Thursday, February 11, 2016

Love in the Time of the Dinosaurs

Hey, everyone! Sorry for being late with this post, but I've had yet another busy week. I think the busyness period is mostly over, so I should be able to post weekly now. Anyway...Valentines Day is right around the corner! The good news is that I have the perfect article for the occasion...I mean, even dinosaurs need a little love in their lives, right?

Days Till
It is: 1 day till President's Day
It is: 3 days till Valentine's Day
It is: 35 days till St. Patrick's Day
It is: 50 days till April Fool's Day

In the Spotlight:
About a month or so ago, I talked about the band Girl and the Dreamcatcher's, featuring Dove Cameron and Ryan Mccartan, previously-latest songs. Well, as of one or two weeks ago, they released a new song called Glowing in the Dark. It's a little sad, but it sounds awesome. Check it out:

Topic of the Week by Christian Ryan
Warning: The topic in this article is intended for adults and teens, not young children. You will find no inappropriate pictures of dinosaur sexuality (no private parts!), crude comments or adult jokes about certain body parts here, but the content is frank and not appropriate for younger audiences.

We know the height, length and diet of huge dinosaurs like Giraffatitan...but how did this 50-ton beast reproduce? By Axel Mauruszat - Own work

Valentine's Day is in just a couple of days. Couples show their affection for each other in various ways. However, love isn't just for humans, and it certainly isn't new. Every year, all animals must reproduce, and this was true with dinosaurs as well. How did dinosaurs attract members of the opposite sex, mate and reproduce?

What color were the dinosaurs? What was the biggest dinosaur? How did they go extinct? These are the types of questions most people ask about dinosaurs. Very few spare a thought for questions like: how did dinosaurs attract a mate? How did dinosaurs mate with all those spines, scutes, spikes and long tails? Since they relate to the behavior of dinosaurs, they are much harder to answer. However, fossils still give us clues that allow us to hypothesize how dinosaurs reproduced after their own kind, as God commanded them in Genesis 1:24.

♂ or ♀
How did dinosaurs, like T. rex, tell each other apart? By user:Eqdoktor - Own work, CC BY 3.0

Before we get into how dinosaurs reproduced, perhaps we need to figure out how on earth we tell the difference between a male and a female dinosaur. The answer is: we don't know for sure. Today, animals of different sexes are often visually different: for example, male lions have manes, deer have antlers (exception: reindeer, as both sexes have antlers), peacocks have that elaborate tail and roosters are larger and have a larger comb (that's the fleshy organ on top of their heads) than the females. This is called sexual dimorphism. As most evidences of sexual dimorphism would have been fleshy, and dinosaurs are mostly known of by the fossils we find of them, we can't really know for sure which ones are males or females. But this hasn't stopped scientists from trying to figure it out.

While male lions have manes, lionesses lack them. By Prabir K Bhattacharyya - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
However, paleontologists have noticed that some dinosaur species come in two different morphs, or versions. A gracile version and a robust version. Maybe these represent different genders, but without finding a fossilized genitalia, it's hard to say which is which. Scientists once thought that they could tell the sex of a Tyrannosaurus by examining the absence of a chevron (a bone that protrudes downward from the tail vertebrae) between the first and second caudal vertebra in robust Tyrannosaurus. This was thought to be the case in female crocodiles, indicating that robust tyrannosaurs were females. But recently, scientists have discovered that this doesn't always hold true in crocodiles, rendering this piece of evidence as weak.

Is it impossible then, to sex a dinosaur? It once was. But inside the leg of a tyrannosaur specimen called B-rex, Dr. Mary Schweitzer identified finding medullary bone. Medullary bone is known to form in the bones of female birds when they are just about to ovulate so that they are able to store up calcium for their developing eggs. Finding medullary bone proved that B-rex was a female. B-rex was also gracile morph, indicating that perhaps the gracile morphs were females and the robust morphs were males. Another attempt to tell dinosaur genders apart occurred in a study published in 2015. A master's student of the University of Bristol named Evan Saitta took notice of the two morphs of a species of Stegosaurus called S. mjosi. One of the morphs had oval-shaped plates, while the other had narrow plates. Saitta hypothesized that the oval-plated morph represented the males of this species since they would have been the largest of the two plate types and therefore might have been used to attract females. Other scientists aren't yet convinced that this is the case, but the possibility remains open.

Scientists might be able to tell the difference between male and female Stegosaurus mjosi by looking at their plates. Photo: Evan Saitta
Sexual dimorphism was almost certainly present in dinosaurs. How sexual dimorphism was exhibited in these creatures – whether it be that one gender grew larger than the other, different crest, frill or horn shapes, different scent and definitely their genitalia – is still unknown. However, that doesn't prevent us from coming up with intriguing possibilities.

Getting Her Attention
Dilophosaurus' head crest was probably brightly-colored. This would have helped the males of this species to attract mates.
With a few rare exceptions, in the animal kingdom, it is the male's job to attract a female with which to mate. Modern animals have a wide array of features and methods to get the job done. Some animals use a visual display approach; the frigate bird is an example of this. When a female frigate bird flies overhead, the males of the species inflate a red-colored throat sac and call out, hoping the female will take notice. Deer on the other hand flaunt their branch-like antlers. Other animals use sound to attract a mate. Male alligators will make deep bellowing sounds during the mating season at the surface of the water, causing water droplets to literally “sprinkle” or “dance” on their backs. Could dinosaurs use similar tactics?

