One of the best things about science is how we’re always discovering new things.
Not only that, scientists get a thrill at getting to revise and update previous work, so no one is ever going to pretend like a new discovery didn’t upend everything we believed yesterday.
1. Wait, what?
Velociraptors are a lot smaller than depicted in movies.
An actual velociraptor was more like a turkey with attitude: around the size of a Thanksgiving roaster with feathers, teeth, and claws.
2. I always share this fact.
Cartoonist Gary Larson named a dinosaur part.
In one of his strips, a caveman scientist described the spikes on a stegosaurus tail as “the thagomizer, named after the late Thag Simmons”.
Real life paleontologists realized this part had no name… so they started calling it the thagomizer.
3. Not-so-feathered friends.
Many know dinosaurs likely had feathers also known as dino fuzz. However, now many scientists are discovering that the feathers on many dinosaurs have likely been overdone as a result of the feather craze. View the video below on the most up-to-date version of a T-rex. 🙂
4. I’m picturing a tiny tail but I’m sure that’s not right.
Recently spinosaurus was discovered to have a tadpole-like tail. It has been known for a while that it was mostly an aquatic animal, even Jurassic Park III showed that, but it was always depicted with the standard lizard-like dinosaur tail.
Recently new fossils have emerged that show that the creature had a tail like that of a tad pole, suggesting that it spend much more time in water than previously thought.
It was not, however, a water pursuit predator, as detailed by the paper “The ecology of Spinosaurus: Evaluating the ecology of Spinosaurus: Shoreline Generalist or aquatic pursuit specialist?” by Hone and Holtz (I’ve actually spoken with Hone).
It is in fact more evident that spinosaurus was incapable of pursuing animals underwater as do crocodiles, and more evidence based on their morphology points towards it being a wader, like a heron, sitting and waiting for fish to pass by and snapping at them. This “tappole” tail could therefore be attributed to s**ual displays or something we don’t know of yet.
5. I KNEW it.
There is a Dinosaur named Yi Qi from the limestone deposits in China that has the exact same body plan as a Wyvern Dragon, complete with bat-like Wings and proves that flight evolved more than once in dinosaurs
6. It boggles the mind.
They were around for longer than they’ve been extinct.
Which means that there were dinosaur fossils when dinosaurs existed. Tyrannosaurus rex (late Cretaceous, 68 mya) lived closer in time to us than to Stegosaurus (late Jurassic, 150 mya)
7. Stupid wars.
There was an ultra rare skeleton of a dinosaur called spinosaurus that was the only one of its kind (not complete, but only evidence of it) and it got destroyed during ww2 when bombs fell on the museum in Germany.
Only recently another intact skeleton has been found in North Africa. Which was more complete and gave some clues about where it lived and how it got so big( it was bigger than a T. rex )
8. I would not like to see those.
There was a study done a few years ago where scientists grew chicken embryos that had dinosaur faces – a rounded snout and teeth instead of a beak. They did this by altering gene expression in the developing embryos, so the snouts came out looking more like an alligator’s than a traditional bird’s.
Also, birds actually existed at the same time as non-avian dinosaurs. Archaeopteryx was a Jurassic dinosaur, so the evolution of birds began long before velociraptors and T. Rex were walking the earth. Edit for clarification: they may not have been true birds as we know them today, but the avian dinosaurs branched off from non-avian dinosaurs well before the K-T extinxtion event that k**led the non-avian dinosaurs, and continued their evolution into what we know as modern birds.
Finally, there’s a weird bird in the Amazon called the Hoatzin, and it’s notable because the chicks have 2 claws on their wings. These allow the chicks to climb trees until their wings are strong enough for actual flight; by adulthood the claws disappear. These birds are the last surviving members of a bird line that branched off from other avian species 64 million years ago, just after the non-avian dinosaurs were wiped out. They’re basically just really weird dinosaur birds that are very stinky and have gross tasting meat because they have a weird digestive tract.
9. It’s going to take a minute to process this.
Pterosaurs aren’t dinosaurs, Plesiosaurs aren’t dinosaurs, and Dimetrodon is not a dinosaur.
