If Asteroid That Killed Dinosaurs Was 30 Secs Late; Here's What Would Happen

Monday, November 16, 2020

If the doomsday asteroid that hit the earth was 30 seconds late, we wouldn't have Jurassic Park movies. Here's what else would happen. Scroll down to know more.

Around 66 million years ago, a giant asteroid hit the earth in its full fury, and it resulted in the death of dinosaurs. The impact of the asteroid was so huge on the planet's surface and it pulled earth to a state of nuclear winter for several years. Apart from dinosaurs, several other species of living beings were also wiped out from earth due to the asteroid impact.
However, have you ever imagined what could have happened if the asteroid that hit the earth was almost 30 seconds late?

30 seconds late could have saved dinosaurs

The doomsday asteroid that resulted in the extinction of dinosaurs had hit the shallow waters of Mexico's Yutacan peninsula. The asteroid which was nine-mile wide unleashed energy equivalent to 10 billion Hiroshima bombs. The rogue space rock literally tore down the earth, and the radioactive shockwave literally obliterated everything for hundreds of miles in every direction.

However, if the asteroid was late for 30 seconds, we would be most probably living in a different world. A delay in 30 seconds could have made the asteroid plunged into the Pacific or Atlantic ocean. Even though such an impact could have resulted in the formation of huge waves, it would not have resulted in the extinction of dinosaurs.

Humans would not have been ruling earth

If dinosaurs had survived the asteroid impact, the giant predators could be still roaming across the earth, and according to experts, these giants could have also undergone huge evolutionary changes.

It was the absence of dinosaurs and the safe haven on the blue planet which helped humans to evolve in a healthy manner. However, things would not have been easy for human beings if a predator like Tyrannosaurus Rex was there on the planet during the time of evolution.

Alexander Pearce, an Irish convict notorious for cannibalizing his fellow prison escapees had previously claimed that human meat is very tasty, and if dinosaurs start hunting down humans, it could have resulted in the extinction of the species.

Moreover, if dinosaurs are still there on earth, there could be no Jurassic Park movies, as humans will be running hard to save their lives from deadly dinosaurs.


Jurassic Park 3: What Killed The Boat Crew In The Fog

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Jurassic Park 3's opening sees the crew killed by a mysterious dinosaur amidst a heavy fog, but the movie reveals clues as to what it is.

In the opening scene of Jurassic Park 3a boat crew is mysteriously killed by something that lurks in the fog. As Ben Hildebrand rises into the air on a parasailer with his girlfriend's son Eric Kirby, the pair are having a blast. Suddenly the boat jerks. They look down only to see fog and then, horrifyingly, the boat appears, tattered and smeared with blood, and the crew members are nowhere to be seen. Neither the characters or the audience knows what happened, but when watched closely, the film gives the answer away.

Jurassic Park loves to highlight one dinosaur in each film (aside from the raptors, which Dr. Alan Grant gushes about to his ex-girlfriend Ellie early on in film 3), that acts as the "big bad." In the first and second films, the T-rex had its moment in the sun, with a male T-rex even escaping into San Diego in a nod to Godzilla in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. The second film also introduces Site B: Isla Sorna, where all the dinosaurs that weren't suited to the park on Isla Nublar were relegated. Though the movie never definitively says which fearsome creature attacks the boat drivers, it is possible to figure out the puzzle through context clues and storytelling. Like every Jurassic Park movie, new dinosaurs are bound to come on the scene, and surely one of them is the culprit.

The monster in question is an aquatic beast or a flying predator. One dinosaur that makes persistent appearances through Jurassic Park III is the Pteranodon. The Pteranodon can fly over the sea to catch fish. There is an interesting callback to the fog from the boat scene when the characters must cross a dubious bridge and are ambushed by Pteranodon. This, however, is a red herring. The velocity of the onslaught on the boat, along with the smear of blood left behind, suggests a much bigger animal, one that could clamp its jaws around a human body. There is one creature that is said to be on Isla Sorna but isn't shown in the film: a Deinosuchus. The Deinosuchus resembles a giant crocodile that travels swiftly by water and could dispatch the crew in short order. But the Deinosuchus doesn't make it into the film, and Jurassic Park likes to showcase its monsters, not hide them. There is only one major villain that this story presents, and this time it is not T-rex or the raptors, but the big dinosaur of Jurassic Park 3: The Spinosaurus.

