammals and marsupials survived well into the Cenozoic era; these have been dubbed as surviving dinosaurs by science authors such as Dougal Dixon and Robert T. Bakker.
Dinosaur fossils have been found across all continents
Dinosaur fossils have been found on all seven continents and are usually found in sedimentary rock. Most of these fossils are found on the bottom of the ocean floor or in deserts. Due to erosion and shifts in continental plates, some fossils can be found in areas where they are not believed to have originated. Fossils can be preserved in a variety of ways, including being petrified or encased in tar or amber.
Dinosaur skeletons have been found in many countries around the world. In North America alone, hundreds of complete or partial skeletons have been found. These include “Pentaceratops”, “Triceratops”, “Ankylosaurus”, “Diplodocus”, “Allosaurus”, and “Torosaurus.”
Titanosaur biggest dinosaur ever found
One of the most recent findings is that of a titanosaur named Dippy. Coming in at 43 feet high and 117 feet long, it is the biggest ever found.”
Dippy is one of the latest-and largest-dinosaur discoveries in history. The new titanosaur, a diplodocus relative that inhabited Africa more than 145 million years ago, was found in the Sahara desert in Gadoufaoua and retrieved by a team led by Professor Paul Sereno from Chicago’s Field Museum. It measured about 43 ft (13 m) high and 117 ft (35 m) long, advancing previous estimates for sauropod size. At least 300 bones were recovered from the site so far…
The dinosaur was to be called “Dipsosaurus” but was renamed Dippy after it was learned that an Australian dinosaur enthusiast had already named a diprotodont after themselves…
“Dippy” is one of the most complete dinosaur skeletons ever found and belongs to a previously unknown species of African sauropod… It possesses a unique mosaic of features…which are not found in any single previously known species… This discovery more than doubles the size range for Sauropod dinosaurs, indicating that they may have been far more diverse during the Jurassic than previously thought.
Microceratus the smallest dinosaur
Think you know a thing or two about dinosaurs? Think again! Meet the smallest dinosaur, Microceratus, who is only 2.5 inches long. It may seem like a joke, but this miniature creature was actually pretty powerful for its size. You might be wondering “How could that tiny dinosaur even stand up?” Well, it’s thanks to its disproportionately long tail that provided more than enough support for the little guy (and his friends). No one could mess with Microceratus!
Microceratus was a meat eater! He ate insects, other lizards, and even smaller dinosaurs. But, he didn’t stop there. I don’t mean to gross you out, but Microceratus was also an omnivore with a taste for both plants and meat! Yum!
Troodons the most intelligent dinosaur
Troodons are also known as “bird-eating” dinosaurs because of their hooked beaks. The Troodon is often said to be the most intelligent dinosaur because it seemed to have a bulge in its braincase that indicated a large, enlarged area for the cerebral cortex.
The first thing about Troodon: There’s not a lot of fossil evidence that remains from them—they had thin, delicate bones and their fossils mostly consist of teeth and jaws.
The second thing about Troodons: It had unusually large eye sockets, suggesting that it was nocturnal and depended on sight more than smell or hearing for hunting its prey at night.
The third thing about Troodons: It was a theropod—a carnivore. In fact, it was one of the largest theropods, about 6–8 feet long. Its long legs and tail meant that it wasn’t very fast compared to other dinosaurs of its time—but it had one major survival asset: intelligence.
Researchers have found a 20% enlargement in its braincase (seen as a bulge at the back of the skull) which indicates that Troodon had an unusually large cerebrum—the part of the brain involved with processing information and performing tasks involving reason, memory, planning, visual and spatial perception (including interpreting complex visual images) language, emotions and decision making.
Micropachycephalosaurus: The longest name dinosaur
The Micropachycephalosaurus, which means tiny, thick headed lizard, was a plant-eating dinosaur that is related to the Triceratops. This dinosaur had one of the longest names among all types of dinosaurs. It was a duck-billed dinosaur with four short legs and a long tail. It had horns on its head that were low and flat. It also had large knobs on its neck.
The Micropachycephalosaurus lived in the western United States beginning during the late Cretaceous Period, around 85 million years ago. It is thought to have existed for about 5 million years, and it disappeared when a large meteor struck Earth.
