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The Fierce Dinosaur Life Cycle
Transcript of The Fierce Dinosaur Life Cycle
How long before those little hatchlings became big ‘handfuls’? Did they grow quickly like most warm-blooded mammals and birds or slowly like cold-blooded reptiles?
Many dinosaurs, particularly large theropods, hadrosaurs and sauropods, probably grew very quickly during the early years of life and slowed as they reached adulthood. However, it appears they had unique growth patterns that were faster than living reptiles but slower than most mammals or birds.
Dead as a Dinosaur
Dinosaur grey-power, grandparents and retirement homes? Could they live that long? In living animals, life span depends mainly on size and metabolism. For instance, reptiles with slow metabolisms tend to have longer life spans than warm-blooded birds and mammals of the same size. As evidence suggests that many dinosaurs had metabolisms more like birds, they probably did not have the same relative life spans as large reptiles. It is possible that sauropods reached 50-100 years, large theropods a bit less and smaller dinosaurs could live to about 10 or 20.
The Way out
The word dinosaur comes from the Greek language and means ‘terrible lizard’. The word was coined by English paleontologist Richard Owen in 1842 and was meant to refer to Dinosaurs impressive size rather than their scary appearance.
Dinosaurs ruled the Earth for over 160 million years, from the Triassic period around 230 million years ago through the Jurassic period and until the end of the Cretaceous period around 65 million years ago.
The time period from 250 million years ago until around 65 million years ago is known as the Mesozoic Era. It is often referred to as the Age of the Dinosaurs because most dinosaurs developed and became extinct during this time.
It is believed that dinosaurs lived on Earth until around 65 million years ago when a mass extinction occurred.
Scientists believe that the event leading to the extinction may have been a massive asteroid impact or huge volcanic activity. Events such as these could have blocked out sunlight and significantly changed the Earth’s ecology.
Dinosaur life started out in a hard-shelled egg. These came in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on the species, but all had shells with internal structures more similar to modern bird eggs than to those of any living reptile. Most were laid in nests of mud or hollows scooped in sand, although some sauropods appeared to lay their eggs in simple lines. Large nesting colonies have also been found, suggesting breeding was social for some species – just like many birds today.
where have eggs been found?
Dinosaur eggs have been found at over 200 sites around the world, with important sites in the USA, China, France, Argentina, and India. No eggs have as yet been found in Australia
Aepyornis Maximus is an extinct bird that laid some of the largest eggs of any known animal. Its egg is close to the maximum size for an egg. Bigger eggs require thicker shells so they don’t collapse. However, if the shell is too thick the hatching can’t escape and if the egg is too large the embryo suffocates as not enough oxygen and carbon dioxide pass across the membrane.
Not So Good
growing up can be a little bumpy for some creatures. some dinosaurs get eaten by another hungry carnivore. But even worse, a dinosaur thief can take unhatched eggs. They weren't even born yet!
The first dinosaur to be formally named was the Megalosaurus, back in 1824.
A person who studies dinosaurs is known as a paleontologist.
Rather than being carnivores (meat eaters), the largest dinosaurs such as the Brachiosaurus and Apatosaurus were actually herbivores (plant eaters).
To help fight meat eaters such as the Allosaurus or Spinosaurus, many plant eaters had natural weapons at their disposal. Examples of this include the spikes on the tail of the Stegosaurus and the three horns attached to the front of the Triceratops’s head shield.
Pterodactyls are not dinosaurs, they were flying reptiles that lived during the age of dinosaurs but by definition they do not fall into the same category. The same goes for water based reptiles such as Plesiosaurs.
Birds descended from a type of dinosaurs known as theropods.
Despite being long extinct, dinosaurs are frequently featured in the media. One of the more memorable examples of this is Michael Crichton’s 1990 book Jurassic Park. Adapted to movie in 1993, the story features cloned dinosaurs brought to life with the help of DNA found in mosquitoes trapped in amber.