Dinosauria

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Dinosaurs were a highly diverse group of diapsid reptiles that appeared during the Triassic period, 231.4 million years ago, and were the dominant terrestrial vertebrates for 135 million years, from the beginning of the Jurassic (about 201 million years ago) until the end of the Cretaceous (66 million years ago), when the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event led to the extinction of most dinosaur groups at the close of the Mesozoic Era. The fossil record indicates that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs during the Jurassic Period and, consequently, they are considered a subgroup of dinosaurs by many paleontologists.

Quotes[edit]

If we measured success by longevity, then dinosaurs must rank as the number one success story in the history of land life. - Robert T. Bakker
The choice is yours: accept the feathered Utahraptor and science, or the scaley raptor and ignorance. - Andrea Cau
The more that we learn about these animals the more we find that there is basically no difference between birds and their closely related dinosaur ancestors like velociraptor. - Mark Norell
How would we think and feel about predatory dinosaurs if they were alive today?... We might admire their size and power, much as many are fascinated with war and its machines, but we would not like them. Their images in literature and music would be demonic and powerful - monsters to be feared and destroyed, yet emulated at the same time. - Gregory S. Paul
The only strongly aquatic dinosaurs are some birds. - Gregory S. Paul
You can distinguish birds among dinosaurs, but it is no longer possible to distinguish birds from dinosaurs. - Aron Ra
  • When the dinosaurs fell at the end of the Cretaceous, they were not a senile, moribund group that had played out its evolutionary options. Rather they were vigorous, still diversifying into new or­ders and producing a variety of big­brained carnivores with the highest grade of intelligence yet present on land.
    • Robert T. Bakker, "Dinosaur Renaissance", Scientific American 232, no. 4 (April 1975), 58—78
  • If we measured success by longevity, then dinosaurs must rank as the number one success story in the history of land life. Not only did dinosaurs exercise an airtight monopoly as large land animals, they kept their commanding position for an extraordinary span of time - 130 million years. Our own human species is no more than a hundred thousand years old. And our own zoological class, the Mammalia, the clan of of warm-blooded furry creatures, has ruled the land ecosystem for only seventy million years. True, the dinosaurs are extinct, but we ought to be careful in judging them inferior to our own kind. Who can say that the human system will last another thousand years, let alone a hundred million? Who can predict that our Class Mammalia will rule for another hundred thousand millennia?
    • Robert T. Bakker (1986), The Dinosaur Heresies: A Revolutionary View of Dinosaurs, Longman Scientific & Technical, p. 16
  • Humans are proud of themselves. The guiding principle of the modern age is "Man is the measure of all things." And our bodies have excited physiologists and philosophers to a profound awe of the basic mammalian design. But the history of the dinosaurs should teach us some humility... If our fundamental mammalian mode of adaptation was superior to the dinosaurs', then history should record the meteoric rise of the mammals and the eclipse of the dinosaurs. Our own Class Mammalia did not seize the dominant position in life on land. Instead, the mammal clan was but one of many separate evolutionary families that succeeded as species only by taking refuge in small body size during the Age of Dinosaurs. As long as there were dinosaurs, a full 130 million years, remember, the warm-blooded league of furry mammals produced no species bigger than a cat.
    • Robert T. Bakker (1986), The Dinosaur Heresies: A Revolutionary View of Dinosaurs, Longman Scientific & Technical, p. 17
  • Twentieth-century paleontologists have fallen into the bad habit of reconstructing the dinosaurs' life functions by using crocodiles as a living model. But the earliest researchers of the nineteenth century proved beyond a doubt that the dinosaurs' powerful hind limbs must have operated like the limbs of gigantic birds.
