From Chickenosaurus to Dinosaur-Punting Sauropods: Here’s 2011′s Best Dinosaur News (So Far!)
2011 may only be a bit over halfway finished, but there’s been quite a bit of dinosaur news this year, which isn’t at all surprising given the alarmingly awesome rate that new species of dinosaur are being discovered in the last few years (almost a minimum of 1 every few days!) As you may recall, last year nearly all the dinosaur news that made it to the mainstream media were all horrible stories about modern science ruining dinosaurs….I dedicated a entire post bitching about it! However, for the most part, it looks like 2011 is shaping up to being a really good year for dinosaur news. Here’s some of the most interesting dinosaur news this year (so far):
Dinosaurs May Come Back Via Genetically Engineering Chickens!!
The last few years dinosaurs have been looking more and more like birds, I mean look at what they think the T-Rex looked like now! It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it makes sense given that the dinosaurs evolved into birds and such, so it’s a fact I’m slowly learning to live with. So with dinosaurs favoring birds now, a few scientists believe that they could do some genetic regression on chickens and revert them back to dinosaurs!!!, There’s even a TED talk by Jack Horner about this!!! (Really awesome to watch btw!).
I know you might be thinking “oh yeah, that worked SOOOO well for Jurassic Park”, but it’s totally safe! The dinosaurs will have a chicken mindset so that whole opening doors to eat you thing won’t happen!! Since they will still have teeth, you might still get mauled, but you can also probably eat the dinosaurs too so it’s win/win.
The “Last” Dinosaur Found!?
The Triceratops nearly got erased from history roughly this time last year, but as a comeback it proved that it may have very well been the last dinosaur. In a nutshell if you don’t want to read the hotlinked article; earlier this year a Triceratops horn was found within a 3 meter area of the KT boundary, which is basically the geological boundary line of when the Cretaceous period ended and the Tertiary period began (aka when non-avian dinosaurs died and “Rise of the Planet of the Mammals” began!). So why is this a big deal? This more or less backs up the theory that the dinosaurs probably got killed by a meteor!
The most popular theory of the mass extinction of dinosaurs was that the dinosaurs didn’t have Bruce Willis to save them from a giant meteor and as a result they all died after it hit the earth, but a pesky 3 meter gap suggested that dinosaurs were on their way out before “Death From Above” happened. So this particular find brings the debate on what really killed the dinosaurs one step closer to being settled. Of course, this is merely just a horn but it could lead to more finds proving dinosaurs may have stuck around longer than previously thought.
The Smallest Dinosaur Ever Discovered!
Most of the dinosaurs that we come to love range from man-size to gianormous, but there WERE little dinosaurs too (like the compys on Jurassic Park: The Lost World). The smallest dinosaur species on record was discovered this year. It is currently unnamed (officially anyway), but it will beat out North America’s previous title holder for smallest dinosaur by a full 6 inches. The new dinosaur is being estimated to growing to a maximum size of 13-15 inches, but this is all based on a single vertebra and some crazy math. Still interesting none-the-less
T-rex Loses “Dinosaur With The Most Pathetic Arms Ever” Title
When you think about dinosaur arms (who doesn’t??) you can’t help but feel sorry a bit for the Tyrannosaurus Rex with it’s disproportionate arms, but a new bizarre dinosaur called Linhenykus monodactylus (not even going to try to pronounce that), has “Ole Rexy” beat. The Linhenykus had only 1 finger on each hand! It’s believed that the “one finger” was used for digging in termite beds.
I believe that this is who the T-Rex would have channeled his aggression out on after all the other dinosaurs made fun of his small arms, kinda like how the bullied sometimes find someone smaller than them to bully. Gotta admit, this is one dumb looking dinosaur.
A Dinosaur Gets Named “Thunder Thighs”: But Don’t Call Her Fat Because She Packs A Helluva Kick!
Sauropods are some of the biggest dinosaurs that ever lived, and a recent examination of a species found in 1994 suggested that one had a “super kick” (just look at that illustration!). The dinosaur was named Brontomerus mcintoshi; the first part of the name literally meant “thunder thighs” in Greek. Brontomerus had a unusual hip structure and had the largest leg muscles of any sauropod ever found, and probably had the strongest kick of the lot!
Not only did the massively strong leg muscles make it more or less “a 4 wheel drive” dinosaur, it also kicked the ass of other dinosaurs like Utahraptor and Acrocanthosaurus, a giant predator similar in size to a T-Rex by treating them like a football and punting them!! I would LOVE to see this illustration happen in the next Jurassic Park movie!
The Beta-Version Of T-Rex Only Weighed 10 Pounds!
When we think of carnivorous dinosaurs, we think of big guys like T-rex or Allosaurus, but their great grand-daddy was just a mere 10 pounds and only 4 feet long! The recently discovered Eodromaeus, (means “Dawn Runner”) may have been the common ancestor to all meat-eating dinosaurs. It lived during the Triassic period, nearly 230 million years ago and lived around modern day Argentina. Paleontologists believe that this dinosaur and one found near it called Eoraptor (which could be the ancestor to all sauropods) may be among the very first dinosaurs back when mammal-like dinosaurs and lizard-like creatures ruled the earth before the dinosaurs took over.
Pretty cool what a few million years of evolution will do to a dinosaur huh?
Archeopteryx May Not Have Been One Of The First Birds At All!
My fandemodium of dinosaurs began at a really early age with a triple dose of The Land Before Time being released as a movie (the very excellent original and not any of the 400 sequels), a healthy collection of dinosaur toys and the dinosaur lib series of books I had growing up (which I can honestly say beat out many many other storybooks as my favorites….sorry Where The Wild Things Are, you came in 2nd to these). Anyway, although I really liked the usual dinosaurs, I respected Archeopteryx since it seemed like a carnivorous bird that hung out with dinosaurs back in the day. I remember several pictures in the storybook about it that displayed it’s bad-assness by eating a lizard and chasing off a would be egg thief dinosaur, needless to say, Archeopteryx was a bird that took no shit from dinosaurs….which is pretty respectable!
Archeopteryx was considered a remarkable discovery as it was largely considered to be one of the first birds to exist. Since it’s discovery in 1861, it’s also been at the center of controversy, including a group believing the fossil’s feathers were forged in order to support Charles Darwin’s Theory Of Evolution. But the most recent controversy suggests that Archeopteryx wasn’t even a bird to begin with, but rather just a feathered dinosaur like velociraptor!
However, the evidence suggesting that Archeopteryx wasn’t a bird is weak right now, but Paleontologists don’t feel that a reclassification of Archeopteryx will make much of a difference in studying how dinosaurs evolved into birds. I personally prefer that Archeopteryx stays a bird, but it’s nowhere near as devastating as feathered T-Rex or “Non-existent” Triceratops.
2011 may still have a few months left in it, but I like what I see so far! Keep it up!