Wouldn't it be scary if these scary animals were still roaming the earth?
Even though they are long gone and extinct, it is still a very interesting topic to read and explore. Today I want to share some interesting information with you regarding Dinosaurs.
Where does the word dinosaur come from?
The word dinosaur means "terrible lizard" The word was created by an English paleontologist ( A person that studies dinosaurs) named Richard Owen in 1842. The first dinosaur ever named was the Megalosaurus, also back in 1824.
When did dinosaurs roam the earth?
Dinosaurs roamed the Earth for over 160 million years. This was from the Triassic period until the end of the Cretaceous period just about 65 million years ago. This time period is known as the Mesozoic Era. It is also referred to as the Age of the Dinosaurs, as most dinosaurs developed but ALSO became extinct during this time period.
Let me first explain about the Triassic period:
The Triassic period was part of the Mesozoic Era. This period occurred nearly 200 million years ago. This was the time when life on dry ground began to develop more. During that time the climate was very dry over Pangaea (When all the continents were still combined) with very hot weather in Summer and extremely cold weather in the Winter. Even though the climate was moderate further away from the equator, it was still warmer than today, and there were no polar ice caps.
Here is a brief timeline to explain this better:
How did Dinosaurs become extinct?
Scientists believed that the mass extinction was caused by a massive asteroid that hit the earth. Other scientists believe that they became extinct because of huge volcanic activity. Both of these events seems quite far fetched but it is actually not. These events could have caused the block out of sunlight and this could have significantly changed the ecology of the Earth.
What do we know about dinosaurs?
Most of these huge animals were herbivores ( Plant-eaters) Even though it is quite hard to believe that most of these dinosaurs did not eat meat, some actually survived only by eating the leaves of trees, plants and even tree branches.
Many of the plant eaters had natural weapons to their disposal, like spikes on the tail of the Stegosaurus while the Triceratops had three horns attached to the front of the head shield.
How did dinosaurs reproduce?
Believe it or not, dinosaurs laid eggs. Very much like the crocodile today. Inside the eggs were very similar to those of birds and primitive mammals. The amnion( a membrane) kept the embryo moist. Just like crocodiles today dinosaurs did not care for their eggs, and laid them and then abandoned them. So a baby dinosaur would never meet it's mother and was left to fend for themselves from a very young age.
How do we know what dinosaurs look like?
Honestly there is nothing that could help us be sure of what dinosaurs really looked like. Because they are extinct, all we have left are the bones left for us to explore. Paleontologists actually reconstruct these fossils that are found in the ground and then reconstruct the body of a dinosaur. We will never really know if this is a proper reconstruction because in reality we do not have any real life examples to work with.
Most of the dinosaurs reconstructed today are mostly guesswork from the paleontologists. It is easy to put a few bones together but the body consists of so much more like the skin, and the muscles. This we can not be sure of. The fossil remains found by paleontologists could easily be called the puzzle pieces that creates the outline of the dinosaur. Once the outline is there then it becomes easier to fill in the blank spaces.
Here is an excellent video about how we know what dinosaurs looked like!
Most people think that birds are descended from Pterodactyls, but Pterodactyls are in fact NOT considered dinosaurs, but rather flying reptiles that lived during the same time as the dinosaurs.
The bird as we know it today actually descended from a type of dinosaurs known as theropods that you can see in the picture below.
I honestly hope that you enjoyed learning more about dinosaurs. Here are some links below that I used as reference and if you want to learn more, please explore these links further.