Durring the Fall of 2005 and the Spring on 2006, Kristi Curry Rogers, Curator of Paleontology at the Science Museum, answered questions about Titanosaurs and other Dinosaurs. Learn more about Kristi Curry Roger's research.
why are dinosaur names in latin instead of Greek?
The 2-name system (genus and species) for naming organisms was developed in the 1700s by Linneaus, who was so into standardized latin roots that he latinized his own name (his real last name was Linne). At the time, Latin was a more common and pervasive language among the educated. Today, we still use the general system, but not all dinosaur names are Latin. For example, Masiakasaurus, a small meat-eating dino from madagascar has a Malagasy word as the root of its genus name (Masiaka is the Malagasy word for vicious). Latinizing is the norm, but it's not used 100% of the time these days.
is your job just about Dinosaurs? and more?
My job is actually less about dinosaurs than about evolution and the history of life on earth. Dinosaurs provide lots of opportunities to study evolution (especially when we consider their modern relatives, the birds). But dinosaurs are also just a piece of the puzzle, and like all paleontologists, I have to use tools from a number of science and math disciplines to understand how dinosaurs made their living. The really cool thing is that a lot of times, studying the past helps inform us about what's going on today. Vice versa, studying things in modern animals can often shed important light on questions of dino biology. My work spans the animal kingdom, and also spans geological time. Since I work at the Science Museum, my job is also seriously about sharing what I do and discover in a way that people can understand and get excited about.
Have you ever had a field season where you didn't find anything? If you have, what did it feel like?
I guess that I've never had a field season when I didn't find ANYTHING, but I have certainly had field seasons that didn't yield the motherlode of fossils that my team was hoping for. It's funny, but it doesn't really feel bad when that happens. Instead, I tend to think "good...we can mark that spot off of our list of places to check out." or "there's gotta be something here....I'll just have to let erosion do it's thing and check back next year." I think that it's harder when you DO find something, but little can be done to retrieve it. Several years ago my husband and I ran an expedition to Zimbabwe in search of early dinosaurs. We found some really cool stuff, but shortly after we left, Zimbabwe was thrown into political turmoil and the landowners on the large tract of land on which we worked and discovered fossils were evicted as veterans of the Zimbabwean Civil War occupied the land, and will not allow foreigners access. We're still dreaming about those bones, and wishing that we could head back to Zimbabwe to collect the rest of our discovery, but it doesn't look as though it will be possible anytime soon.
How many more dinosaurs do you think are yet to be discovered?
Well it's hard to know how many more might be out there. Here are some stats that might shed light on the question. In 1990, there were only 300 dinosaur genera known. Since 1990, nearly 200 more new dinos have been discovered/described! New dinos can be found in the field when we dig them up, but they can also exist on museum shelves, when we take second looks at old bones. With erosion, more paleontologists on the hunt, and dinosaurs lucky enough to live and die in the right place at the right time, it's easy to imagine that our understanding of dinosaur ecosystems and the dinosaurs that inhabited the earth is still very far from complete.
How many bones do you find in one year?\r\nFrom Molly\r\n2nd grade
It really depends on how rich the fossil beds we are working in are. In Madagascar, we find hundreds of bones each summer. When you think about how many bones there are in a single skeleton (over 200), that's not so hard to do.
Kristi Curry Rogers, Ph. D.
Curator of Paleontology
Science Museum of Minnesota
How do we get involved? Can volunteers help with the Madagascar Ankizy Fund on site in Madagascar (in ways other than financial contributions)?
Thanks for your interest, Beatrice! So far, it has proven fairly difficult for us to get members of the public to Madagascar to help on the ground. Usually the trouble is logistical - it's pretty remote and difficult to get enough trucks to carry lots of people, volunteers (like those medical and dental volunteers we had last summer) have to stay in the closest big town (Mahajanga), just cause Berivotra isn't big enough to support a big influx of foreigners. The biggest help at present is financial. The cool thing is that most of the funds that the MAF has garnered thus far have come from school-age kids. Girl Scout Troops and Boy Scouts have raised funding via garage sales and bake sales, and schools have been instrumental in supporting the MAF - in fact, I just received a contribution from grade-school kids in Isanti, MN, who did chores to raise $ for the MAF! You can also check out the MAF website for more information (www.ankizy.org).
Do scientists know what kinds of sounds dinosaurs made? How do they know?
Scientists aren't really sure what kinds of noises that dinosaurs made, though some of us have tried to model dino-sounds after studying the specialized noses of the crested, duckbilled dinosaurs. At this point, your guess is as good as ours. Next time you're in the SMM's Dinosaurs and Fossils Gallery, head to the special diorama on the Wannagan Creek Quarry - there is a kiosk there that allows you to listen to all the sounds crocodiles make. When you listen to that, AND think about the calls of birds living today - you can imagine that dinosaur sounds were likely incredibly diverse!
i want to be a paleontologist what subjects do i have to take
Most paleontologists are either more geological or more biological in their research interest, but either way - you need to take as much of these subjects as possible! You also have to employ other disciplines to interpret how extinct organisms made their livings, including physics, chemistry, and math. Good writing skills are also really important - it is through research papers that cool discoveries are conveyed to our fellow researchers and the public, so being adept at writing is also key.
About how old is the oldest fossil that you have found so far?
The oldest DINO fossils that I've discovered date from the Jurassic Period, and are about 186 million years old. I've also found lots of older fossils, many from invertebrate animals. Minnesota is a great place to hunt for these non-backboned creatures, and we can find fossils here that are over 450 million years old!
What a great question! There are a lot of clues that we can use to determine whether or not fossilized poop (the technical term is coprolite) is really poop. The first thing we might notice is a rock that looks really different from the surrounding sediment. It just stands out to the eye. When we take a closer look at it we might see a shape of some sort (torpedo-like, or a blob). If we take an even closer look we might see bits of munged up plants and bone fragments included. This last piece is especially obvious if you look at the coprolite under a microscope. If all these criteria are met, and we can rule out other kinds of formative agents (like a hardened ball of plant-rich sediment), we might narrow it down to a coprolite. That's really how we tell!
how do you no that the dinosaurs poop is not a rock?
What is the name of a dinasaur that resembeled a whale? I have a fossilized whale bone and I would like to know about dinasaurs that looked like or were part of that family.\r\nThank you.
There aren't really any dinosaurs that resembled whales, because ALL dinosaurs lived on land. Some dinosaurs were as BIG as whales (100 tons and 100 feet long). I think that you are probably thinking about the giant reptiles, like plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, and mosasaurs, that lived in the sea during the age of dinosaurs. Plesiosaurs basically looked like the loch ness monster (a long neck and tail, and four flippers). Icthyosaurs looked kinda like dolphins, with football shaped bodies and huge eyes, and mosasaurs were like huge, overgrown lizards (their bodies even moved side-to-side like reptiles do when they walk). Even though lots of people think that these giant sea reptiles were dinosaurs, they actually were very distant relatives of dinos. Whales didn't even evolve until long after the dinosaurs went extinct!
How careful do you have to be when you dig? Do you ever break bones when you dig them up?
You have to be REALLY careful when you dig. Bones are fragile, though they are often a little harder than the rocks that preserve them. When we are working above the bone-bearing layer, removing what we call "overburden" (all the rock and dirt that lie on top of the layer where bones are exposed), we use heavy tools like picks, shovels, and sometimes even jack hammers. Once we get down close to the bone layer, we have to be more careful, and do a lot of sweeping, scooping, and hammering with rock hammers to keep the area clean and clear. Once we "hit bone" we go even slower, usually using ice picks and paintbrushes, and carefully searching each piece of rock that we remove to make sure that there are no fossils inside. Everyone occasionally breaks bones in the field, but we use glues to keep things in place. Sometimes breaking a bone results in its discovery. In fact, that's how the braincase of the longnecked titanosaur that we found in Madagascar was discovered. I hit it with an icepick!
Why do some dinos have the word "saurus" in their names?
In Greek, "deinos" means "fearfully great" and "sauros" means "lizard." The very first scientist to coin the term "Dinosaur" used these greek roots to name a group of giant animals that seemed to resemble reptiles in some ways, but were distinctive enough to deserve a new group (for example, dinosaurs don't walk with their legs sprawled to the side - their legs are directly underneath their bodies like ours). Lots of paleontologists (including me) retain the "saurus" as a part of dino names - it instantly associates the name with dinos in the minds of most scientists and people like you! Now we know that dinosaurs aren't really very much like general reptiles at all, so the name doesn't work as well as it used to!
