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Template:Taxobox end Dinosaurs are animals that dominated the terrestrial ecosystem for over 100 million years. Non-avian dinosaurs became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous period, 65 million years ago. Knowledge about dinosaurs comes from both fossil and nonfossil records, including fossilized bones, feces, trackways, gastroliths, feathers, impressions of skin, internal organs and "soft tissues." 
Since the first dinosaur was recognized in the 19th century, their mounted skeletons have become major attractions at museums around the world. Dinosaurs have become a part of world culture and remain consistently popular, especially among children. They have been featured in best-selling books and blockbuster films such as Jurassic Park, and new discoveries are regularly covered by the media. The term is also used informally to describe any prehistoric reptile, such as the pelycosaur Dimetrodon, the winged pterosaurs, and the aquatic ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, and mosasaurs, though none of these are dinosaurs.
The on-going dinosaur renaissance  began in the 1970s and was triggered, in part, by John Ostrom's discovery of Deinonychus-- an active, vicious predator that may have been warm-blooded (homeothermic), in marked contrast to the prevailing image of dinosaurs as sluggish cold-blooded reptiles. Vertebrate paleontology has also become a global science, with major new discoveries in previously unexploited regions, including South America, Madagascar, Antarctica, and most significantly the amazingly well-preserved feathered dinosaurs in China, which have further solidified the link between dinosaurs and their living descendants, the 9,000+ species of modern birds . The widespread application of cladistics, which rigorously analyzes the relationships between biological organisms, has also proved tremendously useful in classifying dinosaurs, which are still known from an incomplete fossil record.
- 1 What is a dinosaur?
- 2 Study of dinosaurs
- 3 Areas of debate
- 3.1 Warm-blooded?
- 3.2 Feathered dinosaurs and the bird connection
- 3.3 Evidence for Cenozoic non-avian dinosaurs
- 3.4 Bringing dinosaurs back to life
- 3.5 Discovery of probable soft tissue from dinosaur fossils
- 4 Extinction theories
- 5 History of discovery
- 6 In popular culture
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links and sources
What is a dinosaur?
The superorder or clade "Dinosauria" was formally named by the English scientist Richard Owen in 1842. The term is a combination of the Greek words deinos ("terrible" or "fearfully great" or "formidable") and sauros ("lizard" or "reptile"). Contrary to popular perception, the name was chosen to express Owen's awe at the size and majesty of the extinct animals, not out of fear or trepidation at their size and formidable arsenal.
There is an almost universal consensus among paleontologists that birds are the descendants of theropod dinosaurs. Using the strict cladistical definition that all descendants of a single common ancestor are related, modern birds are dinosaurs and dinosaurs are, therefore, not extinct:
Ask your average paleontologist who is familiar with the phylogeny of vertebrates and they will probably tell you that yes, birds (avians) are dinosaurs. Using proper terminology, birds are avian dinosaurs; other dinosaurs are non-avian dinosaurs, and (strange as it may sound) birds are technically considered reptiles.
—DinoBuzz, hosted by University of California Museum of Paleontology
However, birds are morphologically distinct from their reptilian ancestors, and referring to birds as "avian dinosaurs" and to all other dinosaurs as "non-avian dinosaurs" is clumsy. Birds are still birds, at least in popular usage and among ornithologists. It is also technically correct under the older Linnaean classification system, which accepts taxa that exclude some descendants of a single common ancestor (paraphyletic taxa). Paleontologists mostly use cladistics in their classifications, which classifies birds as dinosaurs, but many other scientists do not. As a result, this article will use "dinosaur" as a synonym for "non-avian dinosaur," and "bird" as a synonym for "avian dinosaur."
Only a tiny percentage of animals ever fossilize, and most of these remain buried in the earth. As a result, the smallest and largest dinosaurs will probably never be discovered. Even among those specimens that are recovered, few are known from complete skeletons, and impressions of skin and soft tissue are rare. Reconstructing a skeleton by comparing the size and morphology of bones to those of similar, better-known species is inexact, and restoring the muscles and other organs is, at best, educated guesswork.
While the largest and smallest dinosaurs will probably remain unknown, and comparisons between existing specimens is imprecise, it is clear that, as a group, dinosaurs were large. By dinosaur standards the sauropods were gigantic. The smallest sauropods were larger than anything else in their habitat, and the largest were an order of magnitude more massive than anything that has ever walked the Earth.