Look at the dewlap (that fleshy appendage hanging from the bottom of the head) on this iguana. Dinosaurs may have had similar fleshy appendages as well, but we don't know for sure (exception: Edmontosaurus regilis). By Eric Kilby from Somerville, MA, USA - Iguana Closeup, CC BY-SA 2.0,
While the colors of most dinosaurs are a mystery, the species found with melanosomes (cells responsible for producing color), including Sinosauropteryx, seem to have been very colorful animals. Sinosauropteryx was reddish-orange in color and had ginger-stripes on its tail. Maybe male Sinosauropteryx could show off their tails to impress potential mates.

Most fleshy appendages dinosaurs may have had to woo mates, if they had them, would have rotted away, but what didn't decay with time are the plates, spikes, horns and frills displayed on some species of dinosaurs. Initially, these features like the crests of hadrosaurs such as Corythosaurus, the frill and horns of ceratopsians like Chasmosaurus and the crest-like horns adorning Ceratosaurus' head were believed to be strictly weapons for combat. However, features like these were often too fragile to be used for fighting; instead, they were likely brightly colored and used for display. In fact, paleontologists have noticed ceratopsian frills and stegosaur plates would have been loaded with blood vessels in life. This could mean these dinosaurs could flush their frills and plates with blood, making them turn red. Wouldn't that impress the ladies? Remember when I said most fleshy appendages dinosaurs may have had rotted away after the animal died? Well, a few years back, scientists discovered that a duckbilled hadrosaur, called Edmontosaurus regillis, had a crest made of flesh rather than bone as in most hadrosaurs. This was probably brightly colored. What other fleshy appendages may dinosaurs have had?

Edmontosaurus had a fleshy crest on its head for display.
After attracting a mate, modern animals often conduct elaborate dances as a form of courtship. Since behavior generally doesn't fossilize, we can only speculate as to what dinosaurs may have done.

Love in the Time of the Dinosaurs
Now for the million-dollar question: how did T. rex mate? By Usuario:NeGRa - Tomada por Noemy García García usando una cámara Nikon E3200., CC BY-SA 2.5 es,
It's time for dinosaur reproduction 101! How did dinosaurs mate? This is a question that has kept paleontologists awake at night for centuries. I mean, it's not easy to envision a 75-ton Argentinosaurus or a plate-backed Stegosaurus getting into a comfortable position to mate.

This question of dinosaur reproduction is made even trickier by the lack of a fossilized genitalia. However, if modern reptiles are any indication, we can get a significant clue about what their genitals were like. Like modern reptiles, dinosaurs had a cloaca. This was a slit in the base of the tail through which waste would exit the body and where sexual organs resided. Unlike (unfortunate) male mammals, the testicles and penis of male dinosaurs would have been inside the body. The penis would have only protruded when the animal was ready to mate with a female. And how big were these genitals on the biggest sauropods? Of course, we can't know for sure, but scientists speculate that those of sauropods could have been over 12 feet long! Like the cloaca of a female reptile today, the cloaca of a female dinosaur would have also functioned as the vagina.
Tyrannosaurus might have also used its tiny, but strong, arms to cling to its mate during copulation. By No machine-readable author provided. Fastfission~commonswiki assumed (based on copyright claims). - No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0,
How would female sauropods hold the tremendous weight of their partner? Surely, their Creator must have designed their backbones to be strengthened to cope with the weight of the male. How did other dinosaurs mate? Well, in order to deal with the lengthy tails, one way paleontologists think dinosaurs like T. rex and Triceratops might have mated by mounting the female along the side the equivalent of her rump. This way, the lengthy, likely prehensile, penis could maneuver underneath the female, find the cloaca, and insert sperm.

Sauropods, like these titanosaurs, must have had a strong skeleton to support the weight of the mating partner. PHOTO CREDIT

What about stegosaurs? While some members of the family, like Stegosaurus had plates on its back, some stegosaurs like Kentrosaurus had spikes instead! This must have made things especially difficult for the male. Instead of mounting the female in traditional dinosaur fashion, Kentrosaurus males may have allowed the female to lay down on her side. This would make it possible for the male to rear up and rest his torso over her hindquarters.
How did these spiky-tailed Kentrosaurus mate? With GREAT care!

We don't know for sure how dinosaurs reproduced, but we know they must have done so...somehow!

What Happens Next?
What happened after mating? Who can say? Did the male T. rex stick beside his mate to protect her from rivals and help rear her young? Did sauropods split up after mating like many modern herd animals? We just don't know. With a little help from new technology and new fossil discoveries, we can hope that one day, the truth about dinosaur reproduction will finally be revealed for our curious minds.
Maybe it wasn't convenient, but dinosaurs needed to reproduce to propagate their species. Jose Antonio Penas/Science Photo Library

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Rerun Article: The Wonders of Snow

January is ending fast. Before you know it, it'll be February and then Spring will be in the air! Where does the time go? I don't have much to share today in regards to news, so I'll display our usual "Days Till" section, breeze through "In the Spotlight" and get into today's topic.