    • Robert T. Bakker (1986), The Dinosaur Heresies: A Revolutionary View of Dinosaurs, Longman Scientific & Technical, p. 20
  • Dinosaurs are not lizards, and vice versa. Lizards are scaley reptiles of an ancient bloodline. The oldest lizards antedate the earliest dinosaurs by a full thirty million years. A few large lizards, such as the man-eating Komodo dragon, have been called "relicts of the dinosaur age", but this phrase is historically incorrect. No lizard ever evolved the birdlike characteristics peculiar to each and every dinosaur. A big lizard never resembled a small dinosaur except for a few inconsequential details of the teeth. Lizards never walk with the erect, long-striding gait that distinguishes the dinosaurlike ground birds today or the birdlike dinosaurs of the Mesozoic.
    • Robert T. Bakker (1986), The Dinosaur Heresies: A Revolutionary View of Dinosaurs, Longman Scientific & Technical, p. 22-23
  • No one, either in the nineteenth century or the twentieth, has ever built a persuasive case proving that dinosaurs as a whole were more like reptilian crocodiles than warm-blooded birds. No one has done this because it can't be done.
    • Robert T. Bakker (1986), The Dinosaur Heresies: A Revolutionary View of Dinosaurs, Longman Scientific & Technical, p. 27
  • I dromaeosauridi terricoli ricordano un modello predatorio felide non-cursorio (come lince e giaguaro) basato sull'agguato e sull'uso dell'arto anteriore nella predazione, piuttosto che un modello canide (stile lupo e licaone), più cursorio, basato sull'inseguimento e che non usa l'arto anteriore nella predazione, plausibile invece per i tyrannosauridi... Quindi il velocissimo "raptor" corridore è solo un mito post-moderno, privo di fondamenta scientifiche: in quanto a corsa, un dromaeosauridae era nettamente meno portato di un ornithomimidae, tyrannosauridae, troodontidae, alvarezsauridae o avimimidae.
  • Land-dwelling dromaeosaurids followed a non cursorial felid model of hunting (like a lynx or jaguar) based on ambush and usage of the hind limbs in predation, rather than the more cursorial canid model which doesn't make use of the hind limbs in predation (like a wolf or African wild dog), which is more plausible in tyrannosaurids... The super fast cursorial "raptor" therefore is nothing more than a scientifically baseless post-modern myth. When it comes to running, a dromaeosaurid was notably less able than an ornithomimid, a tyrannosaurid, a troodontid, an alvarezsaurid or an avimimid.
    • Andrea Cau (2012), Theropoda volume II: Deinonychosauria, Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Tutte le evidenze esistenti indicano che i dromaeosauridi erano ricoperti di un fitto piumaggio. Tale discorso è valido per tutti i dromaeosauridi, anche quelle che, a causa di processi di fossilizzazione non idonei, non mostrano più tracce del loro tegumento, da Graciliraptor a Utahraptor. Faccio solo notare che l'alternativa alla presenza di piumaggio, ovvero l'ipotesi che i grandi dromaeosauridi fossero privi di piumaggio, se non addirittura squamati come coccodrilli, è palesemente anti-scientifica, dato che, a differenza di quella "piumata", non si basa su alcuna prova anatomica, né su fenomeni zoologici noti (non esiste alcuna prova che un animale piumato si evolva in uno squamato). I dromaeosauridi appartengono a Maniraptora, e nessun Maniraptora fossile scoperto finora ha mai presentato tracce di squame o scaglie. Al contrario, tutte le tracce di penne scoperte finora appartengono a scheletri di maniraptoriani, compresi alcuni dromaeosauridi: pertanto, i dati sostengono con schiacciante evidenza l'ipotesi piumata.
  • All existing evidence indicates that dromaeosaurids were covered in thick feathers. This holds for all dromaeosaurids, from Graciliraptor to Utahraptor, including those whose fossils bear no traces of intigument due to unfavourable fossilization processes. I'd like to point out that the alternative to the feathered model, that is, the hypothesis that big dromaeosaurids lacked feathers or were even scaley like crocodiles, is blatantly anti-scientific, seeing as unlike the feathered model it is not based on either any anatomical evidence or on known zoological phenomena (there is no proof whatsoever of feathered animals evolving into scaley ones). Dromaeosaurids belong to Maniraptora, and no maniraptoran fossil discovered so far has ever shown traces of scales. On the contrary, all feather impressions found so far belong to maniraptoran skeletons, including some dromaeosaurids. Overall, the data supports with undeniable proof the feathered model.
