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DINOSAUR QUESTIONS
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Questions from June 2000



Please check the
Top Fifteen Dinosaur Questions listed below
and the
Dino and Paleontology Dictionary first!


  1. What color were the dinosaurs?
  2. How (and when) did the dinosaurs go extinct?
  3. Which dinosaurs were the biggest?
  4. Which dinosaur was the smallest?
  5. Which dinosaur was the largest meat-eater?
  6. How many teeth did T. rex have (and how big were they)?
  7. What is the first dinosaur ever found?
  8. What is the oldest dinosaur ever found?
  9. Did birds evolve from the dinosaurs?
  10. What does the word dinosaur mean, what does saurus mean, and how are dinosaurs named?
  11. How many dinosaurs were there?
  12. What kind of habitat did the dinosaurs live in?
  13. How do you know what the enemies of a dinosaur were?
  14. Were there any swimming dinosaurs?
  15. Were there any flying dinosaurs?

I enjoy hearing from visitors. You can send your questions and I'll answer them as soon as possible. Thank you for writing! (Due to the large volume of questions coming in, I can't answer them all. I'll try to answer as many as I can, as soon as I can. Jeananda Col, Washington, USA)

Don't forget to scroll down to find the answer to your question - they're in reverse order by the date they were asked.



Q: I am taking art classes and my big project is a Therizinosaurus and her fluffy babies. I just want to know, what colour is likely for Therizinosaurus? I need things like environment (desert?), modern eqivalent, and other colour-determining things. And about the Ceratosauria-Tetanurae thing I asked earlier, why so many ghost lineages in dinosaurs? Could bird-like Protoavis be a [required] Triassic tetanuran?
from Brad, Woodville, ON, Canada; July 31, 2000

A: The southern Gobi desert was probably relatively dry during the late Cretaceous, when Therizinosaurus lived. (Interesting but off topic note: organisms in dry climates are more likely to fossilize, so they are over-represented in the fossil record.) Guessing a color is up to you. Safari has a Therizinosaurus model that is cream with deep green spots; that would be decent camouflage in a dry environment that had enough vegetation to sustain enough animals for Therizinosaurus to eat.

As to ghost lineages (groups of organisms that are thought to exist because of cladistic analysis, but for which there is as yet no fossil evidence of their existence), paleontologists attribute part of the problem to climate. Entire lineages may not be represented in the fossil record beause they lived in an area that is not amenable to fossilization (for example, hot wet areas, which promotes decay, not fossilization) or had certain attributes that may have inhibited fossilization (like soft or tasty flesh).

My own opinion is that there should be an early theropod that gave rise to the early birds, like Protoavis and Archaeopteryx, and you seem to be looking in a good area (although Protoavis is believed to be a chimera by some, who said it looked mis-proportioned, and thought not to have enough bird-like characters by others) - but looking at so-called oddities is probably the best way to find the flaws in the current theory. There seem to be (at least) 3 possibilities: that birds evolved from the maniraptors, when bird-like features commonly appeared in these dinosaurs (but then, where did Archaeopteryx, etc., come from?); that birds evolved from a much earlier theropod dinosaur perhaps a coelurosaur like Proceratosaurus, which pre-dated Archaeopteryx, explaining Archaeopteryx (but then, what about the maniraptors and all those nice bird-like traits?); or that birds evolved from another line entirely.

You've probably seen them already, but if not, you might find the dinosaur mailing list (hosted by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History) and Mike Keesey's site (with a Therizinosaurus on its main page) interesting.



Q: why is is ulikely to find fossils in igneous rocks?
from ?, perth, western australia, australia; July 31, 2000

A: Igneous rock is formed when molten rock (like lava) cools. For a fossil to be found in igneous rock, the original organism would have to have been in the lava, which is at or over 1000°C=1800°. The high temperature of the molten rock would destroy most tissues, leaving little or nothing to fossilize.



Q: I want to find out the factual differences between land, sea and air living dinosaurs and examples of each of these. Thanks.
from dana.m, townsville, queensland, australia; July 31, 2000

A: All the dinosaurs lived on land. For a list of dinosaur genera, click here

What people often call flying dinosaurs were called pterosaurs (like Pteranodon); they were flying reptiles who were closely related to the dinosaurs, but were not dinosaurs.

The so-called "swimming dinosaurs" were also not dinosaurs, but plesiosaurs, prehistoric reptiles that lived during the time of the dinosaurs. Some of these included Elasmosaurus and Plesiosaurus.



Q: What did long necked dinosuars eat?
from sarah macleod, Palmerston North, NZ, ?; July 31, 2000

A: The long-necked dinosaurs, also called sauropods, ate plants (they were herbivores). For more information on dinosaur diets, click here.



