8 cool dinosaurs that are cool
Forget about all your life goals for a brief moment and pay tribute to some of the most superb and blood-curdling creatures to ever walk this earth.
Dinosaurs were a dominant species that became puzzlingly extinct (humans, take note) and they remind us just how much time has passed on this planet. Every kid in the history of the world ever has been obssessed with dinosaurs and knows a terrifying number of facts about them. Here are some vague facts about some cool dinosaurs. Is your most favourite cool dinosaur listed here? How cool is the dinosaur you think is cool? Even if it’s not on this list, it is almost certainly pretty cool.
Incidentally, some will correctly note that this is only a very, very small selection of the coolest dinosaurs to ever walk the earth. And that what we know about dinosaurs is changing all the time. Like, it’s now suspected that T-Rex has a feathery body and a face a bit like a duck.
- Flying dinosaur
- Fun to sing about, especially if you still remember the lyrics to that old dinosaur song tape from the Natural History Museum you had as a kid
P – it was the pilot of the prehistoric skies
T – it looked terrific as it spread its wings to fly
E – its eyesight was quite good; it saw most everything
R – it was a reptile even though it had two wings
A – the air would carry it across the ocean deep
N – onto its nest high on some prehistoric peak
O – it circled overhead like some great aeroplane
D – it was the dinosaur who had the smartest brain
O – the only one who grew a horn to match its beak
N – it never ran around; its legs were much too weak
Though it hadn’t any feather, its leather wings worked swell
It was the largest living thing that ever flew so well
Now you’ve used the letters of its name here in this song, put them all together and you spell ‘Pteranodon’.
- Bite stronger than a T-Rex
- It’s important to know about at least one dinosaur whose name is really hard to pronounce
The sea held greater terrors than land or air in the prehistoric age. If we ever fully unearth the secrets of the Mariana Trench, the deepest and least explored part of the ocean, perhaps we’ll find the same still holds true today.
Dunkleosteus terrelli was the first super predator of the ancient seas. It swam in a primordial ocean 400 million years ago and could deliver a more powerful bite than any living fish, including the biggest sharks of today.
Scientists have discovered that the vice-like grip of its jaws enabled Dunkleosteus terrelli to exert a force of 11,000 pounds on its prey, enough to bite the toughest into two.
The extinct creature, which grew 33ft long and weighed up to four tons, was armed with a formidable array of bladed teeth which exerted a pressure of 80,000 pounds per square inch at the tip of its fangs.
A study of the fossilised skull of the fish also revealed that it could open its jaws in one-fiftieth of a second, creating such a strong suction that it would have quickly pulled prey to its mouth.
The fish was the top marine predator of its day but until now biologists were not aware of just how good it was at biting its way up the food chain.
“Dunkleosteus was able to devour anything in its environment,” said Dr Philip Anderson, of the University of Chicago.
The bladed jaw of the D . terrelli enabled the fish to rip apart prey that was bigger than its mouth, a technical feat that sharks did not acquire until 100 million years later.
D. terrelli lived during the period known as the Devonian, before the advent of the dinosaurs, and it probably fed on other armour-plated fish, including sharks, as well as tough invertebrates protected by shells and other types of body armour.
Dr Anderson said: “Overall, study shows how useful mechanical engineering theory can be in studying the behaviour of fossil animals. We cannot actually watch these animals feed or interact, but we can understand the range of possible behaviours by examining how the preserved parts are shaped and connected to each other.”
What he actually meant was: Dear sweet Jesus Christ, this animal knew how to bite things.
- Distinctive head ridge
- Top of the food chain in its time – could have had the T. Rex in a fight
The name Allosaurus means “different lizard”; its vertebrae were much lighter than those of other lizards. It was one of the first theropods of the Jurassic period discovered (theropods being carnivorous dinosaurs that have tiny spindly little arms and run about on two legs). As a result, the Allosaurus has been the star of quite a few films. The Allosaurus was a classic example of a theropod. Its massive skull rested on a huge neck. Its long heavy tail balanced its body, and it looked fantastic when it ran around. God, it looked fantastic. If only dinosaurs existed today. Somewhere reachable but distant, like Ryker’s Island.
The skull had a pair of horns above its eyes and long ridges between the nose and horns which acted as a sunshade. Allosaurus had its own sunglasses.
It was at the top of the food chain and ate anything in sight. Walking on two legs, Allosaurus weighed as much as 4 tons, so it could do what it liked. Although its head and body weren’t as large as the T.rex, this earlier ancestor was a top predator of its time. With its sharp serrated teeth, Allosaurus fed on Stegosaurus and other large plant-eating dinosaurs.