Dinosaurs share a very close relationship with two living animals - crocodilians and birds. Dinosaurs are actually more closely related to birds, because they are the direct ancestors of birds. Crocs are more like dinosaur cousins. You might not have guessed it, but crocodiles and birds are pretty closely related, among living animals. They are united within a big group called "Archosauria." The name means ruling reptiles, and it also includes dinosaurs and pterosaurs.
Out of the animals that live today, which one would you say is most like a dinosaur? I was thinking the crocodile.
What is the climate like in Madagascar?
It depends on where you are in the country. Remember, Madagascar is nearly 1000 miles long, from north to south; and over 350 miles wide from east to west. That means that Madagascar lies at a latitude between 12-25 degrees south, which gives it a generally tropical climate. The length of the island along with differences in altitude have resulted in different microclimates around the island. The eastern part of Madagascar is rainy and warm, and is principally covered in rainforest, with an average temperature of about 70 degrees farenheit (20C). In western and southwestern Madagascar the climate is really different, with mountains keeping the warm wet air to the east, and leaving these areas dry and arid, with an average temp of 75 degrees F (24 C). The plants in this part of Madagascar are succulents and other drought-resistant plants, as well as grasses. The north and southeast are struck by cyclones annually. In the center of Madagascar, the area is termed the "central highlands" because of the higher elevations. Here, the landscape is dominated by grassland, and can even freeze during the austral winter (e.g., August). In the part of Madagascar where I work, it is arid and dry, with annual heavy rains during cyclone season. When I am there working the temperature is usually 70 degrees in the morning and evening, but might reach an afternoon high over 100 degrees F. It's only rained on us in Madagascar one time at our dino digs!
How do you know how much radioactive stuff there was before it started to decay?
You don't have to know how much was originally present, you just have to know how much of the parent isotope and how much of the daugther isotope (the product of decay) are present now. In a closed system, the ratio between these 2 can be measured to determine how much time has transpired.
how did you know you wanted to be a scientist?
I had an interest in fossils, biology, nature, and geology even at the age of 6. In fact, I studied up on fossils and did mini "expeditions" to the rock garden next door. At that time, I didn't really know what fossils WERE, but looked for wierd rocks, and rocks with strange patterns or colors in the gravel that made up my neighbor's front yard garden. Since I lived in an area that was once covered by a shallow, warm sea, there were tons of fossils in the gravel - I found the remains of shells, coral, and sponges, and even had my own collection organized in a tackle box in my bedroom. I was SO into it! As I got older, I got more and more into science, and loved the idea of discovering new things, and figuring out the answers to my own burning questions (like...what did dinosaurs eat??). I was lucky to have parents who supported my passion (even though one of them wanted me to be a professional french horn player, and one wanted me to be a teacher). I think that I knew I wanted to be a scientist because of all the cool things that scientists get to see and do, and I loved paleontology from the first moment that I was exposed to it.
how do you find dinosaur bones?
Finding dino bones isn't hard, but you definitely have to be in the right place at the right time. First, you have to know what kinds of rocks to look in - these rocks aren't rocks that are formed by volcanoes (igneous rocks - like granite) or rocks that are modified by great heat and pressure (metamorphic rocks - like slate). Dinosaur bones are usually found in sedimentary rocks - most often in sandstones or mudstones that represent ancient rivers, floodplains, or deserts. Once you're in the right type of rock, you have to make sure that the rocks are the right age. Since dinos were mostly around in the Mesozoic Era, from 228-65 Million years ago, if you are in sedimentary rocks that are older or younger, you'll be out of luck when it comes to finding bones. Once you've nailed down rocks and time, you start prospecting. This just means - keep your eye to the ground and LOOK! Bones look really different than rocks almost all the time (though I know that once in awhile it's easy to mistake a stick or a shiny seed for a bone or a tooth). Once you get the hang of seeing bones, they are easy to find.
This is a question from Lucia,a kindergardner:
Could you share some fun facts about brachiosaurus?
How did they breathe?
Thanks in advance.
Sure, Lucia! Brachiosaurus is one of my favorite dinosaurs. Brachiosaurus, like other sauropods or "long-necked" dinosaurs, is one of the biggest animals ever to walk on the planet. The best known samples of Brachiosaurus come from Africa, though we know of a few good specimens from the United States as well. One of the most interesting things about Brachiosaurus is it's superlong neck. Most of the time, Brachiosaurus reconstructions show Brachiosaurus with it's neck held high up in the air like a giraffe, with the idea that those long necks helped Brachiosaurus eat from the tops of the trees. Recent research has shown that sauropod necks may have actually normally extended more horizontally, away from the body, and that feeding might have been more commonly aimed at the ground rather than at the tops of tress. In terms of breathing - Brachiosaurus may have breathed a lot like birds. Birds are unique among living animals in filling their bones with air - basically, extensions of the lungs penetrate arm bones, and vertebrae, and result in a very efficient breathing method for birds. We don't know whether or not Brachiosaurus employed a similar method of utlizing oxygen, but we do know that the vertebrae of Brachiosaurus were also infiltrated with special air sacs.
how big was velociraptor?
The REAL Velociraptor (not the "Hollywood version that you may remember from Jurassic Park) was around 5 feet long from head to tail, and stood about 3 feet tall. In spite of its small stature, it was equipped with lots of sharp teeth and a sickle-shaped claw on its hind feet that made it a formidable predator.
hi, do you know how big t-rex's egs are?
No one knows how big the eggs of T. rex are. Dinosaur eggs come in lots of shapes and sizes, but only a handful of eggs have been definitively identified as belonging to particular species of dinosaurs. That's because, in order to know for sure which dino laid the eggs, you have to find the embryonic dinosaur bones preserved in a recognizable state inside the fossil egg. As you can imagine, it's hard to preserve soft, embryonic bones, and we just don't know which kinds of dinos would've hatched from the eggs we find abundantly fossilized. T. rex eggs are still a mystery, but other meat-eating dinosaurs, like Oviraptor, Citipati, and Troodon have all been found sitting on their eggs, just like modern birds!
how do you test for the age of a dinosaur bone?
If you mean age in years (like "I'm a 12 year old T. rex"), we can test for the age of a dinosaur bone by looking deep inside the bone for special "rings," kinda like tree rings, that we can count. These rings indicate a time each year when growth dramatically slowed down, or stopped, and is a great indicator of age.
If you mean the age in millions of years, we have to study the rocks that surround dinosaur bones. Dinosaur bones can't be radiometrically dated directly, but the rocks that surround them often can. Testing the rocks gives us a "bracket" for the age of the dinosaur bones (and rocks that preserve them).
What is the largest dinosaur currently known about? How about the largest flying dinosaur? What was the largest mammal living during the ice age? What was the smallest dinosaur?
Hmmmm....it depends on where I'm working. In the US I eat regular stuff. Bagels or granola bars for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and fancier stuff for dinner (like spaghetti). In other countries (like in Madagascar, Zimbabwe, or Argentina), I eat what the people there eat for their staples, and sometimes get a special treat thrown in. For example - in Madagascar, we usually have coffee and baguettes for breakfast. At lunch it's fruit and bread, and "La Vache Qui Rit" aka. Laughing Cow cheese. At dinner, every night, without fail, it is some variety of beans and rice. This is fine with me - I'm a vegetarian! But sometimes, the carnivores on our team crave meat, and we occasionally buy chickens in the market. A special treat in Madagascar might include really good chocolate bars, or bat soup, and once I even got to try worms and grasshoppers!
would two spinosaurus get along with each other without fighting or would they be solitary?
You know, we'll never know for sure until we can travel back in time and observe spinosaurs interacting with one another. To date, spinosaur fossil occurences are solitary, and we think that they probably spent at least some parts of their lives alone. They had to get along at times (like when they were mating), and they most assuredly fought each other at other times, just like all modern animals do when it comes to staking out territory, finding a mate, etc.
about how many people could a t-rex eat all at once?