Q: How long does it take people to find out what dino it is?
from Jenny, Mami, Florida, USA; July 25, 2000

A: It depends on a lot of factors, including how complete the skeleton is (especially useful is a skull), which genus it belongs to (is it a known genus or a new one), what condition the fossils are in, how hard it is to remove the rock matrix from the skeleton, etc. Sometimes, the paleontologist is later found to be wrong, and the name of the specimen is changed.



Q: how many bones are there in dipilodocus?
from Lachlan p, Melbourne, victoria, australia; July 25, 2000

A: There are no 100 percent complete Diplodocus skeletons, so the exact number of bones is not known, but is in the vicinitiy of about 200 or so bones.



Q: What is the biggest dinosaur that ever existed
from Aaron, Wgtn, Tawa, New Zealand; July 25, 2000

A: Argentinosaurus. For more information, see the frequently asked questions above.



Q: Name three herbivore dinosuars
from ?, ?, ?, ?; July 31, 2000

A: Apatosaurus, Triceratops, and Stegosaurus. For more information on dinosaur diets, click here.



Q: what is the meaning of the name triceratops?
from jodi.d, brisbane, qld, australia; July 31, 2000

A: Triceratops means "Three-horned Face." For more information on Triceratops, click here.



Q: What are the meat eating dinosuars called
from ?, ?, ?, ?; July 31, 2000

A: Theropods.



Q: I need all the info on the Muttaburrasaurus I can get. Please give me a few really good sites. Can you tell me, I need it as soon as possible
from Kristin C, A Place, Somewhere, The Place around the corner; July 30, 2000

A: For a page on Muttaburrasaurus, click here.



Q: Do you have any photos of the actual remains of Argentinosaurus?
from RaShae M, Algonquin, Illinois, USA; July 29, 2000

A: No, but for some information on Argentinosaurus, click here.



Q: Did tetanurans evolve from ceratosaurs? I can't see any alternatives, but wouldn't that make them grades instead of clades?
from Brad, Woodville, ON, Canada; July 29, 2000

A: Most paleontologists take Ceratosauria and Tetanurae to be sister groups, clades that brached off from a common primitive theropod ancestor. In 'The Evolution and Extinction of the Dinosaurs,' p. 272, Fastovsky and Weishampel have alternate cladograms showing the relatioship between the two (which are sister clades in both cases). In one cladogram, the theropods branch two clades, Ceratosauria and Tetanurae. In an alternate cladogram, theropods brach into a clade containing Eoraptor and another which later branches off into a clade with Herrerasaurus, and another which eventually breaks into Ceratosauria and Tetanurae. There is also a chapter (ch. 12) in the book that discusses the traits within these groups.



Q: Does a T-Rex have good running skils.
from oliver d., lindfeild, ?, australia; July 29, 2000

A: That's a subject under debate. For information, click here.



Q: Can you give me some information on the trackmaker Coelurosaurichnus? It says in one of my books that it had a long claw on the second toe and could have been ancestral to Deinonychus (Spalding 1999), but that is about all (and I'm not really sure if I belive that, either). I think it is early Jurassic. I also need more about the trackmaker Tetrapodosaurus, whihc the book says is an ancestral horned dinosaur. It is from western Canada in the Late Jurassic or Early Cretaceous. I may be doing a website about all of the Canadian dinosaurs soon. Your list is helpful, but I think there are some invalid synonyms on it.
from Brad, Woodville, ON, Canada; July 29, 2000

A: On the locations page, I put all finds, synonyms or not (so you can look up where every specimen, valid or not, has been found). On the page of dinosaur genera, I try to indicate whether names are valid, dubious, synonyms, nomen nudems, etc. Let me know when your page is done - I'll put a link to it.

Coelurosaurichnus is probably the same genus as Grallator (see G. Leonardi and M.G. Lockley, 1995: A proposal to abandon the ichnogenus Coelurosaurichnus Huene, 1941: J.Vert.Paleont. 15(3, Suppl.): 40A). Coelurosaurichnus dates from the late Carnian (Triassic), roughly 220 million years ago. It had a small, three-toed tracks in which the middle toe and claw are longer than the outer ones.

Tetrapodosaurus tracks date from the early to middle Cretaceous period. For some nice pictures of this site, click here. According to Ken Carpenter, Tetrapodosaurus borealus is probably Sauropelta.

I've added Coelurosaurichnus and Tetrapodosaurus to the dictionary. You certainly keep me busy; I'll try to get to your other questions later.



Q: Are there any dinosaurs in canada?
from Chris.M, Whitby, Ontario, Canada; July 29, 2000

A: Yes, many dinosaurs have been found in Canada (especially western Canada). For a page on Canadian dinosaurs, click here.



