Paleontology

Dinosaur Cannibal: Fossil Evidence Found in Africa

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 2, 2003   View Article

“Eat or be eaten” may have been the mantra for Majungatholus atopus, a large, two-footed carnivorous dinosaur with a bump on its head that roamed Madagascar, the island off the southeast coast of Africa, about 65 million years ago.

Analysis of bones scored by tooth marks suggests Majungatholus was a cannibal that regularly dined on members of its own species and other dinosaurs. The rare, tooth-marked bones are the best evidence to date for a behavior probably common among dinosaurs but difficult to prove.

Bizarre Dinosaurs Shed Light on Adaptation

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 14, 2003   View Article

Dinosaurs were weird. Some had horns growing from their foreheads like mythological unicorns. Others had claws as long and dangerous as rusty pitchforks. Several had spikes around their necks that made them look like temporally displaced punk rockers.

Paleontologists believe that these horns, claws, and spikes in addition to towering necks, feathered limbs, pointy fingers, and shrunken arms had purpose. Discovering what those purposes were provides paleontologists insight to the range of adaptive strategies throughout evolution.

Robots Designed to Show How Dinosaurs Moved

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 13, 2003   View Article

If Peter Dilworth gets his way, museum dinosaur exhibits may soon whir and hum into action—and capture the fascination of a whole new generation of scientists as lifelike robots stand up and walk around like the ancient creatures did millions of years ago.

Dilworth, a former research scientist in the Artificial Intelligence Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, currently runs Dinosaur Robots, Inc. in Boston. His aim is to make lifelike dinobots.

Do They Really Look Like That? The Science of Dino Art

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 11, 2003   View Article

Every few years a dinosaur leaps from the signature yellow border of National Geographic Magazine and captures the fascination of readers. This month a skull of Tyrannosaurus rex shatters a bone of its prey—another dinosaur.

Cool, but is it realistic? Is that picture with T. rex’s teeth glistening with the blood of the dinosaur it just devoured a scientifically accurate interpretation of dinnertime 75 million years ago?

Dinosaur Footprints: Tracks Tell Prehistoric Secrets

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 10, 2003   View Article

Footprints impressed on the Earth millions of years ago are energizing the field of dinosaur paleontology which until recently has mostly relied on piles of old bones dug up from ancient sediments.

“Of course, there is much to be learned from a corpse, even one that has been dead for millions of years, but there is a limit after which you leave science and are left with speculation,” said Rich McCrea, a paleontologist at the University of Alberta in Canada.

Fossil Leaves Suggest Asteroid Killed Dinosaurs

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 17, 2002   View Article

A team of scientists says evidence from fossilized leaves indicates that dinosaurs appear to have become extinct as a result of the catastrophic impact of an asteroid and not volcanic activity.

Dinosaurs, along with an estimated 70 percent of all life on Earth, are believed to have gone extinct 65 million years ago as a result of a series of dramatic temperature changes. The extinctions are known as the K-T extinctions because they fall on the boundary between the Cretaceous (geological symbol K) and the Tertiary periods.

Dinosaur Tracks Shed Light on Sauropod Evolution

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 30, 2002   View Article

Dinosaur tracks made on the edge of a coastal plain 163 million years ago in middle England are providing a team of researchers with new insights into the evolution and behavior of sauropods.

Sauropods are the group of plant-eating dinosaurs distinguished by their long necks and tails. They include some of the largest creatures ever to walk on Earth.

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