Hmmmmm...that's an interesting question. T. rex couldn't really eat a person at all, since T. rex and people never lived alongside one another. But, hypothetically speaking, a T. rex probably couldn't really eat more than one squirmy person at a time.
Hi\r\nIn how many years will Minnesota be covered in ice?
Who knows if Minnesota will be covered in ice again on a human timescale? Sometimes the climate varies erratically just before an ice age (and sometimes it can even get hotter just before an ice age), but with the human impact on global temperatures, it's hard to say what might happen to Minnesota's climate as ice all over the world is melting. On a geological time scale, you can bet that sometime in the future Minnesota will likely be covered in ice again, but it may take millions of years!
There WERE prehistoric animals related to modern day cows. This lineage of persisting modern day "ruminants" has it's roots back in the Eocene - their evolution appears to be driven by a sophisticated way of moving, as well as unique adaptations for eating lots of tough food (e.g., specialized teeth and ruminant stomachs). These special stomachs have different chambers that allow the breakdown of plant cellulose by bacteria and protozoa. You may not know it, but things like pigs, hippos, and camels all share some of these specializations, and the ancestors of the modern forms were present as long ago as 33 million years!
Were there any prehistoric animals related to modern day cows?
How did the dinasour fosils get into science meuseums?
Most of the dinosaurs that are in science museums get there by the collection efforts of curators like me. We spend lots of time during the summer months (or winter months, if we're working in places like Argentina) out in the field collecting dino bones to bring back to the museum. Sometimes we receive donations of fossils as well.
What's your favorite part of working in Madagascar?
I have two favorite things about working in Madagascar: 1) the fossils are incredibly preserved, new to science, and in rock that is usually so soft that its like being on the beach (but with no water). 2) I love working with people there. A lot of the colleagues that I work with on this project are among my closest friends, and we have lots of fun shared experiences. I love meeting the local people, too, and meeting kids and seeing them grow up has been one of the coolest parts of my time in Madagascar.
Did you ever do anything with living animals?
Yes - in fact, you may not know this, but one of the primary qualifications of a vertebrate paleontologist is comparative anatomy - basically, knowing a lot about the anatomy of all sorts of animals. In fact, my Ph. D. is in HUMAN anatomy. When I was working on my degree, I taught human gross anatomy courses to medical students! Now, I sometimes teach a course in comparative vertebrate anatomy, where we dissect all sorts of animals, including things like snakes, frogs, turtles, cats, etc. I've also done some experimental work on growth rates in ostriches and emus. In reality, it's impossible to study the evolution of extinct animals like dinosaurs without knowing a great deal about modern animals!
What is the most weirdest thing you have found?
The wierdest thing I ever "found" wasn't a real fossil at all. When I was an undergraduate crew chief at a dino dig in Montana, a bunch of my volunteers headed into town for showers on Saturday, and hit the local flea market. Unbeknownst to me, they returned to the site, and buried a flourescent green, hawaiian shirt-wearing, sunglassed little green stuffed dinosaur in the area of the quarry where I was digging. They did such a good job covering it up that you couldn't tell that the site had been disturbed at all. It took days for me to make it over to that part of the quarry, and as I brushed the area clean with a broom, you can imagine my shock as I unearthed a chunk of brilliant green FUR -- in a dino dig! The guys were all cracking up - they'd been waiting for nearly a week for me to discover their special surprise. We ended up "collecting" it, and it's probably still encased in a plaster jacket at the warehouse in Montana. See - paleontologists have a sense of humor!
WHat is your favorite thing to study?
I really love studying the biology of dinosaurs. I like thinking about them as living creatures, not just a bunch of bones. I like studying things like histology, to help chip away at the big questions of how dinosaurs made their living. And of course, I love hunting for bones!
what is the biggest fossil you have ever found?
The biggest fossil that I've ever found was the femur of a long-necked, sauropod dinosaur from Madagascar. It was longer than I am tall (but, that may not be saying much - I'm only 5 ft, 3 inches tall!!).
where are you going to be digging this summer? Can we visit sometime?
Grace and Lily
Hi Grace and Lily!!
My summer plans are still a little up in the air for this year - I'm waiting to find out about a possible trip to Mongolia, and will almost certainly be going to Montana for awhile with my husband, Ray, and 2-year old daughter, Lucy. I would love it if you visited me sometime! In fact, I think it would be GREAT if Ray and I can find the right kind of site - we'd like to start a summer dig program for kids....it all depends on finding just the right kind of place. Stay tuned!
where did dinosuars originally come from?
There are two possible answers to your question. Dinosaurs evolved over 230 million years ago from small, bipedal archosaurs (modern archosaurs are things like crocodiles and birds). The first dinosaurs and their relatives had a few very special skeletal features, many associated with an upright posture (rather than sprawling like other reptiles). The oldest known dinosaurs are 228 million years old, and their first complete skeletons were found in the 1990s in Argentina. These earliest dinosaur fossils were both meat-eaters, and were named Herrerasaurus and Eoraptor.
What was the most interesting place that you visited?
Even though I love Madagascar, and culturally speaking it's an incredibly interesting place..I think my most interesting field experience was in Zimbabwe, when I camped for three weeks on the borders of a Tribal Trust Land, and saw evidence of leopards (their kill hung in the trees just outside camp and their tracks were fresh on the road in the morning), heard lions hunting at night (well...heard the death "shouts" of the impala they were preying upon), and ran into elephants. It was amazing!
Is your job as fun as it looks?
YES. My job is sometimes TOO much fun! I love making discoveries (who doesn't), and in my field, there's always more to be discovered. I love traveling, and since the group of dinos that I specialize in were globally distributed, I get to travel all over the planet to study their skeletons. I love meeting new people, and collaborating, and in my field this is essential. I even learned to speak Malagasy last year so that I could communicate better with people that I work with there. There's more to my job as well - I love engaging kids in science and there's virtually no better way to do it than with dinosaurs. I get to teach a dinosaurs course at Macalester College, and I love that too! Best of all, my family gets to come with me - my husband is a geologist and we collaborate on nearly all of our projects., and my 2 year old daughter, Lucy has already been in the field every summer since she arrived (she's even been to Patagonia to dig up dinos!).
where there dinosaurs in morrocco? if there were any what were they
Yes! There are definitely dinosaurs from Morrocco, as well as from other parts of North Africa. The dinosaur fossils known from Morrocco span dinosaur time. The oldest dinosaur remains there are Late Triassic in age (near the beginning of the "Age of Dinosaurs). From this time period there is a prosauropod called Azendohsaurus, and a BUNCH of meat-eating and plant-eating dinosaur tracks. The Jurassic-aged rocks in Morrocco have also yielded abundant tracks, which give us a lot of information on the distribution and diversity of dinosaurs at this relatively early time in dinosaur history. Later Jurassic rocks yield the remains of an early long-necked sauropod called Atlasaurus. Cretaceous rocks in Morrocco have provided us with some amazing fossils (most of them have been studied by Paul Sereno of the University of Chicago, and his graduate students), including the theropods Carcharodontosaurus, Deltadromeus, and Spinosaurus, as well as sauropods like Jobaria and and Rebacchisaurus.
how much time does it take u to find all the pieces to dinosaurs??????!!!!
Sometimes it takes multiple summers to find all the parts of a single dinosaur, sometimes it takes a few hours, and sometimes we can't find all the parts! Dinosaur skeletons are usually pretty incomplete, and we're left with holes in what we know about their anatomy. Finding a completely articulated dinosaur (with all the bones connected as they would have been in life) is extremely rare. Patience is a virtue if you are a paleontologist in search of dinosaurs!
IN india in the Kyber pass has there been any signs of dinasaur life at all like bones or anything else
There have been amazing dinosaur fossils found throughout India. The Khyber Pass, in the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan, do not contain dinosaur fossils. This is largely due to the uplift of the Himalayas, which results from the impact of the Indian Subcontinent with Asia. Rocks associated with this mountain building are generally metamorphic (which means that they've been subjected to intense heat and pressure) - if there were fossils, they've likely been obliterated by this longterm mountain building.
I am part of a team of educators putting on a week long Amazon Adventure Symposium at PACT Charter School in Ramsey, MN. We have a science teacher that wants to do a forensics lesson and needs rainforest animal bones, scraps of fur, feather, etc.