The Spinosaurus, a semi-aquatic lizard, first appears when Alan and the Kirbys land on the island, devouring one of their pilots and giving a one-two punch to the T-rex while trying to squish the airplane into a tasty tube of human flesh. The Spinosaurus keeps coming into play, including a scene in which they must dig through its leavings to find Mr. Kirby's satellite phone. When Eric is reunited with his parents, the Spinosaurus rears its horrible head, chasing them and breaking through the iron fence.

In its final attack, the Spinosaurus stalks the group through a deep river, showing off its ability to swim silently. This revelation cements the notion that the dinosaur was the killer of the boat crew all along. The creature handles itself readily in the water despite its size, even dumping Alan, the hero, into the water in a cage where he must use his resourcefulness to fight for his life. With its constant presence in the film, whether seen or unseen, and climactic stand-off against the protagonist, one thing is clear: Jurassic Park 3 wanted to terrorize audiences with the Spinosaurus.


Kate Winslet Learned "How To Be a Paleontologist" For Her Role in 'Ammonite'

Saturday, November 14, 2020

"I feel proud of myself now, as a 45-year-old woman, to have just played a role in which ... my age really shows on my face," says Kate Winslet. She plays British paleontologist Mary Anning in the new film Ammonite. Neon

Mary Anning was just 12 years old in 1811 when she unearthed the skeleton of an ichthyosaur, a marine reptile that lived some 200 million years ago – and yet, most people have never heard of this self-taught, British paleontologist. With her new film Ammonite, Kate Winslet hopes to change that.

Kate - who plays Mary Anning in the movie - shared: "I had to learn how to be a paleontologist on the beaches of the Jurassic coast on the south coast of England.
"I had no idea how to do any of those things, and sometimes the job does require us to learn how to do something new, something incredibly cool."
Kate recently broke a film-making record while shooting 'Avatar 2', when she managed to hold her breath for seven minutes.
As a result, she shattered the record previously set by Tom Cruise for an underwater scene in 'Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation'.
She told 'Entertainment Tonight': "It's so funny because I don't really read reviews or media things. I'm not on Instagram, like I'm just completely disconnected from that part of my life.
"So all of this week and the week before, I've had people coming up to me at work saying, 'Oh my God, like seven minutes and 14 seconds? Like, what?' And I'm going, 'What? Hang on, wait a minute. How do you know that?'"
Kate loved shooting the scene, but she doubts she'd be able to repeat the feat of holding her breath for so long.
She said: "It was brilliant and I was very proud of myself and I'll probably never be able to do it again.
"That came at the end of four weeks worth of quite intense training and it was in the dive tank, it was in the training tank. But I loved it."


Can A Spinosaurus Really Beat A T-rex? Jurassic Park 3's Dinosaur Explained

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Jurassic Park 3 features an epic battle where a Spinosaurus appears to effortlessly defeat a Tyrannosaurus Rex, but how accurate is the outcome?

In one of the most hated moments of the Jurassic Park franchise, the Spinosaurus managed to beat a Tyrannosaurus Rex in the last installment of the original trilogy, Jurassic Park III. Since the Spinosaurus is the main source of terror on Isla Sorna in the sequel, it made sense that the ancient lizard would come out of this battle on top. However, it's questionable how accurate the movie's climactic outcome is, no matter how thrilling the film-makers thought it might have been onscreen.

The battle between the Spinosaurus and the Tyrannosaurus Rex is the stuff of legend, but not necessarily for the right reasons. Watching two giant dinosaurs unleash terrifying roars as they thrash, stomp, and charge through a misty tropical jungle might be one of the most awe-inspiring special effects achievements in the franchise's history. And though its T. rex opponent puts up a pretty good fight, the Spinosaurus emerges victorious after it snaps its rival's neck between its jaws. It's a clash of epic proportions featuring two of the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park that were actually real before the franchise turned to gene splicing and mutant dino creations.

