Dinosaurs have long been the subject of many myths. The prehistoric creatures have sparked fear and wonderment in many. Since dinosaurs have been extinct for 65 million years, people can only rely on archeologist’s studies and findings for our information on dinosaurs.
Many people think that dinosaurs and humans lived alongside each other. This has been popularized in movies and stories but it simply is not true. Most dinosaurs except for birds died out about 65 million years ago according to fossil remains. Human remains only date back about 6 million years ago.
Dinosaurs were not the only animals inhabiting the earth at this time. Small reptile-like animals were also present and are called synapsids or theropsids. These little animals were nocturnal and probably weighed about 2 grams. They are classified as one of the four main subclasses of reptiles that evolved into mammals.
An asteroid that struck the earth about 65 million years ago was not responsible for killing off the dinosaurs. The asteroid struck in what is now Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. The impact would have only killed the dinosaurs in the immediate area. Possible after effects of the asteroid such as acid rain and cooling earth temperatures caused by giant dust clouds could have caused some of the dinosaurs to die. No one is exactly sure what caused the dinosaurs to become extinct but it is know that the dinosaurs inhabited the earth for some 150 million years.
Birds did not evolve from dinosaurs. They are actually avian dinosaurs that did not die out but evolved and inhabit the earth today. Some birds have become extinct though such as the dodo bird. Birds are thought to have survived extinction because of their brains. CT scans of bird fossils show that they had bigger, more developed brains. Having a larger brain probably gave them advantage over the dinosaurs because they were able to adapt and change.
Dinosaurs did not die out because mammals ate their eggs. Probably some dinosaur nests were attacked from time to time but for the most part the mammals were too small to eat the large dinosaur eggs. It is more likely that other predator dinosaurs ate the eggs.
Early on paleontologists thought some dinosaurs were slow, lazy animals and that this might have contributed to them dying. Studies of fossils show that dinosaurs had a large, four-chambered heart that would allow them to move quickly if need be.
Even though many mysteries still surround dinosaurs, most people find them fascinating creatures. One must wonder what would have happened if dinosaurs were alive today. Maybe they would have evolved and changed. Possibly, they would be in zoos or on preserves. One thing is for sure, no one would want one in his or her backyard.