Are we sure there were dinosaurs?

11 dinosaur facts you didn't know yet

Giants of primeval times

In ancient times, dinosaur bones were the trigger for myths and legends. Fortunately, today we know more about the giants of prehistoric times - for example, that they could become huge and died out due to a meteorite impact. But there is more to learn about the gigantic reptiles. Here are 11 things you didn't know yet.

1. Dinosaur means "terrifying lizard"

The word dinosaur is ancient Greek and means "terrifying lizard". It is made up of the words δεινός / deinós (terrible, mighty) and σαῦρος / sauros (lizard). The term was coined by the British anatomist Richard Owen in the 19th century, who assigned the bones of different dinosaur species to the same genus for the first time.

2. Some species of dinosaurs were lazy

According to University of Florida geology professor Brian McNeal, herbivorous dinosaurs only got so big because they were lazy and there was food in abundance. The couch potato hypothesis states that dinosaurs could only reach such an enormous size because they did not have to travel long distances to search for food.

3. Dinos lived significantly longer on earth than humans

The earliest archaeological find that can be clearly assigned to modern humans, i.e. homo sapiens, are 315,000-year-old skull bones from Morocco. Dinosaurs lived in the Mesozoic, which is divided into the three sections Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous. The Triassic Age began 250 million years ago and the Cretaceous ended approximately 60 million years ago. This means that dinosaurs lived 600 times as long on earth as we humans.

4. A dinosaur day only had 23 hours

The change between light and dark caused by the rotation of the earth around its own axis determines the length of our days. Since the gravitational pull of the moon and the associated friction of ebb and flow slow the earth's rotation incessantly, a day in the middle Jurassic (160 million years ago) only had 23 hours. But dinosaurs had a year with 385 days, because the period of time that the earth needs to orbit the sun did not change.

5. Dinos had tiny brains

Many dinosaurs got huge, but their brains were rarely bigger than that of a human baby. The stegosaurus had the smallest brain in relation to body size. The herbivore could be up to 7.6 meters long, but its brain was the size of a walnut. Apparently it was enough to survive, because the species lived on earth for many millions of years.

6. Dinosaurs are closely related to birds

The closest descendants of the dinosaurs still living on earth today are neither crocodiles nor lizards, but birds. Today it is scientifically proven that birds evolved from carnivorous dinosaurs. Evidence of this is provided by the hollow bone structure and similarities in the anatomy. The Archeopteryx is considered to be a type of primeval bird that has features of dinosaurs and birds.

7. Some dinosaurs wore feathers

In the past, dinosaurs were thought of as scaled reptiles. Later, feathered fossil finds gave some scientists the opportunity to depict all dinosaurs with feathers. Today we know that it was mainly young animals that wore plumage - although not in all species. However, many of these original feathers had nothing to do with today's bird feathers, but rather resembled bristles or formed a decorative feather comb to impress potential partners (or rivals).

8. Not all dinosaurs were green or brown

Dinosaurs are usually shown in green or brown. Researchers cannot determine the color of the giants with certainty because, unlike bones, skin does not survive the decomposition process. Investigations on a 125 million old Sinosauropteryx showed that the primeval lizard had a red-brown-white striped tail. However, the Labrador-sized dinosaur wore a kind of plumage, which is why melanosomes, which are responsible for the coloring of skin, hair and feathers, were preserved.

9. Some species of dinosaur were cannibals

The Daspletosaurus belonged - like the well-known T-Rex - to the type of Tyrannosauridae, which is characterized by a large skull, massive body and short arms. Fossil finds from Canada suggest that at least this species was prone to cannibalism. Unhealed bite marks on the lower jaw are an indication, which suggest that the animal was eaten by other members of the same species after its death.

10. Dinosaurs never stopped growing

The largest dinosaur that ever walked the earth is the recently discovered Patagotitan mayorum. It could reach a length of 37 meters and weighed an estimated 70 tons. This was only possible because the gigantic reptiles grew throughout their lives. Growth slowed after puberty, but dinosaurs were never fully grown. This is proven by growth rings in the bone structure, from which the age of the lizards - similar to trees - can be read.

11. Dinosaur bones used to be thought of as giant or dragon bones

Even in ancient times, the Greeks, Romans, but also Chinese found fossilized dinosaur bones. While the huge remains in China were mistaken for dragon bones, it was thought in some places in the Middle Ages that the ancient bones must have come from giants because they were so large.

Do you want to learn more about dinosaurs? Then come by until August 31st and check out our free dinosaur exhibition! Over a dozen exhibits with a height of up to six meters, activities for children, a selfie point and an on-site competition with fantastic prizes await you.


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