I am not finding anything affordable on-line and wonder if you can give me any suggestions as to where an educator finds stuff like this!
Even skulls of local animals such as Robins, are very expensive and probably are not what the teacher needs.
Hi Robin, you and your collaborators are putting together. You might try getting in touch with the Science Museum of Minnesota's education department - they have some material in their educational collection, and may have follks equipped to help out. Another place to go might be the Bell Museum of Natural History - they also have large biological collections, and may have the fur, feathers, and bones you need for this project.
Kristi Curry Rogers, Ph. D.
Curator of Paleontology
Science Museum of Minnesota
why do metamorphic and igneous rocks not contain fossils?????
You can think of the three types of rocks and how they are formed to understand why metamorphic rocks and igneous rocks don't contain fossils. Igneous rocks are formed by volcanism. Except in the rare case of an ashfall, igneous rocks are just too hot to fossilize things - anything getting covered by igneous rocks will be incinerated! Metamorphic rocks have kindof the same problem. Metamorphic rocks are "recycled" igneous and sedimentary rocks, and are formed at high temperatures and lots of pressure. Think of places like mountain ranges and fault zones. There are times when sedimentary rocks that contain fossils are subjected to heat and pressure, and become metamorphic rocks as they recrystallize - when that happens, any fossils contained within the original sedimentary rocks get obliterated.
We learned that the Allosaurus could have been as large as the T-Rex. Where could we go to see Allosaurus fossils that big? Also, could an Allosaurus put food into its mouth with its front claws?
Paul (via his Papa typing)
Technically there is no Allosaurus anywhere near the size of T. rex. There are, however, close relatives of Allosaurus, like Giganotosaurus (from Argentina) and Charcharodontosaurus (from North Africa) that can get even bigger than T. rex. You might be able to catch a glimpse of Charcharodontosaurus in Chicago, since one of the researchers who spent a lot of time studying works there (Paul Sereno). You'd have to go all the way to Argentina to see a skeleton of Giganotosaurus!
Allosaurus has pretty short, but strong, arms. Recent studies of the skull of Allosaurus have indicated that the bite force was much weaker than that of tyrannosaurs and living predators. The scientists who studied the bite of Allosaurus concluded that Allosaurus may have fed by striking a hatchetlike blow with the upper jaws, and then using the lower jaw to tear off a chunk of meat. No matter what, with a mouth full of teeth and all the skull specializations of Allosaurus, you can be sure that it's mouth was an active part of its modus operandi!
Have any dinosaur fossils been discovered in India?
Yes! There are some really wonderful dinosaurs from India. The best preserved dino fossils there are from the Deccan Traps, and date to about 70 million years old (the very end of the "Age of Dinosaurs"). Long-necked herbivorous sauropods are found there, as are meat-eating theropods. It's pretty cool - the dino fossils in Madagascar and India are almost identical - for at least part of the Cretaceous Period Madagascar and India were connected to one another, and their faunas could intermingle as one.
What was the most common dinosaur?
The answer to this question depends on what you mean by "common". In terms of numbers of different species, here's the breakdown at last calculation:
Meat-eaters - 282 species.
prosauropods (early plant-eaters) - 23 species
Long-necked sauropods - 121 species.
Armored/plated dinos (like Stegosaurus) - 68 species.
Duckbilled dinos and their relatives - 107 species.
Horned, frilled, and domed dinos - 56 species.
If you mean the most common dinosaurs in dinosaur ecosystems, the answer would likely be any of the plant-eaters. In general, plant-eaters by far outnumber the meat-eaters. Just think about the Serengeti today - you don't see a world populated by lions. You see a few lions and a million wildebeest and zebra. It was probably similar in dinosaur times, but impossible to say exactly what dinosaur group/species was most common at any given time period.
What is your favorite dinosaur?& why
That's EASY (kindof). My favorite group of dinosaurs are the long-necked, gargantuan, plant-eating sauropods (like of "brontosaurus"). This is the group of dinosaurs that I study, and they're my favorites because they are so amazingly wierd. They are the largest animals to ever walk on the planet (some of them rival the sizes of modern whales), they are around from the beginning of dinosaur times until the end (that's over 160 million years!), and they are biological marvels - I love trying to understand how these animals made their livings. If I had to choose a particular favorite among this bigger group, I'd have to say Rapetosaurus krausei, a sauropod from Madagascar that I got to name as a part of my Ph. D. You gotta love the dino that you name!! It's name is derived from the Malagasy world 'rapeto' (pronounced ruh - pay- too), which is the name of a giant creature in Malagasy folklore that could walk the entire length of Madagascar in a single step. The specimen that we discovered in Madagascar was the most complete and best-preserved dinosaur from this group ever found.
What other dinosaurs lived in madagascar?\r\n
There aren't that many other dinosaurs found in Madagascar. So far, we've discovered one kind of large meat-eating dinosaur, Majungatholus atopus, and one smaller meat-eating dinosaur, Masiakasaurus knopfleri (that's right - it's species name is knopfleri, after the guitar player from the rock band Dire Straits - Mark Knopfler). We've also found just two kinds of plant-eating dinos. Both are long-necked sauropods. One is Rapetosaurus krausei, and the other one is so new that we haven't even named it yet! There are also several birds, which are of course, the living descendants of dinosaurs!
How much more do you think we can learn about dinasours?
I think that we've only begun to scratch the surface with regard to what we can learn about dinosaurs. Every year, new discoveries are made, but even more interestinly, scientists take new looks at old bones - we spend lots of our time in museums and in laboratories developing new ways of looking at dinosaurs. Just last month a group of scientists discovered that some long-necked dinosaurs ate grass! Before that fossil find, we didn't even think grass was around until the end of dinosaur time.and finding grass in the fossilized feces of a long-necked dino forces re-evaluation of what those long necks were for. Maybe not for top of the trees dining after all!! That's what is so cool about being a dinosaur paleontologist. There is ALWAYS more to know and more to discover.
What is the most common dinosaur bone found?
The most common dinosaur fossils found are teeth. Teeth are more resistant than bones to chemical and physical degradation, so they are more apt to stick around in the fossil record. Even better, dinosaurs have continual tooth replacement while they're alive. If they break a tooth off, there's a new one underneath to replace it. If they wear a tooth down to a nub, it falls out and a nice, sharp one grows right back in its place. That means that teeth can just be more common in the fossil record - in Madagascar, teeth of meat eating dinos that sometimes dined on members of their own species are among the most common fossils that we find.
Do you think that Dinasaours cared for thier young in a communal way?
I think that it's possible that some dinosaurs definitely cared for their young. In fact, we have direct evidence for parental care for a few rare dinosaurs. In Mongolia, a meat-eating dinosaur called Oviraptor was found "brooding" a nest of eggs containing the embryos of Oviraptor, in just the way that modern birds brood their eggs. Some large "duck-billed" dinosaurs (otherwise known as hadrosaurs) are even named after their "parenting skills." Maiasaura is a dinosaur found in Montana. It's name translates to "Good Mother Lizard". Nests of Maiasaura hatchlings were discovered with bones that weren't yet fully ossified (hardened), leading researchers to think that some parent had to be taking care of them after they hatched. For other dinosaurs, like sauropods, we think that parental care was probably fairly minimal, at least while the the babies were still in the nest. As for most things dino-related, there's probably not a general rule, but both crocs and birds (the living relatives of dinosaurs) take care of their babies. That pattern makes it even more likely that dinosaurs did too.
Hi, Kristi! How did the dinosaurs die? Bye, bye- Cody
Most paleontologists and geologists now agree that an asteriod impact centered off the coast of Mexico in the Gulf of Mexico is to blame for dinosaur extinction. The extinction event was one of the big ones in earth history, and wiped out a diverse array of life on land and life in the seas. Not just dinosaurs bit the dust. So did tiny marine microorganisms called foraminifera. So did the giant marine reptiles (like mosasaurs and plesiosaurs) and ammonites (animals kinda like the chambered nautilus of today). Pterosaurs went extinct too, as did some mammals. With the somewhat limited geological record on hand, it seems as though dinosaurs and these other creatures weren't in any sort of gradual decline, but were wiped out in a "geological instant."
Hpw much money does a palenotologist make in a year? Do you get more if you discover a big dinosaur?
