About Deinonychus, the real “velociraptor!” http://ow.ly/53Z6T #dinosaurs
Dinosaurs ruled the Earth for about 165 million years, and they became extinct about 65 million years ago. Because it’s tough to understand exactly what such huge numbers mean, we can look at these numbers in a different way. We’ll look at these numbers like the calendar we’re used to seeing on the wall! If all of Earth time from the beginning of dinosaurs to today was turned into a regular calendar, the amount of time that dinosaurs were on Earth would last all the way from January 1st until almost the end of September! On the other hand, if we looked at humans on the same calendar, we would not show up until December 31st! That shows you just how long the dinosaurs were on Earth, and it shows just how little time we have been here in comparison!
We always think of dinosaurs as being really big, but dinosaurs came in all shapes and sizes. The biggest dinosaur we know about is the Brachiosaurus, who was bigger than a house! The smallest dinosaur we know about is the Compsognathus, who was just a little bit bigger than a chicken and weighed less than a cat. There were even some dinosaurs bigger than the Brachiosaurus, but we don’t have enough information yet to say exactly how big they were. Imagine running into one of those on your way home from school!
DINOLINGO The Deinonychus is a really interesting dinosaur that has answered a lot of questions about dinosaurs and has created a whole lot more questions. One of the biggest questions the Deinonychus created was whether dinosaurs were warm-blooded or cold-blooded. Before scientists started to study the Deinonychus, they mostly believed that dinosaurs were slow, cold-blooded animals. But after studying the body of the Deinonychus, which was built for quick movements, some started to question whether they had been wrong about dinosaurs all along! There is a lot that we still don’t know about the Deinonychus, but we do know that they were hunters with long, curved teeth and very dangerous back claws. The Deinonychus did not grow much taller than three feet, but they could stretch as long as eleven feet from tail to head! A lot of scientists agree that Deinonychus dinosaurs hunted in packs, but others think that they hunted alone and mostly scavenged for food that was already dead. The Deinonychus body looks like it was built for fast running, but because of the way the legs are built scientists don’t really know for sure if they were fast dinosaurs or not. It is likely that they were not very fast at all, but that they used group hunting to catch their prey. Deinonychus fossils have been found in Montana, Wyoming, and Oklahoma, and their teeth have been found as far away as Marylan
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DINOLINGO The movie Jurassic Park turned the Velociraptor into one of the most well-known names in the dinosaurs. If Velociraptors were still alive today, they would probably think this was pretty cool…except for one problem: The Velociraptors in Jurassic Park were nothing like the real-life version of these dinosaurs! In fact, the “Velociraptors” in that movie were based off of a totally different dinosaur, the Deinonychus. As for the real Velociraptors, they were about the size of a turkey, and they didn’t weigh much more than a toddler! Velociraptors were hunters, but unlike the ones in Jurassic Park, the real-life Velociraptors hunted alone. They mostly hunted small dinosaurs, and one really neat fossil found in 1971 shows a Velociraptor attacking a Protoceratops, which was a small, sheep-sized dinosaur. Velociraptors were covered in feathers, and even though they had really sharp teeth, they used the claws on their back legs as their main attack weapon. While the real-life Velociraptors are very different from the ones they show in Jurassic Park, you sure wouldn’t want to get in a fight with one. You might not like the end result!
DINOLINGO The Ankylosaurus is not one of the most famous dinosaurs, but it might be one of the coolest! While the Ankylosaurus only ate plants, it had a tail that was like a big club, and its body was covered in armor! In fact, the Ankylosaurus is sometimes called the tank of dinosaurs. Its tail could break bones with a single strike, and it definitely helped keep the Ankylosaurus safe from the other dinosaurs who were looking for dinner. While the Ankylosaurus was pretty long (about 20 or 30 feet!), it stayed low to the ground and gathered food that was easy to find and easy to chew.
