FASCINATING FACTS: 10 Facts About Dinosaurs That ‘Jurassic Park’ Didn’t Tell You

Dinosaurs remain amongst the most mysterious species of animal ever, and by default, one of the most fascinating. It is this same fascination that has resulted in a detailed research into how dinosaurs came into being, how they lived, and how, consequently, they were wiped out of being. Along with detailed research have come several movies – the Jurassic Park series perhaps the biggest example – which have attempted at recreating and rethinking dinosaurs.

That being said, while you might consider the Jurassic Park movies to be your ultimate guide about dinosaurs, there are several facts about dinosaurs it overlooked or straight out misrepresented, such as the following ten:

10. The word “Dinosaur” is derived from the ancient Greek word which means “terrible lizard”.

Image source

It is the combination of deinos (meaning “fearfully great”) and sauros (“lizard”). The name was given to the reptiles in 1842 by Richard Owen; while he knew they were not lizards, he thought there is a possibility that they may have derived from them. However, recently, the term deinos has come to mean “bad” or “terrible”, translating it into something Owen had never intended.(source)

9. If we were to condense Earth’s history into 24 hours, the extinction of dinosaurs would be at 11:41 pm.

Image source: flowingdata.com

The first sign of life would appear at 4 am, land plants would make an appearance at 10:24 pm, and human history would clock in at 11:58:43 pm.(source)

8. The asteroid impact that led to dinosaurs’ extinction was powerful enough to send rocks from the Earth to Mars and even Europa. Consequently, if life were ever found on those planets, there is a possibility that they may have originated on our own planet.

Image source: tumblr

The asteroid was about six miles across and created a crater about 110 miles wide, releasing energy equivalent to 100 trillion tons of TNT, 1 billion times the energy released by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atom bombs. So strong an impact, in fact, that the debris is might easily have reached all the way to Jupiter’s moon Europa, located about 485 million miles from the sun.(source)

7. Dinosaurs were the first to use a “toilet”, about 240 million years ago.

Image source: www.dailymail.co.uk

Unearthed in Argentina, the first “communal” toilet revealed thousands of fossilised dinosaur dung clustered together, indicating that dinosaurs “shared collective dumping grounds”. The dung also provides valuable insight into the reptiles’ diet, disease, and the vegetation of the time.(source)

6. There is a limestone cliff in Bolivia with over 5,000 dinosaur footprints, many of them dating back to 68 million years.

Image credits: Flickr/Ryan Greenberg and Flickr/Mederic

Called Cal Orcko, this limestone cliff, located on the grounds of a cement company, was discovered in 1985 to have the largest and most diverse collection of dinosaur footprints from the Cretaceous Era, and is fast becoming a major tourist site.(source)

5. The smallest dinosaur was about 4 inch (10 cm) tall and weighed two pounds – less than a chihuahua.

Image source: www.telegraph.co.uk

This dinosaur, named the Fruitadens haagarorum, probably lived a 150 million years ago, and fed mainly on plants and insects. According to the director of the Dinosaur Institute of the Natural History Museum, the dinosaur “would have looked like a roadrunner on steroids”, and was tiny enough to dart between larger dinosaurs’ legs unnoticed.(source)

4. Jurassic World got it wrong: velociraptors, contrary to how they were portrayed in the film, were quite small and covered in feathers, and not nearly as scary.

Image credit: Chuang Zhao/University of Edinburgh(taken from)

The discovery of a relative of the velociraptor – called the Zhenyuanlong suni – has indicated that the velociraptor looked quite different from the way they were portrayed in the famous Jurassic Park film series: they would have been no more than five feet long, and would have been covered in bright plumage.(source)

3. The fossil of a mammal was discovered with a dinosaur in its stomach, proving that our Mesozoic ancestors did feed on dinosaurs.

Image credits: AP Photo/Frank Franklin II(taken from)

The 130 million year old fossil of a mammal called Repenomamus robustus was discovered with a small dinosaur in its stomach, which, by proving that early mammals used to feed on dinosaurs, contradicts the idea that early mammals couldn’t attack and feed on a dinosaur due to their size and strength – or the lack of both.(source)

2. DNA has been found to have a 521-year half-life. Therefore, the oldest samples of DNA that can be cloned can be no more than 2 million years old. This rules out any possibility of dinosaurs being replicated, as the youngest dinosaurs lived more than 65 million years ago.

Image source: mealsandmoves.files.wordpress.com

After the death of an organism, the enzymes begin to break down the bonds formed in DNA, with micro-organisms aiding the decay. However, determining the rate of DNA decay was slightly difficult, until paleogeneticists discovered the half-life of DNA to be 521 years, therefore ruling out any possibility of cloning dinosaurs.(source)

1. Taxonomically, modern-day birds aren’t just thought to be the descendants of dinosaurs, but are considered to BE dinosaurs.

image source: wikipedia

Birds are considered to be the only surviving descendants of dinosaurs. While earlier they were considered to be of a separate class which had evolved from dinosaurs – a superorder of dinosaurs, in fact – they have now been recognised as actually being dinosaurs; they are classified under the subgroup Maniraptora, viz., coelurosaurs, which are theropods, and consequently, dinosaurs. So, what do you know, but dinosaurs really aren’t extinct.(source)


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