Turbulent Taxonomy

In 1841 the Victorian anatomist Sir Richard Owen established the taxon ‘Dinosauria’ to describe a group of distinct fossil reptile species from England. The term ‘dinosaur’ is a combination of two Ancient Greek words which are, according to Owen, ‘deinos’ meaning ‘fearfully great’ and ‘sauros’ meaning ‘lizard’ (Owen, 1841). You’ll often see ‘deinos’ translated as ‘terrible’, but it’s meant more as ‘terror-inducing to behold’ more than terrible in a mean, nasty, savage way. We can’t…

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The Life Appearance of Dinosaurs, and Common Myths Surrounding It

Let’s face it, we might not ever fully and completely know what every species of non-avian dinosaur looked like when it was alive. Heck, we probably won’t even discover every dinosaur that ever lived. Fossilizing is all about dying in the right place at the right time, and entire species probably came and went without leaving any trace of a geological record. It might seem sad that some dinosaurs lived and died with nothing to…

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When Dinosaurs “Ruled” the Earth

There’s this idea that, from about 233 to 66 million years ago, the planet belonged to the dinosaurs. That from the late Triassic till the end of the Cretaceous the world was exclusively the domain of this lineage of reptiles. Some even think that all the other types of animals that inhabited Earth during this time are also called ‘dinosaurs’ simply due to the fact that they existed during this key time span (see our…

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The Other Tyrants

The fame and glory of Tyrannosaurus rex has been repeatedly hyped endlessly ever since it was first described in 1905. Once T. rex stormed into the public consciousness, no other predatory dinosaur found before or since could measure up to its legacy, though a few came close. It might be news to many people, though, that Tyrannosaurus was not the only tyrannosaurid, a family which contains a menagerie of fascinating tyrant reptiles. These beasts were…

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The Calls of the Past: How Dinosaurs Might Have Communicated

Looking at a dinosaur skeleton in a museum display mount or its isolated bones in a collections drawer, it can sometimes be hard to think of these animals as living creatures. Individual beings who had lives, motives, and interactions with each other. So much of paleontology focuses on fossil animals separate from the world they lived in, and paleontologists are cautious of assuming too much about the activities of creatures they can’t observe in life.…

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In the Footsteps of Giants

It’s a commonly (and incorrectly) held belief that all we’ll ever know about dinosaurs comes from their bones, and that people will never be able to get an understanding of dinosaur behavior and lifestyle. Dinosaurs left many different traces of their existence other than their fossilized skeletons, and one of the coolest has to be their footprints. Fossilized footprints are known as ichnites to those in the biz, and have been found all over the…

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Dinosaurs in the Frost

Dinosaur paleontology is full of apparent contradictions. One of the biggest of these is not only the very presence, but abundance, of these reptiles in and around Polar Regions. For animals long thought to have had metabolisms and bodies ill-suited for bearing the cold of prehistoric winters, the fact that a wide variety of dinosaur types are present in high latitudes has been making paleontologists question what they know about dinosaur biology and the Mesozoic…

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Your Brachiosaurus Is Not a Brachiosaurus

Brachiosaurus. The towering, graceful, giraffe-like sauropod with its skyward-stretching neck grazing the heavens, representing the peak of dinosaurian spectacle in the Jurassic. While the elongate Diplodocus and chunky Brontosaurus probably make it into dinosaur books to represent sauropods more often, and it hasn’t been considered the biggest dinosaur for several decades now, Brachiosaurus still stands as shining testament to the grandeur of evolution in the hearts of dinosaur fans worldwide. However, the animal you’re likely…

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