Q: I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE DINOSAUR WHO WAS AS SMALL AS A MODERN CHICKEN?
from RIFFAT .RD, KARACHI, SINDH, PAKISTAN; July 29, 2000

A: That's Compsognathus. For information on Compsognathus, click here.



Q: is there cloneing being done on the willy mamoth
from miles w, pleasant hill, ca, us; July 28, 2000

A: Yes, scientists are trying to clone the recently-found woolly mammoths in Siberia with material from a modern-day elephant. For some information on woolly mammoths, click here.







Q: Where is the Dinosaur Society website??? It says in one of my books that it should be at http://www.dinosociety.org, but when I tried it the adress changed and a site came up offering free stuff. Uh, no thanks. Does DinoSociety work for you? How can I see their site?
from Brad, Woodville, ON, Canada; July 28, 2000

A: No, it doesn't work for me either; they don't seem to use that URL anymore. The UK dinosaur society is online at: http://www.hmag.gla.ac.uk/dinosoc/.



Q: CAN YOU GIVE ME INFORMATION ON THE CAMBRIAN ERA
from JOSE.S, SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA, U.S.A.; July 28, 2000

A: The Cambrian period, also called "The Age of Trilobites," lasted from about 540 to 500 million years ago. It preceded the time of the dinosaurs by hundreds of millions of years. This was a time period in which all the existing phyla evolved! For a chart of geologic time and more information on the Cambrian period, click here.



Q: How long has it been since the last dinosaur became extinct?
from Ken, Canton, Ohio, United States; July 27, 2000

A: Although it has been generally agreed that the remaining terrestrial dinosaurs went extinct during the K-T mass extinction 65 million years ago, a recent find in the western USA seems to indicate that there were some survivors. A single dinosaur bone was recently found in sediment that dates from the Paleocene epoch. For more information on this new find, click here.



Q: What where the dinosaurs in Australia
from ?, ?, ?, ?; July 27, 2000

A: There were many. For a list of the dinosaurs that have been found in Australia so far, click here.



Q: what are the three living birds that have claws on their wings?
from alton l, eureka, california, humboldt; July 26, 2000

A: The Hoatzin has small claws on the first and second wing digits when it is young (it uses the claws to climb trees). The African touraco also has wing claws when it is young. The ostrich has three claws on each wing.



Q: Which dinosaurs were larger - Carnataurus or T-Rex?
from Nicolas B., Little Egg Harbor, NJ, USA; July 26, 2000

A: T. rex was bigger than Carnotaurus.



Q: What was the biggest and most ferocious dinosaur in the Raptor family?
from Josh H, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia; July 26, 2000

A: So far, the largest is Utahraptor.



Q: WHAT ANIMAL IS BIGGER THAN ANY DINOSAUR
from D, ?, ?, ?; July 25, 2000

A: The blue whale.



Q: how big is t-rex
from brett f, tracy, cali, u.s.a.; July 25, 2000

A: Tyrannosaurus rex was up to 40 feet (12.4 m) long, about 15 to 20 feet (4.6 to 6 m) tall. It was roughly 5 to 7 tons in weight. For more information on T. rex, click here.



Q: Do you have any pictures of Nigersaurus or Nqwebasaurus?
from Brad, Woodville, ON, Canada; July 25, 2000

A: No, I haven't seen any yet.



Q: hi my name is Melissa i would appreciate if you could tell me what is a t-rex`s size food habitat and location.
from Melissa Y, Auckland, New Zealand, singapore; July 24, 2000

A: T. rex was a meat-eater that counld crush bones as it ate. No one is exactly sure what its entire diet was, but it did eat Triceratops. This is known because a fragment of a Triceratops frill bone was found in a piece of fosilized T. rex dung. For more information on T. rex's diet, click here.

Tyrannosaurus rex probably lived in forests, where its prey (plant-eating dinosaurs) could find plenty of food. Fossils of different Tyrannosaurus species have been found in the USA (in Montana, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming), Canada (Alberta and Saskatchewan), and east Asia (Mongolia). For more information on where T. rex fossils have been found, click here.



Q: Has a consenus yet been reached on the place of segnosaurs in the dinosaurian cladogram?
from Sam M., Atlanta, GA, U.S.A.; July 23, 2000

A: In the 20 years since they were found, segnosaurs have been considered unusual theropods, dead-end offshoots of a prosauropod-ornithischian split, and sauropodomorphs. Curiously, Segnosaurs have characteristics of each of these groups, like toothless beaks, bird-like hips, and four-toed feet! Segnosaurs are now mostly accepted as extremely weird, advanced theropods (coelurosaurians), but this opinion is not universal.



