Dinosaurs

A:

There is evidence that dinosaurs did not have a single, uniform and universal diet but rather a wide variety of dietary habits, with evidence supporting the idea that carnivorous, herbivorous and omnivorous species all existed. Different feeding styles were also likely, with some carnivorous species hunting prey such as mammals and small reptiles, while other carnivores may have been opportunistic carrion scavengers. There was likely even a good range of dietary variety amongst the herbivorous dinosaurs, which may have made up the majority of all dinosaur species.

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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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  • 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 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'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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Did the stegosaurus have two brains?

    Q: Did the stegosaurus have two brains?

    A: Even though there was a popular theory that Stegosaurus may have had two brains, one in its head and one toward its tail or rear end, that idea has largely been discredited in paleontology. Some paleontologists may still hold on to this theory and try to find ways that it might be true, but on the whole, this is not an accepted idea.
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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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  • What was the lifespan of a stegosaurus?

    Q: What was the lifespan of a stegosaurus?

    A: Scientists approximate dinosaur lifespan by attempting to determine the metabolism of the animal, looking at its size and bone growth, and comparing with similar animals that are still around today. Based on these factors, a stegosaurus may have lived 75 to 100 years.
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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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  • Were dinosaurs mammals?

    Q: Were dinosaurs mammals?

    A: Though there were some dinosaurs with mammal-like qualities, dinosaurs were actually reptiles; however, though the word "dinosaur" roughly translates to "terrible lizard" in Greek, dinosaurs were not actually lizards, either. Dinosaurs represent a distinct group of reptiles that is now extinct, though there may be some living animals, including some birds, that are distant evolutionary relatives of the dinosaurs. The animals described as being mammal-like dinosaurs were actually early relatives of the dinosaur, and they were the dominant land animal about 260 million years ago, as opposed to the dinosaur, which was the dominant land animal about 231 million years ago.
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  • What was the longest dinosaur?

    Q: What was the longest dinosaur?

    A: Though there have been a few instances of scientists purporting to have found larger specimens, the longest known dinosaur that is widely accepted by paleontologists seems to be the Diplodocus, a type of sauropod dinosaur with a long neck and long tail that is said to have measured as much as 175 feet in length. There seems to be some controversy and debate around the question of which dinosaur is truly the longest, with scientists introducing competitors such as the Seismosaurus, which was once thought to be a distinct species but was eventually found to be a very large Diplodocus specimen. The Seismosaurus' discovery was announced in 1991, but its existence as a unique species was debunked just over a decade later, a fact that was announced at an academic event in 2004.
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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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  • 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 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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  • What was the spinosaur's back fin used for?

    Q: What was the spinosaur's back fin used for?

    A: There seems to be a general lack of consensus among paleontologists as to what purpose the Spinosaurus' sail served; not only is there a lack of certainty as to why the sail existed, there also seems to be some question about whether the dinosaur actually had a sail at all. All questions about the Spinosaurus' anatomy must be answered using fossil evidence, which is limited to fossilized skeletal remains that show a crest of bones protruding upward from the dinosaur's spine. While some scientists feel that these bones provided the structure for a sail-like flap of skin, other argue that this spinal structure actually supported a large hump rather than a distinct sail.
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  • What is the difference between a cast fossil and a mold fossil?

    Q: What is the difference between a cast fossil and a mold fossil?

    A: The difference between a mold fossil and a cast fossil is that mold fossil is formed when an object is placed into soft mud and is removed by decomposition or physical sources; a cast fossil happens when a mold fossil fills up with sediment. A cast fossil is three dimensional, and a mold must be present for the cast fossil to exist.
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  • What is a list of omnivorous dinosaurs?

    Q: What is a list of omnivorous dinosaurs?

    A: Omnivorous dinosaurs include Anserimimus, Deinocheirus, Gallimimus and Othnielia. Fruitadens haagarorum was a small dinosaur known to be omnivorous by the presence of both sharp teeth resembling canines and leaf-shaped teeth suitable for grinding plants. As a heterdontosaurid, it exhibited a shift in diet from its earlier herbivorous relatives.
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  • What does the word "dinosaur" mean?

    Q: What does the word "dinosaur" mean?

    A: The word "dinosaur" is derived from Greek words; it loosely translates as "terrible lizard" from the root words "deinos," meaning "terrible" or "fearfully great," and "sauros," meaning "lizard" or "reptile." Sir Richard Owen, the man who created this taxon, intended the word "terrible" to imply something awe-inspiring and magnificent rather than something scary and terrifying.
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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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