Portal:Dinosaurs

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The Dinosaur Portal

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Introduction

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Dinosaurs are animals that dominated terrestrial environments for more than 160 million years, first appearing approximately 230 million years ago. They were extremely varied, abundant and have been found preserved on all seven modern continents. At the end of the Cretaceous period, approximately 66 million years ago, a catastrophic extinction event ended the dinosaurs' dominance on land. However, since birds are theropods the clade dinosauria still survives in great diversity and abundance. The term "dinosaur" is sometimes used mistakenly to describe other prehistoric animals, such as the synapsid Dimetrodon, or reptiles like pterosaurs, ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs and mosasaurs. Since the first dinosaur fossils were recognized in the nineteenth century, mounted dinosaur skeletons have become major attractions at museums around the world and have amassed a large fan base among children and adults alike. They have been featured in best-selling books and films such as Jurassic Park, and new discoveries are regularly covered by the media.
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A model of Archaeopteryx lithographica on display at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.
Archaeopteryx (meaning 'ancient feather') is the earliest and most primitive known avian to date. It lived in the late Jurassic Period around 155-150 million years ago in what is now southern Germany. At the time Archaeopteryx lived, Europe was an archipelago of islands in a shallow warm tropical sea, much closer to the equator than it is now. Archaeopteryx lived during the time of the dinosaurs, yet was set apart from them because of the inclusion of both avian and theropod dinosaur features. Similar in size and shape to a European Magpie, it bore broad, rounded wings and a long tail. Archaeopteryx could grow to about half a metre, or 1.6 feet in length. Its feathers resembled those of modern birds but Archaeopteryx was rather different from any bird known today, in that it had jaws lined with sharp teeth, three 'fingers' ending in curved claws and a long bony tail. These features, which are consistent with theropod dinosaurs, have made the Archaeopteryx a hot topic in the debate on evolution. Indeed, in 1862 the description of the first intact specimen of Archaeopteryx, just two years after Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species, set off a firestorm of debate about evolution and the role of transitional fossils that endures to this day.

The eleven fossils currently classified as Archaeopteryx are the oldest evidence of feathers on the planet and the only ones dated from Jurassic times. Furthermore, their advanced nature and placement suggest their origins must have been even earlier. All remains have been regarded by most as a single species, though this has been debated. (see more...)

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Leaping Laelaps by Charles R. Knight.

The painting Leaping Laelaps by Charles R. Knight depicts two Dryptosaurus fighting.

Photo credit: User:Crotalus horridus

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Topics

Dinosaur-related topics - Dinosaur - Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event - Dinosaur-bird connection - Dinosaur classification - Evolution of dinosaurs - Feathered dinosaurs - List of dinosaurs - Paleontology - Physiology of dinosaurs
Locations - List of dinosaur-bearing rock formations - List of fossil sites - Como Bluff - Coon Creek Formation - Dinosaur Cove - Dinosaur National Monument - Dinosaur Park Formation - Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum - Glen Rose Formation - Hell Creek Formation - Lance Formation - Morrison Formation - Red Gulch Dinosaur Tracksite - Two Medicine Formation
Paleontologists - Mary Anning - Robert T. Bakker - Barnum Brown - William Buckland - Edward Drinker Cope - Jack Horner - Gideon Mantell - Othniel Charles Marsh - John Ostrom - Dong Zhiming
History - List of years in paleontology - Bone Wars - Dinosaur Renaissance
Popular culture - List of dinosaur parks - Cultural depictions of dinosaurs - Jurassic Park - Jurassic Park (film) - Raptor Red
Alternative Theories - Creationist perspectives on dinosaurs - Living dinosaurs
Featured dinosaur articles - Acrocanthosaurus - Albertosaurus - Allosaurus - Archaeopteryx - Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards - Bone Wars - Chicxulub crater - Compsognathus - Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event - Daspletosaurus - Deinonychus - Dinosaur - Diplodocus - Edmontosaurus - Edward Drinker Cope - Gorgosaurus - Herrerasaurus - Iguanodon - Lambeosaurus - List of dinosaurs - Majungasaurus - Massospondylus - Parasaurolophus - Plateosaurus - Psittacosaurus - Stegosaurus - Styracosaurus - Tarbosaurus - Thescelosaurus - Triceratops - Tyrannosaurus - Velociraptor
Good dinosaur articles - Abelisauridae - Alioramus - Amphicoelias - Ankylosaurus - "Archaeoraptor" - Balaur - Carnotaurus - Ceratopsia - Coelurus - Cultural depictions of dinosaurs - Dromaeosauridae - Gryposaurus - Heterodontosauridae - Hypacrosaurus - Hypsibema missouriensis - Kritosaurus - Othnielosaurus - Pachycephalosaurus - Prosaurolophus - Rajasaurus - Saurolophus - Sauropelta - Scelidosaurus - Sinosauropteryx - Species of Allosaurus - Spinosaurus - Tyrannosauridae - Tyrannosauroidea - Vulcanodon

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