Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cause of death of dinosaurs

Our current thinking is that dinosaurs passed away due to the following sequence of events:

A large asteroid from space crashing to the earth, producing a large amount of debris in the atmosphere.

The high amount of debris created dirty "clouds" which blocked out the sunlight and reduced the amount of sunlight reaching the earth.

Because of the reduced sunlight, plants began to die off. These plants included those which served as the dinosaurs food. The dinosaurs also began to die off due to the lack of food.

Over time scientists have had several theories regarding the disappearance of Dinosaurs. As I mentioned this is the current idea.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dinosaurs Like You've Never Seen Before!

Fighting Dinosaurs: New Discoveries from Mongolia features more than 30 of the best preserved and scientifically important dinosaur and other ancient animal fossils ever discovered in Mongolia's famed Gobi Desert. On view through the exhibition focuses on the "Fighting Dinosaurs" of Mongolia — one of the most famous fossil finds in the world. Never before seen in North America and designated a national treasure of Mongolia, are the two Fighting Dinosaurs a fierce Velociraptor that was apparently buried alive while attacking a plant-eating, shield-headed Protoceratops.

Also featured are many new specimens from Mongolia, including a number of species yet to be named, some of the most complete meat-eating theropod dinosaurs ever found, several nesting dinosaurs, and some of the finest lizard and mammal fossils ever discovered. These specimens have enhanced our understanding of life in the Gobi region 80 million years ago, and they shed new light on the rise of modern bird and mammal groups.

This exhibition showcases discoveries and research by Museum and Mongolian Academy of Sciences paleontologists over the last 10 years, and reflects the most current thinking on dinosaur traits, behavior, and evolutionary links to birds. Discoveries in China from just two years ago reveal that a number of dinosaur species had feathers; among the highlights of the exhibition are fully feathered models of Velociraptor (shown above) and a nesting Oviraptor protecting its eggs.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mammals Grew Big After Dinosaurs Died Off: Analysis

Mammals began to grow much larger after dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago, a new study suggests.

An international team of researchers analyzed the fossils of major groups of land mammals on each continent and found that their size increased from a maximum of about 10 kilograms (22 pounds) when they shared the Earth with dinosaurs to a maximum of 17 tonnes (18.7 U.S. tons) after dinosaurs became extinct.

"Basically, the dinosaurs disappear and all of sudden there is nobody else eating the vegetation. That's an open food source and mammals start going for it, and it's more efficient to be an herbivore when you're big," study co-author Jessica Theodor, an associate professor in the biological sciences department at the University of Calgary, said in a university news release.

The findings also show that the global ecosystem is able to reset itself relatively quickly.

"You lose dinosaurs 65 million years ago, and within 25 million years the system is reset to a new maximum for the animals that are there in terms of body size. That's actually a pretty short time frame, geologically speaking. That's really rapid evolution," Theodor said.

Monday, December 27, 2010

What was the biggest, smallest and smartest dinosaur?

The largest complete dinosaur we know of was Brachiosaurus ("arm lizard"); it reached 23 m in length and 12 m in height (about the length of two large school buses and the height of a four-story building). Fragmentary leg bones and vertebrae of even larger dinosaur species are known, but these skeletal remains are too incomplete to determine their exact size. Several of these (Argentinasaurus and Amphicoelias) might have been one and a half to two times larger than Brachiosaurus.

The smallest dinosaurs were just slightly larger than a chicken; Compsognathus ("pretty jaw") was 1 m (3 ft) long and probably weighed about 2.5 kg (about 6.5 lb). These three dinosaur types all lived during the Jurassic Period. Mussaurus ("mouse lizard") was claimed as the smallest dinosaur, but it is now known to be the hatchling of a dinosaur type that was much larger than Compsognathus when fully grown. If birds are advanced dinosaurs, then the smallest dinosaur would be the hummingbird!

Although there is no direct way to measure a dinosaur's intelligence, one of the few possible measures of intelligence might be a large brain in a small body. The genus that perhaps fits this description best was the Cretaceous bird-like dinosaur Troodon, which also may have had binocular vision (depth perception) and excellent eyesight and was built for speed. Even so, this dinosaur was probably not as "intelligent" as most modern birds and mammals.

Dinosaur World expansion to double size of desirability

PLANT CITY - Dinosaur World will break ground on an expansion plan to more than double the size of the tourist attraction.