In fact, Dimetrodon is a synapsid and is more closely related to humans than to dinosaurs.
10. Plenty of religious sects don’t.
The Amish don’t believe in dinosaurs.
There are other christian cults that believe that the world was only created about 4000 years ago. They believe that there never were dinosaurs, just fossils created by god.
11. Where are the babies?
There’s a cool Ted Talk about why we’ve never found baby dinos.
12. Talk about good/bad timing.
There is a fossil called the “Fighting Dinosaurs” that shows a Velociraptor and Protoceratops locked in combat. The Velociraptor has its k**ling claw thrust in the neck of the Protoceratops, and the Protoceratops has the hand of the Velociraptor clutched in its mouth.
It’s thought that they d**d suddenly while in combat due to getting buried in a landslide of sand, caused by a rare torrential downpour. Real-life Velociraptors may be small, but they’re still metal as hell.
13. Scarier and scarier.
Dinosaurs such as T. Rex could produce infrasonic waves.
You’d basically feel in your spine.
14. Some tough monkeys.
T. Rex was actually really tough. Some skeletons have been found with major injuries that show evidence of years worth of healing.
A skeleton named Stan in particular had a hole in his skull, and he may have lived up to a decade after having his skull punctured if the bone healing is any indication.
Like Sue, one of the largest female T. Rex skeletons we have. One of her femurs is gigantic and misshapen due to an infection, she had a d**d, hanging arm due to a torn bicep, had broken ribs on both sides of her chest, broken at 2 different times based on research how they healed, and had holes in her jaw due to germs. Her skeleton was difficult to put up because her tail bones were fused together due to arthritis.
These animals ran on pure hatred which undoubtedly fueled their survival drive. However, the severity of T. Rex injuries which they survived hints that they could’ve lived in pairs or small groups and they actually cared for each other ensuring their survival.
They were long considered to be solitary hunters that would rather feast on d**d carcasses than hunt, but their injuries seem to point to the fact that they were active hunters. 15 years ago a family of 6 tyrannosaurids ranging from juvenile to adult was found in a mass grave suggesting they d**d together as a family.
15. Waiting for discovery.
We have not even begun to scratch the surface of how many dinosaurs there actually were. We are finding new species as often as every 2 weeks (I imagine this is not true at the moment with corona going on right now).
I saw a movie at the Field Museum and I believe it said that we have only discovered 2% of all dinosaurs that have ever walked on earth. This was years ago so I imagine that number is different now but it’s crazy to think about just how long they were actually living on our planet. 165 millions years is a crazy number to wrap your brain around.
16. By the time you hear it, it’s too late to run.
Scientists have studied the nasal and throat structure of the tyrannosaurus rex and as it turns out it was completely incapable of vocalizing a roar like those seen in movies, rather they would have made deep growling noises similar to alligators.
17. I actually love how dorky this is.
The word “Dinosaur” means “terrible lizard”.
Since the coining of the name it has been determined that they are not lizards.
The name still fits though, because they make for terrible lizards.
18. That’s odd.
Raptors couldn’t walk around with its hands hanging palm down like most toys and movies show, their bone structure wouldn’t allow it. They had to keep their palms facing each other.
19. It’s tough to picture.
T-rex didn’t have exposed teeth. It had full lip cover. they can be absolutely sure about this because the tooth enamel wouldnt survive constant exposure.
Most artists assumed a T-rex jaw would look like a crocodile jaw, but never considered that the croc’s teeth are protected by the water
20. That seems like an easy thing to fix.
Here’s a fun movie trivia fact from a famous dinosaur movie:
Do you remember in Jurassic Park the mosquito stuck in the amber where they supposedly got the DNA from?
Well, that is an elephant mosquito, the only mosquito that doesn’t suck blood, so it couldn’t possibly contain any dinosaur DNA.
21. Bless his heart.
My son somehow thinks its a travesty that they don’t exist anymore and will sit up at night and be upset he can’t know all the answers to his dinosaur questions.
22. They’ve seen a lot of sh%t.
That Sharks where around before Dinosaurs and Trees.