The tallest and heaviest dinosaur known from a complete skeleton is the Brachiosaurus, which was discovered in Tanzania between 1907–12. It is now mounted in the Humboldt Museum of Berlin and is 12 m (38 ft) tall and probably weighed between 30,000–60,000 kg (30–65 tons). The longest dinosaur is the 27 m (89 ft) long Diplodocus, which was discovered in Wyoming and mounted in Pittsburgh's Carnegie Natural History Museum in 1907.
There are bigger dinosaurs, but they are known from only a small handful of bones. The current record holders all date from the 1970s or later, and include the massive Argentinosaurus, which may have weighed 80,000–100,000 kg (90–110 tons); the longest, the 40 m (130 ft) long Supersaurus; and the tallest, the 18 m (60 ft) Sauroposeidon, which could have reached a sixth-floor window.
No other group of terrestrial animals even comes close to the size of dinosaurs. The largest elephant on record weighed a mere 12,000 kg (13.5 tons), and the tallest giraffe was just 6 m (20 ft) tall. Even giant prehistoric mammals like the Indricotherium and the Columbian mammoth were dwarfed by the giant sauropods. Only a small handful of aquatic animals approach it in size, of which the blue whale is largest, reaching up to 190,000 kg (210 tons) and 33.5 m (110 ft) in length.
Not including modern birds like the bee hummingbird, the smallest dinosaurs known were about the size of a crow or a chicken. The Microraptor, Parvicursor, and Saltopus were all under 60 cm (2 ft) in length.
Interpretations of behavior based on the pose of a body fossil and its habitat, computer simulations of their biomechanics, and comparison with modern animals in similar ecological niches rely on speculation and promise to generate controversy for the foreseeable future. However, it is likely that at least the behaviors common in both of their closest living relatives, crocodiles and birds, are also common among dinosaurs. It should be of note that nearly all interpretations of evidence are subject to change, as theories surrounding dinosaurs evolve continuously.
The first evidence of herding behavior was the 1878 discovery of 31 Iguanodon that perished together in Bernissart, Belgium , and similar mass deaths and trackways suggest that herd or pack behavior was common among many dinosaur groups. Trackways of hundreds or even thousands of herbivores indicate that duck-bills (hadrosaurids) may have moved in great herds, like the American Bison or the African Springbok. Sauropod tracks document that they traveled in groups composed of several different species, at least in Oxford, England , and others kept their young in the middle of the herd for defense according to trackways at Davenport Ranch, Texas. Dinosaurs may have congregated in herds for defense, migration, or to care for their young.
Jack Horner's 1978 discovery of a Maiasaura ("good mother dinosaur") nesting ground in Montana demonstrated parental care long after birth among the ornithopods  , and similar nesting behavior and even huge nesting colonies like those of penguins have been discovered of other Cretaceous dinosaurs like the Patagonian sauropod Saltasaurus (in 1997). The Mongolian maniraptoran Oviraptor was even discovered in a chicken-like brooding position in 1993, which may mean it was covered with an insulating layer of feathers that kept the eggs warm . Trackways have also confirmed parental behavior among sauropods and ornithopods from the Isle of Skye in the United Kingdom . Nests and eggs are known from most major groups of dinosaurs, and it appears likely that dinosaurs communicated with their young, like modern birds and crocodiles.
The crests and frills of some dinosaurs, like the marginocephalians, theropods and lambeosaurines, may have been too fragile for active defense, so they were probably used for sexual or aggressive displays, though little is known about dinosaur mating and territorialism. Communication is also an enigma, but the hollow crests of the lambeosaurines may have been resonance chambers used for a wide range of vocalizations.
Theropods stalked their prey in Glen Rose, Texas , and a fossil of a Velociraptor attacking a Protoceratops was discovered in the Gobi Desert in 1971 . While cannibalistic behavior among theropods is no surprise , it was confirmed by tooth marks from Madagascar in 2003 .
Compared to the later mammalian radiation in the Cenozoic, there seem to be no burrowing and few climbing dinosaurs.