The 12-acre expansion will comprise a 22,000 square-foot building to house a museum with a primitive theme, gift shop and office space. More dinosaur replicas will be added to the 150 previously at the attraction at 5145 Harvey Tew Road, just off Interstate 4 at Branch Forbes Road. A few woolly mammoth replicas may also be added.

Other new features will embrace a playground, more parking and bigger picnic areas.

Dinosaur World spokeswoman Nicole Randall said a few of the details won't be released but construction is predictable to be finished in fall 2011. The park, now 8 acres, will remain open throughout the expansion.

Dinosaur World, the brainchild of Swedish businessman Christer Svensson, opened in Plant City in 1998 on the position of the former Gator Jungle tourist attraction. Less than five years afterward, another site opened in Cave City, Ky.; in 2008, and a third opened in Glen Rose, Texas.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Most dinosaurs were vegetarian, research proposes

Most dinosaurs were vegetarian rather than meat-eating beasts, research suggests.

While Tyrannosaurus Rex sums up the image of a dinosaur wreaking terror by ripping flesh with powerful jaws, several of its closest relatives were more content nibbling leaves.

A new study of the diet of 90 species of theropod dinosaurs challenged the conservative view that almost all theropods hunted prey, particularly those closest to the ancestors of birds.

Rather it showed that among the most bird-like dinosaurs known as coelurosaurs plant eating was a frequent way of life.

Their diet may have also assisted them survive and use new environments becoming the most winning group of dinosaurs throughout the Cretaceous Period, 145-65 million years ago.

Dr Lindsay Zanno of the Chicago Field Museum said: "Most theropods are obviously adapted to a predatory lifestyle, but somewhere on the line to birds, predatory dinosaurs went soft."

Among theropod dinosaurs, all modern birds and numerous groups of their neighboring extinct relatives belong to a subgroup known as Coelurosauria.

Most were feathered and most clever dinosaurs and those with the smallest body sizes also belong to this group.

Though researchers have been only left with fossilized bones and teeth to work with and so had to infer their diets.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Most bird-like dinosaurs ate plants, latest study discovers

The results are in sharp contrast to a widespread belief among paleontologists who say theropod dinosaurs sought their prey.

Lindsay Zanno and Peter Makovicky of the Field Museum in Chicago used statistical analysis to conclude that 90 species of theropod dinosaurs ate a plant-based diet, particularly among coelurosaurs, the mainly bird-like dinosaurs.

The results were in sharp contrast to a widespread faith among paleontologists who say theropod dinosaurs hunted their prey, particularly those closest to the ancestors of birds.

"Most theropods are obviously adapted to a predatory lifestyle, but someplace on the line to birds, predatory dinosaurs went soft," Zanno explained.

Zanno and Makovicky found almost two dozen anatomical features were statistically linked to direct facts of plant eating among coelurosaurian dinosaurs, such as the loss of teeth or a long neck.

"Once we linked convinced adaptations with direct evidence of diet, we appeared to see which other theropod species had the same traits... Then we could say who was expected a plant eater and who was not," added Zanno.

During their analysis, the researchers establish that 44 theropod species distributed across six major lineages ate plants and that the ancestor to most feathered dinosaurs and modern birds had most likely already stopped eating meat only during the Cretaceous Period, some 145-65 million years ago.

In light of the huge number of plant eaters during that period, the carnivorous diet of T. rex, Velociraptor and other meat-eating coelurosaurs should be viewed "more as the exception than the rule," Zanno said.

"It’s time to start considering these animals in a new evolutionary context," Zanno said.

The researchers also recommended that these large predators and their close relatives may have in fact evolved from omnivorous ancestors.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Not Meat-eating dinosaurs so carnivorous after all

New research by Field Museum scientists discovers widespread herbivory in bird-like theropod dinosaurs. Four of the 90-theropod species concerned in the study shown with dietary interpretations. All four species derive from the prominent feathered dinosaur beds of the Early Cretaceous Yixian Formation, P. R. China, leading the scientists to wonder that dietary diversity may have contributed to the huge numbers of contemporaneous theropods in ecosystems like those of the Yixian.

Field Museum scientists used statistical analyses to establish the diet of 90 species of theropod dinosaurs. Their outcomes challenge the conventional view that almost all theropods hunted prey, particularly those closest to the ancestors of birds.

Tyrannosaurus rex may have been a flesh-eating terror however many of his closest relatives were more content with vegetarian fare, a fresh analysis by Field Museum scientists has established.