The amount a paleontologist makes each year varies dramatically depending on the kind of work that we do. For example, some paleontologists work for the government - they don't make that much. Some of us, like me, work for museums - we don't make very much either. Some paleontologists work for universities or colleges. They might make up to $100,000 by the end of their careers. Other paleontologists write books and are independently employed - some of them probably make the most!!
The funny thing about being a paleontologist is that you DON'T get more money if you discover a big dinosaur, and you don't get paid to find new dinosaurs. The currency of paleontology is writing papers, and you don't get paid for that either!!
What do these three types of bone tissue indicate about dinosaurs: Primary,Haversian, and growth ring??
Primary bone is the scientific term for the first bone that is laid down - during life, all bones get remodelled. Once bone is remodelled it is secondary. A special pattern of remodelling centers around blood vessels embedded within bone, and results in lifesaver shaped rings that we call "Haversian osteons" (named after the guy that discovered them). Growth rings are temporary slow downs or stops in bones that are recorded as actual rings (kinda like tree rings). In dinosaurs, like in many other animals that produce these growth marks, we think that they occur annually. All three of these types of bone tissues in dinosaurs have patterns that indicate that most dinosaurs grew quickly for their young lives, and only slowed down once they reached adult size. For those dinosaurs (like the meat-eating theropods) that commonly deposit growth rings in their bones, these rings didn't occur like they do in crocodiles (in the context of slow growth). Instead, in dinosaurs, most of the time these rings occur in the context of fast growth. All these types of bones tell us that ALL dinosaurs grew faster than modern reptiles, but how much faster depended on what kind of dinosaur they were - the smallest dinosaurs only grew 2 x faster than reptiles, while the biggest (the sauropods) grew up to 56 x faster!
how do you know what kind of animal a bone came from??
Even though all backboned animals (otherwise known as "vertebrates") have the same basic bones in their bodies, the bones of different types of animals are really distinctive. This is because animals do different things with their bones. For example, both meat-eating and plant-eating dinos have vertebrae, but these backbones look really different in each different type of dino. Similarly, bony differences allow us to distinguish between animals that are even very closely related. It takes a long time and a lot of studying/observing to be able to easily distinguish the bones of different animals, but once you get the hang of it, it's not that hard.
Can you tell me the name of one fossil found in Amber?
Sure. Insects are most commonly preserved in amber (since amber is fossilized tree sap, it can't preserve really huge things). There are tons of different kinds of insects preserved in amber - they range from beetles related to lady bugs, to things called lampyrids (we know them as "lightning bugs), and even centipedes. In 1996, two scientists reported the discovery of a small, shrew-like mammal preserved in amber from the Dominican Republic. Most of the amber that you see preserving insects is from there, and was fossilized millions of years after the dinosaurs went extinct.
In regards to the "Impact Theory" How is it that dinosaurs became extinct when animals so sensitive to earths changes like amphibians did not?
We aren't exactly sure what the survivorship post-extinction means. But the data, at least in the best studied extinction-aged sediments, indicate that there was differential survival across the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary. Those organisms that lived in freshwater environments (e.g., rivers and lakes) showed up to 90% survival, while animals living on land full time showed as little as 10% survivorship. The extinction, therefore, seems not to have affected aquatic organisms such as fish, turtles, crocodiles, and amphibians, but wreaked havoc among contemporaries living on land (including mammals and dinosaurs!).
Is there any dinosars that are born not in a egg?
Hi Emily -
As far as we know, all dinosaurs laid eggs. We've found the eggs of dinosaurs, which forms at least a part of the evidence for our ideas. But we also know a lot about how the modern relatives of dinosaurs have babies - both crocodiles and birds all lay eggs, and many of them take care of their nests and babies. This makes it simplest to think that dinosaurs probably also all laid eggs. People used to hypothesize that the largest dinos, the sauropods (long-necked gargantuan plant-eaters) gave live birth, but in 1997 a site was found in Argentina that changed all that. 1000s of eggs, in nests, and containing embryonic remains of the long-necked titanosaurs made us reject the idea that those biggest of dinosaurs gave live birth - when their babies hatched they were only a couple of feet long!
Im taking paleontology at college and my teacher gave us bone anatomy pictures to name, But I cant find a Corythosaurus casuarius. He wants us to name the bones of the head of one. This one looks so differnt than the rest of them. Do you know where I can find a good picture at to name this guy?
Thanks much; By the way my Uncle was James Jensen so it will look pretty bad if I dont get a good grade on this paper.
You're definitely right about the skulls of duckbilled dinosaurs like Corythosaurus - those skulls are wild and crazy, and seriously modified from the "standard" dino skull. You can find pictures of Corythosaurus' skull in the recently published book "The Dinosauria, 2nd edition", by David Weishampel, Peter Dodson, and Halska Osmolska. It is probably avialable in your local library. If you can't find it, here's a hint. The bones that make up the weird crest on the skull of Corythosaurus are the premaxilla (one of the upper jaw bones) and the nasal (basically, a nose bone). Good luck on your assignment, and do Dino Jim Jensen proud!!
How old is the oldest dinosaur?
There are 2 dinosaurs that hold the "oldest" dinosaur title. Eoraptor and Herrerasaurus were both discovered in the Valley of the Moon in the foothills of the Argentinian Andes. They are the first known dinosaurs, and are both 2-legged, relatively small meat eaters. Because their bones were associated with beds of volcanic ash, they have been "dated" - and tell us that the birthday of the oldest known dinosaurs is 228 million years old!!
Why are dinosaurs so big?
We don't really know WHY dinosaurs are so big - usually it is very difficult, if not impossible, to answer a "why" question like this in paleontology, simply because the "why" occurred millions of years ago, and isn't reproducible now. That said, we do know HOW dinosaurs got so big. If we look at the entire evolutionary history of the dinosaurs, we see that at least seven or eight dino lineages attained gigantic proportions (3+ tons). We think that for most of these lineages, dinosaurs accelerated their growth rates during the time of fastest growth, or delayed the onset of maturity (giving them more time to grow), or a combination of the two processes. A recent study of the giant meat-eating dinosaur, T. rex, indicated that the key to T. rex's giant size was acceleration of the growth rate up to 4x faster than in T. rex's ancestors. The same thing holds true for the biggest dinosaurs, the sauropods.
What is your favorite restaurant in Madagascar? I have never been there. It is exciting to hear about someone who has!
My favorite restaurant in Madagascar is called "Parad'ice". It's in the northern port city of Mahajanga, and I love it because of one very simple thing -- ICE CREAM. There is nothing yummier after a month of beans and rice than getting a big scoop of ice cream. AND, it's right across the street from the Hotel Akbar, where warm showers await us at the end of the field season.
Why study dinosaurs when they're all dead? Why is it important to know about them?
There are a million reasons to study dinosaurs, but I think that one that is at the top of my list is that dinosaurs, like all fossil organisms, give us unique insights into the history of life on earth that we could never discern just by studying things that are alive now. Just imagine what a narrow view of life we would have if we disregarded all the fossil species out there. Studying fossils and the rocks that contain them give us a great perspective on topics ranging from positions of continents, to evolution, to climate change.
What makes Titanosaurs more special than other dinosaurs other than there groth pattern?
Titanosaurs are cool dinosaurs for lots of reasons. Here are just a few. First - they are one of the only sauropod (long-necked dinosaurs) groups to stick around until the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event that wiped out the non-bird dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Second, they evolved when Pangea, the massive supercontinent was still mostly together, and diversified as Pangea broke into today's landmasses - thus titanosaurs have potential to help us understand the pattern of continental breakup. Third - they include "dwarfed" forms like a dino called Magyarosaurus from Romania, as well as the biggest land-liver of all time - Argentinosaurus, a dinosaur estimated to be 100 feet long and weigh 100 tons (that's the same size as a blue whale!). Fourth - they ate grass, as evidenced from their fossilized poop. Fifth - some of them have bony plates within their skin that may have been useful for protection, or maybe for regulating their temperature. Sixth - we know more about titanosaur reproduction and nesting than for most other dinosaurs (from nesting grounds in Argentina we know what baby titanosaurs looked like, how big their eggs were (softball sized), how many eggs were laid in a nest, and even whether parents took care of their nests (probably not).
how do you know how old the bones/fossils are?
