1. What color were the dinosaurs?
Nobody knows the real colors of dinosaurs because the pigment is not preserved in their fossils. Occasionally, skin impressions of dinosaurs are found, but the skin itself decomposes rapidly. Many paleontologists believe that dinosaurs were probably earth-tone colors (green. gray, brown) similar to reptiles of today, so they would be camouflaged in their environment. 2. How old did dinosaurs get?
It is not possible, from the fossil record, to age the dinosaurs. Growth rings in the teeth could not be used because they were constantly being replaced throughout the lifespan of the dinosaur. However, based on comparison to modern reptiles and large mammals, it is estimated that dinosaurs may have lived for 50-150 years. 3. How can you tell is a dinosaur is male or female?
By studying the fossils, it is not possible to identify the gender of a particular dinosaur because reproductive organs do not fossilize. There may be slight differences in the processes of the caudal (tail) vertebrae in the females because they lay eggs. Some paleontologists assume that larger skulls of the same species are male, whereas the slightly smaller ones are female. The tendency in nature, in vertebrates, is the larger member of the species are male. Some dinosaurs, such as the duckbills and ceratopsians, exhibit head ornamentation. It is speculated that the more elaborate crests and frills belong to the male of the species and is used in display rituals for attracting mates and defending territory, much like is seen today in many animals. 4. What was the largest dinosaur?
Based on the findings from complete skeletons, the largest (meaning tallest and heaviest) dinosaur was Brachiosaurus. They were 12 meters (40 feet) tall and weighed 70-80 tons. However a few fossils from four other dinosaurs (Supersaurus, Seismosaurus, Argentinosaurus, and Ultrasaurus) have been found that indicate they may have been larger than Brachiosaurus. Presently, only partial skeletons of these other dinosaurs have been discovered, so it is not certain whether they are new species or simply very large Branchiosaurs. 5. Which dinosaur was the smallest?
The smallest dinosaur that palaeontologists have identified is Compsognathus. This dinosaur was not much larger than a chicken. The adults reached lengths of two feet, with more than half of this length being attributed to its long, thin tail. 6. Which is the smartest dinosaur?
Troodon seemed to have had the largest brain of any dinosaur in relation to its body size. This probably indicates that they were the most intelligent dinosaur. Some paleontologists think that Troodon was as smart as an ostrich, which is smarter than any reptile on Earth today. 7. Who was the toughest dinosaur?
Most people think Tyrannosaurus rex was the toughest dinosaur, but T-rex may have been more of a scavenger instead of a ferocious hunter. The toughest and meanest dinosaur was likely Deinonychus. This Cretaceous theropod was only about 1.5 meters tall, 2.7 meters long and weighed about as much as an average man. In spite of their relatively small size, these dinosaurs were one of the most extraordinary predators of all time. With keen eyesight, large serrated teeth, grasping hands, great agility, and five-inch long sickle-shaped claws on each hind foot, they would have been ferocious enemies. 8. Were the dinosaurs warm or cold-blooded?
All reptiles living today are ectothermic (cold-blooded) animals that have a body temperature which varies with their surrounding temperature. Endothermic (warm-blooded) animals, like mammals, generate their own constant body heat. Since dinosaurs were reptiles, most scientists assumed that they were also ectothermic. However, recently, some paleontologists have disputed this claim and they believe that some dinosaurs may have in fact been endothermic (warm-blooded). This has led to much controversy and debate in the scientific community.
In looking for clues to this mystery, paleontologists have considered such factors as posture (upright gait vs sprawling gait), activity levels (high vs low), and the ratio between predators and prey. The leading proponent of the warm-blooded theory is the reknowned palaeontologist, Robert Bakker. Since warm-blooded animals have so many advantages over cold-blooded animals, Bakker believes that dinosaurs could only have gained supremacy over the mammals if they were warm-blooded also.
It's possible that the question of warm-bloodedness vs cold-bloodedness may never be satisfactorily answered since no flesh, muscles, or organs of dinosaurs are preserved. The answer may not be as simple as saying that dinosaurs such as the small theropods were warm-blooded. This is indicated because of their supposed high activity levels. On the other hand, the large sauropods probably were cold-blooded because it would have been near impossible for them to eat enough food to maintain a constant body temperature. 9. How big were dinosaur eggs?
Relatively speaking, dinosaur eggs were quite small, considering the size of the dinosaur (i.e. hadrosaur laid eggs about the size of a turkey's or slightly larger). Even the gigantic sauropods probably didn't have eggs much bigger than a volleyball. This is because the bigger the egg, the thicker the shell has to be to keep it from collapsing. A very thick shell poses two big problems. Firstly, it would be too thick for oxygen to permeate so the embryos would not have been able to breathe. Secondly, the shell would have been too thick for the hatchlings to push their way out. 10. Why did dinosaurs die?
This question has the distinction of being the most often asked and most difficult to answer. Many theories have been proposed to explain why dinosaurs became extinct at the end of the Mesozoic era.
