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Zoom Dinosaurs
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By Date By Type of Dinosaur General Dino. Qns. Qns. About Other Animals Geological Era Qns.

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Questions from 1997

Q:What was the fastest dinosaur? How fast did it run? How tall was it? How long was it? How much did it weigh?
from Brandon, San Jose, CA, USA; Dec. 30, 1997

A: The fastest dinosaurs probably weren't any faster than modern-day land animals. Dinosaur speeds are deduced from fossilized trackway finds, and from looking at the dinosaurs' morphology (shape and structure). The speediest dinosaurs were bird-like bipedal carnivores (Theropods) with long, slim hind-limbs and light bodies:
  • Ornithomimus (means "bird mimic") -was an ostrich-like oviraptor with a toothless beak, long legs, and hollow bones.
  • Velociraptor (means "speedy thief") - from the Cretaceous period, had very sharp teeth and retractable claws on its feet .

Q:We are looking for the name of a sail-backed reptile from the end of the Permian period.
from Sara, Lewiston, Maine, USA; Dec. 26, 1997

A: Dimetrodon.

Q:What dinosaurs lived with Deinonychus?
from Andrew, Los Alamitos, CA, USA; Dec. 25, 1997

A: Deinonychus was a carnovore, lightly built, fast-moving, agile, bipedal (walking on two legs), bird-like dinosaur. It had a curved, flexible neck and a big head with sharp, serrated teeth in very powerful jaws. Deinonychus lived in the Cretaceous period, about 110 to 100 million years ago.

Among the contemporaries of Deinonychus were Spinosaurus (a carnasaur), Archaeornithomimus (another swift, bird-like Theropod), Sauroplites (an Ankylosaurid, a plated herbivore), Sauropelta (a Nodosaur, another armored herbivore), Probactrosaurus (an Iguanodontid) Titanosaurs (sauropods), and Tenontosaurus (a hypsilophodontid).

Q:Where should I look for dinosaurs in Los Alamitos and what dinosaur will I find or will I discover a new dinosaur?
from Andrew, Los Alamitos, CA, USA; Dec. 25, 1997

A: For information on finding fossils, click on "Fossils" in the margin to your left, and then choose "Finding Fossils." What type of dinosaur you could possibly find depends on what layer (age) of Mesozoic Era sedimentary rock you're looking in (if there are indeed old, exposed beds of sedimentary rock in Los Alamitos). As for discovering a new dinosaur, it could happen.

Q:Do we know what color dinosaurs were?
from Gregory and Rachel O., Dubuque, IA, USA; Dec. 20, 1997

A: No.

Q:Is the emu the closest living creature to the dinosaur today? today?
from diane j s., axtell, tx, usa; Dec. 9, 1997

A: A lot of paleontologists think that birds are the living descendants of the dinosaurs. I don't know that the emu, in particular, is any closer to the dinosaurs than any other bird. The emu belongs to the group of primitive birds, the Palaeognathae, that also includes the ostrich, kiwi, emu, rhea, and others. Most other birds belong to the group Neognathae.

Q:How do you figure out the speed of the dinosaurs?
from John R., Anoka, MN, USA; Dec. 9, 1997

A: Dinosaur speeds are estimated using their morphology (things like leg length and estimated body mass) and by using fossilized trackways (footprints). There's a good page on Deducing the Possible Speeds of Dinosaurs? at the University of California's Museum of Paleontology.

Q:Is the Tyrannosaurus Rex a scavenger or a predator?
from Murtaugh, USA; Dec. 8, 1997

A: A small minority of paleontologists (notably Jack Horner) have recently begun to question whether T. rex could have been an effective hunter, given its small eyes, puny arms, and relatively slow gait. An alternative would be that T. rex scavenged its food from other animals' kills. Scavengers need a good sense of smell (to find meat) and means of long-distance locomotion (to get to the meat). There is evidence that T. rex had an acute sense of smell (deduced from room in its skull for large olfactory lobes in its brain). Also, T. rex's large legs would provide ample means of long-distance locomotion. There are arguments against this scavenger hypothesis. Small eyes do not imply poor vision. Birds, dinosaurs' descendants, have relatively small eyes and acute vision. As for T. rex's puny arms, arms are not necessary for predation; many predators have no arms at all, for example, sharks and snakes. As for T. rex's slow gait, there were many animals that were slower than T. rex; these would become its prey, not the speedier types.

Q:1) What were Quetzalcoatlus' enemies? 2) How did it protect itself? 3) Where did it live?
from Matthew, Long Grove, Illinois, USA; Dec. 7, 1997

A: Quetzalcoatlus (not a dinosaur) was a huge flying reptile (a pterosaur). It had a 40 foot (12 m) wingspread and was 8 feet (2.5 m) long! It lived during the late Cretaceous period. Its enemies were probably any large, agile carnivore that was capable of catching the giant flyer. It's hard to imagine a healthy, mature Quetzalcoatlus being caught, but the sick, old, and very young could be easy prey. Its best protection must have been flying, since it did not have armor, horns, or huge teeth; they only had small teeth and sharp claws on short fingers that protruded from their wings. Quetzalcoatlus fossils have been found in Texas, USA.

Q:what is tyrannosaurus rex's common name? what is t-rex's coloration? was t-rex a herd or solitary animal?
from Line, katy, tx, us; Dec. 7, 1997

A: Tyrannosaurus rex's common name is Tyrannosaurus rex; dinosaurs common names and their scientific names are the same. Dinosaur coloration is unknown. T. rex fossils have not been found in mass bone beds, so there is no indication that they lived in groups.

Q:How do people know what the dinosaurs ate? (what animals and what kind of plants) Also how do you know what color the dinosaurs were?
from Sybil M., Overland Park, Kansas, USA; Dec. 7, 1997

A: Some dinosaurs have been found with fossilized remains of bones, insects, etc. inside them, showing the contents of their last meal. Also, dinosuaurs' physiology gives us an indication of their diet. An animal with razor-sharp teeth and claws probably was a carnivore; one with flat teeth and gullet stones probably ate plants. \
No one knows what color the dinosaurs were; skin coloration is not preserved in fossils.

