Dinosaurs

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Dinosaur discoveries occur at a rapid pace, and it may be difficult to keep up with the exact number of dinosaurs there are at any given time, particularly because specimens used to determine this number may be incomplete or disputed; however, it can be said that there are about 800 confirmed and distinct species of dinosaur. New dinosaur discoveries are announced all the time at relatively high rates of as many as 30 per year, or about one every 10 days. Paleontologists have been known to get a bit overzealous with naming a specimen as a new and distinct species, and there have been hundreds of examples of dinosaurs that were once thought to be unique that have been proven otherwise.

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  • How did the euoplocephalus protect itself?

    Q: How did the euoplocephalus protect itself?

    A: The Euoplocephalus was a dinosaur that had several built-in defensive weapons at its disposal, including a heavy clubbed tail, spiky bone protrusions on the head and a back made of plate armor with protruding bone spikes that helped protect the dinosaur from bites and other forms of attack. Using its tail, the Euoplocephalus could not only fend off attackers but also do serious damage to their muscles, teeth and even bones. This herbivorous quadrupedal dinosaur is often called the "tank dinosaur" thanks to its extensive body armor, including its back plates and even armored eyelids, and its sturdy, stout anatomy.
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  • Did deinonychus hunt in packs or alone?

    Q: Did deinonychus hunt in packs or alone?

    A: While some scientists argue that Deinonychus was a pack-hunting dinosaur, not all paleontologists agree with this assertion, though there is some isolated fossil evidence showing multiple Deinonychus specimens fossilized with a much larger prey dinosaur species. This evidence may establish that there was at least one instance of Deinonychus attacking the same prey, which was arguably too large to be taken down by a single Deinonychus, but that evidence is not sufficient for all experts in the field to agree that this dinosaur was definitely a pack hunter. There is additional evidence to support this idea, including multiple fossil sites suggesting that Deinonychus regularly fed on this larger dinosaur, the Tenontosaurus.
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  • Could you outrun a Tyrannosaurus Rex?

    Q: Could you outrun a Tyrannosaurus Rex?

    A: A T-Rex could have run faster than an average human at top speed, but there is a chance that a human could outrun a T-Rex. We can never fully know how fast the Tyrannosaurus Rex ran, but scientists at the University of Manchester in England have come up with animated computer models based on fossils and estimated muscle mass that have helped them compute the probable top speeds of many dinosaurs. The Tyrannosaurus Rex is nowhere near the fastest, topping out at around 18 mph. The fastest dinosaur they computed was the Compsognathus, which ran about 40 mph.
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  • What did Tyrannosaurus rex eat?

    Q: What did Tyrannosaurus rex eat?

    A: Tyrannosaurus rex primarily ate herbivore dinosaurs, including the Edmontosaurus and the Triceratops. Studies suggest that the Tyrannosaurus rex also practiced cannibalism. Paleontologists believe that if two Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaurs fought to the death, the winner would eat the loser, based on bite marks found on Tyrannosaurus bones.
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  • Were dinosaurs warm-blooded or cold-blooded?

    Q: Were dinosaurs warm-blooded or cold-blooded?

    A: Because dinosaurs are classified as reptiles, one might assume that they are cold blooded, but some scientists suggest that dinosaurs may have been somewhere between cold and warm blooded. Though most animals fall into either category, there have been some intermediary species known to science, with dinosaurs potentially being one of this number.
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  • When did the velociraptor become extinct?

    Q: When did the velociraptor become extinct?

    A: The velociraptor became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous Period due to an asteroid strike at the Yucatan Peninsula that occurred roughly 65 million years ago. This extinction event, known as the K-T boundary, also killed all other known species of non-avian dinosaurs.
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  • Are there animals alive today that lived beside dinosaurs?

    Q: Are there animals alive today that lived beside dinosaurs?

    A: There are some animals on earth that can be traced back to the Mesozoic Era when dinosaurs walked the earth; these animals include monotremes such as the duckbill platypus, reptiles such as the crocodilians and sea creatures such as the sea urchin. For the most part, the animals that are alive today have made evolutionary changes from the forms they had when dinosaurs were alive. For example, though the event that caused dinosaurs to die out also killed many other reptile species, several surviving reptile species have direct ancestors from that era, including the crocodilians, which are smaller than their Mesozoic ancestors.
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  • What is the closest relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex?

    Q: What is the closest relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex?

    A: The chicken is the closest living relative of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, according to a team led by North Carolina State University paleontologist Mary Schweitzer. The scientists who came to this conclusion did so through a process of sequencing proteins from a fossilized Tyrannosaurus Rex leg bone, finding that molecules from the 68-million-year-old fossil showed great similarity to those found in chicken. This research constituted the first evidence of molecular similarity between dinosaurs and modern-day birds, a connection that had previously been conjectured based on physical similarities.
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  • What is a baby dinosaur called?

    Q: What is a baby dinosaur called?

    A: Dinosaurs are hatched from eggs, therefore new baby dinosaurs are called hatchlings, just like their reptile cousins the turtles and crocodiles. Young dinosaurs, beyond the hatchling stage, are referred to as juveniles.
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  • What's the largest carnivore to ever live?

    Q: What's the largest carnivore to ever live?

