Q & A

What if Dinosaurs Were Still Alive Today?

Sunday, August 6, 2017

What if Dinosaurs Were Still Alive Today?

What would happen if dinosaurs roamed the earth today? Originally appeared on Quora – the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Ben Waggoner, Ph.D in Integrative Biology, paleontologist, and evolutionary biologist, on Quora:

Massive devastation of trendy Manhattan wine bars.


Okay, first of all, one subgroup of dinosaurs is still roaming the Earth today: the birds. So dinosaurs poop on your car, visit your feeders, and feed you well on Thanksgiving. But I assume you meant what would happen if the extinct, non-bird dinosaurs could somehow roam the Earth today.

That raises the point that different dinosaur species lived at different times and places. Tyrannosaurus never feasted on Stegosaurus, for example, because Steggy lived something like 100 million years before Rexy ever existed. Tyrannosaurus never got to taste Giraffatitan because they not only lived 80 million years apart, they lived on separate continents. (This is one of my beefs with Jurassic ParkDilophosaurusthe critter that spit poison in Wayne Knight’s face, lived about 120 million years and 6000 miles away from Velociraptor, the critters that ate Bob Peck.) So if all the extinct dinosaurs suddenly started roaming the Earth together at the same time … well, you’d have utter ecological chaos, as the Velociraptors discovered that their tactics for hunting Protoceratops were ineffective against unfamiliar Ankylosaurus, and Triceratops found out that it had no idea how to dodge Allosaurus. You might as well turn some polar bears, bison, tree sloths, and kangaroos loose on the Serengeti plain.


But let’s keep it simple. Suppose we could magically transport a decent sample of the dinosaurs from one place and time into the present day. Let’s pick up a herd of duckbills—say, Edmontosaurus or Maiasaura —and a herd of Triceratops, a few smallish predators like Dakotaraptor, and a couple of Tyrannosaurus. All of these lived in the same general area (western North America) in the same general time frame (late Cretaceous). So we plop all of these down in North America today, and …

There were flowering plants in the Late Cretaceous, but they didn’t yet dominate the landscape. The typical landscape in Cretaceous North America seems to have been “fern savannas”—somewhat like prairies, but dominated by small ferns, not grasses—broken up by tracts of forests dominated by conifers, ginkgos, ferns, and cycads. There were flowering plants, including decent-sized trees, but again, nothing like the diversity we have now.

And here’s the problem: Modern flowering plants have had ~100 million years to evolve anti-herbivore defenses, and just to evolve complex chemistry in general. We don’t know enough about dinosaur biochemistry to know exactly what they would find poisonous. Suffice it to say that as soon as the herbivores started eating the local plants, they would be exposed to a whole range of chemicals that they had no adaptations to handle. They might not even have the sensory receptors to taste them.

The actual effects are anyone’s guess. The simplest case would be that the herbivores would get sick and die, like modern sheep or cows in the West that eat death camas or lupine. Some might end up tripping out, like humans eating ergot-infected rye or jimsonweed, or livestock eating Oxytropis or Astragalus “locoweeds”. Survivors might fail to lay viable eggs, or lay eggs that would hatch into deformed offspring—like sheep and goats eating false hellebore and giving birth to lambs and kids with cyclopia.

The carnivorous dinosaurs might have easy pickings for a while, as they feasted on dead or incapacitated herbivorous dinosaurs. This wouldn’t last long, though. Sooner or later, Tyrannosaurus rex has to find living prey, or possibly fresh carrion, depending on whether it was a predator or scavenger (that’s another story). There were mammals alive at the same time and place as T. rex, but none very big—and for all we know, modern mammal flesh might be unpalatable. But recall that birds belong within the dinosaurian clade. T. rex may run out of Triceratops to eat, but if it can find large, relatively slow birds to munch, it might survive for a while, assuming that it can run fast enough to catch them (a controversial question). A T. rex that was lucky enough to find a turkey farm would probably eat the birds like so much popcorn. The few ostrich ranches in the America West could find their business nipped in the bud, if by “nipped” you mean “messily dismembered.”

The herbivores would be equally hard to manage. Imagine: a herd of Triceratops eats a patch of Datura stramonium and promptly levels downtown Bismarck, North Dakota, hallucinating like a Grateful Dead show gone horribly wrong. Twitching, retching, slobbering duckbills collapse across I-94, blocking traffic into Fargo for hours, after getting into a patch of Apocynum cannabinum (hemp dogbane). A photo of a poor baby Edmontosaurus whose mamma tried hellebore, with a single eye and adorably deformed face, threatens to displace the “I Can Has Cheezburger?” cat as the most viral meme on the Internet …

And a herd of Maiasaura, starving and desperate, wanders into Manhattan and discovers a wine bar decorated with lush ferns and rare tropical cycads. Minutes later, the wine bar is flattened, its greenery devoured. Newly invigorated by their first decent meal in weeks, the Maiasaura rampage from one fern bar to the next. Hundreds of Wall Street middle-management flunkies who were hoping to score that night are severely inconvenienced.

