There was a time in the distant past when dinosaurs ruled the earth. Back then mammals were almost non-existent and the few that were present often became easy prey for these giant beasts.
Yet with a huge catastrophe that shook the earth, these dinosaurs disappeared leaving behind mammals which evolved into, among other species, primates and ultimately homo sapiens.
Today we can find indirect evidence of the existence of dinosaurs via the fossil remains they have left behind. Can we show the imagination to actually believe that one fine day mankind will have evolved to the point where it too becomes extinct like the dinosaurs?
Yet such is the reality of the situation we find ourselves in today with such crises as global warming, resource depletion and nuclear fallout. If all this advanced civilization of ours goes up in a radioactive mushroom cloud, we can well surmise that maybe one day in the distant future, the beings that will be left will dig the ground and find the fossils of our own species.
They will then say that “here lies the remains of man”. Such is the paradox of existence on this planet. Moving on, let us peer into some of the latest discoveries about dinosaurs that still baffle the mind of man.
The world’s largest dinosaur footprint has been unearthed in the Mongolian Desert. The footprint is the size of a mature man’s dimensions. It belongs to the Titanosaur. This giant beast lived on the earth about 70 to 90 million years ago.
The Gobi Desert was the site where this ancient footprint was found. Researchers hailing from Japan and Mongolia cooperated in this joint effort. While most of the discoveries related to dinosaurs have been made in the Gobi Desert, this one trumps the rest. It is the largest find of the lot.
The fossil footprint is a meter in length and has its claws intact. The Titanosaur itself was 20 meters tall and 30 meters long. The Titanosaur is named after the Titans which were mythological entities of Ancient Greece.
The most ancient of vocal organs of a bird has been unearthed. The fossil of a relative of ducks and geese was found in Antarctica. This creature lived 66 million years ago in the time of the dinosaurs. This Mesazoic Era vocal organ has been termed a “syrinx”. This part was not found in the fossils of non-avian dinosaurs. Thus these dinosaurs probably could not produce song-like trilling noises as birds do.
Birds, as everyone knows, are a direct evolutionary offshoot of dinosaurs and are even considered to be living dinosaurs by many scientists today. No non-avian dinosaur or crocodile relative has such an organ as the scientists have discovered much to their surprise.
Now finally we have a pretty good clue as to how dinosaurs responded in a vocal manner to each other. Also the evolution of avians is laid out in the open thanks to this research.
The organ is a very complex piece of biological intricacy. It is composed of hard cartilage rings that in turn bolster soft tissues. These latter tissues vibrate in order to produce the symphonies and complex songs that lie in the vocal repertoire of birds.
The cartilage this organ is composed of doesn’t fossilize with the same frequency as bones. However, having said that, the high mineral content in the syrinx ring does make for a limited amount of fossilization.
All the fossilized examples of syrinx samples have been found from ancient birds that lived after the non-avian dinosaurs had died out.
The current sample of a syrinx was found in a Vegavis iaai. This bird lived during the Cretaceous Period. The species was labeled for the first time in 2005.
Brazilian scientists have announced the discovery of the largest dinosaur ever found. It is 25 meters in length and has been named the “Austroposeidon magnificus”.
Basically it comes under the category of the Titanosaur group of plant eaters. These giant lizards had very huge frames, lengthy necks and tails and rather tiny skulls. This dinosaur was six to eight meters in height and existed in present-day Brazil approximately 70 million years ago.
The fossils of this dinosaur were found in the 50s by a paleontologist who passed away in the 80s without getting the due recognition he deserved for the remarkable discovery.
An extinct reptile that lived about 230 years ago came earlier than the dinosaurs. Called the Triopticus primus, it had a pit in the center of its skull. Its skull was pretty thick too. It showed similarities to its distant cousins that lived 100 million years later.
Triopticus showed convergence which is an important feature of evolution and paleontology. A bird’s wing and a bat’s wing show convergence. Many other reptiles show this trend like the Triopticus primus.
The preserved remains of Triopticus (left) show the evolution of a thickened domed skull in the Triassic Period, 150 million years before the evolution of the famous dome-headed pachycephalosaur dinosaurs, such as Stegoceras (right). The background image shows the field site in Texas where curious fossils of Triopticus found in 1940. Credit: Virginia Tech/ (R)College of Science researcher holds a cast of Triopticus primus specimen, displaying the area where the left eye was located.