Biomechanics has given insight into how fast dinosaurs could run  , whether diplodocids could create sonic booms by snapping their tails like a whip , whether giant theropods had to slow down to avoid fatal belly flops , and if sauropods could float .
Study of dinosaurs
Fields of study
Activities include the discovery, reconstruction and conservation of dinosaur fossils and the interpretation of those fossils to understand better the evolution, classification and behavior of dinosaurs.
Main article: Dinosaur classification
Dinosaurs are archosaurs, like modern crocodilians. These are set apart by having diapsid skulls, having two holes where jaw muscles attach, called temporal fenestrae. Birds and most reptiles are diapsids; mammals, with only one temporal fenestra, are called synapsids; and turtles, with no temporal fenestra, are anapsids. Dinosaurs also have teeth that grow from sockets (an archosaur characteristic) rather than as direct extensions of the jaw bones, as well as various other characteristics. Within this group, the dinosaurs are set apart most noticeably by their gait. Instead of legs that sprawl out to the side, as found in lizards and crocodylians, they have legs held directly under their body.
Many other types of reptiles lived at the same time as the dinosaurs. Some of these are commonly, but incorrectly, thought of as dinosaurs: these include plesiosaurs (which are not closely related to the dinosaurs) and pterosaurs, which developed separately from reptilian ancestors in the late Triassic.
Main article: Saurischia
Saurischians (from the Greek meaning "lizard hip") are dinosaurs that retained the hip structure of their ancestors. They include all the theropods (bipedal carnivores) and sauropods (long-necked herbivores).
Main article: Ornithischia
Ornithischians (from the Greek meaning "bird-hip") is the other dinosaurian order, most of which were quadrupedal herbivores.
The first known dinosaurs appeared approximately 230 Ma, about 20 million years after the Permian-Triassic extinction event wiped out about 70 percent of all biological diversity on the planet. A few lines of primitive dinosaurs diversified rapidly after the Triassic, and quickly expanded until they filled most of the vacant ecological niches. During the reign of the dinosaurs, which encompassed the ensuing Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, nearly every terrestrial animal larger than 1 m in length (that we know of) was a dinosaur.
The Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event, 65 Ma at the end of the Cretaceous, caused the extinction of all dinosaurs except for the line that had already led to the first birds.
Areas of debate
Scientists have waged a constant and vigorous debate over the temperature regulation of dinosaur blood—at first over its possibility, then over its method—a debate first popularized by Robert T. Bakker. From the first discovery of dinosaurs, paleontologists posited that they were ectothermic creatures: "terrible lizards" as their name suggested. This axiomatic expectation implied that dinosaurs were mostly slow, sluggish organisms, comparable to modern reptiles, which need the sun to heat their bodies. However, new evidence of dinosaurs in chilly temperate climates, of polar dinosaurs in Australia and Antarctica where they experienced a six-month chilly and dark winter, of feathered dinosaurs whose feathers provided regulatory insulation, and analysis of blood-vessel structures that are typical of endotherms within dinosaur bone, confirmed the possibility that some dinosaurs regulated their body temperature by internal biological methods, some aided partly by their very bulk. Skeletal structures suggest active lifestyles for theropods and other creatures, behavior more suitable for an endothermic cardiovascular system. Sauropods exhibit fewer endothermic characters. Perhaps some dinosaurs were endothermic and others not. Scientific debate over the details continues, although many paleontologists would now agree that endothermic systems are more likely.
Complicating this debate, warm-bloodedness can emerge from more than one mechanism. Most discussions of dinosaur endothermia compare them to average birds or mammals, which expend energy to elevate body temperature above that of the environment. Small birds and mammals also possess insulation of some sort, such as fat, fur, or feathers, to slow down heat loss. However, large mammals, such as elephants, face a different problem due to their relatively small surface area to volume ratio (Haldane's principle). This ratio compares the volume of an animal with the area of its skin: as an animal gets bigger, its surface area increases more slowly than its volume. At a certain point, the amount of heat radiated away through the skin drops below the amount of heat produced inside the body, forcing animals to use additional methods to avoid overheating. In the case of elephants, they lack fur, and have large ears which increase their surface area, and have behavioral adaptations as well, such as using the trunk to spray water on themselves and mud wallowing. These behaviors increase cooling through evaporation.