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What are Therapsids?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Lystrosaurus: is an extinct genus of dicinodontos therapsid Triassic period

Therapsida is a group of synapsids that includes mammals and their ancestors. Many of the traits today seen as unique to mammals had their origin within early therapsids, including having their four limbs extend vertically beneath the body, as opposed to the sprawling posture of other reptiles. The earliest fossil attributed to Therapsida is Tetraceratops insignis from the Lower Permian.

Therapsids evolved from pelycosaurs (specifically sphenacodonts) 275 million years ago. They replaced the pelycosaurs as the dominant large land animals in the Middle Permian and were replaced, in turn, by the archosauromorphs in the Triassic, although one group of therapsids, the kannemeyeriiforms, remained diverse in the Late Triassic.

The therapsids included the cynodonts, the group that gave rise to mammals in the Late Triassic around 225 million years ago. Of the non-mammalian therapsids, only cynodonts and dicynodonts survived the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event. The last of the non-mammalian therapsids, the tritylodontid cynodonts, became extinct in the Early Cretaceous, approximately 100 million years ago.

Mounted skeleton of Inostrancevia alexandri, a gorgonopsian therapsid

Legs and feet

Therapsid legs were positioned more vertically beneath their bodies than were the sprawling legs of reptiles and pelycosaurs. Also compared to these groups, the feet were more symmetrical, with the first and last toes short and the middle toes long, an indication that the foot’s axis was placed parallel to that of the animal, not sprawling out sideways. This orientation would have given a more mammal-like gait than the lizard-like gait of the pelycosaurs.

Jaw and teeth

Therapsids’ temporal fenestrae were larger than those of the pelycosaurs. The jaws of some therapsids were more complex and powerful, and the teeth were differentiated into frontal incisors for nipping, great lateral canines for puncturing and tearing, and molars for shearing and chopping food.

Fur and endothermy

Several characteristics in therapsids have been noted as being consistent with the development of endothermy: the presence of turbinates, erect limbs, highly vascularized bones, limb and tail proportions conducive to the preservation of body heat, and the absence of growth rings in bones. Therefore, like modern mammals, non-mammalian therapsids were most likely warm-blooded.

Recent studies on Permian coprolites showcase that hair was present in at least some therapsids. Hair is by any means present in the docodont Castorocauda and haramiyidan Megaconus, and whiskers are inferred from therocephalians and cynodonts.

Source: NatGeo.com, wikipedia.org

The 10 Types of Dinosaur Bones that Paleontologists Study

Monday, May 22, 2017

Gorgosaurus skeleton

Many paleontologists are also evolutionary biologists. Evolutionary biology is the study of the origin, development, and changes (evolution) in species over time. Other scientists that contribute to evolutionary biology are geologists and geneticists.


The vast majority of dinosaurs are diagnosed by paleontologists based not on complete skeletons, or even near-complete skeletons, but scattered, disconnected bones like skulls, vertebrae and femurs. On the following slides, you’ll discover a list of the most important dinosaur bones, and what they can tell us about the dinosaurs of which they were once a part.


The overall shape of a dinosaur’s head, as well as the size, shape and arrangement of its teeth, can tell paleontologists a lot about its diet (for example, tyrannosaurs possessed long, sharp, backward-curving teeth, the better to hang onto still-wriggling prey). Herbivorous dinosaurs also boasted bizarre skull ornamentation – the horns and frills of ceratopsians, the crests and duck-like bills of hadrosaurs, the thick crania of pachycephalosaurs–which yield valuable clues about their owners’ everyday behavior. Oddly enough, the biggest dinosaurs of all–sauropods and titanosaurs–are often represented by headless fossils, since their relatively tiny noggins were easily detached from the rest of their skeletons after death.


As we all know from the popular song, the head bone’s connected to the neck bone–which ordinarily wouldn’t cause much excitement among fossil hunters, except when the neck in question belonged to a 50-ton sauropod. The 20- or 30-foot-long necks of behemoths like Diplodocus and Mamenchisaurus were made up of a series of huge, but relatively lightweight, vertebrae, interspersed with various air pockets to lighten the load on these dinosaurs’ hearts. Of course, sauropods weren’t the only dinosaurs to have necks, but their disproportionate length–about on a par with the caudal vertebrae (see below) constituting these creatures’ tails–put them, well, head and shoulders above others of their breed.


About 400 million years ago, nature settled on the five-fingered, five-toed body plan for all terrestrial vertebrates (though the hands and feet of many animals, such as horses, bear only vestigial remnants of all but one or two digits). As a general rule, dinosaurs possessed anywhere from three to five functional fingers and toes at the end of each limb, an important number to keep in mind when analyzing preserved footprints and trackmarks. Unlike the case with human beings, these digits weren’t necessarily long, flexible, or even visible: you’d have a hard time making out the five toes at the end of the average sauropod’s elephant-like feet, but rest assured they were really there.


