There Have Always Been Many Speculations and Dinosaur Theories
Theories about dinosaurs abound, with a recent one claiming that the buoyancy of water was essential for support of their large bodies. This suggests that dinosaurs mostly enjoyed an aquatic lifestyle. Let us review a few of the latest weird and wonderful theories.
The Feathered Dinosaur Theories
Dinosaurs finally showed their ‘true colors’ in January 2010 when researchers revealed that a feathered dinosaur species, living 100 million years ago, had ginger-colored plumage. A rival research-group then claimed that another species, from 150 million years ago, had reddish-brown feathers on its crest, as well as freckles. The latter theory resulted from microscopic studies of fossils in China, which allowed the prediction of color patterns that presumably aided in communication and mate attraction.
Pterosaur Head Crest Dinosaur Theories
A research team revealed, in June, that pterosaurs (flying dinosaurs) and pelycosaurs (fin-backed dinosaurs) used their exaggerated head crests and sails (or fins) for mating displays and sexual selection. These elaborations were previously thought to assist with temperature regulation, but now we know that they function in a similar way to peacock tails, with the difference being that peacock tails are shed every year, while pterosaurs had the constant burden of carrying their ‘sexy’ large crests.
Therapod Dinosaur Theories
Plant Eating Theropod Dinosaur Theories
December brought the bombshell that most therapod dinosaurs ate plants, rather than flesh, which challenged the conventional theory that almost all therapods were hunters. This means that the likes of Tyrannosaurus rex and Velociraptor were the exception, rather than the rule. The coelurosaurs, which are the closest relatives to birds, mostly followed a vegetarian lifestyle, which may explain their remarkable success in terms of species diversity.
One Fingered Theropod Dinosaur Theories
The discovery of Linhenykus monodactylus, a two-feet tall ‘One-fingered dinosaur’, caused a stir in January of 2011. It is a relative of the carnivorous therapods, a group that includes Tyrannosaurus rex and Velociraptor. Terrestrial therapods typically have five fingers that evolved to three fingers in more advanced species, with tyrannosaurs showing the unusual condition of having only two fingers. Linhenykus took this to the extreme with its single, claw-tipped finger on each front limb, which was presumably used to dig into the nests of insects.
Dinosaur Theories on Opportunism
The same month saw an extension of the ‘predatory dinosaurs turned peace-loving vegetarians’ theory, when another research group showed that dinosaurs did not, in fact, attain dominance by forcing out other animals. Instead, they opportunistically claimed space that was left open after a mass extinction event that happened 200 million years ago.
Dinosaur Theories on Tyrannosaurus Rex
Tyrannosaurus rex was next on the agenda. Believed by some to be a scavenger, due to its small forelimbs and well-developed sense of smell, T. rex would probably have been out-competed by smaller scavengers, making such a lifestyle unviable. Instead, the powerful jaws, dagger-like teeth, binocular vision and speed of T. rex would have made it an expert hunter of large vertebrate prey.
A New Sauropod Discovery
A newly discovered dinosaur, named Brontomerus mcintoshi in February 2011, had unusually large, powerful leg muscles, which led to its nick-name ‘Thunderthighs’. Scientists believe that this sauropod used its enormous thighs to kick predators or other males during fights for females, or to travel more efficiently over mountainous, rough terrain. Fossil bones of an adult, which may have weighed about 6 tons, and a ca. 200 kg juvenile, were found in Utah.
Dinosaur Theories on Survival After the Meteor
During this time another popular theory was challenged – the theory that all dinosaurs went extinct after a massive meteor strike about 66 million years ago. New evidence, using a ‘direct dating’ method on fossil remains of a plant-eating hadrasaur, suggests that it may have been around 700,000 years later than expected, possibly surviving in zones of vegetation that may have coped with severe climatic conditions after the strike.
Dinosaur Theories on Dinosaurs as Caring Mothers
Images of dinosaurs as caring mothers surfaced in January 2012. Evidence from South Africa suggests that a long-necked sauropod ancestor, living 190 million years ago, used nests for egg-laying. The amazing discovery of several nests with fossilized eggs and small footprints allows the first real insight into dinosaur reproduction, and it is suggested that the same nests were used year on year, while youngsters were allowed to double in size before leaving the nest.
Dinosaur Theories on the Decomposition of Dinosaurs
A long-held theory, that decomposing dinosaur bodies burst open due to an accumulation in gas, was put to rest earlier this year. The theory originally surfaced to explain why the bones of unborn marine dinosaurs were scattered all over, while adult bodies often stayed in tact. The thinking was that the embryo and organs would be scattered during such an ‘explosion’, but now it has been shown that such explosions would not have been possible. A more likely explanation is that gentle ocean currents would sweep the bones of small embryos away, while the heavier bones of adults would stay in place on the sea bed.
Crazier Dinosaur Theories
A few final, unproven and totally bizarre older hypotheses… A type of AIDS wiped out dinosaurs that indulged in promiscuous behavior; changes in plant life led to a fatal condition of constipation; and that dinosaurs never existed at all, other than in the minds of evolutionists! Talk about crazier dinosaur theories!