Large dinosaurs would presumably have faced the same situation: their size would dictate that they lost heat relatively slowly to the surrounding air, and so could have been what are called bulk endotherms, animals that are warmer than their environments through sheer size rather than any special adaptations like those of birds and mammals. However, so far this theory fails to explain the vast multitudes of dog- and goat-sized dinosaurs, which made up the bulk of the ecosystem in the mesozoic.
Feathered dinosaurs and the bird connection
Main article: Feathered dinosaurs
Over a hundred distinct anatomical features are shared by birds and theropod dinosaurs.
The first good specimen of a "feathered dinosaur" was the 1861 discovery of the Archaeopteryx in Germany, in the Solnhofen limestone, which is a lagerstätte; one of the rare and remarkable geological formations known for their superbly detailed fossils. Coming just two years after Darwin's seminal The Origin of Species, the evidence of a transitional fossil between reptiles and birds spurred the debates between evolutionary biology and creationism. This early bird is so dinosaur-like that, without a clear impression of feathers in the surrounding rock, the specimens are commonly mistaken for Compsognathus.
Since the 1990s, a number of feathered dinosaurs have been found, providing clear evidence of the close relationship between dinosaurs and birds. Most of these specimens were local to Liaoning province in northeastern China, which was part of an island continent in the Cretaceous. However, the feathers were only preserved by the lagerstätte of the Yixian Formation; it is therefore possible that dinosaurs elsewhere in the world may have been feathered too, even though the feathers have not been preserved.
The feathered dinosaurs discovered so far include Beipiaosaurus, Caudipteryx, Dilong, Microraptor, Protarchaeopteryx, Shuvuuia, Sinornithosaurus, and Sinosauropteryx, and potentially Adasaurus; and dinosaur-like birds like Confuciusornis; all of which come from the same area and formation in northern China. The dromaeosauridae family in particular seems to have been heavily feathered, and at least one dromaeosaurid, Cryptovolans, may have been capable of flight.
Because feathers are often associated with birds, feathered dinosaurs are often touted as the missing link between birds and dinosaurs. However, the association of multiple skeletal features also shared by the two groups is the more important link for paleontologists. Furthermore, it is increasingly clear that the relationship between birds, dinosaurs and the evolution of flight is more complex than has been previously realized. For example, while it was once believed that birds simply evolved from dinosaurs and went their separate way, some scientists now believe that some dinosaurs, such as the dromaeosaurs, may have actually evolved from birds, losing the power of flight while keeping the feathers in a manner similar to the Ostrich and other ratites.
Comparisons of bird and dinosaur skeletons, as well as cladistic analysis, strengthens the case for the link, particularly for a branch of theropods called maniraptors. Skeletal similarities include: the neck, pubis, wrists (semi-lunate carpal), arm and pectoral girdle, shoulder blade, clavicle and breast bone.
A recent discovery in a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton provided more evidence that dinosaurs and birds evolved from a common ancestor and for the first time allowed palentologists to sex a dinosaur. When laying eggs, female birds have a special type of bone, called a medullary bone, that grows in their limbs, forming a layer inside the hard outer bone. It is rich in calcium and used for making eggshells. The presence of endosteally derived bone tissues lining the interior marrow cavities of portions of the Tyrannosaurus rex specimen's hindlimb elements suggested similar reproductive strategies, and revealed the specimen to be female (Schweitzer et al., 2005).
Big meat-eating dinosaurs had a complex system of air sacs similar to the setup in today's birds, according to an investigation led by Patrick O'Connor of Ohio University. The lungs of theropod dinosaurs—carnivores that walked on two legs and had birdlike feet—likely pumped air into hollow sacs in their skeletons, as is the case in birds. "What was once formally considered unique to birds was present in some form in the ancestors of birds," O'Connor said. The study, funded in part by the National Science Foundation, is detailed in the July 14 issue of the journal Nature. 
Modern computerized tomography (CT) scans of dinosaur chest cavities five years ago found the apparent remnants of complex four-chambered hearts more like mammals and birds. 
Care of young
The embryo had no teeth, which suggests some parental care was required to feed the young dinosaur, possibly the adult dinosaur regurgitated nutrion into the young dinosaur's mouth. This behaviour is seen in numerous bird species; the parent birds regurgitated food into the hatchling's mouth. 
