Everyone loves dinosaurs! Those toothy, prehistoric creatures have charmed and mystified humans for… … well, probably since the first person stumbled across a massive bone and wondered what it might have been. Documented discoveries of dinosaur remains date back to the Middle Ages, when people thought they must have belonged to Biblical monsters and giants.
But now? We’re just now realizing those strange things we thought about dinosaurs were probably false.
1. Dinosaurs were dumb.
A method of measurung dino intelligence was developed in the 1970s. It determined the general level of intellect in dinosaurs based on the brain weight of one dino relative to that of another species of its time. Turns out velociraptors are pretty smart, but anyone who’s seen Jurassic Parkcan tell you that.
2. The brontosaurus in general.
First of all, the “brontosaurus” never actually existed. It was invented by mistake when an apatosaurus skeleton was mistaken for a new species in the 19th century. The apatosaurus is just the proper name for the brontosaurus–they’re still the hulking plant-eaters with their long necks and pea heads that we all know and love.
3. Dinosaurs were covered in scales
Dinosaurs with feathers are not a new idea, but recent fossil evidence suggests that feathers were much more common than previously thought, with most or even all dinosaurs sporting some kind of plumage as well as scales. It’s possible that feathers developed as early as 160 million years ago.
4. Dinosaurs were cold-blooded.
Since today’s reptiles are cold-blooded, it was reasonable to think that dinosaurs were as well, as opposed to being warm-blooded like birds. However, based on the size and growth rate of dinosaurs, many researchers now believe that dinosaurs were mezotherms, creatures that fall somewhere in the middle of warm- and cold-blooded. This means that while they wouldn’t have been able to control their body temperature like mammals, they’re less dependent on their environment than reptiles.
5. Dinosaurs were slow.
We’re all familiar with the image of the giant dino taking a big, slow-mo stomp, but that’s probably inaccurate. Computer simulations of movement, based on bone structures and on movements of modern animals, suggest that they were pretty speedy. The tiny compsognathus is believed to have been the fastest with a running speed of about 40mph. The much larger T-rex could reach about 18mph, which would still be too fast for you.
So, there you have it. In a way, this suggests that dinosaurs might have been a little more like us and like modern animals than previously thought. Evolution is amazing!