Q: I am in summer school and my class is doing reports on how the continents moved during the dinosaur times. I need to know when australia became an island and if the indonasian islands were connected to it? If they weren't, what continent did they break off of? What kind of dinosaurs lived in australia and indonesia? I really need this stuff soon. Please help me.
from Dustin R, ?, British Columbia, Canada; July 22, 2000

A: For a list of the dinosaurs found in Australia, click here. I haven't heard of any dinosaurs found in Indonesia.

During the beginning of the Mesozoic Era (The time of the dinosaurs), the continents were jammed together into a supercontinent (called Pangaea), which began to break up during the Jurassic period (roughly 150 to 200 million years ago). It is around this time when Australia began to drift apart from Antarctica (see the animation below).

Continental Drift
Forward Backward
Key
For more information on continental drift and plate tectonics, click here.




Q: what dinosuars ate fish?
from lynne A, harbor springs, MI, USA; July 22, 2000

A: There were probably many dinosaurs that ate fish, but only one dinosaur, Baryonyx, has been found with fossilized fish scales in its stomach. For more information on Baryonyx, click here.



Q: What does the word "Dinosaur" mean?
from Esther, New York, New York, USA; July 22, 2000

A: Dinosaurs means "fearfully great lizard," Click here for more information on the word dinosaur and who coined the word.



Q: Did any dinosaurs live in Illinois or found there???
from Jamie A, Chicago, Illinois, USA; July 22, 2000

A: No, that area was mostly underwater during the Mesozoic Era (the climate was warmer then, there was no polar ice, and the sea level was higher).



Q: can you give me information on megladons? the shark dinosaurs?
from Tim W., Levittown, pa, USA; July 21, 2000

A: For information on Megalodon, a huge, extinct shark, click here.



Q: how big was a dinosaur's foot?
from mark a., frederick, maryland, u.s.; July 21, 2000

A: It varied quite a bit (since dinosaurs ranged in size from the size of a bird to bigger than a house). The biggest dinosaurs (plant-eaters called sauropods) had footprints about the size of a bath tub.



Q: Are diosaurs related to modern day animals such as alligators, crocodiles, or even birds???
from Tiffany, r.p.v., caifornia, u.s.a.; July 21, 2000

A: Yes, dinosaurs were reptiles, and are relatively closely related to alligators and crocodiles. Dinosaurs are even more closely related to birds - one branch of the dinosaurs (some relatively small meat-eating dinosaurs) are probably the ancestor of birds.



Q: What does the name Nqwebasaurus thwazi mean?
from Brad, Woodville, ON, Canada; July 18, 2000

A: Nqweba is the name of the Magisterial District of the Kirkwood formation, which is in the Algoa Basin, Eastern Cape, South Africa (Nqwebasaurus was found in the Kirkwood Formation). According to Billy de Klerk, who named Nqwebasaurus, to pronounce it, "pull you tongue of the roof of your mouth to produce a click on the 'q'." Saurus means 'lizard.' Thwazi (pronounced TWAH-zee) is an old Xhosa (a language similar to Zulu that is spoken by the Bantu peoples of Africa) word for a fast running messenger (an almost mythical meaning, according to Billy de Klerk). For some more information on Nqwebasaurus thwazi, click here.



Q: Where is the largest dinosaur egg site discovered?
from Lou, New Prague, MN, USA; July 20, 2000

A: I'm not sure which is the biggest, but there have been huge dinosaur egg finds in northeastern Spain near Tremp (where hundreds of thousands of eggs of both sauropods and theropods were found), in Argentina, and in China.



Q: Were human around when the dinosaurs were?
from not telling, goderich, ontario, canada; July 20, 2000

A: No, people evolved roughly 64 million years after the dinosaurs went extinct.



Q: Which group/s of vertebrates are believed to have dinosaurs as a direct ancestor?
from Brooke .N., Bathurst, N.S.W, Australia; July 20, 2000

A: Birds.



Q: What is a pachycephalasaurus?
from David K., Mission Hills,, KS, USA; July 20, 2000

A: For a page on Pachycephalosaurus, click here.



Q: Can you please characterize the Bactiosaurus dinosaur?
from Niki A, Great Falls, Montana, USA; July 20, 2000

A: I've never of Bactiosaurus, but there is a dinosaur called Bactrosaurus. Bactrosaurus or Bactrasaurus (which means 'club-spined lizard') was a large, plant-eating, duck-billed dinosaur (a lambeosaurid hadrosaurine), up to about 20 feet (6 m) long, weighing roughly 1500 kg. Its femur (thigh bone was 80 cm long. About six fragmentary Bactrosaurus fossils were found in Mongolia and China. It lived during the late-Cretaceous period, about 97-85 million years ago and was named by C.W. Gilmore in 1933. The type species is B. johnsoni.