    A: Based on fossil record, the dinosaur known as Spinosaurus and the prehistoric clade of marine mammals known as pliosaurs are the most apt top contenders for the title of "largest carnivore known to man." The Spinosaurus is the largest known carnivorous dinosaur, with fossil records indicating that this dinosaur could reach lengths of 50 feet and weigh more than 20 tons, but evidence of potential pliosaur size is inconclusive due to incomplete fossilized specimens. A partially fictionalized 1999 documentary from the BBC posited that there may have been pliosaurs that weighed more than 150 tons and were more than 82 feet long, but there is no fossil evidence to support this idea.
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  • Where did dinosaurs live?

    Q: Where did dinosaurs live?

    A: Scientists believe that the earth looked much different during the dinosaur's lifetime than it does today; at the advent of dinosaur life, all of the landmass on earth made up one single super continent known as Pangea. Dinosaurs likely did not live on every part of Pangea, instead concentrating in certain areas, including the land that is now known as Argentina, which is the home of the oldest known dinosaur fossil. Certain dinosaur species may have been localized to certain parts of the world, including the T.Rex, which has only been discovered in fossils found in North America.
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  • What did Triceratops eat?

    Q: What did Triceratops eat?

    A: Triceratops were herbivorous and probably ate low-growing plants because of their short necks and low heads. They may have eaten bushes, small trees and grasses. They may have been able to eat taller plants by knocking them down with their horns and beaks.
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  • Could a dinosaur be cloned from DNA preserved in amber?

    Q: Could a dinosaur be cloned from DNA preserved in amber?

    A: It is theoretically possible, though highly unlikely, that a dinosaur clone could be created. The idea that it's possible to clone a dinosaur using DNA preserved in amber was popularized by the movie Jurassic Park. This fictionalized version of the process made it seem like a relatively easy process, but in truth it's rather complex and improbable.
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  • What do you do if you find a dinosaur bone?

    Q: What do you do if you find a dinosaur bone?

    A: Individuals who believe that they have found a fossilized dinosaur bone in an outdoor area should avoid touching it and instead take a photo and make note of its exact location using a map before making contact with a natural history museum such as the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. However, this procedure is not legally binding, particularly if the fossil is discovered on private land, though moral obligation may tell a different story. In the United States, individuals who find a fossil on their land are not required to report or hand it over to any authority.
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  • Why was the brontosaurus's name changed to the apatosaurus?

    Q: Why was the brontosaurus's name changed to the apatosaurus?

    A: The gigantic, herbivorous Brontosaurus, which features an iconically long neck and tail, may be one of history's most famous dinosaurs, but its existence as a unique species was debunked in 1903, when someone realized that the skeleton that had been labeled as a Brontosaurus was actually an Apatosaurus. In this sense, the Brontosaurus was not renamed but rather determined to have never existed as a separate species. The same man, a Yale paleontologist named Othniel Charles (O.C.) Marsh, named both the Apatosaurus and the Brontosaurus, with the Apatosaurus discovery predating the Brontosaurus naming by two years.
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  • What is Archaeopteryx claim to fame?

    Q: What is Archaeopteryx claim to fame?

    A: Many scientists agree that Archaeopteryx is the earliest known bird in existence, giving it a unique claim to fame as the first of its kind. This winged animal may well represent an evolutionary midpoint between birds and reptiles, providing potential proof that modern birds evolved from prehistoric, birdlike reptilian ancestors.
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  • What was the largest carniverous dinosaur?

    Q: What was the largest carniverous dinosaur?

    A: The largest known carnivorous dinosaur is the Spinosaurus, which is so named thanks to the gigantic spikes that run down the dinosaur's back. These spikes form a "sail" that likely evolved to ward off enemies rather than predators. The Spinosaurus was likely too large to be preyed upon by other dinosaurs.
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  • When did dinosaurs become extinct?

    Q: When did dinosaurs become extinct?

    A: Dinosaurs became extinct about 65 million years ago. This extinction event occurred between the Cretaceous and Tertiary periods and wiped out about 50 percent of all other organisms then living on the planet.
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  • What is the wingspan of a pterodactyl?

    Q: What is the wingspan of a pterodactyl?

    A: The wingspan of the largest species of pteranodon (the term employed by working paleontologists as opposed to the culturally popular term "pterodactyl") was up to 30 feet. This wingspan is much larger than that of any modern flying bird.
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  • How many types of dinosaurs were there?

    Q: How many types of dinosaurs were there?

    A: Dinosaur discoveries occur at a rapid pace, and it may be difficult to keep up with the exact number of dinosaurs there are at any given time, particularly because specimens used to determine this number may be incomplete or disputed; however, it can be said that there are about 800 confirmed and distinct species of dinosaur. New dinosaur discoveries are announced all the time at relatively high rates of as many as 30 per year, or about one every 10 days. Paleontologists have been known to get a bit overzealous with naming a specimen as a new and distinct species, and there have been hundreds of examples of dinosaurs that were once thought to be unique that have been proven otherwise.
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  • What are the two classes of dinosaurs?

    Q: What are the two classes of dinosaurs?

    A: Beginning in 1887, dinosaurs have been divided into two main categories: saurischian, which means "lizard hipped," and ornithischian, which means "bird hipped." This classification is based on the dinosaurs' pelvic bone structure. Though the name "bird hipped" may seem to indicate that these prehistoric animals are related to birds, that is not necessarily the case.
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