Evidence for Cenozoic non-avian dinosaurs
It has been claimed that fossils from El Ojo, South America, represent remains of non-avian dinosaurs surviving the extinction and still thriving in the Paleocene epoch. There are also other sporadic claims of post-Cretaceous dinosaur fossils (even a very doubtful finding of dinosaur eggs as late as Eocene). While it is certainly not improbable that some scattered population of some (presumably small) dinosaur species could have survived at least some hundreds of years after the mass extinction, evidence now points to El Ojo (and most other) findings as Cretaceous fossils contaminating Paleocene strata. Nevertheless, it is still theorized that some dinosaur population could have survived the main extinction event isolated in Antarctica, and then being killed by the climatic change.
Bringing dinosaurs back to life
Main article: Molecular paleontology
There has been much speculation about the availability of technology to bring dinosaurs back to life. The idea proposed in Michael Crichton's book Jurassic Park, using blood from fossilized mosquitos that have been suspended in tree sap since the Mesozoic and then filling in the gaps with frog genes to create the DNA of a dinosaur, is probably impossible. A problem with this theory is that DNA decays over time by exposure to air, water and radiation, thus depleting the chances of salvaging any useful DNA. Decay can be measured by a racemization test.
There have been two claims about the successful extraction of ancient DNA from dinosaur fossils, but upon further inspection, neither of these reports could be confirmed (Wang et al., 1997). However, a working visual peptide of a (theoretical) dinosaur has been inferred using analytical phylogenetic reconstruction methods on gene sequences of still-living related species (reptiles and birds) (Chang et al., 2002).
Discovery of probable soft tissue from dinosaur fossils
In the March 2005 issue of Science, Mary Higby Schweitzer et al. announced material, after rehydrating, that resembled soft tissue was discovered inside a Tyrannosaurus rex leg bone from the Hell Creek Formation in Montana, from about 68 million years ago.. When the fossilized bone was treated over several weeks to remove mineral content (demineralize) from the fossilized bone marrow cavity, Schweitzer found evidence of intact structures such as blood vessels, bone matrix, and connective tissue (bone fibers). Scrutiny under microscope further revealed the putative dinosaur soft tissue had retained fine structures (microstructures) even at the cellular level. It has not been made clear of what this flexible material is actually composed, although many news reports immediately linked it with the movie "Jurassic Park", and the interpretation of the artifact as well as the relative importance of Dr. Schweitzer's discovery is still undecided.
Main article: Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event
The extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs is one of the most intriguing problems in paleontology. Only since the 1970s has the nature of this extinction become researched in detail, showing some possible causes of the dinosaur extinction.
The theory first proposed by Walter Alvarez in the late 1970's, linked the extinction event at the end of the Cretaceous period to a bolide impact about 65.5 million years ago, based on a sudden change in Iridium levels in fossilized layers. The bulk of the evidence now indicates that a 10 km wide bolide hit the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago, creating the 170 km wide Chicxulub Crater and causing the extinction. Scientists are still disputing whether dinosaurs were in steady decline or still thriving before the meteor struck. Some scientists state that the meteor would have caused an unnatural winter, while others claim that it would have created an unusual heat wave.
Although the speed of extinction cannot be deduced from the fossil record alone, the latest models suggest the extinction was extremely rapid. It appears to have been caused by heat from the meteorite impact and the matter ejected from the crater reentering the Earth's atmosphere around the world.
The Oort cloud
Similar to Alvarez's theory, which involved a single comet, the Oort cloud suggests that a vast shower of comets that were dislodged in an astral phenomenon, hit the Earth at the same time, causing world wide extinction. The end result would again be an unnatural winter, ultimately freezing the dinosaurs.
A less likely theory is that the evolution of flowering plants lead to the dinosaur's extinction. The theory claims that towards the late Cretaceous period, new flowering trees & plants carrying deadly toxins evolved. This would have killed the herbivores who ate them, & in turn would have killed the carnivores also from the shortage of substantial prey.
The enviroment during the late Cretaceous was changing dramatically. With the shifting continents constantly creating new changes in weather, the dinosaurs may have simply not been able to adapt to the harsh changes in the environment.