Q: What are the differences between Chasmosaurus and Centrosaurus skin imprints?
from Brad, Woodville, ON, Canada; July 20, 2000

A: Fossilized skin impressions show that Chasmosaurus' skin had small, knob-like bumps that had 5 or 6 sides. A few fossilized Centrosaurus skin impressions have been found; there's a photo of one in Discover magazine from March 1989 (the article is called 'Skinning the Dinosaur,' by Don Lessem). I've just ordered it from the library and will add a description of the skin when it arrives (probably in a few days).



Q: how many dinosaurs were there?
from Aaron B., inman, ?, u.s.a.; July 20, 2000

A: No one knows how many dinosaurs there were. About a thousand different genera have been found so far (any many more species). Most existing fossils probably haven't been found, and most types of dinosaurs probably did not fossilize.



Q: Are dinosaurs cold or warm blooded?
from Ariana W., Rolling Hills Est., Ca., U.S.A.; July 19, 2000

A: No one knows with any certainly. Click here for more information.



Q: Did Bracciosauus ever exist or is it fake?
from Thomas R., Wollongong, NSW, Australia; July 19, 2000

A: Brachiosaurus existed. For information on Brachiosaurus, click here.



Q: WHAT WAS THE WING SPAN OF A TERADACTYL
from GREG N, FORT WAYNE, INDIANA, USA; July 19, 2000

A: Pterodactyloids ranged in size from having a wingspan of a few inches to almost 40 feet. Pterodactylus had a wingspan of about 30 inches.



Q: Has there ever been a dinosaur foot print found?
from MeganT, Bakersfield, CA, USA; July 19, 2000

A: Yes, many fossilized dinosaur tracks have been found.



Q: Were Ankylosaurs spikes probably to keep him from rolling on his back?
from Blast!!! W, Death Valley, CA, USA; July 18, 2000

A: The spikes were probably used mainly as protection from hungry, meat-eating dinosaurs.



Q: how do dinosuars MATE
from zack p., zephyrhills, FLA, united states; July 18, 2000

A: No one knows.



Q: How many bones does a tyrannasaurus rex have?
from Lachlan P, Melbourne, Vic, Australia; July 18, 2000

A: There are no 100 percent complete T. rex skeletons, but they have about 200 or so bones.



Q: WHAT ARE SOME INTERESTING THEORY THAT LED TO THE EXTINCTION OF DINOSAURS
from WYC, ?, EAST COAST, SINGAPORE; July 17, 2000

A: Click here for the Alvarez asteroid therory. For other theories, click here.



Q: Is there a dinosaur that only ate fruit? If so, what is it's name?
from Cody H., Gilbert, AZ, USA; July 15, 2000

A: I haven't heard of any. Flowering plants didn't even evolve until the Cretaceous period, and the large, fleshy fruits that we're familiair with didn't evolve until well after the dinosaurs went extinct.



Q: How did Dinasours become extinct.
from lin M., Tappahannock, VA, USA; July 15, 2000

A: Click here for the most widely accepted theories.



Q: Did Igounodon walk on two or four legs? I've read some older books and they say Igounodon walked on two legs. It would help if you put a picture too.
from Samuel C., Columbus, Georgia, U.S.A; July 14, 2000


A: Iguanodon could run on two legs or walk on four. For more information on Iguanodon, click here.



Q: What,s the difference between Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus
from Hong, Edmontn, ?, ?; July 13, 2000

A: Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus are the same genus of dinosaur. The American paleontologist Othniel C. Marsh described and named Apatosaurus in 1877. A few years later, in 1879, he described and named another fossil, Brontosaurus. It turned out that the two dinosaurs were actually two species of the same genus. The earlier scientific name, Apatosaurus, was adopted. For more information, click here and scroll down towards the bottom of the page on Apatosaurus.



Q: What is special about synaptids
from Knud P, Copenhagen, ?, Denmark; July 13, 2000

A: Synapsids are animals whose skull has an extra low opening behind the eyes; this opening gave these animals stronger jaw muscles and jaws (the jaw muscles were anchored to the skull opening). Synapsids include the mammals, and extinct animals such as Dimetrodon. The pelycosaurs were early synapsids; later synapsids were the therapsids, cynodonts and dicynodonts (from the late Permian), leading to the mammals. With time, the synapsid gait became more upright and tail length decreased. The oldest-known synapsid is Archarothyris, a pelycosaur 300 million years old.