This depends on the nature of your question. We can age dinosaurs by counting rings or cycles in their bones (kinda like counting the rings in a tree to determine how old it is). We know that dinosaurs lived MILLIONS of years ago by radiometrically dating the rocks that surround them. Igneous (volcanic) rocks contain unstable isotopes that break down at standard rates. If we can figure out how much of the original isotope is left, and how much of the new, more stable isotope that results from the breakdown of the "parent" isotope is present, we can calculate how much time has passed since the rock was formed. Since dinosaurs aren't preserved in igneous rocks, we can age dinos in terms of millions of years by dating igneous rocks that occur above and below them.
What bone phenomena do both humans and dinosaurs share? How long did dinosaurs live? I have seen est. of 75 to 300 years!
Humans and dinosaurs share the general phenomena of continuous growth (with big growth spurts) until the attainment of sexual maturity, when growth slows down. Most of the features we see in dino bones are also seen in the bones of people. We don't know for sure how long dinosaurs lived, but we think that it was probably within the realm of longevity for other large-bodied vertebrates (like elephants, rhinos, whales, etc.). Dinosaurs probably could live to 75 or 100, but NOT to 300! Estimates of 300 year old dinosaurs are usually based on reptilian modern analogues, and since we know that dinosaurs didn't grow like reptiles, this comparison just doesn't make sense.
How do you know how long ago dinosaurs lived? How accurate is the measurement of that?
We figure out how long ago dinosaurs lived by dating the rocks that surround them. Rocks sometimes contain unstable isotopes that break down at a known rate. An unstable isotope is an isotope that decays from an energy configuration that is unstable, to one that is more stable. This rate of decay can take a long time, or be short, depending on the particular element and isotope. If we know the rate of decay, we can measure the amount of original, unstable isotope, and compare it to the amount of stable isotope in a sample. Carbon-14 dating utilizes this method to date things that are far more recent than dinosaurs, and are only useful in he 1000s of years, NOT in the millions. For dinosaurs, we have to use isotopes with a longer decay rate (sometimes things like Potassium/Argon, which has a "half-life" of 1.3 billion years). Dates obtained using this technique can be accurate to an error of + 1% - that's astoundingly precise when you think about dating something that is 100s of millions of years old!
The bad thing about radiometric dating is that we can't date dinosaur bones directly. We have to use the rocks that surround them, and usually igneous rocks (those associated with volcanoe) are the only things that allow this type of dating. So, usually our dating of dinosaurs is based on bracketing the dinosaur bonebed between two datable igneous rock deposits.
Why do some dinosaurs fly? Which is your favorite dinosaur?
During the Mesozoic Era (aka. "the Age of Dinosaurs") the most common flying creatures weren't dinosaurs at all - they were pterosaurs like the huge Quetzlcoatlus hanging in the Science Museum's lobby. Pterosaurs are "flying reptiles" - distant dinosaur cousins but NOT dinosaurs. More rare dinosaurs around in the Mesozoic were the first birds. These really are dinosaurs that fly. Why dinosaurs evolved flight is a mystery - we aren't really sure WHY it happened, but we can trace the anatomical changes from dinosaur-bird to understand HOW it happened.
My favorite dinosaur is called Rapetosaurus krausei. It is a long-necked, armored dinosaur from Madagascar, and I think that it is my favorite because I got to name it, and since I did my Ph. D. on it and it's relatives, it is the dinosaur that I know the best.
What do you think will happen to humans in light of what happened to the dinosaurs? Will "people" as we are now become extinct, or will we evolve?
Let's put this question in context. Dinosaurs evolved in the Triassic Period, over 228 million years ago, and were predominant land animals until most of them (except their decendents, modern birds) went extinct 65 million years ago. That's over 160 MILLION YEARS of major success (if we leave out the subsequent 65 million year success of modern birds). This is a great case for evolution, as dinosaurs adapted to their changing environment, and even took advantage of new niches (like the sky) during their heyday and after. Who knows what might've happened to dinosaurs if the asteroid impact that wiped out all the large-bodied dinos hadn't hit the earth. Now, let's think about humans. The record of "human" evolution really only spans the last 4.5 million years or so - and through the study of fossils and genes it is clear that we have dramatically evolved, and are continuing to do so today. Just like all living things, humans will continue to evolve. There's probably a good chance that someday, the current "crop" of humans will also be extinct - it's the cycle of evolution and diversity on earth, and of our own diverse ancestry. And who knows what might happen if earth was faced with another global catastrophe like an asteroid impact, a nuclear war, massive climate change, or a pervasive disease? Change is inevitable.
what are the smallest kind of dinosors
It depends on whether you're counting modern birds or not. If you are, then the hummingbird is probably the smallest dinosaur. If you're really focusing on the extinct dinosaurs, the smallest is a dino called Microraptor. It was probably around 2 feet long (from head to tail), and only weighed in at ~10 pounds. Talk about a little dino! Hatchling dinosaurs, were of course, even smaller than Microraptor.
i am known for my long arms. what dinosaur has the longest arms?
Were tyranosourous rexs really the ones that ruled the jungle of dinosours back than. Or is that just something thhat hollywood exagerated?\r\n\r\n
Tyrannosaurus was a "top of the food chain" predator during the latest part of the Cretaceous Period in North America, but it certainly wasn't the "ruler of the jungle of dinosaurs" in other parts of the world. Plus, think about all the other kinds of dinosaurs around. Maybe Velociraptors were "kings" at the same time in Mongolia, and we can't forget about all the plant-eating dinosaurs that lived alongside the meat eaters - they comprised a greater proportion of biomass than their predators did....But, would you really have like Jurassic Park as much as you did if not for those maurauding villanous carnivores??
Have more than one asteroid hit Earth and wiped out life?
Asteroid impacts have been implicated in at least two of the earth's major mass extinctions: 1) the dino extinction 65 million years ago (which actually affected animals large and small, on land, in the sea, and in the air); and 2) the Permian extinction, which wiped out 95 percent of Earth's species, including 53 percent of marine families and 70 percent of land species such as plants, insects and backboned animals. Because it was so effective at clearing out competition, this extinction is credited with paving the way for new lizards to walk the Earth -- lizards which evolved into dinosaurs.
For a long time, scientists thought that heavy volcanic activity or climage change might be primarily responsible for the Permian extinction. In 2001, scientists added to previous research that supported the idea that an asteroid smacked the Earth ~250 million years ago. The evidence included tell-tale elements in rock, as well as extraterrestrial gases trapped inside special molecules, known as Buckyballs, in ancient soil layers. We think that this evidence points to a colossal whack from a comet or asteroid roughly 3.7 to 7.5 miles (6 to 12 kilometers) wide -- about the same size as the one that ultimately destroyed most dinosaurs 186 million years later. Even more recently, a crater off the coasts of Australia and Antarctica has been linked to an impact of this scale, and dated to the right time to be responsible for the Permian event. It seems as though this type of impact-driven extinction might be a fairly common occurrence during the history of life on earth.
If humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time, whould dinosaurs eat people?
We all know that humans and dinosaurs didn't live at the same time, but if they did, I'd bet that we'd make pretty tasty snacks for meat-eating dinosaurs! But what about us??! We've gotten pretty good at eating dinosaurs these days - think about chicken and turkey!
Like in jurassic park do you think scientist will be able to raise the dinasours back to life?
Even though it is fun to fantasize about dinosaurs like the ones that we see in Jurassic Park, the reality is that, even if we were able to extract DNA from a dinosaur, we'd probably not ever be able to get enough of a sequence to reconstruct an entire animal. DNA is one of the most easily degradable molecules around, and when you think about a minimum of 65 million years of fossilization -- that's a lot of time to lose information! But wouldn't it be cool if we could get just enough DNA to find out something more about the evolution of birds from meat-eating dinosaurs?? Who knows....maybe someday that kind of information will be available. It would take extraordinary preservation!
what can you tell about a dinosaur from their droppings??