Dinosaurs and their brains
In the land of “dinosaurs are stupid,” this is one of the most prevalent myths. However, it’s simply not true: yes, the most well-known are slow and lumbering beasts with tiny brains, but these stereotypes didn’t stop scientists from uncovering a wide range of dinosaurs that were more than fast enough and intelligent enough to avoid becoming prey.
Check out this list of 10 brilliant dinos to see how many you knew about!
1) Troodon had a brain larger than any other known terrestrial animal except for humans and some other primates. In fact, Troodon may have been among the smartest non-avian dinosaurs. While it may seem surprising that this dinosaur was so intelligent, it makes sense when you consider that Troodon was nocturnal (active at night) and hunted during the night. It needed a great deal of brain power to hunt in the darkness of night.
2) Saurophaganax had one of the largest brains ever for a predatory dinosaur, about 1,000 cubic centimeters. For comparison, T. rex had a brain around 600 cubic centimeters — about half the volume of Saurusphagus’ brain. As one of the largest predators in its ecosystem, Saurophaganax had to be smart enough to find and catch prey as well as escape predators like T. rex that were significantly larger than it was.
3) Gallimimus could run faster than any other land animal that has ever lived, including horses and humans. This dinosaur had very long legs, which gave it a great stride length. It would have used this to its advantage while hunting by chasing down prey at speeds of over 50 mph! While its brain was not very large, Gallimimus’ brain-to-body ratio is typical for dinosaurs and actually one of the largest amongst all dinosaurs.
4) Tropeognathus had a large eye lens and a larger optic nerve than any animal that we know of today or in the past. Compared to its body size, Tropeognathus’ eyes were huge. This was an adaptation to its nocturnal lifestyle and helped it hunt at night.
5) The short-spined stegosaurus had a brain that was surprisingly organized for a dinosaur. The stegosaurus’s brain had a well-developed cerebellum and optic lobes, as well as other well-organized areas for the visual system which suggests that it saw its environment in high detail. Because the stegosaurus lived in an open environment with few trees, it evolved to see in great detail the two-dimensional world it moved through and placed a greater emphasis on sight over its other senses.
6) Deinonychus had a large brain compared to the rest of its body. While this dinosaur wasn’t as intelligent as humans or other primates, it was definitely among the smartest dinosaurs ever! Deinonychus was an active hunter that would have relied on its intelligence and sense of smell to catch prey.
7) Edmontosaurus could run faster than modern day horses by harnessing the power of speed through its long tail. This tail was six feet long and had weight-saving bones, which were hollow and were filled in with air. These features helped Edmontosaurus move at speeds of over 25 mph.
8) Chasmosaurus’s nasal passage was nearly as large as its brain cavity, which is larger than that of any other known animal. This dinosaur relied on smell for survival, which is why it needs such a large nose.
9) The crested duckbilled dinosaur had one of the smallest brains ever found in dinosaurs but could still function as a smart predator. While many dinosaurs with small brains were herbivores, Saurolophus was an active predator that hunted other animals using sight and smell to detect prey.
10) Albertosaurus had a large brain for a theropod dinosaur. While its brain was about the same size as T. rex’s brain, it was unusually large for a theropod. This is because Albertosaurus evolved to have huge heads with massive jaws that helped it hunt larger prey like Triceratops. Coupled with its keen sense of smell, Albertosaurus was an incredibly successful predator — but it would have met its match in T. rex!
More Interesting Facts about Dinosaurs
Dinosaurs are among the most fascinating creatures ever to have walked on our planet.
But what were they really like?
How big were dinosaurs?
What did they eat and drink?
How long could they stay underwater?
There are many ways to approach the topic of dinosaurs and their lives on our planet. One way is to look at them in terms of how many types there were, or to identify different groups based on what they looked like. Another way is to see what they ate and how they lived from a biological standpoint. In this post, we’ll take a different approach. Why? Because the biggest question people have about dinosaurs is: were they really as big as we think they were? To answer that question, we first need to know how big an average dinosaur was and why scientists believe they grew so large.
How big were dinosaurs?