Q: where can i find info on the megladon
from monica m, ware, ma, usa; July 11, 2000

A: For a page on Megalodon, click here.



Q: Were did the dinosaurs use to live
from Amanda h, lilydale, Tasmania, australia; July 10, 2000

A: Dinosaurs have been found on all seven continents and lived in a variety of environments.



Q: Who wrote the new Disney movie Dinosaur?
from Kathy P, Amory, Ms, USA; July 10, 2000

A: Walon Green, John Harrison and Robert Nelson Jacobs.



Q: How did raptors get their name?
from Tara G., Almonte, Ontario, Canada; July 10, 2000

A: The paleontologist Henry F. Osborn was the first paleontologist to give dinosaurs raptor names. He named Oviraptor and Velociraptor in 1924. "Raptor" means thief or robber, so these dinosaurs names meant "egg thief" and "speedy thief" respectively. Lately, many people call the dromaeosaurid dinosaurs raptors. In the past, raptors referred only to raptorial birds, like eagles and falcons.



Q: In what period did the dinosaurs exist?
from ?, ?, ?, ?; July 10, 2000

A: Dinosaurs lived during the Triassic period, the Jurassic period, and the Cretaceous period. These three periods together are called the Mesozoic Era.



Q: what are the names of all the dinosaurs that lived in the cretaceous period
from Brandon S., St Louis Mo, misouri, afrika; July 10, 2000

A: For early Cretaceous dinosaurs, click here. For middle Cretaceous and late Cretaceous dinosaurs, click on the links at the top of the Cretaceous page.



Q: I was wondering if you could give me a picture and some information on the Pheonix.
from ?, Thomasville, NC, USA; July 9, 2000

A: The phoenis is a mythical bird - it never existed xcept in Arabian legends. It was supposed to have been a beautiful bird that lived for hundreds of years, then burned itself up, and arose from its own ashes.



Q: How tall was abelisaurus?
from Chris E., Front Royal, VA, USA; July 9, 2000

A: Abelisaurus is known from only a partial skull. It was roughly 21 to 25 feet (6.5 to 8 m) long.



Q: Could you please tell me if it is possible for a fossils to be made of coal? Also, can fossils form from dinosaurs killed to volcanic eruptions?
from Lou, New Prague, MN, USA; July 9, 2000

A: Coal (called a fossil fuel) is made of ancient plant material that has been compressed and heated for millions of years. Fossils (like dinosaur fossils) are formed when minerals replace the original chemicals in an organism, forming a rock-like replica of the original. I've never heard of a fossil made of coal.

Yes, many animals fossilize as the result of volcanic eruptions. During volcanic eruptions, tremendous pyroclastic flows (tons of fragmented rock, ash, pumice, earth, mud, etc. ejected from the volcano) kill and immediately bury many living things. This quick burial makes fossiliziation more likely, and some of these organisms do turn into fossils over time.



Q: are bears and pigs in the same family
from ?, ?, ?, ?; July 9, 2000

A: No, although they are both mammals (Class Mammalia). Bears belong to the Order Carnivora and Family Ursidae (7 species of bears). Pigs belong to the Order Artiodactyla (even-toed hoofed mammals) and Family Suidae (8 species of pigs).



Q: Who was the meanest dromaeosaurid?
from Chris E., Front Royal, VA, USA; July 9, 2000

A: The biggest-known dromaeosaurid is Utahraptor. I doubt that any of them were mean - just hungry.



Q: can you give me any information on crocodiles?
from scott f., ?, ?, england; July 9, 2000

A: For a page on the American crocodile, click here.



Q: Hello, I have to do a report on the Tsintaosaurus and need to know the weight and the height of it as well as length, length of tail, length of neck, size of its head, how big was its brain and stomach, how many teeth it had, its foot size, how fast it ran or walked. Any information would be great. Many thanks dino man.
from Crystal, Perth, Western Australia, Australia; July 7, 2000

A: First, I'm not a man. Second, Tsintaosaurus is only known from two skulls and a few bones, so its tail length, stomach size, speed, etc., are not known. Tsintaosaurus is a doubtful name and is probably the same as Tanius (which was named earlier and therefore retains its name), a crestless hadrosaurid from China.



Q: Tell me all the imfro you know about aachenosaurus.
from Chris E., Front Royal, VA, USA; July 7, 2000

A: Aachenosaurus (meaning "Aachen lizard") was named by Smets in 1888. Only some "jaw fragments" were found, but they were later determined to be petrified wood.



Q: what were dinosaurs named after?
from chris c, northlake, illinois, america; July 7, 2000

A: Click here for dinosaur naming conventions.



