Research

Legendary dinosaurs do not look like we used to think

Famous monsters like tyrannosaurs andThe velociraptors are most likely not like the monsters from our imagination and certainly behaved differently. Many of us as children, and I speak for myself absolutely sincerely, had a difficult period of love for dinosaurs. And now it turns out that much of what I knew was not true. It turns out that the modern scientific view of these things bypasses the popular image of dinosaurs.

Until the "revival of the dinosaurs" of the late 60sdinosaurs have always been portrayed as lethargic and ruminants. But experts realized that dinosaurs were active and gradually brought it to the general public - including with the help of the "Jurassic Park" in 1993.

Over the past two decades we have witnessedanother major revolution in our understanding of dinosaurs, thanks to new fossils from China and advances in technology. But most of these findings had no effect on the conventional wisdom about dinosaurs. And now I understand how strongly the images of the legendary dinosaurs have eaten into my memory - from childhood. This is how to consider Pluto as a planet of the solar system.

But now you may not recognize these dinosaurs.

Velociraptor

Let's start with an idea that many have heard about, but few have accepted: some dinosaurs had feathers. Not just a pair of feathers here and there, but a completely feather-covered body.

Already in the 1980s, some paleontologists begansuspect that the dinosaurs are feathered, it turns out, creatures. Increasingly, fossils of primitive dromaeosaurids, a family to which the Velociraptor belongs, were found with fully feathered wings. Nevertheless, the pictures of this cult predator remained fairly traditional.

That all changed in 2007 when Americanscientists have found tubercles for feathers on the bone forearm fossil velociraptor. These bumps are located where the feather is attached, and provide convincing evidence in favor of bird-like and bird-like velociraptors.

Those dinosaurs the size of humans, which were shown in the "Jurassic Park", had nothing to do with their true ancestors.

"If animals like velociraptor were alivetoday, we would immediately decide that they look like unusual birds, ”says Mark Norell of the American Museum of Natural History. And this is reflected not only in feathers: real velociraptors were the size of turkeys.

Michael Creighton, author of the original novel "ParkJurassic period ", created his" raptors "in the image of the larger deynonichs (Deinonychus). And, apparently, he deliberately called them wrong, because it seemed to him that the “velociraptor” sounds more dramatic.

Archeopteryx

Archeopteryx is widely considered the “missing link” between dinosaurs and birds. This mysterious status attracted a lot of attention to them, and not only positive.

Accusations of forgery haunt the fossils of Archeopteryx for many years, usually from people who do not like so clear evidence of evolution.

In fact, new research suggests thatArcheopteryxes may not be the missing link, but obviously not for reasons promoted by opponents of evolution. After discovering a very similar Archeopteryx dinosaur in China, scientists suggested that the famous bird ancestor could actually precede small predatory dinosaurs such as velociraptors. Since then, this version has been disputed.

Even if Archeopteryx is considered the first bird,This label is not true. “It’s fundamentally impossible to draw a line on an evolutionary tree between dinosaurs and birds,” says Steve Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh in the UK, co-author of 2014, who studies the evolution of the first birds.

Everything points to the fact that there was no missing link between birds and dinosaurs, but only a gradual transition involving many feathered intermediate species.

Triceratops

This eternal adversary of a tyrannosaur and a favorite model for plastic figures - who doesn't love Triceratops?

So when in 2009 John Scannell and JohnHorner published a paper that suggested that Triceratops was simply a juvenile version of a larger but less well-known torosaur (Torosaurus), waves of hatred fell upon them, and then disappointment came. The hashtag #TriceraFAIL was invented. People decided that their favorite dinosaur was invented.

But that was not the case. Very soon, commentators began to point out that Triceratops had been found earlier, so that if anyone should be removed, then these are torosauri. But the lesson was very important. Our knowledge of dinosaurs is often based on scant fossils, so even known species undergo changes.

Brontosaurus

Brontosaurus got its name in honor of the archetypical sauropod: huge, awkward herbivores with long necks. But for hundreds of years, scientists were convinced that this dinosaur never existed.

The skeleton, which was first introduced as a brontosaurus, remained from an apatosaurus with a skull of a kamarosaurus.

However, in 2015, a group of scientists presentedanalysis showing significant differences between the original brontosaurus and fossil apatosaurus, suggesting that the genus of brontosaurs should be resurrected.

The key distinguishing factor, the team says, is size. In the family of giant reptiles, the apatosaurus was huge.

Tyrannosaurus rex

Some scientists specifically fenced offtyrannosaurus After decades of excuses, they say that it was a humble grass eater, and not a ferocious predator from a popular performance, now this lizard is experiencing another identity crisis.

As the feathered revolution embraced paleontology, experts began to think about the genus Tyrannosaurus. Of course, how could the most charismatic predator of all time be feathered?