Q:Are dinosaurs mammals, birds, or reptiles?
from Alex, MN, USA; Dec. 7, 1997

A: Reptiles.

Q:Could you give me a alphabet on dinosaurs example:A=Avaceratops B=Brontosaurus C=Carnataurus .PLEASE!!!!!!
from Samantha Buxton, Edinburgh, Scotland; Dec. 6, 1997

A: Click here for a Dinosaur Alphabet.

Q: How big was tyrannosaurus rex?
from thomas r., Spring City, Pennsylvania, USA; Dec. 5, 1997


Q:Hi Im Three years old and learning about dinasours with my mum. I would like to see more pictures with the names of dinasours and the name the are commonly know as if that is possible?
from Andrew, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Dec. 4, 1997

A: If you click here, there's a page of dinosaur names and pictures; also, if you click on them, you'll get more information and bigger pictures. By the way, dinosaurs are one of the few types of animals who are commonly known by their scientific name.

Q:How many different types of dinosaurs have been found?
from Betty S., Colorado, USA; Dec. 4, 1997

A: There are about 1,000 described dinosaur genera, and many time that number of genera that probably existed but we haven't found yet - probably thousands. There are many times that number of dinosaur species that existed, only about 600-700 have been named, but some of these are doubtful (they may be juveniles of other species, examples of a different gender, or very large or small specimens of a known species).

Q:I need as much information as possible about Gallimimus! I cannot find him anywhere, I'm doing a report for my science class and I would really appreciate a response! Thank you!
from Kelly, Greeley, Colorado, USA; Dec. 3, 1997

A: Gallimimus, meaning "rooster mimic," was a bird-like dinosaur ( a theropod) from the late Cretaceous period (living 74-70 million years ago). It walked on two strong legs, and must have been a fast runner. Its feet each had three toes with sharp claws. It had short arms with three-fingered hands. It had no teeth, but had a beak. It was an omnivore, eating both small animals, eggs, and plants. It was about 10 feet (3 m) tall, 20 feet (6 m) long, and weighed about 440 pounds (200 kg). Gallimimus fossils have been found in the Gobi desert in Mongolia. Gallimimus is classified as a Saurischian (lizard-hipped dinosaur), a Theropod (beast-footed), a Coelurosaur (hollow-boned lizard), and an Ornithomimid (ostrich mimic).

Q:What is the fastest dinosaur?
from Brian D., Houston, TX, USA; Dec. 3, 1997

Q:What was the fastest running dinosaur?
from George D., Houston, TX, USA; Dec. 3, 1997

A: The fastest dinosaurs probably weren't any faster than modern-day land animals. Dinosaur speeds are deduced from fossilized trackway finds, and from looking at the dinosaurs' morphology (shape and structure). The speediest dinosaurs were bird-like bipedal carnivores (Theropods) with long, slim hind-limbs and light bodies:
  • Ornithomimus (means "bird mimic") -was an ostrich-like oviraptor with a toothless beak, long legs, and hollow bones.
  • Velociraptor (means "speedy thief") - from the Cretaceous period, had very sharp teeth and retractable claws on its feet .

Q:what dinosaurs lived in the same period that the diplodocus lived in?
from mommy daddy, nj, nj, USA; Dec. 3, 1997

A: Diplodocus lived in the late Jurassic period, from 155-145 million years ago. The late Jurassic was the time of the enormous sauropods, including Camarasaurus, Apatosaurus, and Brachiosaurus. Also present were Stegosaurus, Tuojiangosaurus, Allosaurus, Coelurosaur, and many others.

Q:When did the Deinonychus become extinct?
from ???; Dec. 2, 1997

A: Deinonychus (meaning "terrible claw") lived and died during the Cretaceous period, from about 110 to 100 million years ago.

Q:What kind of bugs lived in the dinosaur time ?
from Didi, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada; Dec. 1, 1997

A: Primitive insects first evolved during the Silurian Period (438 to 408 million years ago), long before the dinosaurs appeared. Winged insects appeared later, during the Mississippian Period (360 to 325 million years ago), but they still predated the dinosaurs. A lot of insects lived during the Mesozoic Era (248 to 65 million years ago), the time of the dinosaurs. There were huge dragonflies (as large as birds), giant roaches, and lots of other bugs. The fossil record of insects is very incomplete because their fragile exoskeletons decompose quickly after death, and therefore don't fossilize easily.

Q: Question #1-What is the name of a dinosaur that lived in the water? Question #2-What is the name of a dinosaur with a big fin on its back? Question #3- Which dinosaur walked on two feet?
from Alyssa F., Whitehorse, Yukon, CA; November 29, 1997

A: #1. No dinosaurs lived in the seas - they all lived on land!. Many aquatic animals (such as the Plesiosaur) lived in the seas, but these sea reptiles were NOT dinosaurs.
#2. You might be thinking of the Dimetrodon, which was not a dinosaur, but another type of prehistoric animal, a pelycosaur.
#3. A lot of dinosaurs walked on two feet, including the very early dinosaurs and many later models. Some well-known examples are: Tyrannosaurus, Unenlagia, Pachycephalosaurus, and many, many more.

Q:Where can I find more info about Coelophysis?
from Laura, Ponte Verde, Florida, USA; Nov. 28, 1997

A: Coelophysis (meaning "hollow form") was an early bipedal predator (a theropod) that lived in the late Triassic. It was relatively small, about 10 feet long (3 m) and weighed about 100 pounds (45 kg). It had long toothed jaws, a long neck, short three-fingered hands, and strong legs with three toes and a claw. Fossils have been found in New Mexico, USA and the eastern USA.

Q:What date was the first dinosaur found? What type of dinosaur was it? Who found it?
from Bradsky, CT, USA; November 25, 1997

A: The first dinosaur fossils were found by Gideon Mantell, William Buckland, and others, in the early 1800's. The term dinosaur (meaning "fearfully great lizard") wasn't coined until 1842, when Richard Owen classified the fossils as saurians. Three of these early finds were Iguanodon, Megalosaurus, and Hylaeosaurus.