Unfortunately, it's also a scenario that would never happen. Not only did the two predators live and go extinct during separate eras of the Cretaceous period, but they were separated by completely different geographic locations; the Spinosaurus was native to what's now northern Africa, while the T. rex roamed the lands that eventually became western North America. But thanks to Jurassic Park 3's magic, the two titans met. The question, though, is whether the sequel called the battle right and whether a Spinosaurus could genuinely beat a T. rex, given the criticism in the fanbase suggesting that too would be impossible. Here's a rundown of each species' strengths and weaknesses and how they might hold up in a battle against one another.

The Real-Life Spinosaurus Dinosaur Explained

Two Spinosaurus aegyptiacus hunt Onchopristis, a prehistoric sawfish, in the waters of the Kem Kem river system in what is now Morocco. Image credit: Jason Treat / National Geographic Staff / Mesa Schumacher / Davide Bonadonna / Nizar Ibrahim, University of Detroit Mercy.

In many ways, the real-life Spinosaurus was like a supersized, aquatic version of another featured dinosaur from Jurassic Park's original trilogy: the Velociraptor. The Spinosaurus weighed seven to nine tons and measured up to 57 feet long. It was a semi-aquatic species that maneuvered well in wet, swamp-like environments, and thanks to its massive fin-like tail, the Spinosaurus was also incredibly fast in large bodies of water. These dinosaurs also had long arms fitted with sharp claws that six to eight inches long that could make cuts up to two inches deep. Those arms, however, hung down in order to aid their hunting of fish and claws could not be rotated to grab as is depicted in Jurassic Park 3.

Additionally, the Spinosaurus's jaw was basically useless in a fight. Its conical teeth were well-equipped to grip slippery fish but were incapable of causing any major damage to other flesh. On top of that, the creature's skull was ill-suited to lateral bending and higher levels of stress, making battle with a traditional bipedal dinosaur like a T. rex. And not only that, but the Spinosaurus' short back legs meant it was suited well to water, but wasn't made for long excursions on land or particular agility. The Spinosaurus also had a major design flaw: its weakest point (its spine) was completely exposed. One bad move and it could be paralyzed by its attacker.

How Jurassic Park 3'S Spinosaurus Compares To The Real Version

In the Jurassic Park franchise, the Spinosaurus is markedly more intimidating and lethal than the real-life version. Though it would have been impressive to see Jurassic World bring back the Spinosaurus, it probably would not have been an accurate portrayal by any means, given the inaccuracies established in the original trilogy. Some shots show that this gigantic dinosaur's fangs were just as long, if not longer, than those of a T. rex, which was simply not the case. The T. rex had some of the largest teeth recorded of the meat-eating dinosaurs, reaching a huge 12 inches in length. Meanwhile, the Spinosaurus's teeth were a little more than three inches long at most.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the movie's Spinosaurus and the real-life Spinosaurus is the force of its bite. In Jurassic Park 3, the Spinosaurus easily snaps the T. rex's neck by clenching it tightly between its jaws. While this might be possible with a smaller organism, it's unlikely that a Spinosaurus would be able to do that with a dinosaur as robust and muscular as a T. rex. Though the Spinosaurus had an impressive bite force of 2 tons, its teeth would have been too small and dull to grab hold of a T. rex's neck long enough to bite down on it, let alone break it in half. On top of that, the creature's agility in the film is hugely over-played: it is too fast, too flexible, and too agile on land by far.

Can A Spinosaurus Beat A T. Rex?

