Dinosaurs

Dinosaur eyeDinosaurs

The word dinosaur means ‘terrible lizard’ in Greek. It was coined in 1842 by Sir Richard Owen, an English professor of comparative anatomy and physiology. Here are some more amazing dinosaur facts:

 

  1. Dinosaurs first appeared in the Mid Triassic, about 230 million years ago. By the end of the Triassic they dominated life on land and would for another 140 million years until the close of the Mesozoic. The Mesozoic came to an abrupt end 65 million years ago in a dramatic extinction event.
  2. Giganotosaurus replaced T. rex as the largest meat-eating dinosaur when its discovery was announced in 1995.
  3. The first Australian dinosaur fossil to be found and described by a scientist was a theropod claw. It was discovered in 1903 at Cape Paterson, Victoria, by geologist William Ferguson.
  4. Birds are actually specialized theropod dinosaurs – the idea that birds evolved from dinosaurs was first suggested in the 1860s after the famous fossil discovery of the primitive bird Archaeopteryx.
  5. In the early 1960s, in an area south of Winton in Queensland, a local grazier uncovered some odd-shaped footprints preserved in rock. Later excavations revealed that these footprints – over 3000 of them – were left by dinosaurs on the shore of a lake about 95 million years ago. These footprints are now known as ‘The Winton Trackway.’
  6. Dinosaur life started out in a hard-shelled egg – more similar to modern bird eggs than to those of any living reptile. 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.
  7. Plant-eating dinosaurs like the mammoth dominated the landscape, far outnumbering their carnivorous counterparts.
  8. Our picture of the lone predator is changing. Recent fossil discoveries suggest some dinosaurs lived in co-operative packs, raised their young and were probably quite social.
  9. The best places to find dinosaur fossils in Australia:
    At Dinosaur Cove in Victoria you will find many fossils of ‘polar’ dinosaurs that lived 110–120 million years ago - when this area was within the Antarctic Circle .
  10. Winton in Queensland is where you will find one of the best-preserved fossilised dinosaur track ways, preserving actual dinosaur behaviour. In 1999, another site at Winton also produced Australia’s largest dinosaur – a sauropod (giant plant-eater) nicknamed ‘Elliot’.

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