Those who know me, know that I mind my own business in my beautiful trees. But, sometimes, I go on secret adventures to learn about the wild. Every day is an adventure in the wild, whether you are in a dense forest or a deep ocean.
But this time, I traveled millions of years back to learn all about the majestic animals, who once ruled our lovely planet - Dinosaurs. I bet when I say Dino, you think T-Rex or some other scary giant shown in the movies. But, the Dino Kingdom is brimming with so much wonder that once you dig deeper, you will be hooked!
To begin your ride into the Dino Kingdom, you must know these facts:
1. The First Dinosaur Fossil
Back in 1677, a Robert Plot discovered a giant bone that belonged to a dinosaur, but he didn’t know any better and suggested it may belong to a giant human. But then, in 1824, came a William Buckland, an Oxford University’s geology professor who correctly identified a new set of bones discovered in England (same as Robert’s find).
By assessing the bones of its teeth, jaw, and limbs, he concluded that they must belong to an extinct, carnivorous lizard. He named this ancient lizard "Megalosaurus." That’s the Dino you humans found first.
The name "dinosaur" means "terrible lizard" and was given by Sir Richard Owen in 1841. It wasn’t because he disliked them, but just cause they were SO huge!
2. The Era of Dinosaurs
Dinosaurs roamed our planet between 245 - 66 million years ago (that humans know of) and that era is called the Mesozoic Era. It can be divided into three periods: the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous.
Tough names to remember, except Jurassic and for that, I blame the movies!
Dino detectives found that they lived everywhere, as the evidence of their existence (fossils) has been found on all the seven continents.
Not all kinds of dinos existed at the same time. For example, Stegosaurus (the big one with upright plates and spikes) was extinct for 66 million years before Tyrannosaurus even walked on Earth.
3. All The Species Humans Have Found
Dinosaurs were of two types - avian dinosaurs (birds; yes, the birds you see evolved from these big guys) and the extinct non-avian dinosaurs, i.e. all dinosaurs other than birds.
Palaeontologists (humans who study Dinos) have identified over 900 distinct genera and more than 1,000 different species of non-avian dinosaurs using fossils. My friends tell me that every year new discoveries are made, so this number might keep growing.
4. Some Fascinating Facts About Dinosaurs
- Dinos are surely the biggest animals to have ever existed, but many were as big as you humans and some were even smaller than a turkey (they sound less scary now, isn’t it?).
- While some notorious Dinos ones (Think T-Rex and Velicopter) were carnivorous, most dinosaurs were vegetarian! Researchers say that if a dinosaur stood on all four feet, it was a vegetarian, and if it stood on two feet, it was a carnivore. Interestingly, most plant-eating dinosaurs were bigger than carnivores.
- It was recently discovered that some non-avian Dinos even had feathers and they weren’t all scaled.
- Most dinosaurs had very small brains and were about as clever as modern reptiles.
- Some dinosaurs developed horns, crest, and even armors.
Evidence suggests that all dinosaurs were egg-laying and many built nests.
5. Some Record-Holding Dinosaurs
- Longest and Heaviest - Argentinosaurus was the heaviest and longest dinosaur ever discovered. It towered over 40 metres (~ 4 fire engines!) and weighed over 77 tonnes (~ 17 African Elephants!!)
- Smallest - The smallest fully-grown Dino was a little bird-hipped, plant-eater like lesothosaurus, which was only the size of a chicken (smaller than me, I think!).
- Smartest - Troodon was a smart cookie! It was a hunting Dino, ~ 2 metres long, brain size similar to that of a mammal or a modern bird, stereoscopic vision, and grasping hands.
Scariest - Tyrannosaurus rex (T-Rex) definitely wins the scariest-looking Dino award but Utahraptor was the real nightmare! It was cunning, fast, powerful, and had many vicious weapons at its disposal.
6. Fossils and The Truths They TellPalaeontologists (the Dino detectives) use fossils that are preserved in ancient rocks to learn about Dinos, their life, behavior, traits, etc.
Fossils always fascinated me! I learnt that the fossilized bones are actually rocks made out of minerals (there is no trace of the original bone material!). Fossils can include bones, teeth, eggs, footprints, teeth marks, leaves, and even dung (oh, no!).
Till date, fossils are giving humans new answers! The world learnt that some non-bird dinos too had feathers!
7. Extinction Mystery
Extinction isn’t a popular world in animal kingdom and when it comes to the great Dinosaurs (non-avian), it is still considered a mystery.
Researchers believe that it was a big, fiery asteroid or a comet that struck Earth 66 million years ago, which caused catastrophic disruption on Earth. But, there are other ideas too, including changing sea levels and massive volcanic activity. They say all of this and maybe more reasons may have wiped out non-avian dinosaurs.
Phew, this was just some things you must know about the Dino Kingdom, but there’s a lot more fascinating stuff to learn. Best part - we can make it easy for anyone!
Our Animal Buddy - Dino Kingdom Discovery Board Game is going to take your back millions of years and land you right in the middle of the Dino adventure, but safely.
Learn about many different species, quiz your play partner, and make buddies with Dinos (they are nicer in the game!).