Q:there is very little information about the "Albertosaurus". I want to know everything you can tell me about this dinosaur. thanks alot

from kitty d.du, sudbury, ontario, CA; November 24, 1997

A: Albertosaurus means "Alberta lizard." It was first unearthed by Joseph Burr Tyrrell, in western Canada in 1884. Albertosaurus was a Saurischian dinosaur that lived in the Cretaceous period; it was a bipedal carnivore (a theropod), smaller than T. rex. For more information and pictures of Albertosaurus, click here.

Q:Can you tell me about Edmontonia?

from Dee-Dee, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada; Nov. 24, 1997

A: Edmontonia was a late Cretaceous Ornithischian dinosaur whose fossils were found in Alberta, Canada (they were unearthed near the Edmonton rock formation, hence the name). It was an Ankylosaur, the leavily armored herbivores. Their bodies were covered with bony plates, spikes, and clubbed tails.

Q:Please tell me what you can about megalosaurus.
from Dawn T., Salem, WI, USA; Nov. 23, 1997

A: Megalosaurus was a huge meat eater from the Jurassic and early Cretaceous periods. It walked on two strong legs, had short arms, a tail that counterbalanced its weight, and large, sharp teeth. They were 30 feet long (9 m), 10 feet tall (3 m), and weighed 2 tons (1.8 metric tons). It was one of the earliest dinosaurs discovered. Fossils remains have been found in England and France.

Q:Do you have any details on Spinosaurus please ?
Thank you

from G.Y.; Nov. 22, 1997

A: Spinosaurus (meaning "spiny lizard") was a late Cretaceous, carniverous dinosaur that had long spines along its back. They emanated from its vertabrae, and were up to 6 feet long (1.8 m). The spines may have had a covering of skin, forming a sail-like structure across its back, perhaps used for heat regulation. Spinosaurus was a theropod about 40 feet long (12 m), and had a large head with sharp teeth. Fossils have been found in North Africa.

Q:What does preCambrian mean?
from Tyler; November 20, 1997

A: The Precambrian Period was the earliest time period in the geologic history of the Earth, ending about 540 million years ago. It was the time in which the Earth's crust formed and the first life forms appeared in the seas. The Precambrian period usually refers to the time before the Cambrian Period, in which an explosion of life forms evolved. The Precambrian is divided into the Proterozoic Eon (2.5 billion years ago to 540 million years ago) in which multicellular life arose, the Archeozoic Eon (3.9 - 2.5 billion years ago) in which early life forms evolved, and the Hadean Eon (4.6-3.9 billion years ago) in which the Earth solidified.

Q:What colour is the tyrannosaurus? 2. What/who are his enemies?
from ???; Nov. 17, 1997

A: No one knows what color Tyrannosaurus rex or any other prehistoric, extinct creature was. People guess that they had coloration similar to other reptiles, but that is just speculation.

T. rex's main enemies were probably bacteria and viruses. Very few other animals could do serious damage to this huge carnivore. Although the horned Triceratops, which was probably hunted by T. rex, could probably injure T. rex, it could hardly be called an enemy.

Q:What did Dimetrodons eat?
from Aaron, San Diego, CA, USA; Nov. 16, 1997

A: Dimetrodons (who were not dinosaurs, but another type of prehistoric animal) were carnivores. They had a huge head and mouth, large, powerful jaws, and long, sharp teeth. The dimetrodon reached 11.5 feet (3.5 m) long and weighed about 550 pounds (250 kg). They were the dominant carnivore during the Permian period, living mainly in swampy areas. They probably ate any edible animal that they could catch. Click here for more info on dimetrodon.

Q:how did the dinosaurs become extinct?????
from brent g., Loveland, Colorado, USA; Dec. 2, 1997
Q:How did the dinosaurs DIE?
from brianna, San Leandro, CA, USA; Nov. 15, 1997

A: Most dinosaur species went extinct during the Mesozoic Era in background extinctions. At the end of the Cretaceous period, there was a mass extinction (the K-T extinction), probably caused by a meteor colliding with the Earth. Click on the section on "Extinction" on the left margin for more detailed information.

Q:What were the Triceratops enemies and prey?
from Ryan P.; November 18, 1997

A: T. rex lived at the same time as Triceratops and may have preyed upon them. Triceratops was a plant-eater, and probably ate cycads.

Q:Can you tell me everything you know about the triceratops? If not, then can you give me some web pages that have alot of info on the triceratops? Please, I really need this for a school report!Thanks
from Brandi; Niles, MI, USA; November 18, 1997

A: See this page on Triceratops.

Q:looking for info on the carnosaurus. Thanks.
from Sheena, Cornwall, Ontario, Canada; Nov. 6, 1997

A: Carnosauria (also referred to as Allosauria, meaning "different lizard") were huge predators, and a type of theropod (they were meat eaters who walked on two legs, had large tails, sharp teeth, and large heads). They lived through the late Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. The Carnosaurs include Allosaurids and their relatives, including Monolophosaurus, Cryolophosaurus, Allosaurus, Giganotosaurus, the enormous Carcharodontosaurus, and others.

Q: How long ago were the dinosaurs around and what really happened to them?
from Matthew W., Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S.A.; Nov. 6, 1997

A: Dinosaurs lived during the Mesozoic Era, from about 230 to 65 million years ago. The dinosaurs (except the birds) went extinct 65 million years ago, probably due to the aftereffects of an asteroid impact at the Yucatan Peninsula. These aftereffects included dust and acidic gases in the atmosphere, increased volcanic activity and tsunamis, lowered global temperatures and atmospheric oxygen. These changes caused the K-T mass extinction in which 35% of all animal families died out, together with many plant species. If you click on the word "Extinction" on the left margin of Zoom DInosaurs, you'll find a lot more information.

Q:Why is the Camarasaurus dinosaur called the chambered lizard? What does chambered mean?
from Kenny D., Pullman, Washington, USA; Nov. 3, 1997

A: Chambered refers to the holes in its vertebrae. The holes made the bones more light-weight while retaining structural strength. For information on Camarasaurus, click here.

