There is so much we don’t know about the creatures who ruled the earth before mammals took over. Even though we know so little, we’ve created an idea of dinosaurs in our minds based on what we see in movies and on tv… except Hollywood isn’t exactly known for being 100% accurate. Here are a few common myths and facts about dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs had feathers
When they were first discovered, it was just assumed all dinosaurs were scaly reptiles. Scientists figured out pretty early that they were related to modern-day crocodiles and lizards, so assumptions were made. Further discoveries, though, indicated many dinosaurs had feathers. Preserved through amber, sedimentary rock, and fossils, scientists have found that cousins of the T. Rex were feathered dinosaurs making it possible T. Rex’s were too!
Birds are dinosaurs
In the beginning, we thought dinosaurs were simply reptiles. As more research and specimens were found, scientists realized that dinosaurs are the ancestor of reptiles and birds. Paleontologists and some biologists have begun to classify birds as “avian dinosaurs.” This also means that dinosaurs aren’t technically extinct!
Some dinosaurs were warm-blooded
Another interesting discovery that contradicted the first assumption that all dinosaurs were reptiles was data, implying that some were warm-blooded. Chemicals in shell fragments, the presence of downy feathers, and even the gradual shrinking of some species all suggest some dinos weren’t as reptilian as we first thought.
Dinosaurs were pretty colorful
We think of most dinosaurs as being a dull green color thanks to movies like Jurassic Park, but in fact, many dinosaurs were rather colorful. Scientists have been able to figure out pigment colors from preserved feathers and found that some dinosaurs were orange, some had raccoon masks, and some even had zebra stripes! Though it may be more accurate to say now that raccoons and zebras have dinosaur masks and stripes.
The T. Rex may not have been a predator
The fearsome Tyrannosaurus Rex is usually thought of as an apex predator of the Cretaceous Era. With size, strength, and massive jaws on its side, it’s hard to imagine the T. Rex as anything but the top of the food chain. New models would suggest that speed was not the T. Rex’s strong suit, and the effort needed to move quickly might actually break a T. Rex’s bones! With research to suggest the beast could only walk, scientists have hypothesized the T. Rex was a scavenger and not a predator like so many movies want you to believe.
We’re still learning so many new things about dinosaurs, from how they were built to their nurturing habits. Nothing is a given. We can’t even really trust the information we already have since so much of it has been proven totally or at least partially untrue. Were they actually as lean as we think they were? How much like birds did they act? So many unanswered questions will probably never have a definitive answer. Scientists are still even arguing over what really killed them.
The massive creatures which ruled the planet before us will likely stay a mystery until we can invent a time machine to see them with our own eyes. But it’s fun to learn something new about them and know that each discovery was millennia in the making.