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The Most Exciting (and Frustrating) Stories From This Year in Dinosaurs

A restoration of Nyasasaurus in its Middle Triassic habitat, based on the known bones and comparisons to closely related forms. The description of Nyasasaurus was one of the year’s most important dinosaur stories. Art by Mark Witton. There’s always something new to learn about dinosaurs. Whether it’s the description of a previously-unknown species or...

From Golf Courses to Petting Zoos, Dinosaurs Get in the Way

Dinosaurs are much more than real monsters that fire our imaginations, but, let’s face it, part of their persistent appeal is that many were enormous prehistoric oddities. And it’s just that aspect of dinosaurian nature that is raising ire in a historically-rich California town and on an Australian golf course. San Juan Capistrano, California is famous...

Did Early Dinosaurs Burrow?

The “Morphotype 1″ tunnel complex: points marked “a” represent tunnels, and points marked “b” signify vertical shafts. From Colombi et al., 2012. Dinosaurs never cease to surprise. Even though documentaries and paleoart regularly restore these creatures in lifelike poses, the fact is that ongoing investigations into dinosaur lives have revealed behaviors...

Beyond the Childhood Dinosaur Phase: Why Dinosaurs Should Matter to Everyone

Dinosaurs are often thought of as kid’s stuff. In America, at least, going through a “dinosaur phase” is just another part of childhood, and somewhere along the way we’re expected to stop acting like walking encyclopedias to Mesozoic life. Yet this narrow view of dinosaurs as nothing more than pre-teen kitsch obscures the essential truths these animals...

I is for Irritator

A reconstruction of Irritator. Photo by Kabacchi, image from Wikipedia. Spinosaurs are often called “fish-eating dinosaurs.” Their long, shallow snouts recall the jaws of crocodiles, and, based on gut contents and fossil geochemistry, it seems that these dinosaurs truly were piscivores. Yet spinosaurs weren’t on a strict fish diet. In 2004, Eric Buffetaut...

How Did Raptors Use Their Fearsome Toe Claws?

Did Deinonychus and other “raptors” use their foot claws to restrain prey? Art by Emily Willoughby, image from Wikipedia. When paleontologist John Ostrom named Deinonychus in 1969, he provided the spark for our long-running fascination with the “raptors.” Similar dinosaurs had been named before–Velociraptor and Dromaeosaurus were named four decades...

What Prehistoric Reptile Do These Three-foot Claws Belong To?

The arms of Therizinosaurus–as yet, the rest of the dinosaur is missing. Photo by FunkMonk, image from Wikipedia. The most famous set of arms in the history of dinosaurs belong to Deinocheirus–eight foot long appendages from a huge ornithomimosaur that roamed Mongolia around 70 million years ago. But the immense ostrich-mimic wasn’t the only giant omnivore...

Scientists Discover Oldest Known Dinosaur

A restoration of Nyasasaurus in its Middle Triassic habitat, based on the known bones and comparisons to closely related forms. Art by Mark Witton. For the past twenty years, Eoraptor has represented the beginning of the Age of Dinosaurs. This controversial little creature–found in the roughly 231-million-year-old rock of Argentina–has often been cited...

H is for Hagryphus

The articulated, almost-complete hand of Hagryphus giganteus. From Zanno and Sampson, 2005. When I think of oviraptorosaurs – feathered, beaked, omnivorous theropods–my mind immediately jumps to Mongolia’s famous brooding dinosaurs and other forms extracted from Asia’s Cretaceous rock. But these weird dinosaurs were present in North America, too. Among...

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Dinosaurian Oddities

A cautious Camptosaurus approaches a resting Allosaurus. Even though the carnivore undoubtedly hunted the herbivore at times, the two weren’t constantly at war with each other. Art by John Conway, from All Yesterdays. The dinosaurs I grew up with were both intensely exciting and incredibly dull. They were creatures unlike anything I had ever seen, but...

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