DINOLINGO The Brachiosaurus was one of the biggest animals to ever walk the Earth! A lot of the information we have about the Brachiosaurus comes from the stuff we know about the Giraffatitan, which scientists used to think was one type of Brachiosaurus. Giraffatitans weight as much as 23 tons, which is about as much as three full-grown elephants! But in 2009, scientists started to realize that the Brachiosaurus was even bigger than the Giraffatitan, and the new weight estimates are nearly 29 tons, which is close to the weight of four elephants! These huge dinosaurs were plant eaters, and while they had necks that were 30 feet long and that let them reach plants that were high in the air, they mostly lived in the plains and munched on food that was on the ground. One of the really recognizable traits of the Brachiosaurus is its front legs, which were longer than its back legs. In fact, the name Brachiosaurus means “arm lizard,” and it was called this because of these long front legs. A Brachiosaurus could probably live to about 100 years old, and a full-grown Brachiosaurus was so big it didn’t have to worry about attacks from predators. Pretty cool! Of course, until a Brachiosaurus reached this size that made it safe from attack, it had to be careful, because there were plenty of dinosaurs looking for a big, tasty meal.
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DINOLINGO The Stegosaurus is one of the most popular dinosaurs, and the huge plates on that stood up from its back make it really easy to recognize. These plates were probably used to protect the Stegosaurus, but some scientists think these plates did other things too. In fact, these plates might have even helped keep the body temperature of the Stegosaurus right where it was supposed to be! Not only did the Stegosaurus have plates that stood up along its back, but it also had four big spikes on its tail. These spikes were also used to keep the Stegosaurus safe from attacks, and all this protection was important, because the Stegosaurus was not a fast dinosaur. The Stegosaurus was a plant eater, and it probably wandered around really slowly from place to place. Both these forms of body armor helped to keep the Stegosaurus alive, but maybe the most interesting thing about the Stegosaurus is not what was on the outside, but what was on the inside! Because of the small head that the Stegosaurus had, their brains were very tiny. This is something that all scientists agree on, but some scientists think that the Stegosaurus had a second brain further back in its body! On the Stegosaurus skeletons that have been found, there is huge empty place near the hips, and this is where some scientists think the second brain was. If these scientists are right, it would help explain how these huge animals were able to move around with such a small brain in the front of their heads.
DINOLINGO The Triceratops was the last type of dinosaur to become extinct, which means that they lived more recently than any other dinosaur! The Triceratops is very easy to recognize, because it had three horns on its face and a really big head. In fact, the head of the Triceratops could be longer than a full-grown man, and two Triceratops heads would have been as long as one Triceratops body! Because the Triceratops had such a big head, it needed very sturdy legs to keep it standing. It was a plant-eating dinosaur, and these short, sturdy legs kept the dinosaur’s mouth close to the ground so it could gather food. In fact, the Triceratops was built a lot like the modern day Rhinoceros. Most Triceratops fossils have come from Canada and the States of Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado (where the first one was found), so if you live in one of these places you might have had Triceratops who lived millions of years ago where you live now! Triceratops traveled in groups, so…who knows! You might have even had a whole family of Triceratops living right in your own backyard.
DINOLINGO The Tyrannosaurus Rex was one of the biggest and most dangerous dinosaurs to ever walk the Earth. The name Tyrannosaurus Rex means “Tyrant Lizard King,” and the T. Rex’s big body and huge teeth made it dangerous to a lot of smaller dinosaurs. It stood as high as a second floor window, and its teeth were able to cut through bone! The T. Rex’s head was as big as a small car, and even though its brain was small for how big the head was, it was a bigger brain than most other dinosaurs had. It was able to smell stuff from really far away, which made it even better at hunting, and it had a big, heavy tail that it probably kept raised in the air to balance the weight of its big head. Even though the T. Rex had tiny front arms compared to how big its body was, these arms were very strong, and while it used its mouth for hunting, it probably used these front arms to hold its food. The T. Rex had long legs that were very strong, and it could run up to 25 miles per hour…which means you sure wouldn’t want to get stuck trying to outrun one of them! As for the dinosaurs who had to try to outrun the T. Rex, they were mostly plant-eaters, and the T. Rex lived close to these dinosaurs so they could hunt them when they needed food…just like living near a grocery store!