There are several myths about dinosaurs, from those that are mistaken beliefs about how they lived, to those that claim some species still exist (in their prehistoric form) today. Let us look at some of those wonderful myths and sort out the truth as we understand it through science.
1. The first myth is still regarded as true by some religious groups. This myth is that humans and dinosaurs co-habited the earth at the same time. Because some religious groups dispute the age of the planet, and universe, and yet cannot deny the dinosaurs previous existence, they have said that dinosaurs and humans lived together as recently as a few thousand years ago. Of course, most people now agree that dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago, long before humans existed.
2. All prehistoric creatures were dinosaurs. There were many other animals alive at the time that were not dinosaurs, including insects, and early mammals. Most notably though are the Pterosaurs, those fantastic flying reptiles, and the strictly aquatic animals, such as the Plesiosaurs. Additionally, there were many large animals alive before the time of the dinosaur, most notably the “sail-fin” Dimetrodon. Dinosaurs have limbs that fit under their bodies, rather than stick out to the side as these animals did.
3. Dinosaurs of all types lived at the same time. There were many rises and falls of dinosaur species, after all, their reign was several millions of years (roughly 160 million years). So while Tyrannosaurus was alive in the Late Cretaceous period it could not have fought a Stegosaurus (who lived in the late Jurassic time period), despite this being the battle so often portrayed in nearly every dinosaur movie. Through fossils we know different species lived during different time periods.
4. Dinosaurs died out in one big mass extinction. There were several mass extinctions, marking the end of different periods, and giving rise to the evolution of other types of dinosaurs. It is now believed that some dinosaur species survived the last mass extinction and evolved into birds.
5. Dinosaurs were all heartless. Fossil evidence points to the fact that some types of dinosaurs lived in social groups and cared for their young after they hatched from eggs.
6. Dinosaurs were massive. Some dinosaurs fossils have been discovered, showing adult animals to be as small as house cats, or chickens.
7. Dinosaurs were “too dumb to evolve”. Again, since they survived over 160 million years, and had many, many changes in shape and type, they did evolve, and did so many times. An animal does not decide if it is going to evolve or not, it happens as a matter of natural selection, and time. Humans are lucky, because we can “adapt”, this is not the same as “evolving”.
8. Mammals evolved after Dinosaurs. While certainly some great mammals did come into existence after the fall of the dinosaurs, there were tiny mammals surviving during the reign of the dinosaurs, very likely they were nocturnal, hunting at night, while the dinosaurs rested.
9. No living remnants of dinosaurs exist today. On the contrary. Scientists now feel that some species of dinosaur did survive the last mass extinction and evolved into modern day birds. One look at the primitive Cassowary should convince anyone of that. Fossil evidence shows the formation of an early form of flight feather on some species, suggesting they evolved into birds.
-Myths of Current Dinosaur Sightings-
Although many people claim that the Loch Ness Monster is a surviving prehistoric animal, a Plesiosaur, it is important to note that Plesiosaurs were not dinosaurs. As well reports of flying Pterosaurs over Mexico and South America may, or may not be true, but these also were not dinosaurs.
An other sighting claims refer to an animal more like a sauropod, Apatosaurus (once referred to as Brontosaurus). There have been reports of these animals in South America, the Congo, and around Sayram Lake, in China. No hard evidence, such as bones, footprints, or even droppings have ever been found to substantiate such reports.
By keeping an open mind, we can sort out myth from reality, and come closer to knowing the real history of the dinosaurs.