    • Andrea Cau (2012), Theropoda volume II: Deinonychosauria, Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • A voi la scelta: Utahraptor piumato e la Scienza, oppure il raptor squamato e l'Ignoranza.
  • The choice is yours: accept the feathered Utahraptor and science, or the scaley raptor and ignorance.
    • Andrea Cau (2012), Theropoda volume II: Deinonychosauria, Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • The most popular exhibits in any natural history museum are, without doubt, the dinosaurs. These creatures' popularity grows each year, partly because of the recent resurgence of dinosaur movies, but also because a skeleton of a full-sized tyrannosaurus rex still has the ability, even 65 million years after its death, to chill us to the bone.
  • We comprehend... that nuclear power is a real danger for mankind, that over-crowding of the planet is the greatest danger of all. We have understood that the destruction of the environment is another enormous danger. But I truly believe that the lack of adequate imagery is a danger of the same magnitude. It is as serious a defect as being without memory. What have we done to our images? What have we done to our embarrassed landscapes? I have said this before and will repeat it again as long as I am able to talk: if we do not develop adequate images we will die out like dinosaurs.
  • Here again one sees the gigantic man-made fallacy that informs our "Genesis" story. How can it be proven in one paragraph that this book was written by ignorant men and not by any god? Because man is given 'dominion' over all beasts, fowl and fish. But no dinosaurs or plesiosaurs or pterodactyls are specified, because the authors did not know of their existence, let alone of the supposedly special and immediate creation.
    • Christopher Hitchens (2007) God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Atlantic Books Ltd, p. 57
  • If we base the ferocious factor on the length of the animal, there was nothing that ever lived on this planet that could match this creature [Spinosaurus].
    • John R. Horner, as quoted in J. Portman "Spinosaurus makes T. Rex look like a pussycat: When it comes to Jurassic Park III, size does matter" Ottawa Citizen (11 July, 2001)
  • The more that we learn about these animals the more we find that there is basically no difference between birds and their closely related dinosaur ancestors like velociraptor. Both have wishbones, brooded their nests, possess hollow bones, and were covered in feathers. If animals like velociraptor were alive today our first impression would be that they were just very unusual looking birds.
    • Mark Norell, as quoted in American Museum of Natural History "Velociraptor had feathers" ScienceDaily (September 20, 2007)
  • We have as much evidence that T. rex was feathered, at least during some stage of its life, as we do that australopithecines like Lucy had hair.
    • Mark Norell, as quoted by B. Keim (2012) "Giant Feathered Tyrannosaur Found in China" Wired (April 4, 2012)
  • I was looking forward to buying fluffy dinosaurs for my granddaughters and a bag of assorted fossils for my grandson, and for me. However, as I approached the door I realised that it was not a shop; it was a church. The preacher and his congregation, far from celebrating dinosaurs, would be cursing them, if indeed they believed in their existence at all. Even more abhorrent was the concept of 'evolution', especially the suggestion that man himself is descended from 'lower forms', which is considered not merely a fallacy, but an iniquitous falsehood, a heresy and a sin. Such are the convictions and the creed of the 'Creationist' churches. There are an awful lot of them in the States, especially down south.
    • Bill Oddie (2015) Bill Oddie Unplucked: Columns, Blogs and Musings, Bloomsbury Publishing, p. 98
  • The biggest living terrestrial predator, the Siberian tiger, at about a third of a metric ton (300 kg) pales in comparison to the biggest of the meat-eating dinosaurs, which reached 5 to perhaps 20 metric tons - the size of elephants and bigger. But while elephants cannot run, the biggest predatory dinosaurs probably ran as fast as horses, and they hunted herbivores that themselves were as big as or bigger than elephants.
