Dinosaurs Essays

Dinosaurs Essay

DINOSAURS

Dinosaur is the name of large extinct reptiles of the Mesozoic Era, during which they were the dominant land animals on Earth. The term was proposed as a formal zoologic name in 1842 by the British anatomist Sir Richard Owen, in reference to large fossil bones unearthed in southern England. The various kinds of dinosaurs are classified in two formal categories, the orders Saurischia and Ornithischia, within the subclass Archosauria.

The first recorded dinosaur remains found consisted of a few teeth and bones. They were discovered in 1882 in Sussex, England, by an English doctor, Gideon Mantell, who named them iguanodon. About the same time, other fossil teeth and bones were found near Oxford, England, by Rev. William Buckland. These were named Megalosaurus. Thousands of specimens have since been discovered nearly worldwide.

Different types of dinosaurs varied greatly in form and size, and they were adapted for diverse habitats. Their means of survival can only be identified from their fossil remains, and some identifications are in dispute. They ranged in weight from 4 to 6 lb., in the case of the compsognathus, and up to 160,000 lb., in the case of the brachiosaurus. Most dinosaurs were large, weighing more than 1,100 lb., and few weighed less than 100 lb. Most were herbivores, but some saurischians were carnivorous. The majority were four-footed but some ornithischians and all carnivores walked on their hind legs.

Always classified as reptiles, dinosaurs have traditionally been assumed to have been reptilian in their physiology, cold-blooded, and ectothermic. In recent years several different lines of evidence have been interpreted as indicating that dinosaurs may have had warm blood and high rates of metabolism, comparable to birds and mammals. Evidence supporting this view includes upright posture and carriage; mammallike microscopical structure of bones; skeletal features suggestive of high activity; and specialized food-processing dentitions and low ratios of dinosaurian predators to prey animals, both suggesting high food requirements. The evidence is not conclusive--all the facts can be alternatively explained--but some dinosaurs may have been endothermic.

The reproductive means of most dinosaurs...

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Millions of years ago, long before there were any people, there were dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were one of several kinds of prehistoric reptiles that lived during the Mesozoic Era, the "Age of Reptiles."

 


The dinosaurs dominated the Earth for over 165 million years, but mysteriously went extinct 65 million years ago. Paleontologists study their fossil remains to learn about the amazing prehistoric world of dinosaurs.


 


Dinosaurs were land-dwelling reptiles that walked with an erect stance. Their unique hip structure caused their legs to stick out from under their bodies, and not sprawl out from the side (like other reptiles ). When dinosaurs first evolved from more primitive archosaurs, they were bipedal (walked on two legs). Much later, some dinosaur groups returned to a four-legged stance, having hind legs much larger than their front legs .


 


There were lots of different kinds of dinosaurs that lived at different times. Some were HUGE, some were small. Some walked on two legs, some walked on four . Some were speedy , and some were slow and lumbering . Some were carnivores and some were herbivores . Some were armor-plated, some had thick, bumpy skin, some had horns , some even had primitive feathers.


 


No one knows what colors or patterns they were, how they sounded, how they behaved, how they mated, or even how to tell whether a fossil came from a male or a female dinosaur.


 


Dinosaurs suddenly became extinct about 65 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous period, which was a time of high volcanic and tectonic activity. There are a lot of theories why the extinction occurred. The most widely accepted theory is that an asteroid impact caused major climactic changes which the dinosaurs couldn't adapt to.

All that's left of the dinosaurs are fossils.


 


Although dinosaurs' fossils have been known since 1818, the term dinosaur (deinos = terrifying; sauros = lizard) was coined by the English anatomist Sir Richard Owen in 1842. The only three dinosaurs known at the time were Megalosaurus, Iguanodon, and Hylaeosaurus, very large dinosaurs.



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