One thing is for sure about the Spinosaurus: its impressive biological stats make it an undervalued dinosaur in the Jurassic Park franchise but not in the way some may think. The predator is downplayed as a hulking apex predator, which is not true and the portrayal removes all nuance. And as for the question of whether it would beat a Tyrannosaurus Rex in a fight? Concrete answers are hard to come by, because of the differences of opinion in even expert communities, but such a comprehensive victory is basically impossible. Yes, the Spinosaurus was markedly larger than the T. Rex, but it also lacked the muscle and bite power to do any serious damage. Meanwhile, the T. rex had a powerful bite, but it also lacked speed and agility. Ultimately, it's likely that its massive jaws would make up for the difference given that the inaccuracies on show massively exaggerated the Spinosaurus' abilities as this sort of combatant.

Ultimately, a lot of the outcome would be determined by where and how the battle took place. Each dinosaur has significant advantages when fighting on its own home turf. The T. rex is an iconic favorite of the six dinosaur species from the first Jurassic Park, but it's far from unbeatable. If it was unfortunate enough to cross paths with a Spinosaurus by a river or a lake, a Tyrannosaurus Rex might just end up as the sail-back dinosaur's largest catch of the day. It would be an easy target in any swampy environment, let alone a large body of water. Meanwhile, a Spinosaurus wouldn't stand a chance if the two dinosaurs were to duke it out in the humid and tropical forests where the T. rex reigned as an apex predator, which is precisely why Jurassic Park 3 was so wrong in its outcome.

Any pathway to victory would require a lot of power and coordination from the Spinosaurus, which was not a species known for its brains. After all, even in-universe, Dr. Alan Grant - one of the legacy characters returning for Jurassic World 3 - was able to scare one off by igniting boat fuel and setting the path in front of it on fire. If a Spinosaurus and a Tyrannosaurus Rex were to go head-to-head under the same circumstances shown in Jurassic Park III, it's certain that the T. rex would come out on top. Its slight disadvantage of size would easily be made up for by its strength and lethal bite power. What happens in the film is definitely a product of movie magic, but at least the battle's creativity continues to inspire amazement and wonder.


3-Million-Year-Old Fossil from New Zealand Rewrites Evolutionary History of True Seals

Friday, November 13, 2020

An artist’s impression of Eomonachus belegaerensis. Image credit: Jaime Bran / Te Papa Museum.

Living true seals are the most widely dispersed semi-aquatic marine mammals, and comprise geographically separate northern and southern groups. Both are thought to have evolved in the North Atlantic, with only two lineages subsequently crossing the equator. The third and oldest lineage, the monk seals, has been interpreted as exclusively northern and subtropical throughout their entire history. However, an international team of paleontologists now describes a new species of extinct monk seal that lived during the Pliocene epoch in New Zealand — the first of its kind from the southern hemisphere.

The newly-identified monk seal species lived in the waters around New Zealand some 3 million years ago.

Named Eomonachus belegaerensis, the marine creature was around 2.5 m (8.2 feet) in length and has a mass between 200 and 250 kg.

“This new species of extinct monk seal is the first of its kind from the southern hemisphere. Its discovery really turns seal evolution on its head,” said lead author James Rule, a Ph.D. candidate in the Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University and Museums Victoria.

“Until now, we thought that all true seals originated in the northern hemisphere, and then crossed the equator just once or twice during their entire evolutionary history.”

“Instead, many of them appear to have evolved in the southern Pacific, and then criss-crossed the equator up to eight times.”

The well-preserved specimens of Eomonachus belegaerensis. Image credit: Rule et al.

Rule and his colleagues from New Zealand, Australia and the United States examined seven well-preserved specimens of Eomonachus belegaerensis — including a complete skull — found by local fossil hunters on south Taranaki beaches in New Zealand between 2009 and 2016.

“This discovery was a triumph for citizen science,” said co-author Dr. Felix Marx, a curator of marine mammals at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and a researcher in the Department of Geology at the University of Otago.

“This new species has been discovered thanks to numerous, exceptionally well-preserved fossils — all of which were found by members of the public.”

“Our results suggest that true seals crossed the equator over eight times in their history,” the paleontologists concluded.

“Overall, they more than double the age of the north-south dichotomy characterizing living true seals and confirms a surprisingly recent major change in southern true seal diversity.”