The dinosaurs were basically reptiles. They underwent a mass extinction at one point in their (pre)history. Then the reptiles and mammals exploded on the scene.
Many high technology methods were used to obtain these valuable results regarding these reptiles and dinosaurs. X-ray CT scanning was the most prominent of the procedures employed to gain the precious data.
The latest evidence suggests that dinosaurs’ coloring may have protected them from their predators. The Psittacosaurus was the main center of focus for this study. It showed a lighter color on its underbelly and a darker color on its top ridge.
It also had horns on its skull and bristles on its tail. When scientists made a 3D model of this beast, it showed how its countershading protected it from larger dinosaurs that preyed upon it.
The animal’s coloring matched the surroundings in a symbiotic manner. The environment it lived in was such that it melded in it thus escaping the hungry eyes of any predators.
A pterosaur was exhumed and it was smaller than expected. For one thing it had the dimensions of a house cat. It lived 77 million years ago. Also it had a 5 foot wing span.
These pterosaurs are neither dinosaurs nor birds. They are actually reptiles and that too a unique species of these cold-blooded beasts. The bones of these pterosaurs were hollow.
The image of these pterosaurs as having giant wing spans is countered by this specific member of the species. Later on these small species simply began disappearing from the scene.
That left their larger cousins, the more normal pterosaurs as the main flying creatures that we are familiar with in a fossilized form today.
A Spanish paleontological team has found evidence of over 700 footprints of dinosaurs in Portugal. They belong to the Middle Jurassic Period. They trapped and ate fish isolated in tidal pools.
One of the team members pointed out how the discovery of footprints in the soil was a big find. The period which these belonged to was known as the Dark Age of the Dinosaurs.
Credit: Luis Quinta
Other places where these footprints have been found are in England, Scotland and France. The footprints are the most largest of all found and they point to humongous specimens. The fact that they solely ate fish remains a fascinating discovery.
An extinct Storr Lochs Monster has been brought before the public more than half a century after the discovery of its fossils. The venue of the find was Scotland. This massive marine species was found in fossilized form in 1966.
It was an ichthyosaur which is an extinct dolphin-like animal. It lived 170 million years ago. The skeleton of this fearsome creature is almost intact. The fossil of this creature was imbedded in a large rock.
The fossil was unearthed and taken to a local museum. This marine animal ruled the seas while dinosaurs ruled the earth.
With 300 Teeth Duck-Billed Dinosaurs are a Mindboggling Species
Where dental care is concerned, duck-billed dinosaurs are having 300 teeth. These were called hadrosaurs. They lived between 90 million and 65 million years ago.
Their dental setup is unique among species. Instead of shedding teeth, these hadrosaurs kept adding teeth throughout their lifetime. Thus row upon row of teeth were the end result.
This network of teeth tore and shredded plant material. The teeth were viewed through a microscope. The tooth structure was very fine. These dinosaurs had the most complex teeth of any species.
Paleontology Expert finds Crucial T. Rex Fossil
A paleontologist found a T. Rex fossil that is a chief part of a puzzle. The skull is pretty much complete. The bones comprise 20% of a complete specimen. The T. Rex was a fierce predator and it had serrated teeth that tore its prey like razor blades.
Dubbed the Tufts-Love Rex, this dinosaur once was a terror of land species. It is 66.3 million years old. To unearth it completely from the rock it is imbedded in is still an ongoing process.
Novel Dinosaur may Lend Clues as to its Evolutionary Origins
A new species of megaraptorid dinosaur found in the soil of Patagonia may lend clues as to its evolutionary origins. Their meat-eating diet led to their epithet as giant thieves. They included: the Megaraptor, Orkoraptor and Aerosteon.
This is a skull and body reconstruction of the new dinosaur species, Murusraptor barrosaensis. Credit: Coria et al (2016); CCAL
The fossil found had an intact brain case. The evolution of these meraraptorids is the main focus here. A basic analysis of the fossil is underway to get at the core nitty gritty stuff.
Soot may have Led to the Death of Dinosaurs and Ammonites
The question regarding the mass extinction of the dinosaurs is one that has haunted mankind. It is believed that large amounts of stratospheric soot spewed from rocks caused global cooling, drought and and limited photosynthesis in the world’s waterways.