Not a single gram of plumage was found in over 50 T. rex remains throughout North America. But along with the excavations in China, there were very, very interesting hints.

In 2004, found a primitive tyrannosauroid withwith feathers similar to those of other small predatory dinosaurs. This was followed by the discovery of Yutyrannus in 2012 - which means "feathered tyrant". This giant predator was closely related to T. rex, and not only in terms of size. He was covered with long feathers.

These data suggest that on thea famous predator of all time needs to look different. The question is, was the feathered tyrannosaurus not as scary as the roaring and devouring lawyer monster we all love so much?

Stegosaurus

Experts are famous for their ability to invent stupid explanations for the strange characteristics of dinosaurs; explanations that surely crawl into popular opinions and remain there.

For example, the “fact” that the stegosaurus had an extra brain in the pelvic area, which compensated for the tiny brain (cerebellum?) In the small head, is widespread.

But no, a stegosaurus may not have been the mostwitty among his friends, but did not need an extra brain. This additional cavity, which gave rise to the myth, most likely placed the "glycogen body": a structure that many birds have and which is involved in the storage of energy.

He also has plates on his back.

For some time the most popularthe theory was that the most distinctive feature of a stegosaurus is ... "solar panels" that help it regulate body temperature. But it always remained the subject of violent scientific battles. If this is true, why are other stegosaur ornaments more like thorns than panels?

A variety of stegosaurus thorns played a role inanother course of thought. Like the bright and colorful plumage of tropical birds, these plates may have helped dinosaurs distinguish each other and attract partners.

Sex could be a key development factor.many extravagant traits observed in dinosaurs. In recent years, everything, starting with the long necks of the sauropod and ending with the lush jerk of the ceratops, has been attributed to sexual selection.

Pachycephalosaurus

And although this dinosaur is not included in the first class of the legendary dinosaurs, pachycephalosaur is well known among dinosaur fans for its armored head.

These dinosaurs are almost exclusively portrayed.participating in battles, colliding with their heads. Pachycephalosaurs had dome-shaped heads with a powerful reinforced skull. It was believed that the males used these built-in rams to fight each other, like the sheep of our days.

However, some scientists questioned that pachycephalosaurs were fighters.

"Our studies have shown that pachycephalosaurscould only be bent on their heads once and a subsequent injury could have killed them, ”says John Horner of the University of Montana in the USA, who studied the microstructure of dinosaur cranial tissue. He suggests that the domes were another way to attract partners (sex, of course, and not on business).

Ankylosaurus

Covered with thick armor plates from head to tail, the ankylosaurus was such a medieval knight of the Cretaceous period.

Modern paleontologists use the latesttechnology to squeeze more and more information from fossils. In 2004, Thorsten Scheyer of the University of Bonn in Germany used polarization microscopy to reveal new remarkable levels of complexity of the ankylosaur shell.

It turned out that bulky-looking armor has a complex microstructure of bones and collagen, similar to the structure of fiberglass or Kevlar.

"This shell was very durable in all places,Says Scheyer. And surprisingly easy. “Modern composite materials that are used to make wind farm blades or body armor are based on the same principle.”

It seems that Ankylosaurus was more like a modern super-soldier than a medieval knight.

Spinosaurus

Another dinosaur, which became famous for the film "Jurassic Park", is a spinosaur: in the film he fought with a tyrannosaur.

It's easy to see why filmmakers chose toSpinosaurus Being 15.2 meters long, it is 2.7 meters longer than a tyrannosaur. He also had a long and terrible jaw and a bizarre “sail” protruding from the back.

Spinosaurus has always been a mysterious dinosaur,known only from fragments of the skeleton found in the deserts of North Africa. But in 2014, a team of archaeologists led by Nizar Ibrahim from the University of Chicago in Illinois announced the discovery of new remains. These fossils seem to have confirmed what was long suspected: a spinosaur is the only water dinosaur.

Ibrahim's analysis revealed a creature with smallhind limbs that are more suitable for swimming than for hunting on land. He also had a long crocodile snout and a bone microstructure similar to that of other waterfowl vertebrates.

“Working on this animal was like exploring an alien from space,” Ibrahim says. “This dinosaur is like no other.”

Bonus: pterosaurs

This item is not entirely considered because the pterosaurs were not dinosaurs: a fact that is periodically overlooked.

Many of us are familiar with the name "pterodactyl". But under this name there are many groups of flying reptiles, collectively called “pterosaurs”. And this group was just huge.

At one end of the spectrum we finda non-nickelopterus, a tiny pterosaur with a wingspan of 25 centimeters (10 inches). There are also larger creatures: azhdarchids. When they spread their wings, their span was a whopping 10 meters. If judged this way, they were the largest flying animals of all time.

According to the BBC