Q:The daily diet of Stegosaurus was made up of large amounts of low calorie plant material. What are the names of some of these plants? What are the names of some high calorie plants? Thank you.
from Elizabeth, Everett, Washington, USA; Nov. 3, 1997

A: Cycads were a very common plant in the Mesozoic Era (and one species is still around today). It has fernlike leaves. Flowering plants didn't evolve until the beginning- to mid-Cretaceous, toward the end of the Mesozoic.

Highly caloric plant material includes seeds, nuts, and some fruit that have a high fat content. Leaves are low in calories.

Q:How fast can a raptor run?
from Marc C., Taytay, Rizal, Phillipines; Oct. 30, 1997

A: The raptors were probably among the fastest of the dinosaurs. Dinosaur speeds are deduced from fossilized trackway finds, and from looking at the dinosaurs' morphology (shape and structure). Exact speeds are not known, but most scientists agree that dinosaurs were not any faster than modern animals. Finding a similarly built modern animal is a good way to estimate some dinosaur speeds.

Q:What are some of the differences between herbivours and carnivours besides one being a plant eater and the other a meat eater?
from Lyndsey, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Oct. 29, 1997

A: There are a lot of physiological differences between plant eaters (herbivores) and meat eaters (carnivores) that allow them to obtain nourishment.

Carnivores generally need sharp teeth in strong jaws to grasp and tear apart their prey, claws to help in the attack, long legs for speed in order to catch the prey, and sometimes limbs to grab the prey.

Herbivores need teeth that strip plants of their foliage, and a means to defend themselves against predators (like armor, horns or spikes, huge size, camouflage, and/or a tough, thick hide) or speed to escape from them. Sometimes they also need a gullet, a second stomach or a fermentation compartment to aid in the digestion of tough plant material.

Q:How tall was oviraptor?
from tom b., rocky river, ohio, USA; Oct. 28, 1997

A: Oviraptor was small, standing about 6 feet (2 m) tall, and measuring about 5 feet (1.5 m) from head to tail.

GiganotosaurusQ:Was there a bigger carnivore than Tyranosaurus Rex ?
from Louis B., London, UK; Oct. 24, 1997

A: Yes. Giganotosaurus carolinii was another theropod that loomed even larger than T. rex.

Q:I know that T-Rex's mated with T-Rex's, but did they also mate with Triceratops too?
from Rachel, El Paso, Texas, USA; Oct. 21, 1997

A: No. T. rex and Triceratops belonged to very different genera and species, making successful mating impossible.

Q:What is a theropod?
from Ben H., Geraldton, W.A., Australia; Oct. 19, 1997

A: A theropod ("beast-footed") is a type of Saurischian dinosaur (Saurischians' hip structure is similar to that of lizards). Theropods were two-legged carnivores with well-developed jaw muscles, sharp teeth, clawed hands with three main digits, three-toes on clawed feet, and good eyesight. Some examples of theropods are Albertosaurus, Allosaurus, Giganotosaursus, T. rex, Unenlagia, and Velociraptor.

Q:Q1: Which dinosaur was the most intelligent of all dinosaurs?
Q2: Which dinosaur was the most deadliest?
Q3: Which dinosaur had the most armour?

from Kevin, Canberra, A.C.T., Australia; Oct. 17, 1997

A: A1: The most intelligent may have been Troodon, a bird-like dinosaur that was as smart as an ostrich.
A2: Deinonychus and other raptors were perhaps the most deadly.
A3: Ankylosaurs were the most heavily armored.

Q:Can you list a family chart of the dinosaurs?
from Alex T., Eden Prairie, Minnesota, USA; Oct. 14, 1997

A: A really nice way to organize families of organisms is by using cladograms. A cladogram is a branching diagram that depicts species divergence from common ancestors. They show the distribution and origins of shared characteristics. Cladograms are testable hypotheses of phylogenetic relationships. Dinosauria On-line has a huge cladogram of the dinosaur species, and "The Dinosaur Pages" has an index of dinosaur clades. For more on taxonomy (the science of classifying organisms), click on "Species and Classification" to the left.

Q:In which countries of the world, have the bones of a Tyrannosaurus rex been found?
from Elizabeth L., Bavaria, Ohio, USA; Oct. 25, 1997

A: Only about 20 T. rex fossils have been found, mostly in the western part of the United States. A Tyrannosaurus rex fossil was first discovered in 1905 by Henry Fairfield Osborn.

Q:When and where did archaeologists find the first dinosaur?
from patrick m., norfolk, va, USA; Oct. 8, 1997

A: The first dinosaur fossils were found by in England by Gideon Mantell, William Buckland, and others, in the early 1800's. The term dinosaur (meaning "fearfully great lizard") wasn't coined until 1842, when Richard Owen classified the fossils as saurians. Three of these early finds were Iguanodon, Megalosaurus, and Hylaeosaurus.

Q: I read in your answers that all dinosaurs lived on land. I thought the plesiosaur had flippers and lived in the water. Is there such a thing as a plesiosaur or any other flippered dinosaur.
from Julie L., New Bavaria, OH, USA; September 28, 1997

A: Plesiosaurs were sea reptiles (with flippers) that lived in the seas during the Late Triassic and Jurassic Periods. They were carnivores that grew to be about 10-14 feet long (3-4 m). Elasmosaurus was another flippered reptile, even bigger than the Plesiosaur, growing up to 40 feet (12 m) long. They were not dinosaurs! No dinosaurs lived in the seas - all dinosaurs lived on land!

Q:how did the ankylosarus dinosaur died
from ??; Sept. 24, 1997

A: Ankylosaurus went extinct in the huge K-T extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period (65 million years ago).

Q: I should like to find out: What was the largest dinosaur in the sea, and the information on it. Thanx !
from Sheridan L., manassas, va, USA; September 17, 1997

A: No dinosaurs lived in the seas - they all lived on land. Other reptiles, like plesiosaurs, mosasaurs, etc., lived in the seas during the time of the dinosaurs.

Q: why did brontosaurus have a long neck?
from Heather, Concrete, WA, USA; September 16, 1997

A:Brontosaurus (now known as Apatosaurus) probably developed a long neck over time as the longer-necked animals could eat more of the available vegetation, like tree tops, and were more likely to survive and reproduce. Like giraffes who graze higher than other animals, they were able to utilize an abundant food source untouched by most other herbivores.