Q: I need you to explain "deinodon". Most sources I go to say it is a now-discredited carnivore from norh america. But your site says it is still-valid Asian preadator. Both say it is known only from teeth. Have there been any new findings? This is for a report, so can you PLEASE HURRY. PLEASE!
from Kel P, Quincy, MI, USA; July 7, 2000

A: Deinodon (meaning "terrible tooth") was a meat-eating dinosaur from the late Cretaceous period. This Coelurosaurid theropod is only known from a dozen large, fossilized teeth collected by Dr. F. V. Hayden by the Judith River in Montana, USA. Deinodon was named by paleontologist J. Leidy in 1856. Deinodon is a dubious genus [nomen dubium]. It may be the same genus as Gorgosaurus or Albertosaurus.



Q: how many types of Dinosaurs 600 millon years ago?
from jenette goh, ?, ?, singapore; July 7, 2000

A: None. The dinosaurs evolved roughly 230 million years ago and went extinct 65 million years ago. Only simple life forms were around 600 million years ago (during the Vendian period).



Q: In your list of Triassic Period dinosaurs, you list Quaesitosaurus, but in Quaesitosaurus's individual entry, you write that he was in the Cretaceous Period. Could you clear this up for me?
from Lou, New Prague, MN, USA; July 7, 2000

A: Quaesitosaurus lived during the late Cretaceous period, about 85 to 80 million years ago. It wandered into the Triassic list compeletly by mistake (which has been fixed).



Q: what is a description of a dinosaurs egg?
from jacquelyne p, fremont, ca, usa; July 6, 2000

A: Dinosaur eggs varied in size from about an inch in diameter (Mussaurus) to football sized (Hypselosaurus). For a page on dinosaur eggs, click here.



Q: What does a velociraptor look like?
from alexzandra d., peabaty, kanasa, usa; July 6, 2000

A: Click here.



Q: how do dinosaurs defend them selves
from Rachael H, adelaide, ?, hallett cove; July 6, 2000

A: Different dinosaurs had different means of defense. Some had armored plates (like Ankylosaurus), some had horns (like Triceratops), some had whip-like tails (like Diplodocus), some had bludgeon-like tails (like Euoplocephalus), and many had beaks and claws. Hugeness protected some dinosaurs (like Apatosaurus), running away protected many others (like Iguanodon), and some may have butted enemies with thei head (like Stegoceras). For more information on dinosaur defenses, click here. For a printout on dinosaur defenses, click here.



Q: What dinosaurs lived in what is now South Carolina or Michigan? Some states are not listed on your chart.
from Lyn S., Rochelle, Il., USA; July 6, 2000

A: There haven't been any dinosaur fossils found in some states. Some of the states (like Florida) were underwater for part or or most of the Mesozoic Era (when sea levels were much higher than they are now, since there was no polar ice during most of the warm Mesozoic). Some states have little or no exposed Mesozoic Era sedimentary rock (like Washington state), making dinosaur-era fossils virtually impossible to find.



Q: are giraffes related to dinosaurs at all in any way
from ?, ?, ?, ?; July 5, 2000

A: Not very closely. Giraffes are mammals (like we are); dinosaurs were reptiles. Reptiles and reptile-like mammals (synapsids, which eventually evolved into mammals) branched off during the Carboniferous period, about 300 million years ago.



Q: what was the first dinosaur
from mark a, birmngham, ?, england; July 5, 2000

A: The earliest-known dinosaurs are two as yet un-named plant-eaters that date from about 230 million years ago (found in Madagascar) and Eoraptor, a meat-eater from Argentina.



Q: What is the height and length of the biggest Carnataurus Found?
from Patrick G, Midlothian, Virginia, United States; July 3, 2000

A: Only one has been found (in Argentina, South America). Carnotaurus was about 25 feet (7.5 m) long and weighed about 1 ton (1000 kg). For more information on Carnotaurus, click here.



Q: I read somewhere that Dacentrurus used its plates for cooling as well as for warding off predators. How do scientists know this?
from Lou, New Prague, MN, USA; July 3, 2000

A: Dacentrurus was a stegosaurid that had two rows of small, asymmetrical plates on its back and two rows of long spikes (with sharp edges) running along its lower back and tail. The long spikes were almost certainly protection for this plant-eating dinosaur. Paleontologists have found fossil evidence of etensive vascularization (a system of blood vessels) in the plates of other Stegosaurids (like Stegosaurus). These blood vessels suggest that the plates served to regulate the animal's temperature. When it wanted to cool down, heat could be dissapated from th eplates; when it wanted to warm up, it could sun itself, exposing the blood in the plates to warming sunlight.



Q: I was wondering if you could put up info on what dinosaurs evolved into?
from Hayley E, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia; July 3, 2000

A: Many paleontologists think that some theropod dinosaurs (maniraptors) evolved into birds. For more information, click here.



