This Week in Dinosaur News: Butcher Crocodile, Jurassic Park Lego Movie Short, Dinosaur Balloon Sculptures, and More

Here’s what came out this week in dinosaur news:

  • LiveScience reported that  Carnufex carolinensis, the “Butcher Crocodile,” which lived 230 million years ago (before dinosaurs), was 9-feet tall, walked on two legs, and ate armored reptiles and early mammals
  • Paleo-artist Tyler Keillor, who often creates artistic representations of dinosaurs that give the public their first impressions of what a species looked like, argued that T-rex had lips, according to the Wall Street Journal and the WSJ blog.
  • Families can learn how to create fossil models at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, according to WRAL
  • Singapore’s annual Balloon Event will feature 10 dinosaur balloon sculptures, made by 45 artists from 9 countries, and using 85,000 balloons (14 different types of balloons); according to The Straits Times, “the huge installation will be an attempt to break the record for Singapore’s Largest Balloon Landscape”
  • ABC reported that the Museum of Ancient Life in Lehigh, Utah is getting 125-million-year-old skeletons, including 10 Utahraptors, found in what “paleontologists believe the site is the first documented example of dinosaurs trapped by quicksand”
  • According to WMI Central, professor David Smith from the Northland Pioneer College has research that proves the dinosaur Nothronychus looked more like an ostrich than a ground sloth, as previously thought
  • In Brisbane, Australia, the Brisbane Times reported that scientists have done a CT scan of the bones of Diamantinasaurus matildae, one of the largest dinosaurs in Queensland, to see how it moved and handled all of its weight
  • The Queensland Museum in Brisbane, Australia has an exhibit called  Dinosaur Discovery: Lost Creatures with 20 animatronic dinosaurs, according to the museum’s website
  • Jurassic World won’t be out in theaters until June 12, but there’s already confirmation of a sequel, as reported in Franchise Herald and Jurassic World
  • Last, but not least, Geekologie reported a father daughter team who created a 3 minute Lego stop-motion video of Jurassic Park.

Kulindadromeus: Kulinda River Running Dinosaur

Wind slices through Kulindadromeus’s feathers as he runs, as fast as his two small legs can carry him. Although Kulindadromeus is only five feet long, the little dinosaur is known in his habitat for his speed.

The wind feels good, but after a few minutes Kulindadromeus slows down and stops to take a drink from the river near where he lives. From the edge of the water he has a good view of one of the many volcanoes in the area. They are all active, but Kulindadromeus has adapted to life near the volcanoes and knows how to get away when necessary.

He takes a few steps into the water and splashes around. His feathers on his arms and legs get weighed down by the water, but Kulindadromeus doesn’t care. The day is warm and the extra insulation is a burden, at least for now. When night falls, the down feathers will be more welcome.

After his thirst is quenched and Kulindadromeus has cooled down, he leaves the water and searches for food. Vegetation lies only a few feet away, but he is tough plant matter. Fortunately, Kulindadromeus has sharp ridges in his teeth to help he chew. He bites into his lunch with gusto, loudly chewing with his mouth open.

The vegetation is tough, but the scales on Kulindodromeus’ hands, ankles, and feet help protect the dinosaur and prevent cuts. Kulindadromeus also has scales on his tail, which he uses to help balance while he bites off vegetation.

The bristles on Kulindadromeus’ head and back stiffen, and, sensing another dinosaur, Kulindadromeus takes a break from lunch and turns around.

A female Kulindadromeus awaits him. Though Kulindadromeus is still a juvenile, he is old enough to know how his kind mates. Wanting to impress the female, he uses his short arms to show off his impressive, soft feathers.

The female, who is also young, seems to approve. Slowly she approaches Kulindadromeus, but is interrupted when the nearby volcano erupts. The eruption is sudden, and ash and lava spew out thousands of feet into the air, accompanied by a deafening roar. Ash and dust form a large dark cloud that starts to roll towards the dinosaurs.

Kulindodromeus can see rocks falling. Kulindodromeus quickly looks over to the female, and they give each other a curt nod before taking off. Lava could start flowing at any moment, and it is best to get away as far as possible.

Kulindodromeus flaps its arms, but it cannot fly. Instead, both Kulindodromeus and the female Kulindodromeus run as fast as they can. Behind them the smoke and ash gobbles everything up, covering everything in darkness.

The two run for miles, not stopping to look back. They head up hill when they can. Eventually, they can no longer run, and they collapse. Fortunately the volcano’s eruption is relatively small, and they are out of harm’s way.

After stopping to catch his breath, Kulindadromeus looks over at the female Kulindadromeus. She feels him staring and she looks back at him. He raises his arms, so she can once again see his impressive feathers.