    • Gregory S. Paul (1988) Predatory Dinosaurs of the World, Simon and Schuster, p. 19
  • How would we think and feel about predatory dinosaurs if they were alive today? Humans have long felt antipathy toward carnivores, our competitors for scarce protein. But our feelings are somewhat mollified by the attractive qualities we see in them. For all their size and power, lions remind us of the little creatures that we like to have curl up in our laps and purr as we stroke them. Likewise, noble wolves recall our canine pets. Cats and dogs make good companions because they are intelligent and responsive to our commands, and their supple bodies make them pleasing to touch and play with. And, very importantly, they are house-trainable. Their forward-facing eyes remind us of ourselves. However, even small predaceous dinosaurs would have had no such advantage. None were brainy enough to be companionable or house-trainable; in fact, they would always be a danger to their owners. Their stiff, perhaps feathery bodies were not what one would care to have sleep at the foot of the bed. The reptilian-faced giants that were the big predatory dinosaurs would truly be horrible and terrifying. We might admire their size and power, much as many are fascinated with war and its machines, but we would not like them. Their images in literature and music would be demonic and powerful - monsters to be feared and destroyed, yet emulated at the same time.
    • Gregory S. Paul (1988) Predatory Dinosaurs of the World, Simon and Schuster, p. 19
  • If not for the long tail, one might mistake a theropod for a big, toothy, marauding bird in the dark. That theropods are birdlike is logical, since birds are their closest living relatives. Remember that next time you eat a drumstick or scramble some eggs.
    • Gregory S. Paul (1988) Predatory Dinosaurs of the World, Simon and Schuster, p. 22
  • What gave archosaurs the edge as large predators at this time, and therapsids the edge as smaller ones? Frankly, I am not sure. Both seem to have had heightened metabolic rates and fur or feather insulation... Perhaps the chief advantage enjoyed by thecodonts centered around their big, slashing attack jaws. These may have made them better big-game hunters, while the more precise cutting teeth of therapsids were more suitable for smaller prey.
    • Gregory S. Paul (1988) Predatory Dinosaurs of the World, Simon and Schuster, p. 53
  • Although some dinosaurs may have spent some time feeding in the water like moose or fishing cats, at most a few became strongly amphibious in the manner of hippos, much less marine as per seals and whales. The only strongly aquatic dinosaurs are some birds. The occasional statement that there were marine dinosaurs is therefore incorrect - these creatures of Mesozoic seas were various forms of reptiles that had evolved over the eons.
    • Gregory S. Paul (2010) The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs, Princeton University Press, p. 14
  • Dinosaurs seem strange, but that is just because we are mammals biased toward assuming the modern fauna is familiar and normal, and past forms are exotic and alien. Consider that elephants are bizarre creatures with their combination of big brains, massive limbs, oversized ears, teeth turned into tusks, and noses elongated into hose-like trunks. Nor were dinosaurs part of an evolutionary progression that was necessary to set the stage for mammals culminating into humans. What dinosaurs do show is a parallel world, one in which mammals were permanently subsidiary, whereas the dinosaurs show what largely diurnal land animals that evolved straight from similarly day-loving ancestors should actually look like. Modern mammals are much more peculiar, having evolved from nocturnal beasts that came into their own only after the entire elimination of nonavian dinosaurs. While dinosaurs dominated the land, small nocturnal mammals were just as abundant and diverse as they are in our modern world. If not for the accident of the later even, dinosaurs would probably still be the global norm.