In all tetrapods, the ilium, ischium and pubis make up a structure called the pelvic girdle, the crucial part of an animal’s body where its legs connect to its trunk (slightly less impressive is the pectoral girdle, or shoulder blades, which does the same for the arms). In dinosaurs, the pelvic bones are especially important because their orientation allows paleontologists to distinguish between saurischian (“lizard-hipped”) and ornithischian (“bird-hipped”) dinosaurs. The pubis bones of ornithischian dinosaurs point down and toward the tail, while the same bones in saurischian dinosaurs are oriented more horizontally (oddly enough, it was a family of “lizard-hipped” dinosaurs, the small, feathered theropods, that wound up evolving into birds!)


In most ways, the skeletons of dinosaurs aren’t all that different from the skeletons of human beings (or of just about any tetrapod, for that matter). Just as people possess a single, solid upper arm bone (the humerus) and a pair of bones comprising the lower arm (the radius and ulna), the arms of dinosaurs followed the same basic plan, though of course with some major differences in scale. Because theropods had a bipedal posture, their arms were more differentiated from their legs, and thus are studied more often than the arms of herbivorous dinosaurs (for example, no one knows for sure why Tyrannosaurus rex and Carnotaurus had such small, puny arms, though there’s no shortage of theories.)


Between a dinosaur’s cervical vertebrae (i.e., its neck) and its caudal veterbrae (i.e., its tail) lay its dorsal vertebrae–what most people refer to as its backbone. Because they were so numerous, so big, and so resistant to “disarticulation” (i.e., falling apart after their owner died), the vertebrae comprising dinosaurs’ spinal columns are among the most common bones in the fossil record, and also some of the most impressive from an aficionado’s point of view. Even more tellingly, the vertebrae of some dinosaurs were topped by strange “processes” (to use the anatomical term), a good example being the vertically oriented neural spines that supported the distinctive sail of Spinosaurus.


As was the case with their arms (see slide #6), the legs of dinosaurs had the same basic structure as the legs of all vertebrates: a long, solid upper bone (the femur) connected to a pair of bones comprising the lower leg (the tibia and fibula). The twist is that dinosaur femurs are among the biggest bones excavated by paleontologists, and among the biggest bones in the history of life on earth: the specimens from some species of sauropods are about as tall as a full-grown human being. These foot-thick, five- or six-foot-long femurs imply a head-to-tail length for their owners of well over a hundred feet and weights in the range of 50 to 100 tons (and the preserved fossils themselves tip the scales at hundreds of pounds!)


The herbivorous dinosaurs of the Mesozoic Era required some form of protection against the ravenous theropods that preyed on them. Ornithopods and hadrosaurs relied on their speed, smarts and (possibly) the protection of the herd, but stegosaurs, ankylosaurs and titanosaurs evolved often-elaborate armor plating made up out of bony plates known as osteoderms (or, synonymously, scutes). As you can imagine, these structures tend to be well-preserved in the fossil record, but they’re often found beside, rather than attached to, the dinosaur in question–which is one reason we still don’t know exactly how the triangular plates of Stegosaurus were arranged along its back!


Not all dinosaurs possessed a full set of sterna (breastbones) and clavicles (collar bones); sauropods, for example, seem to have lacked breastbones, relying on a combination of clavicles and free-floating rib bones called “gastralia” to support their upper trunks. In any event, these bones are only rarely preserved in the fossil record, and thus aren’t nearly as diagnostic as vertebrae, femurs and osteoderms. Crucially, it’s believed that the clavicles of early, less advanced theropods evolved into the furculae (wishbones) of the “dino-birds,” raptors and tyrannosaurs of the late Cretaceous period, an important piece of evidence confirming the descent of modern birds from dinosaurs.


All dinosaurs possessed caudal vertebrae (i.e., tails), but as you can see by comparing an Apatosaurus to a Corythosaurus to an Ankylosaurus, there were major differences in tail length, shape, ornamentation and flexibility. Like cervical (neck) and dorsal (back) vertebrae, caudal vertebrae are well represented in the fossil record, though often it’s their associated structures that say the most about the dinosaur in question. For example, the tails of many hadrosaurs and ornithomimids were stiffened by tough ligaments–an adaptation that helped to maintain their owners’ balance–while the flexible, swinging tails of ankylosaurs and stegosaurs were often capped by club-like or mace-like structures.

Source: thoughtco.com

The Geological Time Scale: Timeline of Life on Earth

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Geological Time Scale: Timeline of Life on Earth

Evolution is a complicated subject. While everybody understands that black bears are related to grizzly bears and we can even figure they are related to extinct bears, lots of people wonder how scientists can be so sure that bears are related to salmon as well.

One evidence is rock layers specifically, what is called the geologic column. Basically, scientists have learned that rocks are stacked in layers containing fossils with the oldest fossils at the deepest layers, and the youngest, or most recent fossils, near the top. It’s as if rock layers are a vertical timeline. At the bottom of the timeline there are no fossils of modern animals. As you move towards the surface, you find fish, then amphibians, then reptiles, mammals, birds, and finally modern mammals including humans.

We’re not talking about an abstract diagram: this is the actual record of the earth’s crust, recorded in rocks around the world.

But how do we know this evolutionary sequence of layers, one on top of the other, is accurate? Why is there any order at all to rock layers?