The term “dinosaur” refers to a variety of types of prehistoric creatures, some of which are believed to have lived as long ago as 230 million years, during the Triassic period (the earliest period in the Mesozoic Era). The Triassic period was a time when reptiles were beginning to become the dominant predators on land. But we’re not talking about snakes here. We’re talking about dinosaurs like Eoraptor and Herrerasaurus: two-legged reptiles that were smaller in size than today’s average house cat. Over time, new types of reptiles evolved and became larger. In some cases, they were so big they looked more like dinosaurs than other prehistoric lizards. The dinosaurs we’re talking about were the sauropods; they grew as large as 100 feet long.
The largest of these animals had an estimated length of 100 feet and weighed more than 133 tonnes. But that’s not all. The sauropod family included smaller dinosaurs, like the Apatosaurus, which could grow up to 24 metres long and weigh more than 23 tonnes.
But what made them so big?
What were the factors that contributed to dinosaur gigantism? It all started with their ancestors: the smaller reptiles that were competing for dominance on land. Today, the largest animals on land are elephants and giraffes. They are large enough to battle lions and hyenas. But if you had been around during the Triassic period, you would have witnessed dinosaurs like Eoraptor battling carnivores much larger than themselves. It’s likely that these reptiles were forced to become larger in order to survive and grow strong enough to fight off predators that had more meat on their bones and larger teeth than they did. By becoming stronger, these dinosaurs gave rise to a new group of animals known as the sauropods, who would develop into the largest creatures ever to walk our planet.
Most of what we know about dinosaurs in general comes from fossil evidence. But when it comes to sauropods specifically, we have a little more information than that. In 2005, a group of scientists from Argentina found the first ever preserved eggs belonging to an Argentinosaurus (a type of sauropod). The eggs were larger and more spherical in shape than any other dinosaur egg that had been discovered before. By studying the shells of these eggs and their size, the researchers were able to estimate that this particular type of sauropod weighed between 100 – 133 tonnes. That would be like carrying around 13 African elephants on your back.
What did they eat and drink?
What did dinosaurs eat? In general, they ate plants. But which ones? Some of the sauropods were leaf-eaters. The Apatosaurus, for example, had hundreds of teeth that worked like a giant set of pruning shears. It used these teeth to cut off leaves and branches that would fall in its path as it walked. Other sauropods were fruit-eaters. Fossil evidence shows that the Mamenchisaurus (a dinosaur that was closely related to the sauropod Diplodocus) ate fruit from trees and bushes that grew along the ancient coastline of China about 160 million years ago.
Much like their relatives today, such as crocodiles, dinosaurs could probably survive on a diet of just meat. But to grow to the size they did, sauropods needed an abundance of plant material in their diet. How did they satisfy their appetite for food? Evidence from fossilized dung suggests that these animals grazed much like cows do today in the savannas of Africa. Of course, with bodies so large and tails so long, these herbivores would have had to eat a lot of food to maintain their energy levels and body mass.
The sauropods not only had to eat a lot of food, they needed to drink a lot of water. Their bodies were so huge, in fact, that they were able to drink whole lakes of water with just one gulp. But where did these animals live? At the end of the Cretaceous period (approximately 65 million years ago) much of the United States was covered under a shallow sea. This means that any dinosaur who wanted to drink in the region would have had to swim for miles before finding a freshwater source for its thirst.
Since an adult sauropod can hold up to 100 gallons (378 liters) of water in its stomach, droughts would pose a serious threat to their lives. To help them survive these dry times, sauropods secreted a special kind of chemical in their urine that could prevent external damage to plant cells. Then, they fed off the dried plant matter and created their own food supply when there were no plants available for them to eat.
Could Dinosaurs able to stay underwater?
The Argentinosaurus found in Argentina was so heavy that it needed an abundance of food to survive. Therefore, scientists believe that it probably stayed submerged in the water for about four hours at a time.
How were they able to regulate their temperature underwater?
Scientists have found a few bones belonging to an Argentinosaurus that have been preserved with traces of soft tissue still attached. One of these specimens has what appears to be a fossilized heart! (Scientists know this because they can see the ventricles and valves inside. Did sauropods have warm blood like mammals? Not likely. But it’s possible that they had an extra layer of fat to protect them from the cold water.
Scientists are still trying to find out whether there was a type of dinosaur that could live on both land and sea.
Did Dinosaurs have friends?
Scientists believe that dinosaurs lived in herds during prehistoric times. A study published in 2010 showed that dinosaurs stuck together as a herd for protection from predators and to ensure that each of them got enough food to eat.
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