Monday, July 10, 2017

Archeopteryx

Archaeopteryx is a bird that has sparked quite a bit of debate ever since its fossils were discovered in Germany in the mid-19th century. It was described and named by Hermann von Meyer in 1861. Its name means “ancient wing.” It lived during the Late Jurassic Period, about 150 years ago and flew over what is now known as Europe, but at the time was
an archipelago of islands in a shallow tropical sea, much closer to the Equator than it is today.

Similar in shape and size to a modern-day magpie, Archaeopteryx was 30 cm long, and weighed between 300 - 500 grams. It had legs that were longer than what birds usually possess and its wings were asymmetrical – which means that it probably used them to generate lift for flight. However, what scientists don’t currently know about this bird was whether it could fly by flapping its wings or if it had to employ some form of gliding strategy.

Some scientists have referred to it as a bird-like dinosaur and other scientists have referred to it as the first bird.The truth, most likely, is that it is a “missing link” between dinosaurs and birds and was in a transitional form between a dinosaur and a bird.Despite its small size, broad wings, and the inferred ability to fly or glide, this prehistoric animal had more features in common with the other dinosaurs from the Age of Reptiles (such as jaws full of sharp teeth, long bony tail, etc.) than with modern birds.

Archaeopteryx pictures show this bird with a wide-variety of different colors of feathers. Some artists show them as having blue or green feathers accented with red and gold, while other artists show them as being solid colors such as brown or gray. However, the truth of the matter is that the feathers of this bird were more than likely black. This has been confirmed using X-ray analysis of the fossils.

One of the most interesting facts about Archaeopteryx is that it might have had a primitive warm-blooded metabolism – meaning that it could generate body heat on its own. However, its metabolic system probably wasn’t as fine-tuned as warm-blooded animals today, so it had a slower growth rate than most birds and probably ate a lot less. It was a carnivore, so it probably fed off of some of the small animals that were available at the time.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

ARCHELON

Archelon (from Greek αρχελών meaning ruler turtle) is a genus of extinct sea turtles, the largest genus of sea turtles that has ever been documented, and the second-heaviest turtles documented behind Stupendemys.
 
The largest Archelon fossil measured more than 4 metres long, and about 5 metres  wide from flipper to flipper. It was a marine turtle, whose closest living relative in the present day is the leatherback sea turtle. It lived at a time when a shallow sea covered most of central North America. Most of the known remains have been found in South Dakota and Wyoming. Though anatomically similar to the earlier species Protostega gigas, it was much larger. Unlike most modern turtles, Archelon did not have a solid shell, but instead had a skeletal framework supporting a leathery or bony carapace. Other distinguishing features include a pointed tail, a narrow skull, a relatively narrow, high-vaulted shell, and a pronounced overbite. The live weight of an Archelon is estimated at more than 2200 kg. They probably had a very strong bite, and were optimized for feeding on pelagic mollusc's such as squid.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Quetzalcoatlus

 Quetzalcoatlus (KWET-Sal-coh-AT-lus)

Image result for quetzalcoatlusWas an azhdarchid pterosaur known from the Late Cretaceous of North America (Maastrichtian stage)  It is a member of the family Azhdarchidae, a family of advanced toothless pterosaurs with unusually long, stiffened necks.

Its name comes from the Mesoamerican feathered serpent god, Quetzalcoatl. With a wingspan of 12 metres and a weight of 65kg, Quetzalcoatlus was the largest flying animal ever. It probably soared over inland areas, looking for carcasses to eat. 

Coelurosauravus


Image result for coelurosauravusCoelurosauravus (meaning "hollow lizard grandfather") is a genus of basal diapsid reptile that lived during the Upper Permian (Lopingian) period in Northern Europe - Germany, England and Madagascar. It had specialised wing-like structures allowing it to glide. These were rod like structures with skin stretched over them. These bony rods are not extensions of the ribs but are newly evolved dermal bones, a feature which is unique to the genus.The average length of the specimens was 40 centimetres and the body was long and flat, suitable for gliding. The skull was lizard-like with a pointed snout and contained a broad back with a serrated crest, superficially resembling the crests of ceratopsian dinosaurs.  

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Dimorphodon

 Dimorphodon  was a genus  of medium-sized pterosaur from the early Jurassic Period. It was named by palaeontologist Richard Owen in 1859. Dimorphodon means "two-form tooth", derived from Greek ‘di’  meaning 'two', morphe meaning 'shape' and ‘odon’ meaning 'tooth', referring to the fact that it had two distinct types of teeth in its jaws - which is comparatively rare among reptiles. The body structure of Dimorphodon displays many primitive characteristics, such as a very small brain-pan and proportionally short wings. The first phalanx in its flight finger is only slightly longer than its lower arm. Its neck was short but strong and flexible and may have had a membranous pouch on the underside. The vertebrae had pneumatic foramina, openings through which the air sacks could reach the hollow interior. The Dimorphodon had an adult body length of 1 metre long, with a 1.45 metre wingspan. Its tail was long and consisted of thirty vertebrae. The first five or six were short and flexible, but the remainder gradually increased in length and were stiffened by elongated vertebral processes.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The smart troodon

The troödon was a fast-moving, intelligent, meat-eating dinosaur.  It lived during the late Cretaceous period, about 76-65 million years ago. The  Troodon had a relatively large brain, and a surprisingly small head with an elongated skull, and one very long toe claw. It was about 2-3.5m long and weighed about 50kg. The long tail acted as a counterbalance and as a stabilizer during fast turns. The Troodon was a carnivore (a meat eater). It probably ate just about anything it could slash and tear apart with its sharp teeth and with its long-clawed fingers and toes. It was first discovered by Ferdinand V. Hayden in 1855.  Troodon fossils have been found in North America (US states of Montana, Wyoming, and Canadian province of Alberta).