Our knowledge of dinosaurs has come a long way since these creatures were first described in the scientific literature in the 19th century.
But, to this day, paleontologists are still trying to dispel myths about these early inhabitants of our planet.
The task is made more difficult by the inaccurate depiction of dinosaurs in popular culture, including the “Jurassic Park” movie franchise.
These are some of the misconceptions that persist.
1. Did all the dinosaurs die from the infamous asteroid?
About 66 million years ago, the dinosaurs had a bad day: a large asteroid, estimated to be about 10 kilometers in diameter, collided directly with Earth. The collision, which left a huge crater buried under Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, triggered a mass extinction.
However, scientists say that “only” 75% of Earth’s animals have become extinct. Among the survivors were some dinosaurs.
“Although many dinosaurs died when the asteroid impacted, a large group of ultra-small, feathered dinosaurs made it through and we can still see them today,” said Professor Paul Barrett, a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London (NHM), says BBC.
“Birds are direct members of the same group as dinosaurs.”
“They are living dinosaurs and in terms of the number of species of living birds, there are more types of dinosaurs today than there were 66 million years ago.”
2. Can you hide from Tyrannosaurus Rex by staying still?
Tyrannosaurus rex is the protagonist of the first in the hit movie series “Jurassic Park”, released in 1993, in which he terrorized humans in many unforgettable scenes.
However, the movie depicts the T-Rex as a weak-eyed monster who can only detect his potential prey when he’s on the move.
In nature, such a trait is found in animals such as amphibians, but Barrett says this has not been the case with these predators.
“Dinosaurs were likely to have much greater visual acuity,” he says. “A study from 15 years ago suggests that the T-Rex probably had the best vision of any animal.”
“Standing in front of a T-Rex is probably one of the dumbest things you can do.”
3. Could a Tyrannosaurus Rex run faster than a moving car?
Similarly, the film includes a scene in which the T-Rex leaves a moving vehicle behind.
In fact, some ancient studies estimated that this formidable predator could run at speeds of up to 50 km per hour. The latest and most advanced drills suggest a much slower speed, around 20 to 29 kilometers per hour.
“It is also important to note that one thing is the maximum speed you can reach and the other is the speed at which you can comfortably run for the longest time,” says Mariana Di Giacomo, curator at Yale University’s Peabody Museum of National History. United States of America.
“Marathon runners don’t run as fast as sprint runners, and sprints are very short because maintaining such a high speed for longer periods is difficult for our bodies,” Di Giacomo says.
“Maybe the T-Rex could have run fast in the short sprints, but that wasn’t enough to get past a moving car,” he adds.
4. Is it possible to clone a dinosaur?
The T-Rex left this world tens of millions of years before the dawn of our species and it’s unlikely that we’ll meet again anytime soon. Contrary to the central hypothesis of “Jurassic Park,” scientists insist that dinosaurs cannot be cloned yet.
The main reason is that dinosaur DNA does not age well.
“As far as we know, they don’t last very long,” Barrett explains.
“The oldest DNA that we know in the fossil record is about two million years old. And that DNA is bits of bacteria, soil, fungi and the like.”
Barrett explains that the oldest genetic data available in animals is for creatures that died out 50,000 years ago.
“We won’t get DNA from any other extinct animals or plants until we get very close to our time.”
He concludes, “I’m very skeptical about that.”
Di Giacomo agrees with Barrett, saying that even a scientific breakthrough in terms of dinosaur genes doesn’t mean cloning was successful.
“Reproducing species very distant from us in geologic time is very complex because there are so many unknown variables.”
It also raises potential ethical issues.
Movies like “Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic World” show us all the reasons not to do it because they focus on the consequences that humans might suffer. Not much is said about the cruelty of returning these animals to a world not like what they would have seen in their time.”
5. Were dinosaurs ‘stupid creatures’?
Di Giacomo explains that technological advances have given scientists more resources to understand how dinosaurs lived and behaved.
“Not all dinosaurs were super bright and not all dinosaurs lacked intelligence,” he explains.
“They were as smart as they should be for the world they live in.”
Professor Barrett adds that some dinosaurs were “actually quite intelligent,” referring to the smallest meat-eating dinosaurs.
“Some of them may be active at night to avoid competition with larger animals. If that’s the case, you obviously need a bigger brain to handle the extra information you need, as well as a better sense of hearing, sight, sound and smell.”
6. Were dinosaurs and religion bad?
For more than a century, dinosaurs have been thought to be lonely and feral, and not actually “do” parenting. Then, in the 1970s and 1980s, new discoveries revealed that they had more complex social behavior.
Named after the herbivorous dinosaur, which is believed to have lived 77 million years ago Mayasaura, which means “good mother orchid” in words of Greek and Latin origin.
A recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports In October of this year, he went even further, noting that dinosaurs that lived 193 million years ago organized into flocks and fed their young.
“These days we have a better understanding of dinosaurs and know that at least some of them were good parents,” says Professor Barrett.
“Yes, there were others who were not.”
For his part, Di Giacomo mentions other cases of dinosaurs “taking care of themselves”.
“Other species have been identified as having a paternal aspect and include predators such as Allosaurus“, Confirms.
“Actually, there is a dinosaur, Citipati osmolskae, who was nicknamed Big Mama because she was found in a sad position on her balls.”
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