Two laws, or principles of geology explain why rock layers are formed in this way.

Geological Timeline by Ray Troll


This law of science tells us that dirt, mud, sand and other sediments are almost always deposited in horizontal layers. As these sediments stack up vertically, they often harden, forming rock layers.

The Law of Original Horizontality was first proposed by Danish geological pioneer Nicholas Steno in the 17th century. The law states that layers of sediment were originally deposited horizontally under the action of gravity.


Rock layers are usually ordered with the oldest layers on the bottom, and the most recent layers on top. The Law of Faunal Succession explains that fossils found in rock layers are also ordered in this way.

Grand Canyon Geological Layers


There are thousands upon thousands of layers in the earth’s crust. However, scientists have grouped the layers into major groups. The most recent three layers are the Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Cenozoic. These layers represent the last 500 million years of life on earth.

In the Paleozoic, you find fish, amphibian, and reptile fossils (in that order), but never dinosaurs, birds, modern mammals, or even flowering plants.

Think of that: despite the billions of plant fossils in the Paleozoic layer, nobody has ever found one fossil of a flower, including any kind of deciduous tree or even a single blade of grass. Why not? The obvious explaination is flowers had not evolved yet.

The next layer, the Mesozoic, is often called the age of dinosaurs. The Mesozoic has dinosaurs like crazy. Of course, dinosaurs are reptiles and that’s why you won’t find any until after the Paleozoic which contains the first reptiles. The Mesozoic also has the first flowering plants, birds, and mammals, though few if any birds or mammals that we know of today.

On top of the Paleozoic and Mesozoic is the Cenozoic. This is the current layer that is still being deposited in oceans, deserts and swamps all around the earth today. The Cenozoic is the first major layer where we find modern mammal fossils like cats, dogs, monkeys and humans. This layer, or “era” is often referred to as the age of mammals.

These three layers make up a sort of 3-layer cake. Just like a cake, the bottom layer went down first, followed by the middle and the top. Since fossils progress from fish at the bottom to humans at the top, we have clear evidence that life evolved through time.


Of course, there isn’t one place in the world to go and see every fossil animal from all time stacked one on top of the other. In fact, it’s rare to find all three major layers on top of one another. Why not?

Well the first obvious answer is that even in the world today there are places where sediments (layers) are deposited but in other places (like mountains) they are eroded. So gaps are a common occurrence in many regions.

Also, while the layers are usually deposited in a clear order, those layers are often disturbed later on by volcanoes, rivers, mountains, and shifting continents.

Look at the diagram at right. If you were to stand on the cliff to the left side of the cross section, you would see the top layer in two places. The cracks, or faults, in the rock have slid the layers out of alignment. Only when you view the entire area can you piece the original order back together.

The crust of the earth is made of several huge plates. These plates “float” on the hot, soft mantle below the crust. We can actually measure the movement of the plates using satellites in space. Every year, they shift in different directions, each on their own path. Sometimes the plates collide, causing mountains. Other times, they separate and hot magma flows up to form volcanic islands and new land. It happens slowly but surely and as it does, our nice three layer cake becomes a little messier.

It’s as if somebody slid the cake off the table, and the dog ate half of it before dad comes to the rescue. Look at any one spot and you might not find all three layers in the right order, but look at the big picture and the original order is still visible.

There are many evidences of evolution, but the geologic column remains the most obvious clue to the history of life on earth.


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T. Rex May Have Had Lips

Thursday, May 11, 2017

T. rex may have had lips. Yes, you read that right. Lips.

Robert Reisz, a paleontologist at the University of Toronto, is challenging the long-standing image of meat-eating theropod dinosaurs such as T. rex. Specifically, Reisz suggests that theropods’ teeth were not bared all the time, extending outside their mouths and fully visible whether their jaws were open or closed. Rather, these teeth were kept hidden, covered by scaly lips, he said in a presentation May 20 at the Canadian Society of Vertebrate Paleontology’s annual meeting in Ontario.

Reisz told Live Science in an email that he had always been bothered by the typical “permanent smile” portrayal of theropod dinosaur teeth. He first looked to the closest living relatives of theropod dinosaurs — crocodiles — for clues about tooth exposure.

At first glance, it could seem like the expectation for large theropods to have exposed teeth was on the right track. Crocodiles’ teeth are covered by gums for about one-quarter of their length, but lips are absent and the tooth crowns are permanently exposed, Reisz explained.

However, if you look closer at tooth structure, a different story might emerge, he noted in his presentation.

The hard enamel of animals’ teeth has low water content, and is typically kept hydrated by saliva. Without lips to keep moisture in and prevent the teeth from drying out, the tough enamel would become brittle and more prone to damage and wear, Reisz told Live Science.

Crocodiles live in watery environments and would rely on their habitat to keep exposed teeth hydrated. But land-dwelling theropods’ large teeth — which are known to have enamel — could have been compromised by perpetual exposure, and likely needed to be covered by lips in order to stay moist, Reisz said in the presentation.