Q: How big is the Saltosaurus?
from Zach B, Deerfield, NH, USA; July 2, 2000

A: Saltasaurus was a long-necked plant-eating dinosaur about 40 feet (12 m) long. For more information on Saltasaurus, click here.



Q: Can you please name a fossil that was found in Australia as soon as possible, because our project is nearly due in. Thankyou.
from M.C, J.c, and N.c., Melbourne, VICTORIA, Australia; July 2, 2000

A: For a list of Australian dinosaur fossils, click here.



Q: Please, can you tell me an omnivore or where to look. Thanks.
from Maria C., Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; July 2, 2000

A: Oviraptor was an omnivore (eating both plants and meat).



Q: What is the Scientific name for the Tyrannosaurus Rex?
from Aleksandra S, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia; July 2, 2000

A: Tyrannosaurus rex, like all dinosaurs, are commonly known by their scientific name. Tyrannosaurus is its genus; rex is its species. For more information on T. rex, click here.



Q: What is a Dinichthys and when was it extinct?Can I see a picture of a Dinichthys on your site now?
from Sasha T., Beloit, Kansas, U.S.A.; July 2, 2000

DunkleosteusA: Dinichthys (meaning "terrible fish"), was a family of ancient, meat-eating fishes. Dunkleosteus was the biggest member of this family. For information on Dunkleosteus, click here.



Q: if the lockness monstor exists would it be a dinosaur?
from podge, dublin, ?, ireland; July 2, 2000

A: No, because none of the dinosaurs lived in the water (they didn't have flippers, and weren't adapted to life in the water). There are some people who think that the Loch Ness monster may be a plesiosaur (a marine reptile that lived during the time of the dinosaurs).



Q: Do you have any web sites that would help me identify what kind of fossil I found. Around 20 years ago the land across from my house was strip-mined and I found 2 great fossils. I've identified one as a fossil of of the club moss fern. The other fossil is about the size of an Emu egg. It broke into two pieces and there is an identical fossil outline on both pieces. I teach kindergarten and we refer to it as our dinosaur egg. I would love to find out what I have. Thank you
from Dana S, Altoona, AL, USA; July 1, 2000

A: No, we don't, but there are a lot of sites that sell fossils (and have a lot of pictures). Go to a search engine (like Google.com) and search using the words "fossils dinosaur eggs," or other words to that effect, and a lot of fossil shops will appear.



Q: WHAT IS THE EXACT NUMBER OF DINOSAURS THAT HAVE BEEN DISCOVERED? WHY DOES SCIENTISTS ALWAYS SAY "PROBABLY" WHEN THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT DINOAURS? WHAT IS THE EXACT NUMBER OF THEORIES THAT THERE ARE? ARE THE DINOSAURS EXACTLY LIKE THEY DESIGN THEM TO BE? WHAT IS THE LARGEST DINOSAUR THAT THERE HAS BEEN DISOVERED? WHAT IS THE SMALLEST DINOSAUR THAT HAS BEEN ISCOVERED? WHAT IS THE MAJOR REASON FOR WHAT SCIENTISTS THINK THAT DINOSAURS WERE WARM-BLOODED WHAT IS THE MAJOR REASON FOR WHAT SCIENTISTS THINK THAT DINOSAURS WERECOLD-BLOODED? ANSWER THESE, THEN I'LL VISIT AGAIN. BYE, BYE!!!
from LUZ S., OCEANSIDE, CALIFORNIA, ?; July 1, 2000

A: There are roughly 1,000 known dinosaur genera, and many more species - for more information, click here. What type of theories are your asking about - there are theories for just about everything? Many things aren't known with 100% certainty, so the word "probably" is often used. No, the dinosaurs probably (see the previously answers) weren't exactly as depicted in museums. Your other questions are answered in the faq's above (which you should have read first). For a discussion on dinosaur metabolism (cold-blooded or warm-blooded), click here. If you don't visit again, how could you possibly even know if I answered your question?



Q: Which country has the most dinosaur fossils?
from Vincent W, Hong kong, China, Asia; July 1, 2000

A: The USA has the most so far, but that's mostly because people here have looked more, there are a lot of exposed, eroded areas, and the USA is a large country. In many other parts of the world, paleontologists haven't even begun to look for fossils yet (because of the difficulty of getting to and from remote places, long-standing, dangerous political conflicts, and/or a lack of cooperation from bureaucrats). In the last few years, a tremendous amount of incredible fossils have been found in China, Antarctica, Africa, and South America. The next few years should be very interesting, as more and more places are explored for fossils. Return to the top of the page.




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