Q: what was the height of a camptosaurus? also what type of habitat did it live in?
from sean e.; September 16, 1997

A:Camptosaurus (meaning bent lizard) was about 7 feet (2 m) tall and 17 feet long (5 m). This herbivore from the late Jurassic had a horny beak and small hooves on its hands and feet. It could walk on two feet, but perhaps walked on all four when grazing (as suggested by the hooves). It has been found in Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado in the western US.

Q: Question One: Are Velociraptors the fastest dinosaurs?
Question Two: What was the Velociraptors speed?
Question Three: Was Velociraptor faster and stronger than T-Rex?
Question Four: Could you please give me more information on the Velociraptor?
Question Five: What musuem has the Velociraptor skeleton?

from Ryan P., Milford, NJ, USA; September 15, 1997

A: 1. The speediest dinosaurs were bird-like bipedal carnivores (Theropods) with long, slim hind-limbs and light bodies. Velociraptor (meaning swift robber) was certainly among the fastest dinosaurs.
2. Dinosaur speeds are deduced from fossilized trackway finds, and from looking at the dinosaurs' morphology (shape and structure). Exact speeds are not known, but most scientists agree that dinosaurs were not any faster than modern animals. Finding a similarly built modern animal is a good way to estimate some dinosaurs' speeds.
3. Velociraptor was about 6 feet long (1.8 m); T. rex was about 45 feet tall (14 m). They both had vicious teeth and claws. T. rex had a tremendous size advantage, but Velociraptor was probably a lot faster. They both lived in the late Cretaceous period. T. rex fossils have been found in North America, and a Velociraptor fossil has been found in the Gobi Desert in Asia (in a death grip with Protoceratops). During the Mesozoic, the supercontinent of Pangaea was breaking up, so they may never have met.
4. Velociraptor was a dromeosaur (small, bipedal, sickle-clawed foot, fast, agile, bird-like Theropods which include Deinonychus and Dromaeosaurus). It had a long, narrow head, sharp teeth, 3-fingered clawed hands, and 4-toed clawed feet with one claw really huge and sickle-shaped. It had a stiff tail for counterbalance and agility in turning. It must have been a very efficient predator and may have hunted in packs.
5. I don't know. There aren't many Velociraptor fossils.

from NICOLE AND JOSHUA H., The Rock, N.S.W., Australia; September 15, 1997

A: No one knows the exact life span of any of the dinosaurs.

Q: What is the top speed of each dinosaur?
from Ryan P., Milford, NJ, USA; September 13, 1997

A: Hundreds of different dinosaur species have been found. They come in vastly different sizes, weights, and shapes. The dinosaurs ranged in speed from the very fast, small, light, agile, bird-like dinosaurs to the huge, lumbering, plated Ankylosaurids who had little need for speed. The fast ones probably needed their speed to catch prey or escape from predators. Some of the slowest ones had short legs under massive bodies, had protection from predators, and ate plants. For example, Ankylosaurids had heavy plating for protection from predators, short legs, and a huge gut required by their herbivorous diet (to accomodate large volumes of leaves in a fermenting chamber).

Dinosaur speeds are determined from fossilized tracks and the dinosaur's estimated mass and leg length. One difficulty is identifying the species that made a particular fossilized trackway, given only footprints. When possible, analogies to existing animals are made. The dinosaurs probably had speeds that are approximately like those of modern animals, ranging from plodders to swift runners. There are formulas for determining speeds that were developed by Alexander (Alexander, R. M. 1989. Dynamics of Dinosaurs and Other Extinct Giants, Columbia University Press, New York, USA). Alexander estimates that the fastest sprints were about 25 miles per hour (40 km/hr), although the dinosaurs rarely ran (like most animals, they only run when they have to). Most tracks showed unhurried speeds of 1-7 mph (2-12 km/hr).

Q: Can you show me a picture of ultrasaourus?
from Marc I. G. C., Rizal, Philippines; September 13, 1997

Ultrasauros A: Ultrasauros was a brachiosaurid Sauropod that was roughly 100 feet long (30 m), weighed 30-50 tons, and lived in the Jurassic period. Brachiosaurids were huge sauropods that had nostrils on the top of their heads and elongated forelimbs. Other brachiosaurids include Brachiosaurus and Seismosaurus, also giants.

Ultrasauros was found in the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation of western Colorado, USA, by J. A. Jensen in 1985.

Q: I was wondering if Dinosaurs are warmblooded or coldblooded. Also, I would like to know what the difference is.
from Sarah Near D.C., Maryland, Earth; September 9, 1997

A: Dear Earthling,
The debate about whether dinosaurs were warm- or cold-blooded is quite controversial. It used to be assumed that dinosaurs were cold-blooded like their reptile ancestors. Some paleontologists have recently argued that at least some dinosaurs were fast, active, competed against warm-blooded mammals, lived in cool areas, were related to birds, and therefore were endothermic (generating their body own heat, or warm-blooded).

Dinosaurs evolved from cold-blooded animals (the reptiles) and evolved into warm-blooded animals (the birds). Dinosaurs were apparently different from other reptiles, given their dominance on Earth for millions of years. All dinosaurs, however, were not the same, and perhaps their physiologies differed also. The huge dinosaurs and the tiny dinosaurs might have used different heat-regulation strategies, just as they used different strategies for other aspect of living. A good argument for this is found among modern mammals. Although warm-blooded, there are some mammals (monotremes, the egg-laying mammals like the duck-billed platypus) whose metabolisms are close to being cold-blooded.

Basically, it's difficult or perhaps impossible to answer this question. There are a lot of people thinking about this, and I'm sure we'll be hearing more about it.

Q: Where do Triceratops live
from Marc C., Rizal, Philippines; September 9, 1997

A: Triceratops fossils have been found in the western United States and Canada. The first Triceratops fossil was discovered in Colorado, USA in 1887 by Othniel Marsh and, for a while, was thought to be an extinct buffalo.