It didn’t like its own kind much, and Allosaurii often fought bitterly with each other. Because it wasn’t particularly keen on hunting prey in groups it may have attacked large prey by ambush, hatcheting unlucky victims to death with its brutal upper jaws.
- Famous for being famous
- Fantastic hunter
T-Rex lived in the Cretacious Period, about 85-65 million years ago. Unlike Marc Bolan, T-Rex did not suffer from an addiction to Colombian marching powder, which is lucky as it might well have had delusions of its own grandeur and have got paranoid about other contenders like Allosaurus. It lived in a humid, semi-tropical environment, in open forests with nearby rivers and in coastal forested swamps. Mmm. Swamps.
Everyone has been saying for a while that we don’t know what dinosaurs’ skins were like – well, in some instances we do. Fossilized specimens of T. rex’s rough, scaly skin have been found and it was bumpy, like an alligator’s skin, and has been described as “lightly pebbled”. We just can’t be sure what colour it was.
Until recently, everyone thought that T-Rex was the largest theropod until they discovered the Giganotosaurus and Carcharodontosaurus. Poor T-Rex. However, T-Rex has great charisma and cinematic presence, and was also a wonderful hunter (sharp sight because of the large visual lobes in its brain, good depth perception and it had a huge area in the brain for processing odours). So if you were hiding under a log and not moving it would probably be able to smell your presence and location. Ah, well.
- Sociable and liked being part of a herd
- Had elegant, distinguished horns and ruff
Triceratops is one of the most distinctive dinosaurs, and holds its own as a dinosaur icon. Vegetarian (herbivore) and therefore gorgeously pro-planet, Triceratops is huge and its name means “three-horned face” as it has a short nasal horn and two horns as long as lacrosse sticks above its eyes. Triceratops has no front teeth so its mouth looks like a turtle’s beak.
It also has a fantastic ruff which sheds extra heat when in the shade and warms up in the sun. Fossil evidence supports the idea that this head armour was used in display and ritualized combat within its own species, not entirely unlike the Pon-Far battle between Kirk and Spock in Star Trek.
A bit like a Pteranodon. Moving on.
- Could hunt for fish as well as land animals
- Exuberant by nature
- Had properly excellent sail on its back
Spinosaurus was a huge meat-eating dinosaur that had a series of spines on its back. This enormous dinosaur lived during the late Cretaceous period, about 98 to 95 million years ago, in what is now Africa.
Spinosaurus is called “spiny lizard” because it was sail-backed – it had a series of large neural spines up to 6 feet (1.8 m) coming out of its back vertebrae. This sail-like fin may have helped in mating rituals and/or intraspecies rivalry.
Spinosaurus had a relatively flexible upper spine so it could arch its back a little, perhaps being able to spread the sail (like opening the ribs of a fan). Spinosaurus’ huge sail may have been used for regulating its temperature: it could collect warmth from the sun and also disperse excess body heat when in the shade. So Spinosaurus was probably cold-blooded.
Spinosaurus was a carnivore, a meat eater with huge teeth and powerful jaws. It ate dinosaurs and large fish. In key ways it was much better than theropods like T-Rex and Allosaurus – they couldn’t eat fish! They couldn’t even get in a river and stuff. Huh. Maybe Spinosaurus had the edge because it had longer arms, so it could hunt/paddle on all fours as well as run on two legs. Spinosaurus was a large, fierce predator that could perhaps even kill large sauropods. It may also have been a scavenger, because hey, get it where you can.
Oh, and Spinosaurus was smart. Its intelligence (as measured by its relative brain to body weight, or EQ) was high among the dinosaurs.
- Extremely clawsy
The Utahraptor, a skilled and powerful hunter, was discovered in central Utah, North America in 1993. In a random survey, most people said they were more scared of raptors than a T-Rex, because they’re nasty, vindictive, and feed on pain and sadness.
At the time of writing the Utahraptor is one of the largest and most powerful raptors to have yet been identified. That’s why it’s been listed in place of the Velociraptor made infamous in ‘Jurassic Park’ – sometimes size does matter.
Utahraptor used its sharp sickle-like claw to slash and rip apart larger herbivores. It also used its long sharp teeth to bite and tear its victims.
It is believed by many scientists that this lovely, clawsy thing was a warm-blooded animal. Fossil evidence shows that the inside of Utahraptor’s bones was more like a modern day mammal, which would have given Utahraptor a huge advantage over its prey.
The large cold-blooded herbivores would have been very slow each morning as they waited for the sunlight to heat their bodies to a point where they could move with some degree of speed, and that would have been the perfect time for Utahraptor to attack. If it was warm-blooded, then Utahraptor would have been fast-moving no matter what the temperature outside.
This excellent beast is one of the finest of the no-doubt many excellent things to have come out of Utah. I’m going to go out on a non-researched limb and say it’s actually definitely the best.