    • Gregory S. Paul (2010) The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs, Princeton University Press, p. 14
  • Imagine, if you will, a world filled with billions of dinosaurs. A world where they can be found in thousands of shapes, sizes, colours and classes in every habitable pocket of the planet. Imagine them from the desert dunes of the Sahara to the frozen rim of the Antarctic Circle - and from the balmy islands of the South Pacific to the high flanks of the Himalayas. The thing is, you don't have to imagine very hard. In fact, wherever you live, you can probably step outside and look up into the trees and skies to find them. For the dinosaurs are the birds and they are all around you. Dinosaurs didn't die out when an asteroid hit the earth 66 million years ago. Everything you were told as a child was wrong.
    • John Pickrell (2014) Flying Dinosaurs: How Fearsome Reptiles Became Birds, Columbia University Press, p. xv
  • From nesting, brooding and sex, to metabolism, development and even the diseases that afflicted them, many of the traits found in birds today were inherited from the dinosaurs. The boundary between dinosaurs and birds has become utterly blurred.
    • John Pickrell (2014) Flying Dinosaurs: How Fearsome Reptiles Became Birds, Columbia University Press, p. xvii
  • Every feature that is known to exist in every bird universally accepted as such is also found on dinosaurs: four-chambered heart, fused caudal vertebrae, gastroliths, even the avian respiratory system have all been found on fossil theropods, especially dromaeosaurs and maniraptors. You can distinguish birds among dinosaurs, but it is no longer possible to distinguish birds from dinosaurs.
  • Godzilla was the most masterful of all dinosaur movies because it made you believe it was really happening.
    • Steven Spielberg, as quoted by Don Shay and Jody Duncan (1993) The Making of Jurassic Park, Ballantine Books, p. 15
  • Even though paleontologists have uncovered numerous dinosaurs with everything from bristles and fuzz to full-flight feathers—which document the evolution of plumage from fluff to aerodynamic structures that allowed dinosaurs to take to the air—creationists deny the clear fossil record. There’s plenty of reason for creationists to abhor dinosaur feathers. The mountain of evidence that birds are living dinosaurs, and that many “bird” traits were widely shared among non-avian dinosaurs, are among the most gorgeous examples of evolutionary change yet found. Put feathers on a Velociraptor—we know it had feathers thanks to quill knobs preserved along its arm bones—and you get something disturbingly birdlike, revealing the dinosaur’s kinship to the ancestors of Archaeopteryx and other early birds. Not surprisingly, creationist groups like Answers in Genesis don’t feature feathery dinosaurs in their literature and museum exhibits. Instead, they take pride in promoting out-of-date, monstrous dinosaurs that more easily fit their contention that these animals were created separately from all other forms of life.
    • Brian Switek, "Feathered Dinosaurs Drive Creationists Crazy", Slate (September 19, 2012)
  • Alterations to our favorite dinosaurs filter into the public consciousness only slowly, often taking a generation or more to become accepted. I’m now an unabashed advocate for fuzzy, fluffy, bristly, and feathered dinosaurs, but before I knew better I couldn’t believe that dinosaurs were different from the scaly monstrosities I grew up with. The fact that Jurassic Park 4 is supposed to feature naked dinosaurs—contrary to the overwhelming evidence science has to offer—confirms that many paleo fans of my generation and older prefer the comfort of recognizable pseudo-dinos to the more realistic ones paleontologists are reviving. But the latest generation of little dinosaur maniacs is fully onboard with the latest science. Then again, today’s dinosaur dreams might become fossilized in their minds, too. I wonder what they will scoff at when they grow up and see future museum displays or films that depict dinosaurs in ways that are strange and unfamiliar from what they learned in their childhoods.
    • Brian Switek, "What Happened to My Brontosaurus?", Slate (April 16, 2013)
  • Sauropod dinosaurs are the terrestrial superlative: they were not just the largest animals ever to have walked on land, but an order of magnitude heavier than their nearest rivals – the hadrosaurid dinosaurs, and the proboscidean and indricotherian mammals.
    • Michael P. Taylor, "Sauropod dinosaur research: a historical review" (2010)

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