T. rex by pheaston on DeviantArt

But crocodiles aren’t the only animals with exposed teeth — elephants, for instance, have exposed teeth as well, and many extinct saber-toothed predators had very long canines that were also exposed when their mouths were closed. Wouldn’t their teeth have been vulnerable to serious drying out, too?

Not necessarily. A mammal’s tooth structure is actually quite different from a reptile’s, said Zhijie Jack Tseng, a paleontologist who studies bite-force biomechanics in extinct carnivores at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

“Mammalian teeth are prismatic — they have a crisscrossing structure,” Tseng told Live Science. He explained that when mammal teeth grow, the enamel emerges from the root area and “races outward in all directions,” creating a 3D shape that may be better at keeping water inside.

In reptile teeth, the enamel grows in one direction, creating a different type of structure that may not retain water as effectively — potentially making their teeth more likely to chip or crack, Tseng suggested.

But for reptiles — and theropod dinosaurs — damaging or losing a tooth simply isn’t as big a deal as it would be for a mammal, Tseng added. Mammals typically grow a set of baby teeth followed by a set of adult teeth, whereas reptiles — and likely many, if not all, dinosaurs — replace individual teeth throughout their lifetimes, scientists have found.

“Each tooth — relatively speaking — doesn’t have as much value to the animal as in mammals,” Tseng said. “T. rex could chip a tooth or get one stuck in prey, and just replace it. Evolving protection for teeth is not a critical component of how they eat.”

The dinos, they are a-changin’

Reisz suggested in a statement that people may be reluctant to abandon the terrifying but familiar image of a “ferocious-looking” T. rex with bared teeth.

But now more than ever, scientists are challenging traditional ideas about how dinosaurs may have looked and behaved. New fossil evidence, computer modeling and comparisons with living creatures are helping scientists to paint a clearer picture of these extinct animals, overturning many historic conceptions of their postures, gaits, skin coverings and colors.

Long gone are the days when dinosaurs were almost uniformly pictured as grayish-green, ponderous reptiles with scaly skin. Contrary to their portrayal in popular films, dinosaurs are now widely accepted by scientists as having been covered in feathers, possibly in a range of colors, much like the colorful plumage of modern birds, which are a living dinosaur lineage.

Is it really so far-fetched to suggest that T. rex‘s toothy grin should also be relegated to the past? Time — and further research — will tell, Reisz said.

Source: LiveScience.com

Spinosaurus aegyptiacus: Bipedal or Quadrupedal?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Spinosaurus aegyptiacus: Bipedal or Quadrupedal?

Spinosaurus was the largest theropod to ever walk on the earth, discovered in 1912 for the first time, it has been nominated to be larger than the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex.

This giant theropod was suggested to be between 12.6–18 metros long (41–59 ft) and 4.25-5 meters tall, even new evidence has came to light to show that it was smaller than this…

Spinosaurus, an important dinosaur of Africa. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

This one is the original Spinosaurus skeleton, larger than most of the other adult ones but strangely it’s bones are thinner, his skull was long but fragile, with a bite estimated to be between 1-2 tons ( it’s very difficult to determine a Spinosaurus bite force).

This skeleton has proven that Spinosaurus was bipedal too, even in 2014 something different has been found…

An a passionated paleontologist, named Ibrahim decided to paste all the bones of a new found spinosaurus and this was the final result:

This reconstruction was way different than the original one and from that moment it started to think that Spinosaurus was not bipedal, but quadrupedal , also it has been proven that Spinosaurus was not a dinosaur hunter, but a fish eater which spent most of the time in water as a crocodile.

10 Facts You Don’t Know About Spinosaurus


There is the 2014 reconstruction of spinosaurus:

So with this new evidence, Spinosaurus wasn’t  considered to be the biggest theropod ever (in terms of height and size, it was still the longest).

In 2015-16 all this has been debunked because some paleontologists started think that left legs of spinosaurus were incomplete and to prove that it is real we need to find more skeletons like this, even there are some others quadrupedal exemplars skeletons.

So for once again Spinosaurus is bipedal, but not as the jurassic park 3 one which is very inaccurate.

Jurassic Park 3 Spinosaurus

But still considered to be a fish eater because his jaws were designed to catch fishes and his body was adapted to swim.

So in your opinion… was Spinosaurus bipedal or was it quadrupedal?

Source: scified.com

12 World’s Best Dinosaur Museums

Sunday, May 7, 2017

American Museum of Natural History - The Best?

While real-life scientists have yet to resurrect the terrible lizards from mosquito DNA, they have recently discovered remnants of what look like red blood cells and soft tissue in the fossils of a 75-million-year-old dinosaur.
But they say it’ll be a long time before a “Jurassic Park”-style theme park is feasible. (As if anyone who’s seen any of the films would want to visit one anyway.)
Fortunately there are already plenty of museums worldwide that (safely) bring humans face to face with dinosaurs — and not always just their skeletons.