Gross as it is, you can tell a lot about a dinosaur from it's droppings - especially what dinosaurs were eating! When we look at dinosaur poop under the microscope, we can see parts of different sorts of plants that were a regular part of dino diets. Recently, an examination of dinosaur coprolites from India revealed the earliest fossils of GRASS, and indicated that the big long-necked dinosaurs weren't very specific in their dietary preferences - they ate from tree tops and from ground level. From a meat-eating perspective, same thing is true. Looking at the tiny bits of bone found in meat-eating dinosaur coprolites (fossil feces) can occasionally give us a clue about what kind of prey carnivorous dinos went after.
How long have you been studying dinosaurs?
I think that I've been studying dinosaurs professionally since I was an undergraduate in college. I presented my first research paper in 1994 at a paleontology conference, so that's 12 years. Since I started college in 1992, I might say I've been "in the field" for 14 years! That's nearly half of my life -- I'm 31 years old right now!
If you could have a minature version of any dinosaur as a pet, what would you have?
If my pet dino could stay miniature and never get full size, I'd say a sauropod (one of the long-necked dinosaurs) of any type. I love them all - they are so cool!! I'd love to start 'em off small, as they'd be when they hatched. My little sauropod would be easy to take care of, with a diet of plants, and she would grow quickly and be big enough to ride around in just a year or two.
What was the most common type of dinosaur? What was the smallest dinosaur?
It is difficult to answer which dinosaur was most common. It really varies throughout the time periods of the Mesozoic (Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous), with different dinos dominating landscapes at different times. In general, plant eating dinos at any time period are around in greater numbers than meat eating dinosaurs. Think of the analogy between herds of wildebeest in Africa vs. prides of lions. There are always LOTS more wildebeest. The smallest dinosaur is easier to answer - so far the smallest adult dino is called Microraptor (because of its size). At full size it would still only weigh a few pounds!
Did dinosaurs ever eat fish?
Spinosaurs, one specialized group of meat-eating dinosaurs, have teeth that are highly modified from the general theropod condition. Instead of being coarsely-serrated and bladelike, they are finely serrated or smooth, and conical. These cone-shaped teeth generally resemble the teeth of modern animals with a diet that includes fish (things like crocodiles). So, paleontologists think that spinosaurs probably ate fish at least sometimes. Famous spinosaurs include: Spinosaurus, Baryonx, and Suchomimus.
What are your thoughts on the possability that some dinosaurs may have been fire breathing? I gues I have heard some things about the holesin there heads. And, I also find this likely because in modern times we have the bombadier (sp?) beatle.
There is no anatomical evidence in support of fire breathing dinosaurs. Dinos do have extra holes in their skulls, but these hold sinuses and make extra room for special jaw-closing muscles. We usually compare the anatomy of dinosaurs to crocodiles and birds (their two living counterparts), and nothing in either of these groups can "breathe fire." The case of bombardier beetles is interesting - these strange little beetles shoot a toxic, hot fluid from their abdomens as a protective measure from predators on the ground. Different from fire-breathing, but, like the bombardier beetle, dinosaurs evolved lots of diverse, interesting features (like frills, horns, spikes, crests, and tail clubs) that were probably at least sometimes useful for defense from predators (even if it meant scaring them off with bright colors and shapes).
How old could a T-Rex live to be? How tall were they?
We don't really know how long any dinosaurs lived, because once they stop growing and reach adult size, there just aren't any clues to tell us how much longer they lived. Based on their growth rates and large body size, and in comparison with modern animals of large size, we think that T. rex and other large dinos probably had lifespans that were like ours. BUT - we just don't know for sure. Our hypothesis on this is really more of an educated guess. We DO know that T. rex reached it's maximum size in about 20 years, and we know that one of the largest T. rex's known (Sue the T. rex, on display at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago), probably lived to be about 28 years old. An adult T. rex, like Sue, would've been around 12 feet tall at the hip, and 30-40 feet long from head to tail.
Are you going to find any more fossils ?
Yes! I'm heading out to the badlands of Montana this summer, with my husband, Ray and 3 year old daughter, Lucy in tow. We're headed out to collect fossils from the Mesozoic (AKA "The Age of Dinosaurs"), and to identify new areas to study. Another trip to Madagascar will have to wait until NEXT summer.
How can you be certain that dinosaurs in south america and madagascar didn't evolve in a simultaneous and similar pattern, and african dinos in a diverse pattern, though they were all saparate?
This is a great question, and an astute observation! In reality, we aren't sure of what this "pattern" means yet, mainly because the fossil record in the Late Cretaceous of Africa is really poor and scattered. We need more fossils, and then we can better test our hypotheses. When we study evolutionary relationships, we work under the principle of parsimony (i.e., the simplest answer is the best one). That means that if dinosaurs on Madagascar and South America share tons of unique characteristics, we don't assume they are convergent (evolving similar features for similar functions, but not actually closely related) - that's not simple! Instead, pending evidence that forces us to re-evaluate our hypotheses, we go for the simpler answer - that these dinosaurs share features because they evolved from a common ancestor. But of course, new data will always clarify the pattern that we observe. At the moment, we await more fossil information from all of the landmasses involved, and leave our hypothesis of a close relationship between malagasy and south american animals to be continually tested by us, as well as by our colleagues.
have dinosaur bones been found in antarctica?
There have actually been quite a few dino bones found in Antarctica, as well as within the ancient Antarctic and Artic Circles. The kinds of dinosaurs found there range from big meat-eaters like Cryolophosaurus, to small plant eaters like the Australian dino Leallynasaura.
How many meters wide can a mouth open on a T-Rex jaw
A T. rex might have been able to open it's mouth a few feet wide, but the size of the gape doesn't matter too much if you have a bite force as strong as T. rex's is estimated to have been! My colleague Greg Erickson used fossilized puncture marks made by T. rex's teeth on the pelvis of a Triceratops to figure out how strong T. rex's bite might've been. He estimates that T. rex had a bite force of 6410 to 13,400 newtons - a bite force that rivals the largest bite forces of tested living animals (including things like wolves and crocodiles!).
how fast could t rex run?
Though you might remember the scene from Jurassic Park, where T. rex is catching up to a jeep traveling at 40 MPH, recent work has trashed that dino myth, and indicates that T. rex probably reached it's top speed at closer to 15 MPH. Two California scientists used biomechanical models and modern analogues and determined how much muscle was required to run as a bipedal animal like T. rex. If T. rex wanted to hit those top speeds of 40 MPH, an outrageous amount of it's body mass would've had to be tied up in its leg muscles. So much, in fact, that it was more than in any living animal. The scientists looked at their models, and predicted that T. rex would've moved more slowly. The cool thing is that the folks animating the Jurassic Park chase scene also realized that T. rex probably moved more slowly - they shot the scence in multiple parts, so you never see the jeep and T. rex traveling side by side - if T. rex was animated at 40 MPH, it looked like it was going to topple over! The animators pulled it's running speed back to ~15 MPH, and used editing to create a terrifying scene for the film of a trotting T. rex!
What do you typically eat when you are on a dig?
The biggest dinosaur that we know of so far is called Argentinosaurus - it is a HUGE long-necked dinosaur from Argentina that is estimated to 100 feet long and weigh 100 tons (that's blue whale sized, but lived on land!). These estimates have to be taken with a little caution, though, since we only have a few bones from the skeleton of that behemoth. The smallest dinosaur (not counting modern birds) is a meat-eater called Microraptor. It would've weighed just a few pounds!
The only "flying" dinosaurs are the modern birds (they're just meat-eating dinosaurs with feathers!) - the biggest birds are flightless (things like the Moa). You might be thinking of the pterosaurs - one of the largest pterosaurs known is Quetzlcoatlus (look up when you enter the Science Museum's lobby on your next visit!). As far as mammals, the largest living during the ice age would probably have been wooly mammoths (if we don't count whales).
This question might really be divided into two parts. The largest dinosaurs that ever lived probably weren't that ferocious at all - they were the long-necked giants called sauropods, and they ate plants. The biggest meat-eating dinosaurs around were things like Giganotosaurus, T. rex, Carcharodontosaurus, Spinosaurus, and Mapusaurus, and even those dinosaurs may have been rivaled in their "ferocity" by smaller bodied, more fleet-footed meat eaters like Troodon, Velociraptor, and Deinonychus. Living animals that most closely resemble these small bodied, meat-eating dinosaurs are their modern relatives - the BIRDS (and by that I mean all birds - from hummingbirds to ostriches and every bird in between!)
