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Dr. Tom Holtz and Dr. Michael K. Brett-Surman
answer dinosaur questions for the readers of ZoomDinosaurs.com
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1. Is the Tyrannosaurus Imperator a legitimate fossil?

2. How come there are less talk about aquatic carnivorous reptiles in the Mesozoic Era? They may very well be the "real deal" carnivorous reptiles. What's the largest aquatic carnivorour reptile discovered? Kronosaurus? How big is his mouth? 10 feet? That clearly makes any T-Rex look like a wimp.

3. Is the fact that dinosaurs can stand (unlike the belly-hugging-the-ground (crawling) reptiles living today) a proof that dinosaurs are warm blooded? Cuz from what I read, it takes a lot of body metabolism for an animal to even stand and walk.
from Guile, age 19, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines; July 28, 2001

TOM: 1. No, there is absolutely NO formal name "Tyrannosaurus imperator". That is just a nickname that has unfortunately developed a life of its own on the internet. Please do not use it, and please correct people who continue to use it. The fossils in question are almost certainly just specimens of T. rex itself.

2. Marine reptiles should get more press than they do, sad to say. It is true that there were some enormous marine reptiles: a newly discovered primitive ichthyosaur may be the largest at 23 meters long!! Previously largest known marine reptiles were some of the short-necked plesiosaurs, but Kronosaurus itself wasn't the largest: some English fossils (possibly referrable to the genus Liopleurodon, but maybe a new genus) suggest a 20 meter length!! The skulls of these giant pliosaurs were larger and more powerful than those of the ichthyosaurs, and were indeed about 3 m or more long. They truly dwarfed any theropod.

3. That was actually one of the features that led Sir Richard Owen to suggest that dinosaurs may have been warm-blooded. However, we do not know for certain that a cold-blooded animal can't have an upright posture: there has not been enough serious physiological work to test this (admittedly interesting) idea.


Back to the Holtz and Brett-Surman Questions

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