The discovery is reported in a paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.


James P. Rule et al. 2020. First monk seal from the Southern Hemisphere rewrites the evolutionary history of true seals. Proc. R. Soc. B 287 (1938): 20202318; doi: 10.1098/rspb.2020.2318


Chinese Researchers Find Rare Dinosaur-Era Fossil Plant

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Chinese researchers have found a peculiar fossil plant with leaves and fruits of different morphologies dating back about 125 million years, according to a local research institute.

The plant, scientifically called Varifructus lingyuanesis, provides a rare raw material for evaluating the evolution of flowers in the Early Cretaceous, according to Wang Xin, head of the research team from Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The preserved part of the plant is about 17 cm long and 12 cm wide, and includes multiple physically connected organs such as branches, leaves, a flower bud, and fruits. The fruits are frequently arranged in asymmetrical pairs, and two branching patterns are seen in this single specimen.

The plant belongs to a type of angiosperm, the most advanced, diversified, and widely-distributed plant group in the current ecosystem. Organs of most angiosperms nowadays have the same morphology, unlike the one found in the fossil.

"These variable patterns within a single plant indicate the morphological plasticity of angiosperms during the early period of its evolution," Wang said.

The research findings have been published in the journal Historical Biology.


Nine Million Year Old Mastodon Remains Found in Canakkale, Turkey

Thursday, November 12, 2020

TRT World talks to Serdar Mayda, paleontologist, about the Mastodon remains that were recently unearthed in Canakkale’s Ezine district.

Serdar Mayda has a background in Geology Engineering, with a master’s degree in Paleontology and a doctorate in Biology. He has been working on vertebrate paleontology for the past twenty years.

According to Mayda, the remains were found by a group of fishermen in Canakkale’s Ezine district, on the shores of Yenikoy. Shortly thereafter, the fossilised samples were taken to Canakkale Troya Museum with the leadership of Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University’s (COMU) Engineering Faculty Geology instructor, Sevinc Kapan.

“The remains belong to a tusked mammal (Proboscidea) that lived about nine million years before our time and two different animals. These fossils consist of a semi-adult animal molar tooth and a baby tooth belonging  to a young animal,” Mayda tells TRT World in an email.

“In light of the morphological and biometric data the teeth present, I can say that the remains belong to what appears in the literature as the ‘shovel-tusk elephant’ or the ‘Mastodon’ grandincisivus that lived during the early stages of the late Miocene Era in Southeast Europe, Anatolia, the Middle East and Iran,” he adds.

This species is an ancestor of modern elephants, and occupies a controversial systematic position. It is a rare species, found in fossil beds in small numbers in the last 80 years in Turkey in Tekirdag, Enez, Istanbul - Kucukcekmece and Rami areas.

“The animals weighed more than five tonnes and their dimensions were close to African elephants. For example, a significant difference to other findings in Turkey,” Mayda says, “is that the remains in Yenikoy are much larger than all other samples of this species.”

“Paleontology, to give a short description” Mayda tells TRT World, “is the branch of science exploring organisms who lived in the past with the help of fossils. Fossils hold a mirror to the past.”

“A fossil gives clear clues to the approximate body form of the animal because it is a preserved version of the organism’s outer and/or inner skeletal structure,” he adds. “These forms also help us discern the close family ties of the fossil organism.”

“Turkey was a crossroads country in the Tertiary Period between Europe, Asia and Africa,” Mayda writes. “It was on the migratory path of mammals, as well as being a big geographical province that allowed many endemic fauna to evolve.”

According to Mayda, there are vertebrate fossils going back 200 million years, and mammal fossils going back 55 million years. Meanwhile, invertebrate fossils go back 500 million years. “Our country is one of the important countries in Europe based on fossil beds.”
Mayda says that every year, for the last forty years, there has been paleontological surface research and many excavations carried out with the oversight of the ministry [of Culture and Tourism],“which is why Turkey has a very rich fossil inventory. In these excavations, every year there are very special remains dug up belonging to very special fossils.”