1. Museum für Naturkunde (Berlin)

The Dinosaur Hall seen from the entrance, with the skeleton of Giraffatitan (formerly Brachiosaurus) brancai in the center. Photo by Axel Mauruszat

Berlin’s natural history museum houses a serious collection of bones excavated largely from Tanzania in the 20th century, featuring all sorts of species.
Most impressive is the 41-foot, 5-inch Brachiosaurus, the tallest dinosaur in the world on display. It’s a Guinness World Record holder and dominates the first gallery.
The museum also has the most important Archaeopteryx fossil in the world, demonstrating the birdlike link between dinosaurs and birds.

Museum fur Naturkunde, Invalidenstrasse 43 Leibniz-Institut Fur Evolutions- Und Biodiversitatsforschung, 10115 Berlin Germany; +49 (0)30 2093 8591

2. Field Museum (Chicago)

The world’s biggest version of the world’s most famous dinosaur: ‘Sue’, the T.rex

The museum’s Evolving Planet exhibit, dedicated to the last 4 billion years of evolution, features dinosaurs from as far away as Madagascar and Antarctica.
The main attraction stands at the entrance. Meet Sue, the largest Tyrannosaurus in the world, who greets visitors at Chicago’s natural history museum.
She’s a terrific specimen — the original skull, weighing 600 pounds and flashing 58 teeth, is on display in the museum’s balcony level along with information on the most notorious of dinosaurs.
It’s easy to imagine the enormous tooth-filled snout crashing through the sunroof of a “Jurassic Park” jeep.

The Field Museum, 1400 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605-2496; +1 312 922 9410

3. Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Science (Brussels)

Mounted Iguanadon skeletons at the Dinosaur hall. Photo by Paul Hermans

With the largest dinosaur hall in the world, this museum has an impressive collection of fossilized skeletons and casts.
The standouts are 30 Iguanodons, the second dinosaur to be classified in the 1800s.
They’re the ones with the curious spike that early paleontologists mistook for a horn on their nose.
Interactive displays in the gallery also detail the fossilization process and dinosaur digs, among other topics.

Museum of Natural Sciences, Rue Vautier 29, Brussels 1000 Belgium; +32 (0)2 627 4211

4. National Dinosaur Museum (Canberra, Australia)

Exhibit – Archaeopteryx Diorama. Photo by NationalDinosaurMuseum

This is the place to explore prehistory in Australia.
The place has the country’s largest collection of dinosaur fossils.
Alongside fossils, bones and impressive footprints from all sorts of animals and beasts, the museum features a garden with imposing dinosaur sculptures and animatronics inside that add a bit of Spielberg magic to displays.
Fossil digs, children’s learning events and weekend tours help attract 200,000 people a year, making it one of the area’s biggest tourist attractions.

National Dinosaur Museum, Cnr Gold Creek Road and Barton Highway Nicholls, 2913 Australia; +(02) 6230 2655

5. Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology (Alberta, Canada)

Inside the largest display area. Photo by Steven Mackaay

More than 130,000 fossils call this paleontological research center home, including the original “Black Beauty” Tyrannosaurus skeleton with its unique dark sheen.
A recreation of a pack of Albertosaurus, inspired by a bone bed of 22 specimens found in Alberta, pays homage to Joseph Tyrrell, who discovered the carnivore in 1884.
The museum also displays sabertooth tigers attacking a mammoth as well as a living garden that recreates life during the Cretaceous period in Alberta.
Visitors can watch paleontologists at work in the preparation lab to see how they prepare fossilized bones, like those of an Ankylosaur found in a Canadian mine.

Royal Tyrrell Museum, Midland Provincial Park P.O. Box 7500, Drumheller, Alberta T0J 0Y0 Canada;

6. Wyoming Dinosaur Center (Wyoming)

Wyoming Dinosaur Center entrance

This museum’s standout attraction is a 106-foot Supersaurus.
The museum has acquired the most complete archaeopteryx in the world (after the one in Berlin) and boasts skeletons of Triceratops, Stegosaurus and Velociraptor, among others in all sorts of dynamic poses.
The real draw is getting to talk with real paleontologists, like those who inspired Alan Grant’s character in “Jurassic Park.”
All ages are invited to “dig for a day” by signing up to participate in excursions to one of the world’s richest bone fields, just down the street.

Wyoming Dinosaur Museum, 110 Carter Ranch Road, Thermopolis, WY 82443; +1 307 854 2997

7. Zigong Dinosaur Museum (Zigong, China)

One of the excavation pits of the Zigong Dinosaur Museum. Photo by Phreakster 1998

Another vast space given to prehistoric fossils, the Dinosaur Museum in Zigong sits atop the Dashanpu fossil site, allowing visitors to get a firsthand glimpse of an excavation site.
This top Chinese attraction has 18 complete skeletons among the 200 individuals pulled from the graveyard, and they’re displayed among foot prints, skin fossils and other prehistoric finds.
Specimens are renowned in the dinosaur community and attract nearly 7 million people a year in China.