Other groups as well as the dinosaurs went extinct at the same time, including ammonites (nautilus-like mollusks), mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, pterosaurs, herbivorous turtles and crocodiles, most kinds of birds, and many groups of mammals.
History of discovery
Dinosaur fossils have been known about for millennia, though their true nature was not recognized; the Chinese considered them to be dragon bones, while Europeans believed them to be the remains of giants and other creatures killed by the Great Flood. The first dinosaur species to be identified and named was Iguanodon, discovered in 1822 by the English geologist Gideon Mantell, who recognized similarities between his fossils and the bones of modern iguanas. Two years later, the Rev William Buckland, professor of geology at Oxford University, became the first person to describe a dinosaur in a scientific journal—in this case Megalosaurus bucklandii, found near Oxford. The study of these "great fossil lizards" became of great interest to European and American scientists, and in 1842 the English paleontologist Richard Owen coined the term "dinosaur". He recognized that the remains that had been found so far—Iguanodon, Megalosaurus and Hylaeosaurus—had a number of features in common, so decided to present them as a distinct taxonomic group. With the backing of Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, husband of Queen Victoria, Owen established the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, London, to display the national collection of dinosaur fossils and other biological and geological exhibits.
In 1858, the first known American dinosaur was discovered in marl pits of the small town of Haddonfield, New Jersey (although fossils had been found before, their nature had not been identified). The creature was named Hadrosaurus foulkii, after the town and the discoverer, William Parker Foulke. It was an extremely important find: Hadrosaurus was the first nearly complete dinosaur skeleton ever found and it was clearly a bipedal creature. This was a revolutionary discovery, as most scientists had thought that dinosaurs walked on four feet like lizards. Foulke's discoveries sparked a dinosaur mania in the United States, which was exemplified by the fierce rivalry of Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh, who each competed to outdo the other in finding new dinosaurs in what came to be known as the Bone Wars. Their feud lasted for nearly 30 years, and only ended in 1897 when Cope died after spending his entire fortune in the dinosaur hunt. Marsh won the contest by virtue of being better funded through the US Geological Survey. Cope's collection is now at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, while Marsh's is displayed at the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University.
Since then, the search for dinosaurs has been carried to every continent on Earth. This includes Antarctica, where the first dinosaur, a nodosaurid Ankylosaurus, was discovered on Ross Island in 1986, though it was 1994 before an Antarctic dinosaur, the Cryolophosaurus ellioti, was formally named and described in a scientific journal. Current "hotspots" include southern South America (especially Argentina) and China, which has produced many exceptionally well-preserved feathered dinosaurs.
In popular culture
Dinosaurs were highly successful life forms for some 150 million years; however, even more than their success, it is their extinction that has become part of human culture. Hence dinosaur is sometimes used as a metaphor for people and things that are perceived as being out of date or no longer in touch with the spirit of the times, and therefore ought to be extinct. An example was the manner in which the punk movement described the "progressive" bands that preceded them as "dinosaur groups."
Dinosaurs, by their sizes and perceived aggressiveness have both, long fascinated and terrified the public mind in both fictional and non-fictional works.
In fictional works, notable examples include Arthur Conan Doyle's book The Lost World, the 1933 movie King Kong, Godzilla, Michael Crichton's book and subsequent movie Jurassic Park. As such, the possibility of humans and dinosaurs living together as been a recurring theme in fiction: The Valley of Gwangi (1969) and One Million Years BC (1966) (famously starring Raquel Welch in a fur bikini). Ray Harryhausen brought the dinosaurs to life in both films using model animation. The development of Computer-generated imagery further enhanced that fantasy and also allowed the production of documentaries; 1999 BBC series Walking with Dinosaurs is a notable example.
Dinosaurs, however are not only depicted as cold-blooded reptiles but also as warm-loving and even with friendly personalities, either to appeal to young children such as the 1970s show Land of the Lost and the more recent Barney & Friends; for cartoons: The Flintstones, and comic strips such as Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side.
- List of dinosaurs
- List of dinosaur classifications
- Prehistoric life
- Prehistoric reptiles
- Various forms of Creationism dispute the age and significance of dinosaur fossils
- Kevin Padian, and Philip J. Currie. (1997). Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs. Academic Press. ISBN 0122268105. (articles are written by experts in the field)
- Gregory S. Paul. (2000). The Scientific American Book of Dinosaurs. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0312262264.