Extinction occurs when all living representations of a species die out. This has happened to many kinds of plants and animals in the Earth's history. The environment we live in is always changing. Plants and animals that cannot adapt to change die out and become extinct. Mass extinction, the extinction of a wide range of forms of life, occurs more rarely. The most famous of these extinction, although neither the first nor the most pervasive, is the extinction of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous Period, 65 million years ago. Scientists have tried to explain why many different forms of life, including the dinosaurs, became extinct. Their theories can be divided into two major groups:
1. Gradualistic theories hold that the dinosaurs were in a slow decline and that gradual changes in the environment caused their extinction.
2. Catastrophic theories hold that dinosaurs disappeared abruptly due to some world-wide catastrophe.
Gradualistic theory: Evidence from Alberta, Montana and Wyoming suggests that dinosaur diversity started to decline at least seven million years before the end of the Cretaceous. Seventy-six million years ago, thirty families of dinosaurs were living in the region, but by the end of the Cretaceous, only twelve remained. The Red Deer River of Alberta documents the decline even more dramatically. At Dinosaur Provincial Park, the Red Deer River cuts through rocks laid down seventy-six million years ago, when the area was a rich ecosystem where at least thirty-five species of dinosaurs lived. Farther upstream at Drumheller, the dinosaurs and other fossils recovered are less than 70 million years old. Although hundreds of dinosaurs skeletons have been found, only nineteen species of dinosaurs are known to have lived in the region. The rocks become younger to the northwest, where only nine species of dinosaurs seem to have lived in the region sixty-five million years ago. The fossil record along the Red Deer River is one of the best anywhere for the last ten million years of dinosaurian history, and it clearly suggests that dinosaur diversity was dropping dramatically over that period.
Unfortunately, we are not sure what was going on in the rest of the world. Perhaps the climate conditions and habitats were degrading only locally. There may have been ideal conditions somewhere else where dinosaurs maintained their high levels of diversity. But such a site still has not been discovered. The gradual decline in diversity seems to be tied in with the development of harsher, more continental climates as the inland seas dried up. But could it have caused the complete extinction of such a successful group of animals?
Catastrophic theory: An example of a catastrophic theory is that of the asteroid. One of the most popular catastrophic theories is that a massive asteroid, 10-15 kilometers wide (six to nine miles), struck the Earth. Upon impact the asteroid vaporized, throwing a huge cloud of dust and steam into the atmosphere. This cloud would have surrounded the Earth and screened out sunlight. If this cloud persisted for any length of time its effect on plant life, on land and in the sea (phytoplankton) would have been devastating. Because animals depend on plants for food, many would become extinct. 11. The fastest dinosaur?
Galliminus could travel an estimated 35 miles per hour -- faster than any Olympic sprinter. Coelophysis may have clocked in at 25 miles per hour, while Tyrannosaurus rex lumbered behind at only 15 miles per hour. 12. The oldest known dinosaur?
Staurikosaurus lived over 230 million years ago in South Africa. It may have been related to the giant meat-eating dinosaurs of the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. 13. The strangest dinosaur?
Archaeopteryx, or "ancient wing" was a small, chicken-like creature with feathers, that could fly. The first known bird, it show clearly that birds are descended from dinosaurs. 14. Eating inside a dinosaur?
In 1853 Sir Richard Owen and 20 other gentlemen dined inside the reconstructed life-sized cast of an Iguanodon, which was build for the opening of the Crystal Palace Exhibition in London. The menu included mock turtle soup, pigeon pie, pheasant, French pastry and an ample selection of wines. 15. First discovered dinosaur?
Although fossils were found in England as early as 1677, the first dinosaur wasn't recognized until 1824 when William Buckland named Megalosaurus, "great lizard", because of its structural resemblance to reptiles. 16. First American dinosaur?
Hadrosarus, or "bulky reptile", was discovered in 1858 near Haddonfield, New Jersey by Joseph Leidy of Philadelphia. 17. Richest dinosaur area?
Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada, has yielded 35 separate dinosaur species to date. 18. The dinosaur success story?
Dinosaurs flourished for 140 million years and were the most successful land creatures ever to have lived. If the history of the Earth were compressed into a single year, dinosaurs appeared in early August and disappeared in late November. Man, who have been around for two million years, appeared on the last day of December, sometime late in the evening. 19. Kinds of dinosaurs?
Currently 440 different kinds of dinosaurs are known to have existed. 20. Dinosaurs & birds?
Today's direct dinosaur descendants are birds. Some scientists, using physiological similarities, think so because some dinosaurs laid eggs, some created nests, some looked after their young, some traveled in flocks, some migrated, some had similar digestive systems and some were "social animals". 21. Voice of dinosaurs?
Although no one has ever heard a dinosaur, it has been guessed that Tyrannosaurus rex had a deep raspy voice; some Hadrosaurs sounded like a five-ton goose honking and Apatosaurus sounded like a herd of snorting horses. 22. The Mesozoic Era?
Dinosaurs lived in this era of life, a time spanning 140 million years. The Mesozoic is divided into three periods -- The Triassic, the Jurassic and the Cretaceous. 23. The dinosaur name game?
Dinosaur manes usually combine Latin or Greek root words. Often the names describe the dinosaur. Triceratops means "three-horned face". The names describe places where they were discovered or recognize institutions of learning. Arctosaurus was found near the Arctic Circle and Yaleosaurus was named for Yale University. Some dinosaurs are named for people: Orthniel C. Marsh, a 19th century paleontologist, gave us Marshosaurus.