Q: I am wondering how big the Brachiosaurus young were when they are born?
How heavy were the eggs?
How long did they take to hatch?
How long did they need to be looked after by their parents?
I am doing a project at school on the brachiosaurus and would like to know these things. Could you help me please.

from Felicity, Western Australia; September 9, 1997

A: Brachiosaurus was an enormous herding sauropod, growing to be about 85 feet (26 m) long, 40 feet (12 m) tall and weighing about 80 tons.

Although lots of fossilized dinosaur eggs have been found, the species that most of them belong to has not been determined. The only way to tell exactly what species a dinosaur egg belongs to is to identify the embryo within it. Most fossilized eggs have only eggshell remaining with no embryo, since the shell fossilizes much more easily than the soft, fragile embryo (which usually rots before it can fossilize), the eggs may have hatched, or the embryo may have been eaten.

I haven't heard of any Brachiosaurus eggs or newborns being found. (If anyone has, please write me.) Also, no one knows how long any dinosaur eggs took to hatch or how long or if the young were cared for by Brachiosaurus.

Q: What is the Triceratop's social behavior?-------------Also do they migrate?-----If so what types of areas did they migrate to?--------Did they travel in herds or where they loners?----Well I have to go.--- Write back soon!!!!!!!!!!!
from Heather S., Sedalia, MO, U.S.A.; September 7, 1997

A: The social behavior of prehistoric creatures is mostly unknown and deduced from fossil remains. Ceratopsians (which include Triceratops) were probably herding animals. This hypothesis is supported by the finding of bone beds, large deposits of bones of the same species in an area.

Triceratops fossils are found in the northwest of North America, from Colorado to Alberta. It is not known if they were migratory, but if they did it was probably within this area.

Q: I've read recently that some scientists believe that many ocean creatures, that have been believed to be extinct for millions of years, may be alive and well at the bottom of the ocean, what are your views on this thought?.......
from Matt Reed, Leicester, Leicestershire, United Kingdom; September 7, 1997

A: I think that there are lots of life forms that we've yet to discover, including some that were previously thought extinct. About fifty years ago, a living coelacanth was caught. This primitive, relatively large, lobe-finned fish was thought to have gone extinct millions of years ago and to exist only as a fossil. Finding it was quite a shock to the scientific community. If a large fish like this could remain undetected for so long, others species could also be undetected, especially those living in the extreme depths of the ocean.

Most of the ocean's depths are unexplored and many fascinating discoveries in cryptozoology will be made as robotic devices plumb the remote depths.

Q: What is the smallest dinosaur?
from Reza, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; September 5, 1997

A: Compsognathus is the smallest dinosaur fossil yet found. Compsognathus, meaning "pretty jaw," was a late Jurassic Theropod the size of a chicken (2 feet = 60 cm long weighing about 6.5 pounds = 3 kg). It was a bi-pedal (walked on two legs) carnivore with sharp teeth and claws on its fingers.

Of course, some people would say that the smallest dinosaur is the bee hummingbird (the smallest bird), which is 2.5 inches long ( 6.2 cm) and weighs only 0.06 oz (1.6 g).

Q: I am doing an assingnment for school and I would like to know "What they ate,when they lived, how they looked, size, how they moved, and there strength."
from Amanda, Totowa, NJ, USA; September 4, 1997

A: That's a really vague question! All of this is covered in Zoom Dinosaurs, just look in the sections on "All About" (for general info on dinosaurs and anatomy), "Species and Classification" (for sizes, appearance, diet, etc. of individual species), and "Mesozoic" (for detailed info on when various species lived).

Q: Were opposums around with the dinosaurs?
from Tramaine I., Hot Springs, Arkansas, USA; September 3, 1997

A: No, opossums weren't, but other primitive marsupials were around with the dinosaurs.

Opossums (Didelphis marsupialis), are the only marsupials in North America. Marsupials are a very primitive type of mammal; they don't have a placenta.

Primitive mammals first appeared about the same time as the first dinosaurs, during the mid-Triassic Period (220 mya). The marsupials developed and were quite common during the Mesozoic Era, the "Age of Dinosaurs."

Q: How do dinosaurs mate?
from another mystery person; September 1, 1997

A: Nothing is known about mating postures, rituals, partner selection, or any other details. A good guess would be to find similarly built modern reptiles and assume some similarity. Of course, this is difficult for some species, especially spiked species like Stegosaurus!

Q: I would like information on the Dimetrodon please. A picture would be nice but not necessary. Thank you.
from S & P W., Palm Coast, FL, USA; September 1, 1997

A: Dimetrodon lived in the late Paleozoic Era, during the Permian period (about 280 millions of years ago), long before the dinosaurs appeared.

The dimetrodon reached 11.5 feet (3.5 m) long and weighed about 550 pounds (250 kg). Its fossils have been found in North America. It had a large sail-like flap of skin along its back, dense with blood vessels and supported by long, bony spines. This flap might have been a thermoregulatory structure, used to absorb and release heat, and for making it look much larger than it was to predators. Dimetrodon was a carnivore with large, powerful jaws and long, sharp teeth.

The Dimetrodon is not a dinosaur, and is probably more closely related to us than to the dinosaurs. It is a pelycosaur, a type of animal which had many mammal-like characteristics and is among the relatives of warm-blooded mammals.


from JOSH C., THOMASVILLE, GA, USA; September 1, 1997

A:Ankylosaurus was a huge armored dinosaur, measuring about 25 feet long, 6 feet wide and 4 feet tall. Ankylosaurus weighed about 5 tons. Its entire top side was heavily protected from carnivores, with thick, oval plates embedded (fused) in leathery skin, 2 rows of spikes along its body, large horns that projected from the back of the head, and a club-like tail. It even had bony plates as protection for its eyes. Only its underbelly was unplated, but flipping over a 5 ton animal is difficult. Ankylosaurus had very good protection against even huge predators like T. rex.

Protoceratops was like Triceratops without the horns (see the picture at the top of this page). It was a Cretaceous herbivore, but it is not known exactly what it ate. It had a beak, like all Ceratopsians, and presumably used it to forage.