23. Just for starters.
Iguanodon, the most abundant dinosaur of them all, lived on 5 continents.
T. rex had a bite force of 6 tons.
Stegosaurus would flush blood through its plates, most likely to intimidate predators or attract mates.
The leg bones of large sauropods like argentinosaurus or seismosaurus could be 20 feet tall and weigh as much as a ton.
24. They’re running out of names.
There’s a dinosaur that was discovered in Australia near a Qantas airport, so they named it Qantassaurus.
25. I would have liked to have seen that.
Some herbivores didn’t join the adult herd until juveniles and were big enough. Before that, some lived in the forest/jungle in baby herds. For safety.
26. Only the birds survived.
Dinosaurs are a diverse group of reptiles of the clade Dinosauria. They first appeared during the Triassic period, between 243 and 233.23 million years ago, although the exact origin and timing of the evolution of dinosaurs is the subject of active research.
They became the dominant terrestrial vertebrates after the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event 201.3 million years ago; their dominance continued through the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
The fossil record demonstrates that birds are modern feathered dinosaurs, having evolved from earlier theropods during the Late Jurassic epoch. As such, birds were the only dinosaur lineage to survive the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event approximately 66 million years ago.
Dinosaurs can therefore be divided into avian dinosaurs, or birds; and non-avian dinosaurs, which are all dinosaurs other than birds.
27. And we probably never will.
We don’t actually know how they looked like when they were alive, we just think they look like what they’re perceived as.
Same with sounds. We just made up what we think they would have sounded like and everyone went with it.
28. It’s hard to imagine.
Tyrannosaurus Rex and Stegosaurus were evidently never on the planet together…separated by millions of years ¯_(ツ)_/¯ fake news museums will have you believe otherwise with their standard fight scenes…
29. Poor Newman.
Dilophosaurus (the one with the neck fans that pop out and rattles) doesn’t look like it does in Jurassic Park. They’re bigger (10ft tall), they don’t spit acid/venom, and don’t have neck umbrellas.
That’s actually part of the plot in the novel. The scientists were surprised by both of those things the the first ones were cloned, as neither thing showed up in the fossil record. (How much of this stuff was intentionally added by the InGen scientists for a “wow” factor is up for debate.) That section of the novel was always one of my favorites, as it always made me wonder what else we assume about fossils when so much of the original animal is missing.
Crichton knew there was no evidence of the hoods or venom when he wrote the book, and thought the idea of something so defining to the fictional species being something the fossil record couldn’t indicate was interesting.
30. Now it’s canon.
When the T-Rex attacks the kids in the Jeep, the glass was supposed to break. Instead, the entire pane fell on the kids as a thousand pound animatronic pushed it down on them. Their screams of terror in that scene are real.
31. Well I’m off to Google.
Ooh, my time to shine! My username is of an ancient now extinct animal, though not technically a dinosaur. Kubanochoerus used to be this humungous unicorn pig, like a half ton boar with a big old horn in the middle of its forehead.
Pretty bada$s of you ask me.
32. Just lick it.
When you are looking for dinosaur bones you can tell the difference between a fossil and a rock by touching your tongue to it. If it “sticks” a bit and kinda sucks back it is porous and probably bone.
33. It was a long wait.
I hope I’m regurgitating this fact correctly, but It took the triceratops longer to evolve to have horns than the amount of time they’ve been extinct.
34. A goofball dinosaur.
Therizinosaurus was a large, bipedal herbivore that occupied an ecological niche akin to that of the giant ground sloths of the Pleistocene: using its meter-long claws to pull down tree branches. It looked goofy as hell, like an eight-meter long turkey, especially since it was likely to have had at least some feathery integument.
The real kicker? It was a cousin of T. rex. Yes, that guy. One of the most terrifying carnivores ever to walk the earth had a vegetarian Edward Scissorhands for a cousin. And, yes, it likely used those scythe-like claws for defense, too.
These are all going straight into my brain and never leaving. It’s where they belong!
If you’ve got a favorite dino fact and it’s not on this list, share it with us in the comments.