The Suitcase Lady

Dinosaurs

November 14, 2017, 9:38 pm

I hope my species is as successful as the dinosaurs. If you are shocked by this statement, be assured I say it with total sincerity. Dinosaurs and other prehistoric reptiles are the subjects of much misinformation. Culturally, we view them as big, stupid, dismal failures.

Look up the second or third definition of “dinosaur” in any dictionary. The Oxford dictionary, for example, is as follows…”A person or thing that is outdated or has become obsolete because of failure to adapt to changing circumstances”. I saw the word used that way several times in print media last week.

The scientific facts about these amazing creatures are the opposite of the popular perception. Let’s start with longevity.

Dinosaurs dominated the earth for over 165 million years spanning all three periods of the Mesozoic Era; the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous. Our human species has a track record of only two million years. In other words, we are a mere blip at the end of the evolutionary time line, hardly reason to brag about our success as a species.

The next misunderstood concept is extinction. I don’t expect to wake up to find an apatosaurus lumbering through my front yard. But dinosaur descendants frequently are my alarm clocks. Hundreds of them are in the trees, sky and lake each day. We call them birds.

Almost all paleontologists agree that modern avians are descended from a group of two legged dinosaurs called theropods. Fossil evidence continues to be found to support the dinosaur-bird connection. Start thinking of feathers as specialized scales. Click here for the current science on this topic.

Here are three more dinosaur facts to add to your Dino IQ.

Scientists first began studying dinosaurs in the 1820’s when bones of a large land reptile were found in England. The word “dinosaur” was created by Sir Richard Owen, a British paleontologist, in 1842. It is from the Greek and means “terrible lizard”, but most dinosaurs weren’t terrible and none were lizards.

All dinosaurs were land animals. Gliding prehistoric reptiles are called Pterosaurs. Plesiosaurs and Ichthyosaurs ruled the seas.

Dinosaurs came in all sizes from chicken size to massive. The majority were herbivores or plant eaters.

So all evidence points to dinosaurs being a highly successful animal group. At the rate our species is trashing the planet, I wouldn’t place any bets on us beating their longevity record.

Titanosaur- The Field Museum Chicago


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