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Delacey Tate

12/12
/15
Block 4

How are Dinosaurs Different from the


Animals of
Today?
Over the years dinosaurs (Deinossauro- meaning terrible lizard)
have appeared in movies and such other things concerning popculture. General knowledge of dinosaurs usually goes something
like this I know they were like these huge lizard things that lived
like millions and millions of years ago. However only some of that
is true but dinosaurs arent some farfetched idea, the one of
which pop-culture makes them out to be. The thing is that there
are dinosaurs living in very close proximity to the human race
right now. Well, not actual pterodactyls flying high above the
clouds but more like birds. Ever look out the window and instantly
make the connection that they are the beasts that are the most
similar to dinosaurs?; most likely not. So, knowing that some
animals are comparable to these large lizards, the real question is
how are dinosaurs different from the animals of today? Or, are
they really that alike. Also exploring the reasoning behind why
animals who lived in the Jurassic period were so much larger than
the creatures of today. Furthermore, if someone is lucky enough to
find an actual giant Jurassic dinosaur it will unfortunately most
likely be fossilized. How does this happen on a sub-atomic level?

Have no fear, this will be probed as well. Finally the inspection on


the theoretical idea of what would happen if dinosaurs still existed
today.
Dinosaurs were peculiar folk. They were represented on every
continent in the world. Ruling from the Triassic period (231.4
million years ago) onwards to the start of the Jurassic period
(about 200 million years ago) until the end of the Cretaceous
period (66 million years ago) (Wikipedia). Much to the dinosaurs
chagrin, birds and some fish (such as the coelacanth) were the
only ones to survive the extinction event that occurred 66 million
years ago. Now knowing that some ancient creatures actually
survived the dreaded meteor (or whatever it was, depends how
prevalent conspiracy theories are in the readers mind) this makes
the investigation of differences that much easier. Looking toward
the bird end of the prehistoric spectrum, one may notice, much
like Charles Darwin did, the bone structure of a shockingly
average bird is strangely similar to one of that of an unimaginably
intriguing ancient reptile. Especially looking at the phalanges of
birds and dinosaurs, they are practically identical. In the sense of
position and placement of course, but not necessarily size.
However dont be surprised, theropods (made their first
appearance 231.4 million years ago as species of carnivorous
dinosaur, mostly recognized for their association with the first
bird) are basically responsible for the evolution of birds so its no
secret that their bone anatomy is similar. As well as being similar
in bone structure some dinosaurs even had feathers. This was

discovered by intense studying of discrete fossil markings. Fossils


unearthed in Siberia suggest that feathers may have been more
widespread among dinosaurs than scientists previously had
thought. Now, instead of being limited to theropods, the dinosaur
group associated with the first bird, feathers may have been
present among all dinosaur groups (http://www.aaas.org, Phelan,
2014). Feathers are often seen as the defining feature of birds.
But, scientists have known for some time that feathers evolved in
dinosaurs long before birds arrived on the scene, and that
feathers are part of the evidence suggesting that birds are direct
dinosaur descendants (http://www.aaas.org, Phelan, 2014).
Lizards on the other hand, appear to be similar to dinosaurs in the
sense that they are scaly and thats pretty much it, besides the
fact that dinosaur literally means terrible lizard. So, naturally
one would think that they would be more closely related to
reptiles. This is more of a yes and no statement and the subject
gets pretty hazy here because no one really knows due to the lack
of concrete evidence. Nonetheless it is pretty obvious that there
are differences between the two. When one investigates the bone
structure of a lizard/reptile its legs are at a 90 degree angle whilst
dinosaurs have an erect posture. However that is simply just a
variation in the species.
Other animals that certain dinosaurs resemble are giraffes
(Brachiosaurus) and dogs (Barosaurus) to name a few. The giraffe
evidently resembles the brachiosaurus for an obvious reason, its
obscenely long neck. The brachiosaurus (a herbivore) had its

elongated neck to reach the tops of the trees to 42.5 feet. The
only real difference between the two is their colouring and the
fact that giraffes have 7 vertebrae but the brachiosaurus has 13.
Barosauruses on the other hand do still have very long necks but
they also have a sort of dewclaw much like domestic dogs of
today do.

Dinosaurs in the Jurassic period were colossal. The reasoning


behind this is a tendency in evolution for creatures to get larger
and larger, generation after generation. More formally known as
Cope's Rule, named after 19th-century palaeontologist Edward
Cope. Every animal, creature, beast, and even the human race all
formed from smaller versions of mostly the identical skeletal
anatomy. Its like how the old doors in Britain are very small and
one has to duck down to get in to the buildings. Its because
humans (much like dinosaurs) have grown larger over the years,
and seeing as the dinosaurs ruled the earth for about 170 million
years they had an abundance of time to grow. However larger
animals also need more food so alas the trend can't go on
endlessly. They also have longer reproductive cycles and this
makes the species as a whole more susceptible to environmental
change because the species can't adapt fast enough. This often
leads to animal lineages growing steadily larger before abruptly
becoming extinct, consequently a smaller species takes over the
slot, and begins the cycle all over again by growing larger then
like its predecessors dies, And so on and so forth.

