nerdfest: dinosaurs

hugsforvillains  asked:

If we're still doing story idea submissions: Mesozoic Land opens as a corporate rival to Jurassic World that reconstructs dinosaurs as close to our current scientific understanding as their technology allows. The public is initially cautious of these unfamiliar animals being sold as the real deal, but Mesozoic Land wins their hearts and minds by advertising that they don't engineer dangerous predators to have super-intelligence.

Tbh this is what I wish would actually happen IRL (except, it’s a franchise about dinosaurs with accurate ones to rival the JW franchise)


Soldiers returning home, goofy dinosaurs, and monkeys – just some things that brighten a Cracked staffer’s day. 

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I work at Amherst College’s museum, where Professor Edward Hitchcock’s dinosaur track collection is housed. The specimens are the first dinosaur tracks ever studied and were all collected from within about 35 miles of the college. As part of my summer internship, I’ve been working on a visitor guide to the tracks. These are some illustrations for it, showing how a few of our trackmakers.

anonymous asked:

If warmer climate conditions tend to make animals smaller, why were so many dinosaurs so huge? Wasn't the climate warmer in that period than it is now?

 That’s a good question! (I assume you’re referring to this post?) I am by no means an expert on dinosaurs, but they’re definitely interesting and I’ll give it my best, given what I know about evolution and climate in general… The short answer is “it’s complicated”, and people are still working on trying to figure out exactly that. The longer answer involves a variety of factors.

1. The idea of “Cope’s Rule” may come into play: There’s a hypothesis that creatures evolve to be larger over time. (Ex: modern horses are far larger than their early ancestors.) Size offers an advantage in evading predation, and larger animals frequently live longer lives. Larger individuals may have better sexual success when dealing with competitors (sexual selection). One possibility is that dinosaurs didn’t experience pressures to not grow large, and so followed this general trend over time.

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2. Short-term climate perturbations create different results than long-term climate trends. If climate evolves gradually over millions of years, species evolve along with it. This is particularly important for plants, since they act as the base of the terrestrial food-chain. During the Mesozoic (Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous), some areas were indeed hot and arid. But there were also many areas that were wetter, and these hosted a wide variety of life. As long as there was a lot of vegetation to eat, the dinosaurs would be able to grow. For short-term climate perturbations–things that happen too quickly for widespread adaptation–plants might experience difficulty. In recent history (the Quaternary), the globe has been relatively cool–therefore it is warming events that disturb climate. In warmer, past climates, cooling events might have been more problematic for species. The PETM is a tricky event, and is still under a lot of study, particularly given the present climate situation. On long timescales, the locations of continents also comes into play–because the location of continents influences how the planet responds to temperature changes.


3. Dinosaur thermoregulation is still under debate. Some studies have shown that dinosaurs may have been endothermic, like mammals, while others argue that dinosaurs were mesothermic. The existence of dinosaurs at the poles hints that they needed to be able to regulate their body-heat. If some species were indeed mesothermic, that could play a role in this question. Mammals maintain their body heat, but under hot conditions, they run a risk of overheating–which is why panting and sweating evolved to keep mammals cool. Dinosaurs would have needed their own way of preventing overheating, particularly given their large size. If they were mesothermic, they would have had less heat to lose to the atmosphere. But this is still a question that is up for debate.

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So, overall? Dinosaurs probably reached large sizes because nothing prevented them. There was adequate food, thanks to abundant plant-life. The Mesozoic also provided a long time for lineages to evolve. Herbivores likely grew larger through a combination of sexual selection and avoidance of predators, while predators likely grew larger to be able to eat huge prey.  Along the way, they would have needed other adaptations that supported such body sizes–like the ability to eat lots of food, and a skeleton and muscular structure capable of dealing with the weight. Dinosaurs are weird, and fascinating–and in some ways very different from any life that’s around today. Even with as much as we know about dinosaurs, there are still a lot of unanswered questions.

If any of that was unclear, do let me know and feel free to ask more questions!
-Mod Terra

anonymous asked:

I've been hearing a lot about how dinosaurs and to an extent birds couldn't smell or process air through the noses as well as mammals could. Is there any marrot to this?

That’s a crazy idea purported by this guy named Nima (who @fezraptor can rant about better than I), but no, dinosaurs (and therefore birds) can smell just fine:

And studies of dinosaur olfactory bulbs show them to be well developed


Scientists discover a new nodosaur dinosaur species, and the specimen has perfectly preserved skin

  • An equipment operator at an oil mine in Alberta, Canada, found some unusual buried treasure in 2011 — a roughly 110 million-year-old, dragon-like dinosaur with its armored, spiky skin still intact.
  • Now, scientists understand the true weight of that discovery — the specimen, called a nodosaur, makes way in the encyclopedia for an all-new genus and species.
  • It’s a type of ankylosaur that lived during the Cretaceous period, and this specimen is about 18 feet long and about 3,000 pounds, according to National Geographic. Plus, it’s extremely rare for scientists to have more than the bones of a specimen to work with.
  • “We don’t just have a skeleton,” Caleb Brown, a postdoctoral researcher at Royal Tyrrell Museum, told National Geographic. “We have a dinosaur as it would have been.” Read more (5/16/17)

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