Following the trail of dinosaurs

A BIT OF HISTORY…

The term dinosaur derives from the Greek word deinos (meaning terrible) and sauros (meaning lizard). They first appeared around the end of the Carnian stage (230 million years ago) and disappeared almost completely towards the end of the Cretaceous period (66 million years ago). Dinosaurs are among the most famous animals in the world … and yet they are among those we know the least about! What we do know of their existence comes from the study of fossils, the harder parts of their body, buried and locked inside rock formations for millions of years. Sadly, these fossils carry no information about skin or scale colours; Colour patterns are based only on assumptions. However, still today, Fossil studies offer several surprises:

Did you know this? About 20 species, like the famous Velociraptor, were covered with primitive feathers!

The reasons given for the disappearance of dinosaurs constitute a subject of debate between Paleontologists, but most will agree that it was brought about because of one or several giant meteorites crashing into the Earth’s surface and/or intense volcano eruptions which deeply disrupted the climate and living conditions on our planet. Following these changes, the species that could adapt to these new climatic conditions rapidly multiplied, notably the group including mammals and birds. To this day, a little under 700 listed species still exist but we estimate that 70% of dinosaur species are yet to be discovered!

THE DINOZOO EXPERIENCE

The exhibition presents individuals that evolved between the Lower Jurassic period (201 to 145 million years ago) and the Upper Cretaceous period (145 to 65 million years ago)

Here are some of the Stars exhibited as you walk along the DINOZOO pathway:

THE VELOCIRAPTOR

Its name means “Swift thief.” Depicted as a cunning, clever dinosaur of average height in the films of the “Jurassic Park” series, the velociraptor, in fact, didn’t weigh more than 20 kg and measured barely one metre in height! A recent study estimated its maximum speed was close to 60 km/h, which makes it one of the fastest dinosaurs.

TYRANNOSAURUS REX

Its name means “king of the tyrant lizards.” It was a bipedal carnivore with a massive skull balanced by a long powerful tail. The biggest, complete specimen discovered measured 12.8 metres in length and was 4 metres tall. This great dinosaur was maybe not the fastest runner over long distances, but certain scientists think it could reach speeds of 40 km per hour!

TRICERATOPS

The word triceratops means “three horned face.” It can be distinguished from others with its bony neck frill and its resemblance to a rhinoceros in full armour! Its horns were long believed to be used as a way to defend themselves, however, recent studies have indicated that the frills constituted a way for them to recognize each other (a kind of an I.D. card) and also as an object of seduction during mating season!

To learn more about these specimens and all the others presented this summer at Zoo de Granby, don’t miss the DINOZOO exhibition starting on May 20, 2017.