- M Schweitzer, JL Wittmeyer and JR Horne (2005). Gender-Specific Reproductive Tissue in Ratites and Tyrannosaurus rex. Science 308; 5727:1456-60.
- David B. Weishampel (2004). "The Dinosauria" University of California Press; 2nd edition. ISBN 0520242092.
- Belinda S. W. Chang, Karolina Jönsson, Manija A. Kazmi, Michael J. Donoghue and Thomas P. Sakmar. (2002). Recreating a functional ancestral archosaur visual pigment. Molecular Biology and Evolution 19 (9), 1483–1489.
- Hai-Lin Wang, Zi-Yang Yan and Dong-Yan Jin. (1997). Reanalysis of published DNA sequence amplified from Cretaceous dinosaur egg fossil. Molecular Biology and Evolution 14 (5), 589–591.
- For children
- Prehistoric Planet from Discovery Kids (kids site, games, videos, build a dino).
- Dinosaur Time Machine from MantyWeb Educational Software (kids site, games, make ecards).
- Dinopedia from Yahooligans! Science
- Zoom Dinosaurs from Enchanted Learning (kids site, info pages, theory, history).
- Dinosaurnews the free and informative dinosaur zine with all the latest news (very popular site, links, news, merchandise).
- Dinosaurs & other extinct creatures from the Natural History Museum, London (popular site, well illustrated dino directory).
- Dinosaurs: Facts and Fiction from the United States Geological Survey. (popular overview)
- Dinosaurs from the BBC (popular site, very well illustrated).
- Discussions from DinoData (summaries of modern debates about dinos).
- Dinosauria from UC Berkeley Museum of Paleontology (detailed information - scroll down for menu).
- The Dinosaur News The Dino-headlines from around the world. Has an extensive link page.
- OPUS: Dinosaur by Daniel Bensen A gallery of dino-paintings.
- Prehistoric Planet from PaleoClones (current dino news).
- A Fiery Death for Dinosaurs? by Amit Asaravala from Wired (article on the rapid extinction of dinos).
- The Rex Files from the New Scientist (articles, latest news but out of date)
- Palaeontologia Electronica from Coquina Press (online technical journal).
- Impossible Dinosaurs (article on a gravity-based approach for the extinction) by David Talbott, Wallace Thornhill
- TeV scale gravity, mirror universe, and ... dinosaurs (article from Acta Physica Polonica B) by Z.K. Silagadze
- Very technical
- Dinosauria On-Line (technical site, essays, pronunciation, dictionary).
- The Dinosauricon by T. Michael Keesey (technical site, cladogram, illustrations and animations).
- Dinosaur Supertree, from the University of Bristol (requires download of 275 kb PDF).
- Dinosauromorpha Cladogram from Palaeos (a detailed and wonderful amateur site about all things paleo).
- Dinobase AA dinosaur database with dinosaur lists, classification, pictures, and more.
- Bird-dinosaur discussion
- Archaeopteryx's Relationship With Modern Birds ("here are the derived characters with which Gauthier (in his 1986 paper) unites Archaeopteryx with modern birds")
- Dinosaurian Synapomorphies Found In Archaeopteryx ("characters shared with/retained from dromaeosaurids and other related theropods and dinosaurs")
- Dromaeosaurid Archaeopteryx ("All this suggests that avian flight first evolved in arboreal theropods (where they developed big brains and forward facing eyes, features not found in flying insects and pterosaurs), and that some of the flying theropods lost flight.")
- Earliest beaked bird discovered ("Fossil remains of this bird were found in China last year, 1994, and paleontologists, astonished and excited by the discovery, say the findings could have revolutionary effects on thinking about bird evolution.")
- Earliest bird with alula found ("new fossil that shows the first evidence of aerodynamic flight in birds")
- Feathers, scutes and the origin of birds (Experiments show that the same protein (when missing before birth) that causes bird feet to stay webbed, causes reptile scales to become feathers.)
- More On The Dino-bird Link (Q & A)
- Very birdlike non-avian dinosaur found ("The new maniraptorid dinosaur, named Unenlagia comahuensis, is described")
- The problems with (the book) "The Origin and Evolution of Birds" (Separate ancestry for birds debated.)
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