Theropods are a group of bipedal dinosaurs colloquially identified as "predatory" dinosaurs. Among theropod dinosaurs, all modern birds and numerous groups of their closest extinct relatives belong to a subgroup known as Coelurosauria. Coelurosauria also comprises the iconic hunters Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor. Most coelurosaurs were feathered and the cleverest dinosaurs and those with the smallest body sizes also belong to this group.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Raptor-like dinosaur revealed in eastern Utah

A little, feathered raptor-like dinosaur thought to be 125 million years old has been discovered in eastern Utah.

The Geminiraptor suarezarum was bipedal and, similar to other raptors, had a large head. The majority of the known raptors discovered in North America date to between 72 million and 75 million years ago, which builds the discovery the oldest reported specimen of its kind.

"They were speedy, they were smart, they had large eyes and very dexterous hands," said James Kirkland, a paleontologist with the Utah Geological Survey.

It was the eighth new species of dinosaurs revealed in Utah this year. Seven of those were establish on federal land.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Therizinosaur—Mystery of the Sickle-Claw Dinosaur

How did this dinosaur get buried in mud at the bottom of the Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway? One hypothesis: Lost at sea, perhaps swept away by winds or change in currents, flailing about to protect itself from plesiosaurs and sharks until it could no longer stay afloat. An alternate hypothesis: Bloat and float. Illustration by Victor Leshyk.

Mounted skeleton of Nothronychus, the sickle-claw dinosaur from the Tropic Shale of southern Utah. The small head, tiny teeth, massive claws on the hands, expansive belly, broad hips, and short tail distinguish this dinosaur from all of its carnivorous relatives. Height as mounted is about 8 1⁄2 feet, but would be 13 feet tall in a more erect posture.

Reconstruction of Nothronychus on land. Although volcanoes are a cliche in dinosaur art, volcanic ash in the Tropic Shale indicates proximity of tectonic activity on land where these dinosaurs lived. Several Pteranodon soar safely overhead. Illustration by Victor Leshyk.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Jurassic Park Triceratops Discovery Trail restart at Islands of Adventure

After more than a few years of being closed, Jurassic Park Triceratops Discovery Trail has once again opened the paddocks and is welcoming guests. The attraction, part of the Jurassic Park area of the park, opened its doors this morning after months of conjecture. It’s one of the innovative attractions that made Islands of Adventure “The world’s most technologically advanced theme park”.

Discovery Trail, also known as Trike Encounter, permits guests to get up close and personal with creatures that have been died out for 65 million years. The experiences vary from permitting the guests to get sneezed on, to inspection the creatures pee, to even petting the dinosaurs. It’s a greeting sight as Universal gears up for what is sure to be its busiest Holiday Season ever, due to the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Currently with the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the attraction has seen a new life, albeit that of a walkthrough to assist alleviates some of the huge crushing crowds that will surely encase the park over the Christmas Holiday. The original queue line is not unlocked with all the great videos and monitors, and again it is a stripped down version of its former self. With any fortune the park decides to stay this attraction open and finally return it to its former glory, because who doesn’t desire to touch a Dinosaur?

Monday, December 13, 2010


Living a few 150 million years ago, Archaeopteryx sported feathers and a saurine skeleton. Standing on the brink among dinosaurs and birds, Archaeopteryx has long symbolized the concept of transitional species so instinctively significant in the acceptance of Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Its fossils have been museum beloved ever since the first fossil feather of the so-called Urvogel or “first bird” was discovered Germany in 1860.

The image above demonstrates the so-called Berlin Archaeopteryx unearthed in about 1875, the most complete fossil representative of the species we have. But it’s worth bearing in mind that what we see here is not the creature, nor an anatomical specimen set from an extant animal. A fossil is an image; after the body comes to rest in moist sediments, minerals fill in and put back organic compounds lost to decompose, forming a type of photograph-in-stone of a creature’s most durable anatomy.

When paleontologist Christian Erich Hermann von Meyer explained the fossil feather in 1861, he named the species Archaeopteryx lithographica—the specific epithet a recognition of the significance of an image-making process found in the Earth’s crust. But similar to any graphic medium, the fossil record is prejudiced and incomplete; only certain type of creatures in certain environmental conditions ever attain the timeless apotheosis of fossilization. Earth’s picture album of life is extremely informative, and yet partial.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dinosaur fish be just 80 minutes away

Joseph Hatcher points to a yellow-coloured layer — the Gama Ferruginous Member of the Pierre Shale — on the Cretaceous Stratigraphic Nomenclature map of Southwestern Manitoba that’s taped to a wall.

