Dinosaurs have fascinated children and adults alike for many years. Thanks to dinosaur movies and games, we’ve been able to get a real-life feel for these gigantic creatures. However, these same movies and games have also given rise to many myths about these prehistoric beasts that aren’t true. Also, as new research is being done, many of these myths are being dispelled to be replaced with the truth. And let me tell you, the truth is often way more interesting than these myths when it comes to dinos.
In this article, we’ll separate 12 dinosaur myths from facts and share how things were. Keep reading to discover the truth behind some interesting dinosaur myths.
11 Interesting Dinosaur Myths and Facts
Separating fact from fiction can sometimes be difficult, especially when it comes to such a popular topic as dinosaurs. Here are some of the most interesting dinosaur myths we’ve found.
Dinosaurs are Reptiles
Dinosaurs have long been portrayed as giant lizard-like animals with scales. Many people thought they were reptiles and fell into the same species, such as crocodiles, snakes, and other lizards. The truth is that dinos are in their own group of animals and fall under a subspecies of reptiles. If you look at their skulls, it’s clear that dinosaurs are more closely related to birds than crocodiles or other lizards.
Dinosaurs are Cold Blooded
Since we’ve believed for so long that dinos are part of the reptile family, it makes sense for them to be cold-blooded. However, recent studies have found that dinosaurs were neither cold-blooded nor warm-blooded. The reason for this change in thought is that after studying the bones of dinosaurs, researchers found signs of surprisingly fast growth. This growth would not be possible in cold-blooded creatures as it takes too much energy. After extensive testing of growth rate and metabolism, scientists labeled dinosaurs mesothermic (meso in Greek means ‘middle’), meaning they fall somewhere between cold and warm-blooded.
If the Name Ends in ‘-Saurus,’ It’s a Dinosaur
There is a misconception that any name ending in ‘-saurus’ refers to a dinosaur. The word ‘saurus’ originates from Greek and means lizard, not dino. There are certain animals, like the phytosaur, which can be misconstrued as a dinosaur when in fact, it’s a lizard and falls directly under reptiles and not dinosaurs. Therefore certain animals, like Phytosaurus, plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs, aren’t technically dinosaurs despite having the ‘-suarus’ in the name.
A Meteor Wiped Out All the Dinosaurs
Sixty-five million years ago, an asteroid hit the earth and caused massive devastation. For many years it was believed that this asteroid wiped out all the dinos on earth. The truth is that there was a mass extinction, and many dinosaurs were wiped out. However, since birds evolved from dinosaurs, technically, the meteor didn’t wipe out all the dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs Swam in the Water and Flew in the Sky
It’s a common misconception that animals who flew or swam in the time of the dinosaurs were also considered dinos. For a long time, pterodactyls were believed to be dinosaurs that soared majestically through the skies. Mosasaurus were believed to be gigantic ocean-dwelling dinosaurs that lurked in the water (thanks to Jurassic World). However, these have been discovered to be from a different family called ‘Archosauria.’ The reality is that dinosaurs lived predominantly on land.
Dinosaurs Came Before Mammals
Many people believe that mammals only developed after the dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago. However, the truth is that while dinos ruled the world during their time, they weren’t the only species alive. During the Mesozoic era, small mammals resembling rodents were present, having established their own ecological niche more than 200 million years ago.
We Could Clone Dinosaurs in the Future
Movies like Jurassic park make it seem so easy to clone dinosaurs and bring them back. With just a small amount of their DNA found in their blood (like the dinosaur blood found in a mosquito), we can recreate these magnificent beasts. Unfortunately, scientists don’t believe this will work. DNA is an extremely fragile molecule that starts breaking down shortly after the death of an animal. Great steps have to be taken to preserve DNA, and this technology and knowledge were not present when the dinos died out. As such, cloning dinosaurs in this way would be impossible.
T-Rex Arms Were Useless
T-Rex arms have long been the butt of many jokes. This terrifying, large carnivorous dinosaur has seemingly puny little arms that are practically useless. In reality, T-rex arms were quite muscular. Scientists believed that they would’ve been able to bench press around 400 pounds with each arm. In comparison, this would make their arms three times stronger than human arms.
Dinosaurs Were All Shades of Brown and Green
Dinosaurs are often depicted in muted brown, green, and sometimes gray shades. However, it’s been discovered by analyzing the melanosomes in well-preserved feathers found with fossils. Since scientists now believe that dinos aren’t covered in scales but rather feathers, this leads to the conclusion that some dinosaurs were quite colorful. Fossils from a small carnivorous dinosaur found in northeastern China called Sinosauropteryx are believed to have had a striped brown tail and raccoon-like bandit mask.
Dinosaurs Were All Scaly
Dinosaurs have long been depicted as large scaly lizards. However, new evidence suggests that they weren’t all covered in scales. Many dinosaur fossils contain skin impressions and carbonized remains of feathers that have led scientists to believe that some dinosaurs were more feathery and downy than first expected. However, these feathers weren’t used for flight, such as the case with modern birds. It’s believed that the feathery covering was used for insulation, protection from the elements and possibly to attract mates.
Dinosaurs Were Bad Parents
Dinosaurs seemed to get the same reputation as many reptiles when it comes to child-rearing. For a long time, it was believed that, like many snake species, dinosaurs laid their eggs and left them to fend for themselves. Even when the first dinosaur fossils were discovered on top of the remnants of a dinosaur nest, scientists at the time believed the dinosaur was killed while raiding the nest and was given the name ‘Oviraptor’ or ‘Egg Thief,’ however since this discovery many more dinosaurs were discovered on top of nests making scientist believe that some dinosaurs were sitting on their eggs and guardian them. This is much like their distant modern-day cousins, birds and crocodiles.
Dinosaurs are fascinating creatures, and we are still learning more about them as time goes on. The facts about these animals are definitely more interesting than the truth and make you wonder if we’ve been wrong about so many things up to this point; what else is there still to discover about dinosaurs? What other myths can we still debunk in the future?