Related topics: fossil · birds · skeleton · mass extinction · plos one

How did dinosaur parents know when their kids had a fever?

From the time that dinosaur fossils were first discovered, these creatures have fascinated scientists and laypeople alike. In the academic world, their remains provide important clues into the prehistoric world; in popular ...

What we learned from dinosaur teeth in North Africa

As dinosaurs go, Spinosaurus is one of the most recognizable: a predator with sharp claws, a long jaw full of teeth, and a big sail on its back. It lived near rivers, hunting for fish, 100 million years ago in a place that's ...

Meet T-Rex's older cousin: The Reaper of Death

Scientists said Monday they had discovered a new species of dinosaur closely related to Tyrannosaurus rex that strode the plain of North America some 80 million years ago.

New predatory dinosaur added to Australia's prehistory

Evidence of agile, carnivorous two-legged dinosaurs known as noasaurids have been found across the now dispersed land masses that once formed the ancient southern supercontinent of Gondwana, but never in Australia—until ...

New species of Allosaurus discovered in Utah

A remarkable new species of meat-eating dinosaur has been unveiled at the Natural History Museum of Utah. Paleontologists unearthed the first specimen in early 1990s in Dinosaur National Monument in northeastern Utah. The ...

Neutron source enables a look inside dino eggs

Did the chicks of dinosaurs from the group oviraptorid hatch from their eggs at the same time? This question can be answered by the length and arrangement of the embryo's bones, which provide information about the stage of ...

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Dinosaur

Dinosaurs (Greek: δεινόσαυρος, deinosauros) were the dominant vertebrate animals of terrestrial ecosystems for over 160 million years, from the late Triassic period (about 230 million years ago) until the end of the Cretaceous period (65 million years ago), when most of them became extinct in the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event. The 10000 living species of birds may be classified as dinosaurs.

The term "dinosaur" was coined in 1842 by Sir Richard Owen and derives from Greek δεινός (deinos) "terrible, powerful, wondrous" + σαῦρος (sauros) "lizard". It is sometimes used informally to describe other prehistoric reptiles, such as the pelycosaur Dimetrodon, the winged pterosaurs, and the aquatic ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs and mosasaurs, although none of these animals were dinosaurs. Through the first half of the 20th century, most of the scientific community believed dinosaurs to have been slow, unintelligent cold-blooded animals. Most research conducted since the 1970s, however, has supported the view that dinosaurs were active animals with elevated metabolisms and numerous adaptations for social interaction. The resulting transformation in the scientific understanding of dinosaurs has gradually filtered into popular consciousness.

The 1861 discovery of the primitive bird Archaeopteryx first suggested a close relationship between dinosaurs and birds. Aside from the presence of fossilized feather impressions, Archaeopteryx was very similar to the contemporary small predatory dinosaur Compsognathus. Research has since identified theropod dinosaurs as the most likely direct ancestors of birds; most paleontologists today regard birds as the only surviving dinosaurs, and some suggest that dinosaurs and birds should be grouped into one biological class. Aside from birds, crocodilians are the only other close relatives of dinosaurs to have survived until the present day. Like dinosaurs and birds, crocodilians are members of Archosauria, a group of reptiles that first appeared in the very late Permian and came to predominate in the mid-Triassic.

Since the first dinosaur fossils were recognized in the early nineteenth century, mounted dinosaur skeletons have become major attractions at museums around the world. Dinosaurs have become a part of world culture and remain consistently popular. They have been featured in best-selling books and films (notably Jurassic Park), and new discoveries are regularly covered by the media.

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