A Brief History of Dinosaurs
- Dinosaurs, the word itself makes us imagine something huge and big.
- Dinosaurs were creatures that walked the earth for millions of years.
- They were able to survive for so many years because they adapted to the changing conditions in that era.
- These animals lived long ago much before people existed and hence are called prehistoric animals.
- The dinosaur age is known as the Mesozoic Era.
- The Dinosaurs belonged to the reptile family.
- Reptiles are animals like snakes and crocodiles that we see today. They have scaly and waterproof skin and lay eggs.
- You must be wondering, if people didn’t exist in that era, then how have we gathered so much information about these creatures.
- Well, here is the interesting part.
- Information about dinosaurs has been gathered through fossils.
- We know about dinosaurs from the clues left behind such as fossils of their teeth, bones, claws, footprints and even eggs.
So what are Fossils?
Fossils are the remains of a prehistoric plant or animal that have hardened into rock .
How are these Fossils Formed?
- A fossil starts forming when a dead animal gets buried in sand or mud called sediment and the flesh and skin rot away but the bones remain. Over millions of years more and more sediment builds up in layers and gradually turns into stone.
- The minerals in the stones seep through the holes in the bones and become hard turning the animal skeleton into a fossil.
- Wow! Fascinating isn’t it?
- The study of fossils is called paleontology (pronounced as pa-li-on-tol-uh-ji)
- Scientists who study fossils are called palaeontologists.
Scientists split Dinosaurs into three main periods – Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous.
1. The Triassic Period :
- The Triassic Period (stated around 250 million years ago)
- At the beginning of the Mesozoic era the continents were all joined together in a huge supercontinent called Pangea and was surrounded by a massive ocean called Panthalassa.
- This period saw small meat eating dinosaurs like the Herrerasaurus (he-rair-a-sore-us) that walked on their hind legs and the Compsognathus (komp –sog-nay-thus).
2. The Jurassic Period
- The Jurassic Period (started around 200 million years ago)
- In this period the one super continent Pangea began to split into two continents, the Gondwana and Laurasia. The continents drifted away taking animals with them forming different groups of dinosaurs.
- This period saw some large dinosaurs.
- Some of the dinosaurs of this period were Stegosaurus and Brachiosaurus.
3. The Cretaceous Period
- The Cretaceous Period (started around 145 million years ago and ended 65 million years ago)
- During this period the continents kept drifting apart. Earth divided into the various continents we see today. Different landforms shaped on our earth.
- This period included dinosaurs like Pentaceratops and Tyrannosaurus rex.
Let’s take a look into the ‘Dinosaur World’ that existed millions of years ago. The ‘Dinosaur World’ was hot and sunny. There were areas of desert and forests of conifers and ferns. Many dinosaurs of different shapes and sizes roamed the Earth. They varied from the small, bird-like dinosaurs to the huge gigantic ones who lived on land.
Plant Eating Dinosaurs :
1. Sauropods :-
Sauropods were the largest plant eating dinosaurs (herbivores). They were found in the Jurassic period. There were various kinds of sauropods.
The largest of all were the long–necked Barosaurus (Barrow-sore-us), they were plant eaters and could nibble leaves from treetops as tall as a five-storey building. A long tail helped it maintain it’s balance.
2. Saltasaurus :-
The slowest dinosaurs were sauropods like Saltasaurus (Sal-tah-sore-us). They had huge bodies and short legs.
3. Apatosaurus :-
(A-pat-oh-sore-us) were sauropods that ate large quantities of greenery everyday, they did not chew the tough plants before swallowing, instead they gulped stones that ground up the food in their stomach.
4. Edmontonia :-
There were some who were ground grazers and did not munch on treetop leaves like the Edmontonia (ed-mon-toe-nee-a). These ate mainly ferns and mosses.
These plant-eating dinosaurs roamed in herds as they felt safe and were able to look for food and warn each other about any danger.
Meat Eating Dinosaurs
- These dinosaurs existed during the Cretaceous period. They were gigantic meat eaters and ruled the land.
- Some of the largest flesh eating dinosaurs –
1. Tyrannosaurus rex (Tie-ran-oh-sore-us-recks)
2. Giganotosaurus (Jig-anno-toe-sore-us)
- Some of the fish eating dinosaurs with a head like a crocodile –
1. Suchomimus (Sue-koh-mime-us)
2. Baryonyx ( Barry-on-icks)
The End of Dinosaurs
No one knows for sure how these creatures became extinct and died out from the face of the earth.
Some scientists believe that a huge meteor hurtled through space and hit the earth in Central America forming a huge crater.
This meteor created a huge cloud of dust into the sky. It is believed the dust blocked out the sunlight for many years, the climate changed, it became very cold and many plants and animals died.
Some believe that at the end of the Mesozoic era, there were volcanoes erupting, spurting out hot molten rock called lava. The lava and the poisonous dust and chemicals emitted out of the volcanoes blocked the sunlight making the Earth cold and killing most plants and animals.
5 Interesting Facts about Dinosaurs
- The Dinosaur Provincial Park in Canada is considered as the world’s greatest dinosaur graveyard as nearly 40 kinds of dinosaurs have been found here.
- The dinosaur wall, in Utah (Western United States of America) has hundreds of dinosaur fossils on a ledge of sloping rock.
- The desert climate in Central Asia is considered perfect for preserving fossils.
- Some of the best preserved dinosaur trackways are in Australia.
- Scientists divided dinosaurs into two groups according to the shape of their hip bones. They were called lizard hipped or saurischian and bird hipped or ornithischian.
Get more Information:
- 10 Interesting Facts about Dinosaurs, visit: http://mocomi.com/fun-facts-about-dinosaurs/