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Debunking Dinosaur Myths
Do you know the answers to these dinosaur questions? Don't rely on popular images from dinosaur movies or cartoons! They're frequently wrong.
- Were all huge, prehistoric animals dinosaurs?
- Did any dinosaurs swim or fly?
- Were all the dinosaurs huge?
- Did cavemen live alongside the dinosaurs?
- Did all the dinosaurs live at the same time?
- Did all the dinosaurs die out?
- Why were the dinosaurs a failure?
1. Not all huge prehistoric animals were dinosaurs.
A lot of animals existed during the Mesozoic along with the dinosaurs. Some animals were closely related to the dinosaurs, like the pterosaurs (which belong to the Order Archosauria as do the dinosaurs). Birds, however, are dinosaurs! Other animals, like the Dimetrodon, which lived in the Paleozoic era before the dinosaurs existed, are more closely related to us than to the dinosaurs.
2. There were no flying dinosaurs or swimming dinosaurs.
All dinosaurs lived on the land; none of them lived in the seas or flew (until the birds)! Neither the flying pterosaurs, nor the swimming ichthyosaurs were dinosaurs, although all were closely related.
Some advanced meat-eating dinosaurs did develop feathers, and evolved into birds.
3. Not all dinosaurs were huge.
There were plenty of small and medium-sized dinosaurs. The smallest dinosaur yet discovered is Compsognathus, which was the size of a chicken!
4. People did not coexist with the dinosaurs (except for the birds).
Although the image of human cave dwellers hunting dinosaurs is well established in fiction, it is far from accurate. People didn't evolve until about 65 million years after the dinosaurs' extinction. Except for the birds, who are the sole surviving descendants of the dinosaurs, the dinosaurs and people are well separated in terms of geologic time.
5. The dinosaurs didn't all live at the same time.
The dinosaurs roamed the Earth for about 165 million years. Different types of dinosaurs existed at different times. Dinosaur species evolved and went extinct throughout the Mesozoic (this is called background extinction).
In the Triassic period, the early dinosaurs were small, and most species died out in an extinction at the end of the Triassic period. In the Jurassic, many new dinosaur species evolved from the Triassic survivors, including the gigantic sauropods (like Apatosaurus and Seismosaurus), Allosaurus , and Stegosaurus , to list but a few. Dinosaurs reached the height of their diversity during the Cretaceous; monstrous giant theropods (like T. rex and Giganotosaurus), Ankylosaurus , Maiasaura and many other dinosaurs lived during that period. Despite popular images to the contrary, Stegosaurus never encountered T. rex.
6. Not all the dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago.
Most of the dinosaur groups went extinct long before the K-T mass extinction of 65 million years ago. The remaining dinosaurs died out at that time, but many bird species (which are technically dinosaurs) survived it.
7. The dinosaurs were not a failure.
Various dinosaurs lived all around the Earth for about 165 million years. In comparison, people have only been around for about a million years. In terms of survival through geological time, the dinosaurs were long-lasting animals, probably leaving birds as their descendants.
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