“This fossil ‘Mastodon’ and also in light of other fossil species from the area we can say that nine million yeas ago on both shores of Canakkale there was a subtropical climate and a lush forest covering.”


Alanqa saharica: New Pterosaur Species Found Hiding in Plain Sight in Museum

Thursday, November 12, 2020

An artist’s impression of the azhdarchids pterosaur Alanqa saharica. Image credit: Davide Bonadonna.

A new re-examination of fossil material housed in the Sedgwick Museum of Cambridge and the Booth Museum at Brighton has revealed the fossilized jaw fragments from a new Cretaceous period azhdarchid pterosaur previously identified as shark fin spines and fish jaws.

Roy Smith, a PhD student at the University of Portsmouth, made the discovery while he was examining the fish fossils collected from the West Melbury Marly Chalk Formation about a century ago.

The fossils were actually fragments of jaws of toothless pterosaurs, which do indeed resemble shark fin spines, but there are many subtle differences that allow them to be distinguished.

“One such feature is tiny little holes where nerves come to the surface and are used for sensitive feeding by the pterosaurs,” Smith said.

“Shark fin spines do not have these, but the early paleontologists clearly missed these features.”

Two of the specimens analyzed by Smith and his colleagues can be identified as a pterosaur called Ornithostoma sedgwicki, but one additional specimen is clearly distinct and represents a new species in the pterosaur clade Azhdarchoidea.

“Unfortunately, this specimen is too fragmentary to be the basis for naming the new species,” Smith said.

“It is doubtful if any more remains of this pterosaur will be discovered, as there are no longer any exposures of the rock from which the fossils came.”

“The little bit of beak is tantalizing in that it is small, and simply differs from Ornithostoma in subtle ways, perhaps in the way that a great white egret might differ from a heron,” said University of Portsmouth’s Professor Dave Martill, co-author of the study.

“Likely the differences in life would have been more to do with color, call and behavior than in the skeleton.”

“Pterosaurs with these types of beaks are better known at the time period from North Africa, so it would be reasonable to assume a likeness to the North African Alanqa.”

“This is extremely exciting to have discovered this mystery pterosaur right here in the UK.”

“This find is significant because it adds to our knowledge of these ancient and fascinating flying prehistoric reptiles, but also demonstrates that such discoveries can be made, simply by re-examining material in old collections.”

The study appears in the Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association.


Roy E. Smith et al. Edentulous pterosaurs from the Cambridge Greensand (Cretaceous) of eastern England with a review of Ornithostoma Seeley, 1871. Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association, published online November 6, 2020; doi: 10.1016/j.pgeola.2020.10.004


Male or Female Dinosaur? It's Not Easy to Tell Them Apart

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

(Credit: Allie_Caulfield/Wikimedia Commons)

Paleontologists seek the secrets of dinosaur sexes. They're making progress figuring out how male and female dinosaurs differed.

How do you sex a dinosaur? The answer isn’t to be found in the pages of books like Ravished by the Triceratops or Chuck’s Dinosaur Tinglers. Not to mention that the fossil record has, so far, been silent on the mechanics of dinosaur reproduction. What paleontologists are asking is how we can distinguish dinosaur sexes from each other and what those biological basics might tell us about the “terrible lizards.”

Paleontologists have been trying to identify female and male dinosaurs for decades. Experts have proposed all sorts of tell-tale signs, from ornamentation on the skull to the spacing and angle of splint-like bones beneath the tail. What researchers want are signs of sexual dimorphism, or traits that can distinguish one sex from another.

Dinosaur Sexes

Sexual dimorphism can take many forms. Sometimes it’s a matter of size, with one sex being larger and another being smaller. Other times the giveaway is ornamentation — brighter colors, more ornate feathers or other features helpful for display.

But when paleontologists look at non-avian dinosaurs, or all dinosaurs other than birds, the bulk of the record is bones. On top of that, most dinosaur skeletons are incomplete and are scattered through space and time. Even though Tyrannosaurus rex, for example, is known from more than 50 skeletons, those fossils have been found from Saskatchewan to New Mexico in rocks spanning two million years. That’s far from a population-level perspective needed to pick out any sex-based basics.