Zigong Dinosaur Museum, Dashanpu Town, Da’an District, Zigong 643013 China; +86 813 580 1236

8. Iziko Museum (Cape Town, South Africa)

Mounted skeletons of the spinosaur theropod Suchomimus and the juvenile sauropod dinosaur Jobaria

South Africa doesn’t conjure images of T. Rex and Brachiosaurus, but the Izikio Museum does feature some of the prehistoric beasts from its Karoo region.
In addition to dozens of other exhibits, the prehistoric section deals with lesser known dinosaurs and their cousins that inhabited the continent from Cape Town to Marrakech.
The “African Dinosaurs” exhibit features the Euparkeria, a distant relative of the dinosaurs, native to South Africa; as well as the Jobaria, a sauropod from Africa.
The Carcharodontosaurus skull from North Africa is part of a creature that trumped the mighty T. Rex in size and stature, making it one of Africa’s most imposing killers.

Iziko South African Museum and Planetarium, Between Government Avenue and Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town Central South Africa; +27 (0)21 481 3800

9.  Jurassic Land (Istanbul)

Jurassic Land: The detailed story of the dinosaur age is told with examples.

Opened in 2011, Jurassic Land is as close as you’ll get to fleeing dinosaurs alongside Sam Neil and Laura Dern.
One part education, another part entertainment, the 10,000-square-meter experience mixes skeletons and fossils with writhing animatronic dinosaurs in an Ingen-esque setting, including a “veterinarian” taking care of an injured Stegosaurus and egg incubators.
While Spielberg may not have given his blessing, the center does offer a creative and engaging educational experience for children, though connoisseurs may question the seemingly anachronistic placing of a Spinosaurus next to a Triceratops.

Jurassic Land, Kocatepe Mah. Sehir Parki Cad. 12. Sok. Bayrampaşa Forum İstanbul Kat : 2, Istanbul 34045 Turkey; +90 212 640 8088

10. Fernbank Museum of Natural History (Atlanta)

Inside Fernbank. Photo by James Emery

The true giants of the prehistoric world may have been unearthed in Patagonia, but you have to go to Atlanta to see them on display.
The Giants of the Mesozoic exhibit features the carnivorous Gigantosaurus, which rivaled the T. Rex in size, as well as the Argentinosaurus, the 100-ton sauropod that scientists say is the largest dinosaur ever classified.
A flock of more than 20 pterosaurs glides overhead. The museum also offers a glimpse into prehistoric Georgia, with murals and life-sized dinosaur models.

Fernbank Museum of Natural History, 767 Clifton Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30307; +1 404 929 6300

11. American Museum of Natural History (New York)

American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History, located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York City, is one of the largest museums in the world. 
Did you know: Dark Universe was developed by the American Museum of Natural History, New York (www.amnh.org), in collaboration with the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, and GOTO INC, Tokyo, Japan.
Address: Central Park West & 79th St, New York, NY 10024, USA
Hours: 10AM–5:45PM

Dinosaur Sex

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Interesting quote from paleontologist Kenneth Carpenter:

“[A]ssuming you were stupid enough to sneak up under a T. rex and pull the cloaca open, the last thing you would ever see during the last moments of your life would be a penis if it was a male, probably similar to that seen in a crocodile.”

That’s quite an image.  Now that some of you are shaking your head in puzzlement, I’ll explain why this is interesting.

It’s easy to forget that dinosaurs were real animals.  They were born (or hatched), grew from juveniles into adults, wandered around the landscape, ate, slept, pooped, and had sex (just like most of us).

Dinosaurs, of course, are known to us because of their fossil bones preserved in Mesozoic Era sedimentary rock strata.  While we can obtain a lot of information from these bones, as well as some other types of trace fossils such as track ways, there is still a lot they can’t directly tell us about the animals themselves.  Those of us fascinated by dinosaurs also want to know the details of what they looked like (what color were they, for example) and how they behaved.  Some paleontologists are even interested in how dinosaurs had sex (as the joke about porcupine sex goes, “very carefully”).

Ceratopsians in action…

One very basic question is whether or not dinosaurs (the males ones) had penises.  We know that the group of reptiles we call dinosaurs evolved from an earlier group of reptiles called archosaurs.  Another group of reptiles evolved from the archosaurs as well and they’re still around – the crocodilians.  We also know that birds evolved from one of the lineages of dinosaurs.

Crocodiles and birds create what paleontologists call an extant phylogenetic bracket for the dinosaurs.  What this means is that whatever characteristics are present in both crocodiles and birds were probably also present in the dinosaurs as well.

One of those features is the cloaca (cloaca comes from the Latin word for “sewer”).  A cloaca is a vent or slit  beneath the tail with one exit for the reproductive, urinary, and intestinal tracts of the animal.  Since crocodiles (all modern reptiles actually) and birds have a cloaca, it’s reasonable to assume that dinosaurs did as well.  These organisms have sex by engaging in the charmingly-termed “cloacal kiss” which is pretty much what it sounds like.  They touch cloaca, sperm transfers, and fertilization ensues.  So did dinosaurs tenderly exchange sweet cloacal kisses when mating?