We’re repute in the lab of the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre in Morden, about 80 minutes southwest of Winnipeg on Highway 3.

"This is major because it was not before known to exist in Manitoba prior to this season in the area south of Riding Mountain National Park," says Hatcher, the CFDC’s assistant curator.

Xiphactinus was a gargantuan, voracious predatory fish that lived 80 million years ago in the Western Interior Seaway of North America throughout the Cretaceous period, sharing the waters with mosasaurs and other marine reptiles.

A display case keeps the lower jaw from this fearsome fish, which, with its sharp jutting teeth and blunt head is frequently said "to resemble a bulldog" adds Hatcher.

Formerly known as the Morden and District Museum (1971-2004), the 16,000-square-foot CFDC, located in the lower level of the Morden Community Centre, contains the biggest collection of marine reptile fossils in Canada, says Hatcher, a native of Hendersonville, N.C., who has been effective at the CFDC for the last three years.

Inside the centre’s collection room, Hatcher pulls out a drawer from a sizeable wooden cabinet and demonstrates me the upper jaw of a mosasaur with a row of sharp conical teeth.

It was excavated in the Manitoba Escarpment, as were the extra fossils in the CFDC, in 1978.

"Mosasaurs were air breathers and had extremely mobile jaws that could unbalance to engulf their unlucky victims," Hatcher explains.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"Horse Dragon," Colossus Dinosaurs establish in Utah

A shield-toothed horse-dragon may sound similar to a mythical creature, but the recently portrays dinosaur once roamed the U.S. West, a new study says.

The 125-million-year-old herbivore Hippodraco scutodens—whose partial skull and skeleton were unearthed in 2004 in eastern Utah—has a long, low skull similar to a horse's and a mouth filled with shield-shaped teeth.

Hippo and draco are Latin for "horse" and "dragon" correspondingly, while scutum means "oblong shield" and dens means "tooth."

Also exposed just, fossils of another recently described species from the same time period, Iguanacolossus fortis, were found in 2005 not far from Hippodraco.

That "ponderous beast" is named for its comparatively large size—about 30 feet (9 meters) long, compared with Hippodraco's 15 feet (4.5 meters), according to the study.

Iguanacolossus's teeth look like those of Iguanodon, a related, 33-foot (10-meter) North American herbivore that possible lived a few million years before Hippodraco.

Both of the newfound dinosaurs are iguanodonts, an "extremely successful" group of plant-eaters that prolonged worldwide during the early Cretaceous period, the study team wrote.

Despite their abundance, North American iguanodonts from this period are rare in the fossil record—excluding in one Utah rock formation, which spans about 40 million years and includes fossils of many types of creatures, according to study leader Andrew McDonald, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Scientists determine 'Koreaceratops': First Horned Dino from Korea

Triceratops has a new cousin -- one as of a distant continent, that is.

Scientists from South Korea, the United States and Japan just declared the discovery of a new horned dinosaur, based on an analysis of fossil evidence found in South Korea. Dubbed "Koreaceratops" after its country of origin, the new dinosaur fossil was found in 2008 in a block of rock beside the Tando Basin reservoir.

At roughly 5 to 6 feet long and weighing between 60 and 100 pounds, the animal was somewhat small compared to its geologically younger, giant relatives similar to North America's Triceratops.

Koreaceratops had a parrot-like face with a beak at the front of its jaws, representing it was an herbivore. The claws on its hind feet propose that it was bipedal and moved at a fairly rapid speed. Koreaceratops had a unique fan-shaped tail formed by long neural spines, which suggests it may have been a fine swimmer, and spent part of its time hunting for aquatic food.

It is one of the primary articulated dinosaurs known from Korea, said J. Ryan, curator and head of Vertebrate Paleontology at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, who co-authored the research.

This is a rare find," said Ryan in a release publicizing the discovery. "Fossils of dinosaurs have not classically been found in this region, whereas proof of dinosaur eggs and footprints occur more commonly. This specimen is important because it fills in a missing 20 million-year gap in the fossil record between the origin of these dinosaurs in Asia and their first look in North America.

The recently identified genus, Koreaceratops hwaseongensis, lived about 103 million years ago throughout the late Early Cretaceous period. The specimen is the primary ceratopsian dinosaur from the Korean peninsula. The partial skeleton includes an important portion of the animal's backbone, hip bone, partial hind limbs and almost complete tail.