Facts about Kulindadromeus:

  • Kulindadromeus lived about 160 million years ago and lived in Easter Siberia
  • The dinosaur was pretty small, about the size of a turkey
  • Kulindadromeus walked on two legs and had short arms
  • It also had scales on its tail and shins, short bristles on its head and back, and feathers on its arms and legs
  • Kulindadromeus is one of the few herbivores found to have fossil feathers, which makes some scientists believe all dinosaurs could have had feathers, or at least the potential for feathers
  • The area where Kulindadromeus was found had a lot of volcanoes. Fossil feathers are rare, and the reason why they may be preserved in Kulindadromeus is because the dinosaur specimens fell to the bottom of the nearby lake and was covered in ash
  • Kulindadromeus could not fly, but it may have used its feathers for insulation or display

Find out more in the I Know Dino podcast, episode 12, “Kulindadromeus.”

Resources:

5 Facts About Oryctodromeus

Oryctodromeus cubicularis in its burrow, by Michael B. H., courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Burrowing Runner

Oryctodromeus, whose name means “Burrowing Runner,” was first discovered by Dr. Anthony J. Martin and his colleagues in 2007. Oryctodromeus lived during the Middle Cretaceous, about 95 million years ago, in southwestern Montana and southwestern Idaho. Here are five quick facts about Oryctodromeus:

  • Oryctodromeus Fact #1: Oryctodromeus did not have long arms and legs, like modern burrowing animals. Instead it had more specialized adaptations, such as a flexible tail it could curl up underground. This makes it similar to rabbits, aardvarks, and hyenas.
  • Oryctodromeus Fact #2: Oryctodromeus was the first known burrowing dinosaur, and Dr. Martin and his colleagues found an adult and two juveniles in a fossilized chamber, in 2007.Oryctodromeus made its home its exact width, at 11.8 inches, probably to keep larger animals from coming inside the burrow.
  • Oryctodromeus Fact #3:  The fossils Dr. Martin and his team found had died and decayed in the burrow. Having juveniles with the adults suggests Oryctodromeus provided parental care for an extended period of time.
  • Oryctodromeus Fact #4: Oryctodromeus may have lived in burrows to survive in harsh weather conditions, such as cold temperatures. Their discovery has led some scientists to look at how dinosaurs in polar conditions may have survived.
  • Oryctodromeus Fact #5: Oryctodromeus was small, but quick. It was only 6.8 feet long, and weighed 70 pounds

Resources:

This Week in Dinosaur News: Vandalized Eggs, Jurassic Park, Golf Courses and More

Here’s what came out this week in dinosaur news:

  • 70 million-year old dinosaur eggs at Coll de Nargó in Lleida were vandalized, according to The Local
  • NY Daily News reported that a huge, 13-foot dinosaur-looking alligator was spotted on a Florida golf course
  • Business Insider shared how Jurassic Park made its dinosaur sounds. Spoilers: the sound of the raptors is from tortoises having sex.
  • Christian Science Monitor reported about an 8-year-old girl is leading a campaign against Clarks, in hopes they will start offering dinosaur shoes for girls (or at least not just flowery shoes). From the article: “TrowelBlazers, an online community for female archaeologists, geologists, and paleontologists, has lent their support to her campaign, posting pictures of their footwear to Twitter under the tag #InMyShoes.
  • Decider shared a fun mashup of Earl Sinclair from the 90s TV show Dinosaurs performing “Hypnotize” b y the Notorious B.I.G.
  • Hyde Park Herald reported about Nizar Ibrahim, who discovered the first semiaquatic dinosaur fossil in the Sahara Desert
  • The North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro is opening a new exhibit, called “Dinosaurs,” according to HNGN
  • PC World reported on the new Jurassic Park/Jurassic World lego game, which lets players play as dinosaurs
  • NBC reported that the Dallas Zoo will have a dinosaur exhibit
  • This year’s Paleofest will have an animatronic dinosaur, according to WIFR
  • You can create your own 3D pterodactyl puzzle on Kickstarter’s KitRex

Deinocheirus: Terrible Hand

The sun is hot on Deinocheirus’ back. The morning had passed quickly and uneventfully, and now Deinocheirus wades in a shallow stream, partly to find food, but mostly to cool itself down. Its hoof-like claws on its toes keep it from sinking in the mud.

The dinosaur lowers its head towards the water, and with its duck-like bill, Deinocheirus sucks up the soft plants that hide at the bottom of the stream. The round, flat beak is covered in keratin, which strengthens it. Deinocheirus uses its big tongue inside its deep lower jaw to push the vegetation down its gullet. Deinocheirus has no teeth, so to help grind up its meal, Deinocheirus picks up a couple smooth stones and swallows them whole. These gastroliths will help it digest food over time.

A small fish swims near Deinocheirus, to pick at the plants. Not wanting to miss an opportunity, Deinocheirus reaches out for the fish with its eight-foot long arms. The fish tries to dart out of the way, but Deinocheirus uses its claws to catch the prey. The giant dinosaur has a weak bite, so it cannot simply take a chunk out of its meal. Instead, Deinocheirus scoops up the fish from its hands with its tongue and swallows.