Global climate change caused by soot aerosol at the K-Pg boundary. Credit: Kunio Kaiho
The asteroid that hit the earth is called the Chicxulub impactor. The rocks from that time in prehistory was analyzed using today’s high technology. It was probably the soot in the atmosphere which led to an asphyxiation of the dinosaurs and the cessation of all life forms belonging to that period.
Dinosaurs may have been Soft-Spoken in their Speech
While some dinosaurs were thought to be roaring furiously, many of them cooed softly from their mouths. The evolutionary history of these dinosaurs shows this to be a hard fact.
Colors show probability of each branch being an open-mouth vocalizer (blue) or a closed-mouth vocalizer (red). Pies show the probabilities that the ancestors of birds and crocodiles, palaeognath birds, and neognath birds used closed-mouth vocalization. Credit: Tobias Riede
One thing is clear, birds descended from dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were probably giant birds. A thorough examination of the vocal organs of dinosaurs shows this thesis to be true.
Reconstruction of skeletal remains of dinosaurs especially theropods shows that they developed T.Rex type of limbs many times over. The region in which this took place in the past was Argentina.
The forelimbs were very small as compared to the rest of the body. The theropod is called Gualicho and it is a sort of mosaic dinosaur. This trait evolved separately in several other dinosaurs as well.
Facial Tumor found in Duck-Billed Dinosaur Fossil
Reconstruction of the young, deformed Telmatosaurus individual, with the ameloblastoma just becoming visible on its lower left jaw. Credit: Artwork by Mihai Dumbrava
A tumor swelling was found in the facial features of a fossil of a duck-billed dinosaur. It was a benign tumor though. The dinosaur species was a dwarf member of its kind.
These dinosaurs were probably subject to the onslaught of tumors from their biology. Termed ameloblastoma, these tumors were a form of neoplasia.
Titanosaurian found in Argentina
A 95 million year old specimen has been found in Argentina. Termed the Sarmientosaurus, it ranged in size in its times from a cow all the way to a sperm whale. Its brain was small as compared to its skull size.
It also had several senses that helped it navigate and deal with its complex environment. The organs of balance in the ears show this species to be highly attuned to several types of sounds.
A number of bird-like dinosaurs reconstructed in their environment in the Hell Creek Formation at the end of the Cretaceous. Middle ground and background: two different dromaeosaurid species hunting vertebrate prey (a lizard and a toothed bird). Foreground: hypothetical toothless bird closely related to the earliest modern birds. Credit: Danielle Dufault
Apparently, the consumption of seeds thanks to specialized teeth allowed the ancestors of modern day birds to live instead of going extinct. When the dinosaurs disappeared, several bird ancestors also went the way of all the 99% other species.
The birds with toothless beaks that ate seeds survived while the others that followed a different diet became extinct. Thus it was seeds which came to the rescue of these birds of the past.
A Rare Dinosaur Found in Appalachia
Appalachia was the region where duck-billed dinosaurs were unearthed. One such rare species which was discovered from the soil of Appalachia had a skeleton that was found to be pretty much complete. It lived 85 million years ago. The study of this rare species will yield new evidence regarding the evolution of dinosaurs in the future.
The discovery of bone fragments reflect that the region of Alaska was once populated by dinosuars Dinosaur fossils have been discovered in many parts of the United States before but it is the first time when the fragments of dinosaur bones are uncovered in Alaska’s Denali National Park.
In addition, several well-preserved footprints are also found embedded on rock sediments that had been left by the dinosaurs walking on the once muddy ground. The discovery of bones and footprints means that dinosaurs used to live millions of years ago in what is now Alaska.
"Finding these bones opens a new chapter in the story of Denali dinosaurs.That story is still being written as we find new sites, new kinds of dinosaurs and evidence of their behavior." Pat Druckenmiller, curator of Earth sciences at the University of Alaska Museum said in a statement.
An Australian museum announced the name of the Savannasaurus elliottorum. This is a new dinosaur from Queensland. The bones of this beast date back to 95 million years ago in the distant past.
At least 17 pallets of bones imbedded in rocks were recovered from the site. After a decade of backbreaking work by the museum team, the dinosaur skeleton was retrieved from the surrounding rock molds.
The really exciting thing was that the skeleton belonged to a new dinosaur. The discovery was nicknamed Wade after Aussie paleontologist, Dr Mary Wade.