Dinos in a Winter Wonderland #dinosaur

If you still think of dinosaurs as sluggish reptiles dragging their tales through fetid swamps, you’re behind the science.

Millions of years ago, an entire spiky, feathery and beaked menagerie of dinosaurs thrived in polar habitats… While the Cretaceous world was a bit warmer, with no polar icecaps, winter could still be harsh. “There would have been ice and snow in the three-month-long, dark winters,”… Dinosaurs nested in these places and stayed year-round Smithsonian

Dinosaurs lived in both of Earth’s polar regions, and since the 1980s, evidence has accumulated to show some species actually thrived despite the long nights and harsh climate.

The raptor-relative Troodon was a feathery, eight-foot-long dinosaur with large eyes. While rare elsewhere, Fiorillo says, “it is the overwhelmingly abundant theropod dinosaur [in Alaska.]” The small-carnivore’s large eyes may have given it an advantage, especially during the dark months. Smithsonian

It’s nice to see science catch up with what every dinosaur-loving kid has known forever: dinos ruled everywhere.

Average Dinosaurs #haiku #sciku #dinosaurs

Boring dinosaurs
Grazing Mesozoic fields
Have the most to teach

A perfectly dull Hadrosaurus that could still get as big as an elephant, so a herd would have been something to see.

Beyond the flashy teeth and horns, the most plentiful dino herds give us something special: numbers.

Less hyped, more common species are where learning happens. These were the dinosaurs that altered ecosystems depending on what plants they ate and even where they walked, trampling some areas and letting others grow. They often were the food our favorite carnivores relied on. And these dinosaurs were so abundant that they’re more useful for paleontologists who want to know how dinosaurs varied, how they grew and other basic facts. Thanks to Smithsonian

Brontosaurus is Back ! #dinosaur

If you’re a dinosaur lover of a certain age, you grew up with Brontosaurus. Sure, illustrations once showed this classic sauropod standing in a swamp, its long tail dragging behind, but we loved it anyway. Then, some killjoy decided Bronto’s fossils weren’t sufficiently different and – poof – it was gone.

Poor old swamp dwelling brontosaurus – glad they got out of the mud

What took my kids’ books so long to catch up? The Brontosaurus genus was named in 1879, and stood until 1903 when science decided those bones were actually the genus Apatosaurus, first described in 1877. Apatosaurus was named earlier and therefore took precedence.

I assure you I was not around before 1903. Why did Brontosaurus get referenced for so long? Maybe because the translation, thunder lizard, is so cool. But a 2015 study (see how much faster that percolated up to my notice) has saved the day.

Brontosaurus can be distinguished from Apatosaurus most easily by its neck, which is higher and less wide,” says lead study author Emanuel Tschopp, a vertebrate paleontologist at the New University of Lisbon in Portugal. “So although both are very massive and robust animals, Apatosaurus is even more extreme than Brontosaurus.” Pocket

Of course, none of this agonizing over semantics changes anything about the fossils or the creatures that once walked the earth. Perhaps we humans fuss too much over words. I’ll focus my joy on the diplodocids getting their tails up out of the mud… in my mind, that is. The dinosaurs wouldn’t care what I think even if they were still tromping around out there.

News You Can Use! How to Outrun a T. Rex #dinosaurs

Remember the “square-cube” law? It’s a basic fact that as a simple shape expands, its volume cubes while its surface area merely squares. This is important if you need to outrun a really large animal.

A full-grown Tyrannosaurus rex was absurdly huge and absurdly powerful… In the run for your life, its awe-inspiring, terrifying, stupefying size would be, in fact, your greatest advantage. Wired.com

Eric Snively, a biologist at Oklahoma State who studies the biomechanics of dinosaurs, doesn’t believe an adult Tyrannosaurus rex could have moved faster than 12 or 13 miles per hour. So we can eliminate every dinosaur over roughly 6,000 pounds as a predatory threat to a healthy human.

So why can a modern bear run you down with ease? Bears range from about your weight upward, and gait does matter. “Scientists in Yellowstone have clocked grizzlies running 25-28 mph over a distance of two miles… moving at a ‘rolling lope.'” Backpacker.com

Dinosaur dromomeus agilis, the agile runner

“The agile runner” with its era-appropriate prey

Biologist Myriam Hirt, who studies animal movement at the German Centre for Biodiversity Research, investigated whether there’s an optimum size for speed. Turns out, there is. To design an animal for speed, that animal should weigh approximately 200 pounds (91 kg.)

Hirt found a precise parabolic relationship between size and speed that not only suggests you need to fear the midsize dinosaurs most but also that you shouldn’t fear the largest at all. The reason, she tells me, is a result of the interplay between power, acceleration, and the metabolism that fuels both. Wired.com

Of course, the precise gait the dinosaur uses will affect its top speed, and there are plenty of carnivores under 200 pounds who’ll be happy to eat you, so if you find yourself in possession of a time machine, be careful what you wish for.

If one of the faster dinosaurs is after you, don’t panic. Like an impala evading a lion, you need to run smart.

First, when the dinosaur begins chasing you, change course frequently but do not decelerate. Second, when the predator draws within two or three strides, rapidly decelerate, turn sharply, and accelerate. When it catches up, do it again. Your springy hips, stretchy Achilles tendons, and efficient cooling systems make you one of the greatest endurance runners nature has ever created. The longer the race, the greater your chances of survival. Wired.com

You’ll make it provided you haven’t spent too much time on the couch eating potato chips.