Q: Can you show me a picture of the dinosaur nicknamed the "spitter" or Hypsilophodon
from Mark Lorenz A. P., Angono, Rizal, Phillipines; September 1, 1997

Hypsilophodon A: Hypsilophodon was a small, fast, horny-beaked Ornithopod with self-sharpening teeth. It lived in the early Cretaceous (125 million years ago). For more information, see this page on Hypsilophodon.

Q: What was the first dinosaur????
from Courtney, Northwest Iowa, USA; August 29, 1997

A: The oldest dinosaurs yet discovered date from about 230 million years ago, during the middle of the Triassic period. Early species include include Eoraptor, Herrerasaurus, Staurikosaurus (a primitive Saurischian) and Lesothosaurus (a primitive Ornithischian). Herrerasaurus was lightly built (weighing about 400 pounds), fast, and small, about 10-20 feet long (3-6 m). It walked on two legs, ate meat, and hunted in groups.

from MARC I.G. C., ANTIPOLO, RIZAL, PHILIPPINES; August 29, 1997

A: The biggest dinosaurs whose fossils have ever been found are sauropods from the Jurassic period (from 208-146 millions of years ago), gigantic, long-necked, long-tailed, plant-eaters (herbivores) that were well over 100 feet (30 meters) long, and weighed over 100 tons! The sizes of a lot of dinosaurs are estimated from incomplete skeletons, sometimes of just one or a few examples of the species, so the length is sometimes an educated guess. Among the biggest sauropods were:
  • Supersaurus - 134 feet long (41 m)
  • Argentinosaurus - 115-130 feet long (35-40 m); 80-100 metric tons
  • Seismosaurus ("Earth-shaking lizard") - 120+ feet long (37 m); +80 tons
  • Ultrasauros - 100 feet long (30 m), 80 tons, 138 million years ago
  • Diplodocus - grew up to 100 feet long (30 m), 100 million years ago.
  • Apatosaurus - from 70-95 feet long (21 m), weighed about 30 tons (27,000 kg).

Q: What is the definition of a dinosaur?
from (We had a power outage and your question was deleted; if you'd like to add in your name, etc., please write again!); August 28, 1997

A: Dinosaurs were land-dwelling reptiles that walked with an erect stance. They had a unique hip structure that caused their legs to stick out from under their bodies, unlike other reptiles, whose legs sprawl out from the side. Dinosaurs also had reduced fourth and fifth digits on their hands; their feet had three large toes. Dinosaurs lived during most of the Mesozoic Era (from 230-65 million years ago). Birds are probably their living descendants. See the section on dinosaurs' "Anatomy and Physiology" for more information (it's listed under the "All About Dinosaurs" section).

Q: I read a book called "Dinosaurs" when I was reading it said that a poisoned ball came down and hit the Triceratops. After that all the dinosaurs ate it is that true???
from Courtney, Northwest, Iowa, USA; August 18, 1997

A: I've never heard of this poisoned ball theory. I think that it's more likely that an asteroid (which is a rock from outer space, similar in composition to the inner Earth) hit the Earth. The dust and debris from the impact drastically changed conditions on Earth. One effect was a decrease in temperature which killed a lot of plants and other life forms. This disrupted the food chain and probably changed the atmospheric and marine oxygen concentrations, killing more and more species. If you click on the word "Extinction" on the left margin of Zoom Dinosaurs, you'll find a lot more information about the Alvarez Theory and other theories of dinosaur extinction.

Q: I've recently read a book called MEG, at the start is says that these "Megaladons" realy did exist, that they were 10 times the size of the biggest Great White known.... Is this true, please supply information
from Matthew Reed, Leicester, Leicestershire, United Kingdom; August 16, 1997

A: Megalodon (Carcharodon megalodon) was an ancient shark, living between 5-1.6 million years ago. It was up to 40 feet (12 m) long, but this is only an estimate from fossil teeth. Shark fossils are rare because sharks have no bones, only cartilage (which does not fossilize well).

The Great white sharks (Carcharodon Carcharias) are up to about 23 feet (7 m) long.

Q: Why did the dinosaurs die?
from karjani, Los Angeles, CA, USA ; August 14, 1997

A: The dinosaurs (except the birds) went extinct 65 million years ago, probably due to the aftereffects of an asteroid impact at the Yucatan Peninsula. These aftereffects included dust and acidic gases in the atmosphere, increased volcanic activity and tsunamis, lowered global temperatures and atmospheric oxygen. These changes caused the K-T mass extinction in which 35% of all animal families died out, together with many plant species. If you click on the word "Extinction" on the left margin of Zoom DInosaurs, you'll find a lot more information.

Q: How big is a Brontosaurus molar?
from a mystery person; August 12, 1997

A:Although the Apatosaurus (also called Brontosaurus) was huge, about 70-95 feet long (21 m) and weighing about 30 tons (27,000 kg), its head was less than 2 feet long. It had small, blunt, peg-like teeth in its relatively small skull. I can't find an exact measurement for Apatosaurus, but Diplodocus (related to Apatosaurus) teeth were about 8 inches (20cm) long (including the root which is half of the length) and less than 1 inch (2 cm) in diameter.

Q: Compared to an average man how big is the T-REX ?
from Mark Lorenz A. P., Angono, Rizal, Philippines; August 11, 1997


Q: Why is there such a difference in the size of dinosaurs? Some were as small as chickens, yet others grew to be more than a hundred tons.
from Charley C., Orlando, Florida, US; August 11, 1997

A: Dinosaurs ranged in size from the bird-like Apodiformes and Compsognathus that was 2 feet long (60 cm), weighing as little as 6.5 pounds (3 kg), up to giant sauropods that were up to 130 feet long (40 m), weighing up to 100 tons.

The huge range in dinosaur sizes is related to their evolutionary development and their dominance over other life forms during the Mesozoic Era. Toward the beginning of the Mesozoic, when dinosaurs were just beginning to appear, the ecospace (roughly 248 million years ago). In that extinction, 50% of existing animal families were decimated, leaving a lot of empty niches (places and sitiuations suitable for life forms) for new life forms to occupy.