Read more: How Did Dinosaurs Have Sex?

For a time, it seemed that non-avian dinosaurs didn’t show sexual dimorphism. No single case could be confirmed. That seemed strange, especially because many modern birds and reptiles show sex-based differences. “Does this mean that dinosaurs were biologically unique among vertebrates,” asks Field Museum paleontologist Evan Saitta, “or that something is going on within the community of dinosaur researchers about how we approach this topic?” 

The answer is starting to come into view, and it has more to do with the process of science than the animals themselves. “Sometimes there’s a country mile between what we know and what we can say,” says paleontologist Lisa Buckley. Dinosaurs probably were sexually dimorphic, like many modern animals, but the question remains of how to reliably detect those differences.

A 'Gender' Reveal

The discovery that some dinosaurs have bone tissues related to reproduction has been a major help. In 2013, researchers threw a gender reveal party for a Cretaceous bird called Confuciusornis sanctus that flew over the heads of other dinosaurs over 120 million years ago. Paleontologists have found hundreds of specimens of this crow-sized bird, but not all of them look alike. Some specimens have long, streamer-like feathers extending from the tail; others don’t. And, as it turns out, that trait is a sex-based difference. One of the fossils without tail streamers had a special tissue inside its skeleton called medullary bone that only forms when female dinosaurs were laying eggs. That means the Confuciusornis without the streamers are females and the ones with the long feathers are males. That tracks with many modern birds, where males are sometimes more ornate and colorful than females.

Confuciusornis plumage reconstruction. (Credit: Velizar Simeonovski/Li et al. PeerJ/Wikimedia Commons)

But Confuciusornis is an avian dinosaur, known from dozens and dozens of fossils. What about all of our favorite non-avian dinosaurs, like Stegosaurus and Apatosaurus?

Clues like bone tissue related to egg-laying, or even finding eggs still inside dinosaurs, are going to be important to solving the mystery. The way forward, says Canadian Museum of Nature paleontologist Jordan Mallon, is tying reproductive clues to other obvious traits in the rest of a dinosaur’s body. If members of a horned dinosaur species have different horn shapes, and a particular horn shape is tied to dinosaur individuals that have egg-laying tissues, that relationship can reveal which dinosaur sex is which.

The problem is that eggs and medullary bones only identify gravid female dinosaurs. Detecting male dinosaurs or non-reproducing females is much more challenging. Not to mention that dimorphism isn’t necessarily stark. “Extreme magnitudes of dimorphism are not necessarily common,” Saitta says, pointing to living birds as an example. In birds that show sexual dimorphism in body size, there’s often only about a 10 percent difference in average body mass. That would be difficult to detect in the fossil record, especially given that nature is variable and any given male or female might be larger or smaller than average.

Being able to pull out these differences hinges upon how fossils are analyzed and compared. Some number crunching with statistics, for example, can measure how much dinosaurs differ from each other and estimate the likelihood that those differences are due to sex. Working with relatively small sample sizes, the method can help identify which dinosaurs probably had noticeable sexual differences to those that don’t seem to show much at all in their skeletons.

Mallon notes that the approach might over-detect dimorphism, but that the work “shows promise” and will help move the discussion forward. And, given that the fossil record has a habit of surprising researchers, new finds might add new information about what to look for. Now that paleontologists can detect the colors of some feathered dinosaurs, for example, they can start to dig into whether some dinosaur species had sexes that were skeletally identical but wore different color patterns.

Male and Female Dinos

All of this effort isn’t just about labeling dinosaurs by sex, though. Unlocking this aspect of dinosaur biology opens up many more avenues of questioning and study. “We would stand to learn a lot about dinosaur social structure,” Mallon says, as the degree to which a species displays sexual dimorphism is often related to whether the animals are more social or solitary. It might also be possible to tell whether one of the sexes fought more — like how tyrannosaurs bit each other on the face and Triceratops locked horns — or which dinosaurs parents cared for their eggs.