What was the largest and most furosious dinosaur and what present day animal looks or resembles it.
how many eggs does a brontosaurus lay?
We don't know exactly how many eggs most kinds of sauropods (the scientific way to say "brontosaurus"), but we do have data on the number of eggs layed in at least one species of long-necked titanosaur - the answer is usually between 20 and 40, softball sized eggs per nest.
Why are foosils not found in Metamorphic rocks?
Fossils aren't typically found in metamorphic rocks because the extreme heat and pressure that creates metamorphic rocks destroys any fossils that may have been present in the original sedimentary rock undergoing metamorphosis.
How did the Cretaceous Period get it's name?
The Cretaceous Period gets its name from the Latin word "creta" for chalk - it was named because of extensive chalk beds (calcium carbonate deposited by the shells of marine invertebrates) the are found in rocks 125-65 million years old in England (e.g., the white cliffs of dover). There are also extensive chalk beds in parts of the US, where lots of plesiosaurs and mosasaurs get preserved.
have you ever found spinosauris bones
Nope, I've never discovered a spinosaurus bone - those animals are most common in Northern Africa and Europe, and my field work is in other parts of the world!
what is a prehistoric animal that isn't a dinosaur?\r\n
There are TONS of animals that are prehistoric that aren't dinos! Insects, turtles, crocodiles, fish, mammals (including things like wooly mammoths and saber toothed cats), flying reptiles called pterosaurs, lizards, marine reptiles (like mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, and ichthyosaurs)...the list could go on for days! Most things that are fossils ARE NOT dinosaurs!
what fossil do you find most interesting?
There isn't a single fossil that I find interesting - I love to work on ALL fossils! The reason for that is that it's impossible to really answer questions about anything if you study a particular animal in isolation - we need all sorts of data to really understand fossil animals and plants, so studying all types of fossils, as well as the rocks that preserve them, really makes a big difference in the types of questions that we can answer.
How long were there dinosaurs on Earth?
The oldest known true dinosaurs are 228 million years old, and the LARGE bodied dinosaurs that we usually think of as dinos went extinct 65 million years ago. That's a total of 163 million years. If you count modern birds as very specialized dinosaurs with feathers like I do (and like nearly all paleontologists do) - then you can extend that length of time by an additional 65 million years for a grand total of 228 million years and counting!
I don't have a clue how many dinosaurs there are left to discover, but since new dinosaurs are described nearly every single month (and sometimes every week), I think that we've barely scratched the surface when it comes to finding all dinosaurs. And, the reality is, we'll never find all the dinosaurs that ever existed, because there are many dinosaurs that didn't live in environments good for becoming a fossil - we only get to find dinosaurs that lived near rivers and lakes, and in flood plains. Dinos living in mountains. forests, swamps are less likely to become fossils!
Kristi Curry Rogers, Ph. D.
Curator of Paleontology
Science Museum of Minnesota
Have you ever considered studying sharks?
Sure, sharks are really cool. In fact, we find shark fossil in Montana and in Madagascar....so I guess you could say that I already dabble in sharks. There are a few of my colleagues who specialize in sharks, and I leave the important stuff on sharks to them, since dinosaurs are my forte.
what is the most common area in the world where dinosaurs are found?
There are lots of places around the globe that are really productive fossil localities. The western US is great and certainly one of the richest places in the world to find fossils, but there are also amazing dinosaur graveyards in Mongolia, China, Madagascar, North Africa, Argentina, and Europe. There have even been dinosaurs discovered on the North Slope in Alaska, and in Antarctica. Since dinos lived all over the world, they are found all over the world today!
Why dont you change the way the dinosaurs are set up. I have been coming here my wholelife and i dont think that it has ever changed (im 13). i think it whould be fun if you changed the way it was set then i would be more interested.
I completely agree! I started working at the Science Museum 5 years ago, and since I began I've been thinking about cool new ways to display them. The reason that we haven't changed them yet is that it takes a LOT of money to do it, and funding for such large scale changes is hard to come by. It's also not easy to move dinosaur bones - some of them weigh hundreds of pounds and are extremely fragile, so we have to take that into account as well. You can count on the fact that in the near future our dinosaur exhibit will see some really cool changes, so stay tuned!!
How do you come across fossils. Do regular citizens find them and call a museum or something, or do the paleontologists go on hunts for them.
Both! Every summer I go out in search of fossils, but I often use tips from local people to help pinpoint good spots to look. Sometimes we get phone calls from "regular citizens" who've found something on their property, or when they were out hiking that they think might be important. In fact, some of the most famous fossils ever found were found by farmers, ranchers, or regular people who reported their finds to their local museum paleontologist.
how many fossils do you regularly find in a 2-4 year period?
It really depends on where we're looking and what kinds of fossils we're interested in/finding. For example, sometimes I work at microsites, where lots of little resistant bones get preserved. In spots like this you can find hundreds and hundreds of important little fossils. At other times, we might be working in a bonebed or a group of bonebeds and find hundreds - thousands of bones of dinosaurs and their compatriots over a few year period. At other times, we go out on a wild "dino goose chase" and don't find anything at all except nice rocks.
What is the length of a Elasmosaurus's neck its my favorite dinosaur?
Elasmosaurs have necks that may have as many as 75 neck vertebrae! Some of these animals are really big, and may reach lengths of 40-50 feet (and most of that is NECK!). BUT - pleiosaurs and other marine-dwelling reptiles are not dinosaurs - they're not even very close relatives of dinosaurs!
recently on tv they said they had found a dinasaur that was as big as a bus and weighed 8 tons. I can not find anything out about it, have you heard about it?
I think you may have heard about Mapusaurus, and new meat-eating dinosaur from Argentina. Do an online search for it to find out more - it's supposed to be even a little bigger than Giganotosaurus and T. rex!
Is T-Rex a hunter or a scavenger?I have read a lot of different veiws on it. I would like to know please.
You know, very few paleontologists even discuss this as a dichtomy. In truth, T. rex has all the right equipment to be a fearsome predator, but I don't doubt that T. rex ate whatever it wanted, including scavenging upon carrion that it didn't kill itself. The answer to your question is, I think, both!
I don't understand how so many museums can have full dinoauars bodies and still scientists are saying that dinosaurs are hard to find. Are the dinosaurs here, on display, replicas or the actual thing?
Complete dinosaurs are REALLY hard to find. Of course, there are some dinosaurs for which the entire skeleton is known, but many dinosaurs are based on a very small portion of the skeleton (in fact some of the dinos originally named were only known from a single bone when they were give official scientific names!). Most of the time, skeletons that you see mounted in musuems are either composites (made up of bones from more than one individual of the species), or made of a few real bones and some (or a bunch) of casts or even scuplted bones filling in for the missing pieces. At the Science Museum, many of the skeletons that you see are at least partially real - these include the Diplodocus, the Camptosaurus, the Allosaurus, and the Triceratops. Missing parts of these animals are filled in with real bones from similarly sized individuals (as in the case of Triceratops), or may be sculpted because we know what the anatomy would have been (as in the case for Diplodocus). Others are completely casts (exact replicas of real bones, with some scuplted missing parts) like the Stegosaurus.
Kristi Curry Rogers, Ph. D.
Curator of Paleontology
Science Museum of Minnesota
Do you think there are any dino bones in Shakopee Minnesota?
Sorry to disappoint you, but there's not a good chance that you'll find dino bones in Shakopee. There are 2 major reasons for this: 1) dino-aged rocks in most parts of Minnesota were either scraped away by glaciers or buried under their till; of 2) dinos didn't have a great chance of being preserved here because the nearby seaway was kindof a boring place tectonically and there weren't basins getting filled up with sediment and dinosaur bones (like there are on the other side of that ancient sea, where mountains were building in places like Montana and the western Dakotas). There are few places in southwestern Minnesota where plant fossils of Cretaceous age have been discovered, and maybe someday we'll find a dino there!
Kristi Curry Rogers, Ph. D.
Curator of Paleontology
Science Museum of Minnesota
Hello, I was wondering what college you went to and what you majored in and all that stuff, in order to get where you are today. I am a college student, confused about my carrer path. Just looking for ideas! thanks, kelsey
Is there a big difference between North American dinosaurs and African dinosaurs?
Are there any dinosaurs related to penguins?
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