Well, maybe not.  Some birds (like male ostriches, cassowaries, kiwi, geese, and some species of swans and ducks), for example, actually have a penis which is used for reproduction.  All of the bird groups which exhibit a penis are lineages near the base of the bird family tree.  It appears to be an ancestral feature.
It also turns out crocodilians have a form of penis inside their cloaca as well (not well studied, surprisingly enough).
Given this, dinosaurs very likely had a penis inside their cloaca.  After reading this article, I’m not sure I’d want to be too close to a T. rex‘s cloaca.
Original article appeared on hudsonvalleygeologist.blogspot.al

What are the Differences Between Tyrannosaurus and Tarbosaurus?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Tarbosaurus skull

A more subtle difference is the shape of the lacrimal bone, which made up the front part of the eye socket and was also part of the dinosaur’s skull ornamentation. In Tyrannosaurus rex, the top portion of the lacrimal has a concave shape, but in Tarbosaurus bataar the same portion of bone is domed.

Just as this dinosaur specimen, a relative of Tyrannosaurus rex, went up for auction on May 20, a question arose as to whether or not it was taken illegally from Mongolia. Credit: Wynne Parry

Tarbosaurus bataar is in a sense the Asian version of the Tyrannosaurus rex, they are close cousins,” said Lawrence Witmer, an anatomist and paleontologist at Ohio University.

Both had powerful jaws and teeth, big back legs and tiny arms, although Tarbosaurus had arms that were even smaller than those of T. rex, according to Philip Currie, a paleontologist at the University of Alberta.

The largest Tyrannosaurus found measured about 45 feet (14 meters) long, while the largest Tarbosaurus measured about 40 feet (12 meters) long, Currie told LiveScience in an email. “But there is always the possibility that bigger specimens will eventually be found for one or both.”

While clearly identifiable, tarbosaurs have only been found in a roughly 70-million-year-old rock formation in Mongolia, Tyrannosaurus rex remains have turned up in many fossil beds in North America. Both were apex predators, meaning they were at the top of the food chain, and, thanks to their lineage, both are considered tyrannosaurs.

Source: www.livescience.com

Did Dinosaurs Have Lips?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

“In popular culture, we imagine dinosaurs as more ferocious-looking, but that is not the case”

Can a crocodile’s smile reveal whether dinosaurs had lips? What if lips and gums hid most of dinosaur’s teeth?

New findings from University of Toronto vertebrate palaeontologist Robert Reisz challenge the idea of what therapods might have looked like when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

His research was presented May 19th at a conference at U of T Mississauga – and has made headlines all over the web.

According to a new study, dinosaurs may have lips. (Photo : Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

 “When we see dinosaurs in popular culture, such as in the movie Jurassic Park, we see them depicted with big teeth sticking out of their mouths,” Reisz says. Large dinosaurs, such as Tyrannosaurus rex, bare a ferocious grin, while smaller creatures such as velociraptors are shown with scaly lips covering their teeth.

The U of T Mississauga expert was curious about which version might be most accurate. “We have very little information about dinosaurs’ soft tissue,” he says.

For clues about how therapods might have appeared, he looked to modern-day reptilian predators like crocodiles and monitor lizards. According to Reisz, lipless crocodiles have exposed teeth, much like a Jurassic Park predator, while monitor lizards conceal teeth behind scaly lips that are similar to the movie version of velociraptors.

Lips help to protect teeth, in part by helping to enclose them in a moist environment where they won’t dry out, Reisz says. Crocodiles, which spend their time submerged in water, don’t need lips for protection. “Their teeth are kept hydrated by an aquatic environment,” Reisz says.

Reptiles with lips, such as monitor lizards, typically live on land (much like their movie counterparts) where their teeth require different protection. From this, Reisz concludes that dinosaur teeth would likely have been covered by scaly lips.

Artist interpretation shows 190-million-year-old nests, eggs, hatchlings and adults of the prosauropod dinosaur Massospondylus in Golden Gate Highlands National Park, South Africa (image credit: Julius Csotonyi)

“It’s also important to remember that teeth would have been partially covered by gums. If we look at where the enamel stops, we can see that a substantial portion of the teeth would be hidden in the gums. The teeth would have appeared much smaller on a living animal.

“In popular culture, we imagine dinosaurs as more ferocious-looking, but that is not the case.”

Reisz presents his findings on May 20 at the annual meeting of the Canadian Society of Vertebrate Palaeontolgy at UTM. The two-day conference, which began on May 19, brings together 60 Canadian researchers working in Canada and around the globe.

“Canada has some very significant locations for understanding vertebrate evolution, ranging from the late Cretaceous in Alberta to the Pleistocene in the Arctic and the early stages of terrestrial vertebrate evolution in the Atlantic region,” says Reisz, who helped to organized the conference.

“There are about 1,000 people worldwide who study vertebrate fossils. It’s important to come together and exchange ideas and unite a community that is so widespread geographically.”

The conference features presentations on the latest research in palaeontology, including a crocodile-like creature from Sudan discovered by U of T researcher David Evans; a talk on the evolution of how birds hear; what a recently discovered ceratops from Montana tells us about horned dinosaurs; and deciphering the social behaviour of oviraptorsaurs found in Mongolia.

Attribution: University of Toronto