Now, after a light snack and a chance to cool down, Deinocheirus wades out of the water and looks for more vegetation to eat. At 35 feet long and weighing 6 tons, it lumbers out of the water on its two muscular legs and heads for a patch of trees full of fresh, mouth-watering leaves.

Deinocheirus pulls down the branches with its claws and plucks off its food. With its long, ostrich-like neck, it can reach almost all the vegetation. As it eats, Deinocheirus tail feathers wag happily. It is so engrossed in its food it almost doesn’t see the hungry Tarbosaurus approach.

But it hears the carnivore growl, and though Deinocheirus is not the brightest dinosaur, it understands that it is in danger. Instincts kick in, and Deinocheirus looks around for an escape route. But Tarbosaurus is too close, and Deinocheirus has too large a stomach and cannot run, so it must find another way to defend itself.

So, Deinocheirus decides to make itself seem bigger. It lifts its large horse-like head and straightens out its s-curved back, to better emphasize the sail-like structure that lines its vertebrae. The large dinosaur grunts, to show Tarbosaurus it is not afraid.

Tarbosaurus takes a closer look at Deinocheirus, sizing it up. Puffed up, Deinocheirus looks much bigger than Tarbosaurus originally thinks. Eventually, the carnivore decides it is not worth the effort, and backs away.

Deinocheirus waits for the predator to skulk out of sight and then resumes eating. Wanting to spice up its diet, it chooses to dig for its next meal, using its blunt claws to root for food in the ground.

The fish and the plants are not enough for Deinocheirus, and it wants to eat as much as it can before the sun sets and it must settle in for the night.

Facts about Deinocheirus:

  • The full name for Deinocheirus is Deinocheirus mirificus, which means “terrible hand”
  • Deinocheirus lived in the Cretaceous, about 70 million years ago, in Mogolia’s Gobi Desert
  • For 50 years, all scientists knew about Deinocheirus was that it had giant arms
  • In 2014, Deinocheirus was finally described in Nature journal, and classified as a primitive ornithomimosaurian (previously scientists thought it was a theropod)
  • Deinocheirus has been compared to Jar Jar from Star Wars, because it looks so strange
  • Deinocheirus was 35 feet long, weighed 6 tons, had a 3-foot long head, and a narrow body
  • The dinosaur also had spines like Spinosaurus, truncated, hoof-like claws on its feet, an ostrich-like neck, flat duck-like bill, large lower jaw, tail feathers, short claws on its hands, bulky, tyrannosaur-like hind legs, and sauropod-like hips
  • Deinocheirus ate everything, including plants, fish, and small vertebrates
  • Deinocheirus had a small brain size compared to the rest of its body and was too large to run
  • Deinocheirus was probably prey for Tarbosaurus, but its enormousness would have helped protect it

Find out more in the I Know Dino podcast, episode 10, “Deinocheirus.”

Resources:

5 Facts About Tyrannosaurus Rex

T-rex skeleton photo by Dylan Kereluk, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Tyrant Lizard

Tyrannosaurus Rex, whose name means “Tyrant Lizard,” was first discovered by Barnum Brown in 1902. T-rex lived during the late Cretaceous period, in western North America, at the time an island continent called Laramidia. Here are five quick facts about T-rex:

  • T-Rex Fact #1: T-rex was one of the largest known land predators. It grew up to 40 feet in length, 13 feet tall at the hips, and weighed 6.8 metric tons. T-rex probably had feathers, at least on parts of its body. T-rex also had enhanced eyesight, hearing, and sense of smell (comparable to modern vultures), and could track prey movements from long distances.
  • T-Rex Fact #2: Scientists used to think T-rex walked upright and dragged its tail (like a “living tripod”) but now they think the tail as off the ground, as seen in Jurassic Park. Henry Fairfield Osborn, the former president of the American Museum of Natural History, was convinced T-rex stood upright and unveiled the first complete T-rex skeleton this way in 1915. It stood in this upright pose for 77 years, until 1992.
  • T-Rex Fact #3: T-rex was probably a predator and a scavenger, and was estimated to have one of the largest bite forces among all terrestrial animals. It had large, serrated teeth, and could probably eat 500 pounds in one bite. Because meat got stuck in T-rex‘s teeth, bacteria gave it a  septic bite,” meaning one bite could have infected prey, causing it to die weeks later if it successfully escaped a T-rex attack.
  • T-Rex Fact #4: Female T-rex was bigger than male T-rex. They may have been as much as a few thousand pounds bigger.
  • T-Rex Fact #5: T-rex may have had pack behavior. This means they may have hunted together. According to Pete Larson, there have been four instances where more than one T-rex has been reported found together.

Resources:

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