August 16, 2014 | David F. Coppedge

Extinct Reptiles Quickly Spread Over the Globe

On every continent, dinosaurs and other extinct reptiles thrived.  Here are some recent amazing finds.

Pterosaur graveyard:  Get a load of the artwork on National Geographic: bizarre pterosaurs with butterfly-shaped head crests.  The colors and patterns are due to artistic imagination, but the artwork stems from a spectacular discovery in southern Brazil, where hundreds of bone fragments were found in an area measuring 215 square feet, according to Live Science.  All members of a species previously unknown, the 47-some-odd individuals represent all life stages, young to old.  The young were apparently fast growers, able to fly shortly after hatching.  Finding so many in such a compact area suggests to researchers that they lived in social groups.

How were they buried?  One theory is that a storm swept them into a lake.  “As the creatures died, the occasional desert storm would wash their remains into the lake, where the watery burial preserved them indefinitely, the researchers said. Another possibility is that the pterosaurs stopped at this spot during ancient migrations, though the authors suspect that is less likely.”  Live Science shows a photo of part of the bone bed with the bones crammed together, yet still in 3-D orientation.

Big ankylosaur:  On the other side of the globe, some common folk found something unexpected:  “Farmers in China have unearthed the nearly complete skeleton of a juvenile armored dinosaur that may be one of the largest ankylosaurs,” Live Science reported.  “The finding suggests that this group of beasts grew to be big early in their evolutionary history, researchers say.”  Apparently they hadn’t learned Darwin’s lesson that smaller is better in the fitness game (8/03/14).

Foxy Venezuelan rock star:  The first dinosaur from the northern end of South America has been unearthed.  “The fossil of a new two-legged, fox-sized dinosaur relative of both Stegosaurus and Triceratops, which dates back about 200 million years, has been discovered in Venezuela,” Live Science reported—a bit odd, since the “relatives” mentioned walked on four legs and were large.  All three, however were “ornithischian” or “bird-hipped” types.  “The find suggests that dinosaurs advanced quickly across the globe after a mass extinction claimed at least half of all species on Earth, researchers say.”  Found in a rock in the Andes mountains, it shows they “were able to dwell in regions previously thought too inhospitable for dinosaurs to survive.”  At least four specimens were found together, suggesting, once again, that the group roamed in herds.  Teeth of a meat-eater were found nearby.  The researchers couldn’t decide if the region was swampy or semi-arid.  Here’s a compromise: “The climate would have been hot, but the amount of water would have varied through time.”  That covers the bases.

Dinosaur roast:  Want to try some dinosaur steak?  Try the cheap imitation: “roast dino” and “dodo nuggets.”  PhysOrg tells why Dutch scientists gave these whimsical names to some artificial meats they concocted.  For instance, their “Roast Raptor” recipe “uses chicken tissue to grow meat around ‘dinosaur bones’ printed in a 3-D printer to create anatomically accurate models of dinosaur parts.”  It would be interesting to calculate how many people could be fed with one Ultrasaurus.

So many dinosaurs; how did the world contain them all?  Actually, given all the dinosaur types roaming around in large numbers, there still would have been plenty of room.  Earth is a big place.  From what we see in fossils, the earth today is impoverished in the variety and size of many creatures who lived here.  Creationists rejoice in each new discovery; they open views to the antediluvian world.  These stories show that there’s still a lot to discover out there.  We agree the creatuers perished in storms in rocks laid down by water all over the earth.  We just don’t need the millions of years and the storytelling.  Just the facts, please, on this fossil-hunting dragnet.




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