August 17, 2018
I recently saw and reviewed the new Jurassic World movie. While the movie was absolutely horrible, I have been really psyched about dinosaurs lately. I checked out some cool dinosaur books at the library and highly recommend Dinosaurs - The Grand Tour It is basically a page for each dino, with some fun stats. It's just the right amount of technical. Better than a kid book but not a boring scientific paper either. Anyway, here are my favorites.
Honorable Mention: Dimetrodon (Not actually a dinosaur)
I had a toy dimetrodon and always assumed it was a dinosaur. It turns out, they are more closely related to mammals than modern reptiles, and lived 40 million years before any dinosaur. Dimetrodon is considered a Synapsid, and I still don't fully understand what that is. Sort of a mammal/reptile mix thing. Anyway, they are still awesome and terrifying whatever they are. The iconic sail on their back makes them very recognizable, and it is actually pretty cool that they are way older than dinosaurs. So it still earns a spot in my list.
Everyone knows triceratops, the famous ceratopsian. I've always liked its cousin, styracosaurus. They are similar to the triceratops, but with a crazier neck-frill surrounded by spikes. I had a toy styracosaurus growing up, with its neck frill pointed all the way backward, like a salamander's gills. It turns out, paleontologists originally thought the neck frill was like that because the first fossil had been crushed, now we know they looked more like triceratops with an angled neck-frill. The Natural History Museum of Utah has a great display of ceratopsians, some with very impressive and spiky neck-frills.
The terrifying velociraptors of the Jurassic Park movies aren't actually velociraptors-they are based on deinonychus. Michael Crichton, the author, decided that velociraptor was a more intimidating name and chose to use that instead. Actual velociraptors were related to deinonychus, but much smaller, about the size of a turkey. Still, these sharp clawed dinos from Jurassic Park immediately became my favorites. Paleontologists debate whether or not they really hunted in packs like in the move--modern birds and reptiles don't do that. Even if they aren't like they were in the movie, I wouldn't want to run into a deinonychus with that huge claw.
This armored dinosaur has always freaked me out with the powerful club on the end of its tail. I don't think any dinosaur wanted to be on the receiving end of that. The rest of ankylosaurus is crazy too, it is such a weird looking dinosaur. Though very few dinosaur fossils have been found in Idaho, ankylosaurus remains have been found in south-east Idaho, where I grew up. It is crazy to think these were living in Idaho.
One of my favorite computer games as a kid was The Magic Schoolbus: Dinosaurs. One of the mini-games involved controlling a protoceratops. They are like a tiny triceratops, but without any horns, and protecting your nest from egg-stealing oviraptors. The first fossilized dinosaur eggs were found with protoceratops, and paleontologists thought it must have been protecting the eggs from oviraptors. It was discovered later that the eggs were actualy oviraptor's-they found an oviraptor embryo inside.
Pachycephalosaurus probably has the most fun dinosaur name to say of them all. It rolls off the tongue so nicely. It also had a minor role in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, as a wild dino that liked to headbutt stuff. I've always been a fan of pachycephalosaurus because in the computer game Jurassic Park: Chaos Island, you can hatch dinosaur eggs and control the dinosaurs, and even though pachycephalosaurus wasn't a carnivore, it still did some serious damage to the bad guys!
There are so many huge, impressive meat-eating dinosaurs. When I was a kid I learned about Tyrannosaurus Rex, Allosaurus, Albertasaurus, and other huge meat-eaters. But one stood out-Ceratosaurus. It had a horn. It turns out that the horn was probably more of a display-thing, and not used for fighting, but of course nobody really knows. It makes ceratosaurus stand out even more, and it is one of my favorites.
- Flattened Styracosaurus skull - Paleo King
- Deinonychus renamed in Jurassic Park - Yale News
- Dinosaur fossils in Idaho - Idaho Museum of Natural History
- Protoceratops Eggs - Dallas Museum of Natural History
- Dimetrodon - Paleoplushies https://palaeoplushies.indiemade.com/gallery/image/dimetrodon-2015
- Styracosaurus - Nobu Tamura http://spinops.blogspot.com
- Pachycephalosaurus - L.D. Austin http://tavari.deviantart.com/
- Ceratosaurus and Ankylosaurus - Toys from Papo, available on Amazon
- Protoceratops - mathematical.com