(http://www.sciencefocus.com, 2009)
(http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150716123846.htm,
2015)

So, today the only proof that we have that these colossal beasts
actually existed are fossils. However the puzzling thing is how
many different ways fossils can be made on an atomic and subatomic level.
One of the rarest fossilization techniques is freezing
(refrigeration), nonetheless this is the best means of preservation
of ancient materials. The subject (so to speak) must be
continually frozen from the time of death until discovery. In May
of 2013 there was a remarkable discovery in an ancient ice tomb
in Siberia. It was a baby woolly mammoth who had been
preserved in this way. This specimen was found with flesh, skin,
and hair intact. (http://www.cbc.ca, 2014) Other finds such as
these suggest that they were flash frozen, with some with food
still in the mouth and stomach. The mammoth is currently the
subject of many experiments concerning cloning due to the fact
that the beast was so well preserved. It even still had blood in its
veins. (http://www.cbc.ca, 2014)
The method of Asphalt preservation is another great way of
keeping fossilized creatures sheltered from the outside elements.
The La Brea Tar Pits, in LA are a prime example of this. Within the
park are over 100 pits filled with sticky asphalt or tar formed by

crude oil seeping through fissures in the earth. The lighter


elements of the oil evaporate leaving thick sticky asphalt. The pits
are famous for the amount of quality fossils that have been
exhumed from the pits. The fossils date between 10 and 40
thousand years old. Asphalt is an excellent preservative. Bones,
teeth, shells, the exoskeletons of insects, and even some plant
seeds have been pulled from the pits. In addition to many a saber
toothed cat. (http://www.fossils-facts-andfinds.com/fossil_formation.html)
(www.tarpits.org)
Of course there is amber which is used frequently in jewelry but it
also nearly perfectly preserves small critters in its grasp. It works
like this. Imagine a small beast is searching for food. Whilst doing
so he steps in a blob of sticky tree sap. Eventually being engulfed
in the sap due to the fact he cannot escape the clutches of the
tree. The tree eventually meets its demise and falls into the
swamp water from which it originated. Over the course of millions
of years the tree along with its brethren becomes a coal deposit
and the sap with the beast inside is polymerized and hardened
into amber. The coal deposit is inundated with water as the sea
level rises. Eventually the currents uncover the coal bed, slowly
eating gradually into the Surface. When the erosion reaches the
amber it floats to the surface because it is lighter than salt water.
It is then washed ashore where most archeologists make their
discoveries of this type of preservation.

In the process of Carbonization (distillation) some soft body parts


of fish, reptiles, and marine invertebrates disintegrate leaving
behind only the remaining carbon. This carbon creates an
impression in the rock outlining the fossil, sometimes with
impeccable detail. Permineralization is fairly similar to
carbonization but one of the differences is it is the most common
method of fossil preservation. Minerals fill the cellular spaces and
crystallize. The shape of the original plant or animal is preserved
as rock. Unfortunately sometimes the original material is
dissolved leaving the form and structure but none of the organic
material remains. (http://www.fossils-facts-andfinds.com/fossil_formation.html)
(http://www.fossils-facts-andfinds.com/how_are_fossils_formed.html)
(Dinosaurus, Parker, 2003)
Yes, its arguable that dinosaurs are technically still alive but on
the other hand its not like humans have pet velociraptors running
around their homes. So, on that note, the real question is what
would happen if actual dinosaurs lived today in modern times?
Unfortunately, Its doubtful that even if the great extinction event
didnt occur that dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures would still be
alive and kicking. The reason being was that the average global
temperature at the time was about 4C higher than today, and
the sea temperature averaged 37C, so even tropical seas today
would be too cold for marine life of the time. However land

dinosaurs would be quite comfortable with the climate of tropical


and semi-tropical parts of the world. That is, until they all died of
altitude sickness. Studies of air bubbles trapped in amber
(fossilisation technique) show that the atmosphere of the
Cretaceous period may have had up to 35 per cent oxygen, to put
that into perspective todays oxygen level is 21 per cent. So, for
dinosaurs this would feel like being at the base camp of Everest.
(www.sciencefocus.com, Villazon, 2015). Other than that it
wouldnt be very convenient for humans wanting to go on
vacation and having to find and dinositter for the weekend.

To conclude, it would appear that dinosaurs are as a matter of fact


are just like any other animal that lived or lives on the earth.
Dinosaurs started off very small then grew to be very large in
both population and size just like Every Species on earth ever did
and ever will. The principle remarkable thing about them was
their size, how long they ruled the earth for and how well they
were preserved for such an extended period of time as fossils. The
intriguing reality is that the same sort of situation could one
fateful day befall to the human race.