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Fun Facts About Dinosaurs That Might Just Blow Your Mind

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2 March, 2023

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Dinosaurs have always been a fascinating topic for a lot of people. Not only do they strike fear and awe in the hearts of many, but more importantly, they provide a window to the past. 

By studying dinosaurs, you can better understand what happened before and hopefully be better prepared for what’s to come tomorrow. 

Start your learning journey now about dinosaurs with these fun facts that might just blow your mind:

The closest relatives of the dinosaurs are birds

Because of the physical resemblance, most people think that the closest relatives of the dinosaurs are modern-day lizards like crocodiles, but they are not. 

According to fossil records, only the avian or bird line of dinosaurs could continue and evolve, while all the non-avian lines went extinct. This means all the birds (flightless or not) are descendants of the dinosaurs and are, therefore, their closest relatives. 

Photo by mrganso

Paleontologists often differentiate a suspected fossil from a rock by licking it

It may not be the most hygienic or safest method, but licking a suspected fossil to confirm it’s a fossil is a common practice for paleontologists. Fossils are more porous than rocks, so they stick to your tongue when licked. 

Dinosaurs roamed all seven continents

Dinosaur fossils have been found on all continents. This suggests that they were able to travel from one continent to another. At the same time, this also provides exciting evidence to support the theory that all continents were once connected as one giant supercontinent that scientists call Pangaea.

The majority of the dinosaur fossils discovered came from only three places

Scientists believe there are plenty more fossils to be discovered and scattered everywhere in the world. However, because extracting fossils is greatly influenced by accessibility, dig sites can only be established in limited areas—usually where there are only a few plants and people around. 

Because of this, most fossils discovered came from only three areas in the world: desert-like regions in China, Argentina, and North America. 

Photo by Adam Mathieu

Some dinosaurs were covered in fur, some in feathers 

Not all dinosaurs were covered in scales. Pterosaur remains showed the presence of fur, probably making their original appearance resemble gigantic bats. On the other hand, some theropods showed feathers, like in the case of the velociraptors and T-Rex (the ancestors of modern-day birds). 

Their bodies may be huge, but their brains are tiny

According to fossilized skulls of dinosaurs, most of them had a significantly small chamber for the brain. For example, the 9-meter-long Stegosaurus had a brain that was no bigger than a lime, while the 100-ton, 110-foot-long Brontosaurus had a brain the size of a tennis ball. 

Astonishingly enough, an enormous brain-to-body size ratio was found in the carnivorous species of dinosaurs. The mighty T-Rex had a slightly larger brain size than the Stegosaurus.

Some dinosaurs deliberately ate stones 

Some herbivorous dinosaurs occasionally swallow huge stones. No, this is not a case of dinosaurs committing suicide. It’s a behavior that scientists believe helps herbivores grind the vegetation they ate into smaller pieces. These rocks, called gastroliths, crush and macerate the fibers in plants so dinosaurs can absorb them faster. 

Dinosaur color is made up

If you’ve watched dinosaur movies like Jurassic Park, you’ve probably seen dinosaurs come in different colors. These are, unfortunately, just exaggerations. 

The truth is we don’t know what the color of their skin was. Scientists have yet to uncover dinosaur remains with intact skin to get proof or, at the very least, an idea of how their skin looked like. 

Some meat-eating dinosaurs have hollow bones

Scientists discovered that some carnivorous dinosaurs like the T-Rex and velociraptors stored air in their bones to increase and improve their breathing abilities. 

This allowed them to carry out long chases and made their bodies lighter and more agile – all excellent qualities for a carnivore.  Surprisingly, this is the same bone framework you see in modern birds. 

Crocodiles are distantly related to dinosaurs

The crocodiles and the dinosaurs are all lizards, but one did not come from the other. Instead, both lines came from a standard group of ancestors called the archosaurs.

Most of the dinosaurs in the movie Jurassic Park lived in the Cretaceous Period 

The Mesozoic era was divided into the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods. While the Brachiosaurus and Dilophosaurus in the movie did live during the Jurassic period, all the other dinosaurs only started coming out during the Cretaceous period. Should they have changed the title of the movie to Cretaceous Park instead?

Photo by Rafał Danhoffer

Dinosaurs might be huge, but they’re still smaller than Blue Whales

According to fossil records, many types of dinosaurs could reach gigantic sizes. The Spinosaurus, for example, grew up to 15 meters long and weighed as much as 69 tons, while the Giganotosaurus and the T-Rex come in second and third at 13.2 meters and 12.3 meters in length, respectively. 

However, these massive lizards would still pale compared to the modern-day Blue Whale. This present-day giant can reach the same length (13 meters) but weigh up to 190 tons, almost double the weight of the heaviest dinosaur. 

Scientists speculate that the Blue Whale’s massive size is due to its living in the water (where things seem lighter because of buoyancy). 

Frequently Asked Questions About Dinosaurs

What caused the dinosaurs to go extinct?

Many theories have been proposed to explain the reason behind the extinction of the dinosaurs. However, we still have no conclusion about it. Currently, the most popular theory about the dinosaurs’ extinction involves a giant meteor that suddenly crashed into Earth and changed the landscape unfavorably. 

Do all dinosaurs lay eggs?

Being mostly reptiles, dinosaurs are believed to have eggs. However, scientists suspect that some dinosaur species carried the eggs inside them and then just “gave birth” to them when they were ready to come out.

Is it possible to bring back the dinosaurs? 

Unfortunately, it would be tough to clone dinosaurs (unlike in the movie), because most dinosaur DNA is gone or is far too degraded even to be used.

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