Comparing ancient dinosaurs to their modern counterparts would be critical. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all scenario,” Buckley notes, especially given that some birds — like spotted sandpipers — have boldly-colored females and males that sit on the nest. All the same, Buckley notes, “Sexual dimorphism, whether it’s flashy or cryptic, is a huge part of the lives of present-day birds.” The same was true for non-avian dinosaurs, especially as each generation added to an evolutionary epic stretching over 235 million years. As Mallon puts it, “Knowing the sexes would arguably open up a whole new field in a way that we previously didn’t think was possible.”


Jurassic World Evolution: Complete Edition on Switch is a Must-Buy for Park-Building Fans

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Originally released in 2018, Frontier’s Jurassic World Evolution combined a park-building sim with the thrill of Jurassic Park. Now, Jurassic World Evolution: Complete Edition brings the full experience to Nintendo Switch.

Jurassic World Evolution: Complete Edition puts a dinosaur-themed park at your fingertips, placing you in control of just about every element. But more difficult than simply placing attractions and waiting for visitors to show up, you also need to create the dinosaurs. That means sending out teams on expeditions, recovering fossils, then extracting DNA from them in the lab.

There’s always a chance it doesn’t work, but when it does, you’ve got a brand new prehistoric beastie to take care of. That means ensuring it has food, water and plenty of space to roam around. It’s a living creature of course, which means it might get sick – so you’ll need rangers on hand to administer medicine if needs be. Oh, and if you have aggressive-type dinos, don’t be surprised if they end up killing some of your more placid species. You’ll need a helicopter team to airlift those dead bodies out of there. Don’t want your guests seeing mangled carcasses now, do you?

And, of course, alongside taking care of dinosaurs, you also have a theme park and the general public to entertain. You’ll need shops, restaurants, hotels, attractions, viewing windows – the whole shebang. Everything you place needs wiring up to an energy network too, so that means power plants and electricity cables. Oh, and you need to watch your budget and make sure you’re not spending more than you’re earning.

So, running a park in Jurassic World Evolution is no picnic, then. You need to be aware of multiple elements at all times. But playing in the game’s campaign mode, you’ll be eased into every element at a steady pace. A series of missions will introduce key factors of the game, helping you learn the ropes. Missions and tutorials are excellently delivered too; there’s a host of voices and familiar characters – including Dr. Ian Malcolm – making for a seriously premium-feeling experience.

This Switch version is of course Jurassic World Evolution: Complete Edition, which bundles all existing DLC. Along with the base game, you get instant access to Claire’s Sanctuary and Return to Jurassic Park. These can be played straight away, but if you’re new to Jurassic World Evolution, the game warns you that they’re targeted at more experienced players. There’s also Secrets of Dr. Wu included, which is an extra storyline embedded within the main campaign.

Claire’s Sanctuary DLC sees you work alongside Jurassic World’s Claire Dearing on a mission to save dinosaurs from Isla Nublar. Return to Jurassic Park takes place after the events of the 1993 film, where you’re working alongside Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler and Ian Malcolm to rebuild the park. It’s voiced by the original cast, too.

As you’d expect from Nintendo Switch, Jurassic World Evolution: Complete Edition takes some serious visual hits. It runs at a low resolution, so don’t expect the same graphical fidelity you’ve experienced on PC or home console. But the important thing is it runs incredibly smoothly. It’s a rather demanding game, with lots of menus and a park that can grow exponentially – but Nintendo’s handheld handles it valiantly. It’s perhaps not the best way to play, but the freedom to play on the go, or wherever in the house you want to, is definitely a positive. As is the inclusion of all DLC.

Needless to say, then, if you’ve a fondness for park-building games and you’re a lover of Jurassic Park, Jurassic World Evolution is a must-play. And if Nintendo Switch is your format of choice, the Complete Edition makes for an excellent investment. The three DLC packs add in a lot of extra content, making the game bigger and better than ever.