As the dinosaurs evolved from more primitive reptiles, they were able to out-compete most other medium-to-large land animals, filling a huge range of niches. Their competetive edge was probably due to many factors, including their unique hip structure which allowed them to have a more upright stance than other reptiles, giving them speed and agility, and also the mechanical structure enabling the evolution of great size. Other advantages might have included better nurturing of their young, increasing reproductive survival, adaptation to the hot, dry climate, and perhaps even exothermy (a warm-blooded metabolism).

With all these advantages over previous reptiles and a virtually empty Earth, the dinosaurs radiated all over Pangaea , filling available niches. The dinosaurs started as small, fast, upright meat-eaters, but during the late Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, they evolved into both larger and smaller species, meat and plant eaters, upright and quadruped walkers, fast and slow movers, armored and unprotected varieties, and more.

As to the size range of dinosaurs, there are many advantages to being large, including moving into almost empty niches, protection against predators, enhanced killing ability, a decreased ratio of surface area to volume which conserves body heat (allowing dinosaurs to live in relatively cold areas), and other economies of scale. The smaller dinosaurs had their own survival advantages, including speed, agility, the ability to hide, etc. Dinosaurs apparently didn't get very small, probably because of intense competition from other small reptiles and from the newly evolved mouse-sized mammals.

Q: How big was the biggest tyrannosaur ?
from Renato C., Windsor, Ontario, Canada; August 11, 1997

A: The biggest species of Tyrannosaurid is Tyrannosaurus rex, the "Tyrant Lizard King." The largest specimens of T. rex are about 40+ feet (12.4 m) long, and 15-20 feet (4.6-6 m) tall; they weighed 5-6 tons. Their jaws are 4 feet (1.2 m) long with 60 serrated teeth which are 6 inches (15 cm) long.

Q: 1.- What dinosaur was the most assasin? 2.- was the long neck dinosaur able to kill a tyrannosaurus? 3.- was a tyrannosaurus able to bite a bhatosaurus? please answer me I am a 6 year old kid.
from carlitos m., matamoros, tamaulipas, mexico; August 10, 1997

A: You ask amazing questions for a 6-year-old! 1. The most vicious dinosaurs were speedy, bird-like predators armed with huge claws, sharp teeth, and wing-like arms that gave them more stability and mobility during a chase. They could outrun most other dinosaurs and then eat them. Examples of deadly predators include:
Deinonychus (meaning killer claw), a bird-like dinosaur 20 feet (6.5 m) long with sickle-like claws (15 inches = 35 cm long) and sharp teeth;
Utahraptor (related to Velociraptor), a small, fast, relatively intelligent carnivore with long, serrated teeth. It had a 15 inch (40 cm) claw on the middle of each foot. This claw could probably slash its prey to death. It may have hunted in herds, killing even large sauropods.

2. The long-necked dinosaurs (the enormous sauropods, like Diplodocus and Apatosaurus ) probably couldn't kill large predators like Tyrannosaurus . The really long-necked dinosaurs lived a long time before Tyrannosaurus did, so they could never meet! Even if they could have met, Apatosaurus would have had a hard time killing a Tyrannosaurus. Apatosaurus was heavier and longer than Tyrannosaurus, was very slow, had tiny jaws and teeth that were only useful for eating plants. Its neck probably made it an easy target for big meat-eaters, which had big jaws and teeth, sharp claws, ran much faster, and ate big dinosaurs for lunch!

3. Tyrannosaurus and Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus) didn't live at the same time. Tyrannosaurus lived about 67-65 million years ago (late in the Creataceous period), while Apatosaurus lived about 140 million years ago (late in the Jurassic period). They never met, but if they had, Tyrannosaurus certainly could have bitten the Apatosaurus.

Q: What was the first dinosaur on earth ?
from roberto m., matamoros, tamaulipas, mexico; August 10, 1997

A: The oldest dinosaurs yet discovered are Eoraptor, Staurikosaurus (a primitive Saurischian), Lesothosaurus (a primitive Ornithischian), and Herrerasaurus, dating from about 230 million years ago, during the middle of the Triassic period. Herrerasaurus was lightly built (weighing about 400 pounds), fast, and small, about 10-20 feet long (3-6 m). It walked on two legs, ate meat, and hunted in groups.

Q: Can you give me any information about oxygen levels during the K-T Boundary period? I read something about a "suffocation theory" which proposed that the dinosaurs did not have diaphragms, and had tiny nostrils. Supposedly when the oxygen levels dropped, they suffocated. Is there any evidence of a drop in oxygen levels from air trapped in amber?
from Karen, Pert, Western Australia; August 10, 1997

A: I haven't heard of that particular theory, but it sounds interesting. Although paleontologists have usually focused on temperature as the major killing agent in extinction theories, your point about the importance of oxygen levels is excellent.

There is evidence of lowered oxygen levels during the huge Permian extinction (248 million years ago). Paul Wignall, et al. (Leeds University, England) estimates that the ocean's oxygen was severely reduced (to one-fifth of its original levels), decimating oceanic life. Also, it has been estimated that atmospheric oxygen levels went from about 30% to about 15% during the Permian extinction, probably suffocating many land animals.

Although the Permian extinction was much larger than the K-T extinction and the causes of these extinctions may well be different, it would seem likely that any drastic changes in the numbers of phytoplankton and plants would result in changes in oxygen levels. This would, in turn, result in the suffocation of species which were unable to adapt.

As to finding physical evidence about ancient oxygen levels, geologists look at oceanic black shale and pyrites, which can only form without oxygen. I don't know if past oxygen levels have been obtained from air trapped in amber.

Q: Can you show us a flow chart of how dinosaur fossils are formed?
from ?; August 9, 1997

A:Here's a flow chart of fossil formation:

Fossil Formation Flowchart

Q: Are alligators older than dinosaurs?
from Felipe, Hollywood, Florida, USA; August 8, 1997

A: Primitive Crocodyloformes (the extinct ancestors of alligators and crocodiles) first appeared during the Triassic period (about 248-208 million years ago). This is also the time when small, primitive dinosaur species began appearing. The oldest Crocodylians (the group that includes the living alligators, crocodiles, etc. and their close extinct relatives) are from the late Cretaceous (about 80 million years ago), which was the heyday of the dinosaurs.

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