Dinosaurs are those huge creatures we saw in Sci-Fi movies like Jurassic Park or Godzilla. A dinosaur was seen as a pet in the cartoon show The Flintstones. But, are dinosaurs alive? Are Dinosaur sightings rumors? Or, are they hiding in some far-off land? Let’s find out!
1. What are Dinosaurs?
Dinosaur is derived from two Greek words that mean terrible lizard. The word dinosaur was coined by Sir Richard Owen when the fossils of dinosaurs were first discovered. They are believed to have come into existence during the Triassic period, between 243 and 233.23 million years ago. But this is just an assumption. They are known to have lived in a period known as the Mesozoic Era which was between 252 – 66 million years ago.
In and after the 19th century, several fossils were discovered. Their skeletons have been brought together and are found in either standing or flying forms in the museums. They are classified as avian i.e. a flying dinosaur and non-avian i.e. dinosaur who cannot fly. (See Oldest Living Species Alive Today)
2. Where was the First Fossil Found?
Dinosaur fossils are reported to have been seen in China when some Chinese people found their fossils beneath the earth. They considered them to be the bones of a dragon because of the long vertebrae column of the fossil discovered. This is mentioned in the Chronicles of Huayang, in a gazetteer by Chang Qu. This happened during the Western Jīn Dynasty.
3. When were Fossils Found in England?
In England somewhere in the late 17th century, dinosaur bones were discovered. From a limestone quarry at Cornwell near Chipping Norton, Oxford shire, in 1676, a bone was discovered. Later on, it came to be known as the femur i.e. thigh bone of the Megalosaurus. Between 1815-1824, the remaining fossils and bones of the Megalosaurus were discovered.
Iguanodon was discovered in 1822 by Mary Ann Mantell. She found similarities between those fossils and modern-day Iguanas. When these bones and fossils were compared with present-day animals, the question of are dinosaurs alive became imperative. (See Who Discovered the First Dinosaur Bone?)
4. When & How did they become Extinct?
All the non-avian dinosaurs are believed to have become extinct in the Cretaceous–Paleogene K-Pg extinction event. This assumption is based on research done on various fossils and bones that have been discovered to date. This mass extinction took out almost three-quarters of plant & animal species of planet Earth.
- This was caused by the impact of a massive comet or asteroid, 10 to 15 km wide, 66 million years ago which caused sudden atmospheric changes.
- It is also believed that a giant volcanic eruption or a series of such eruptions, also known as flood basalt, led to the demise of the dinosaurs making them extinct.
- Apart from these, Deccan traps are also considered to be the cause of their extinction. (See Why Did the Archaeopteryx Become Extinct?)
5. Which is the Last Dinosaur Seen Alive?
According to some theories, it was Abelisaurs or Abelisauroidea a carnivorous species that was similar to tyrannosaurs or T-rex. Although, it had a larger snout and much thinner hands than that of T-rex. While T-rex is believed to be the dominant species, Abelisaurs were the top predators in Africa, South America, India, and Europe by the end of the Cretaceous period
6. Are Dinosaurs Alive?
In 2000, some paleontologists discovered the right femur of a single Hadrosaur in the San Juan Basin of New Mexico and described it as evidence of Paleocene dinosaurs. So, according to them some species of dinosaurs were alive even after the Cretaceous period viz 45000 years after the mass extinction had taken place. This, therefore, begs the question: are dinosaurs alive and roaming around somewhere on earth? Certain pieces of evidence prove to be at odds with other theories about their existence and extinction. (See 25 Types of Dinosaurs)
7. Are Dinosaurs Extinct?
No! You read it right. They are not extinct. According to some theories, birds were considered to be the sole surviving lineage of theropod dinosaurs. The fossils discovered and the records derived from them have made this fact quite clear. They are believed to have been from the flying/feathered species of dinosaurs and that they survived Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. Also, dinosaurs were vertebrates and so are birds.
However, some paleontologists consider them to be a separate class and not a part of it. According to them, for a group to be natural, all descendants of members of the group must be included in the group as well.
Thus, the dinosaurs are not extinct, in a way. So, are dinosaurs alive? Well, the next time you see flying birds, look closely.