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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in prehistoric
Megalosaurus: The Door to New Worlds

The first dinosaur ever to be named was Megalosaurus. The first fossil to be “officially” discovered (England, 1676), Megalosaurus was believed to be a giant human. As the first dinosaur to be drawn, her thigh fossil was depicted as a piece of male anatomy by Robert Plot. This prompted Dr. Richard Brookes to name it “scrotum humanum” in 1763.

Meanwhile, Reverend William Buckland had different ideas about Megalosaurus. An avid fossil collector, Rev. Buckland realized that the bones he possessed were instead from an ancient animal. After reviewing Buckland’s collection, Baron George Cuvier said that the fossils were of a giant lizard creature. (Cuvier was the first scientist to realize that extinction occurs.) In 1824, Rev. Buckland wrote a scientific paper and named this “lizard,” Megalosaurus, which means “great lizard.”

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Allosaurus: Be Fierce

One of the best known dinosaurs, Allosaurus is often featured in science fiction movies. Usually a group of hapless scientists go back in prehistory to explore early life. They end up being stalked and eaten by this dinosaur. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle started this particular trope by featuring Allosaurus in his novel, “The Lost World (1912).”

As one of the earliest dinosaurs to be discovered in the American West, Allosaurus was a part of the “Bone Wars” (1877-95) between Othniel C. Marsh and Edward D. Cope. Since the fossils of this dinosaur were readily found, various sets of his bones were regarded as either a new Allosaurus species or were the bones of other dinosaurs. Even today, paleontologists are still sorting out who is an Allosaurus and who is not. The one species that is universally recognized is A. fragilis, because of his many bone fractures.

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Giganotosaurus: Be Spectacular

Discovered in 1993, Giganotosaurus gave notice to the world of the huge South American dinosaurs. Because of this continent’s isolation, the dinosaurs there grew to tremendous sizes. At 45 feet (14 meters), Giganotosaurus displaced Tyrannosaurus rex as the largest meat-eater of the dinosaurs. (Later Spinosaurus supplanted them both.) At 9 tons, Giganotosaurus had to be big for She hunted 90 ton Argentinosaurus, the largest land animal ever found (so far).

As one of the Shark-teeth Dinosaurs (Carcharodontosauridae), Giganotosaurus had serrated teeth. They were thin, sharp with jagged edges similar to shark teeth. (In contrast, T. rex had blunt rounded teeth.) With her jaws, Giganotosaurus could manipulate her mouth to act like a pair of scissors. Instead of chomping through bones, She would slice through muscles and flesh. By doing that, She would weaken Argentinosaurus until He collapsed from blood loss.

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