Days Till
It is: 13 days till Groundhog Day
It is: 23 days till Abraham Lincoln's Birthday
It is: 25 days till Valentine's Day
It is: 44 days till Zootopia's theatrical release

In the Spotlight
Since it's coming out really soon, I thought I'd showcase the latest trailer for Zootopia, coming out on March 4th:

Can't wait for this movie!!!

Topic of the Week
It's used to build snowmen out of, it's used in snowball fights, we shovel it from our sidewalks and driveways, and causes many car-related accidents each year. I'm talking about snow! It's quite literally everywhere in the more northern parts of the northern hemisphere during the winter months. But even though we all know what snow is, many don't know and haven't even thought about how it forms, why it falls, the conditions in which snow falls and many other things. So today, since it's still very snowy in many parts of the world during this time of year, these are just some of the things we're going to learn about.

Snowmen is one of the most common uses for snow.
So what exactly is snow? Well, your typical answer would be something like “that white, fluffy stuff on the ground that falls from the sky during winter time”, and your typical school kid's answer would be something like “that white, fluffy stuff on the ground that falls from the sky that delivers us from the bondage of school!” In all seriousness though, snow is actually precipitation in the form of crystalline iced water. Snow's origins (there's a topic you don't hear everyday!) are not known to well; we have no idea if snow ever was present in the world before the Genesis Flood around 4,350 years ago, but based on geological finds, we believe that if it ever did fall, it wasn't very often and the temperature of the pre-Flood world wasn't all that cold. What sorts of geological finds am I talking about? Well, one prime example is the findings of fossilized trees in what are today known as the polar regions. These trees are not only the ones you'd find in the tropics today, but they also lack frost rings, meaning if it did ever get freezing, it wasn't often, if ever.

Snow started falling in great bunches after the climax of the Genesis Flood. Thanks to the warm temperature of the oceans (which were made warm by the volcanic activity during the Flood), much water was evaporated and clouds formed. It is important to know that the land after the Flood was relatively cold in many places, so when it was time for the clouds to drop their loads, it fell down as snow in some places . . . lots of snow! The snow built up so much after several hundred years had past, the snow had turned to ice that covered much of the Northern hemisphere in great sheets known as glaciers. We call this period of time following the Flood “the Ice Age”. The glaciers eventually disappeared at the end of the Ice Age, about 700 years following the Flood.

How exactly is snow formed? Contrary to popular belief, snow isn't merely frozen water – that's ice. The actual formation of snow takes place when a drop of really cold water (and I do mean really cold!) freezes onto a tiny particle of dust or pollen and crystallizes. This “ice crystal” then proceeds to fall to the ground from the clouds and water vapor freezes to the primary crystal, causing it to reshape itself into the six-armed snowflakes we all know and love. (Keep that in mind the next time you try to catch snowflakes on your tongue).

Snowflakes are so beautiful! Did you know that no two snowflakes look alike?
So now that we now how it's caused, what needs to take place in order for snowfall to take place? The most obvious thing is that it needs to be cold, otherwise when the “snow” falls, it will quickly melt into water and the water vapor crystal can't freeze to the original ice crystal. The temperature But there's another key thing: the ice crystals have to be heavy enough to drop from the clouds. Once heavy enough, gravity does its job of pulling the snowflake down to earth where bunches of little snowflakes add up . . . often times very fast!

Even though snow causes many fatal vehicle accidents each year, there are some positive things that snow does for us. First of all, many people have fun sledding, snowboarding and skiing when there's enough snow on the ground. Sleighs and sleds pulled by horses, dogs or other animals are also a fun winter activity that many enjoy. Snow is also used in other outdoor activities such as building snowmen, having snowball fights and making snow angels.

Did you know that snow can also be beneficial to agriculture? Did you ever notice when it's snowing how it seems warmer out during winter? That's because when a layer of snow falls, it can keep the heat of the earth and protect precious crops from freezing cold winter chills. And when the snow melts and refreezes on sensitive crops such as oranges, it can protect them from those colder days during the winter. There's also another added bonus when snow melts: the water released from melting snow waters the crops.

Now you know all about snow – it's formation, the conditions in which it needs to fall and even a little bit about how important it can be to agriculture! Let's thank God for allowing us to enjoy this wonder of nature that He's allowed to happen for our enjoyment!

Disclaimer: The images used in this blog's posts are found from different sources all over the Internet, and are assumed to be in public domain and are displayed under the fair use principle. If you are the owner of the images and you believe that their use on this site is in violation of any copyright law, then please contact me at my email, and I will get back to you as soon as possible to resolve the issue.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Rerun Article: Polly Want Lamb Chops?

Happy 2016, everyone! Sorry that this post is late, my grandmother died at the old age of 95 this past week and I didn't have an opportunity to post. While we'll miss her dearly, I am glad that she is a Christian, so she's in heaven now with Jesus. Hallelujah!

In addition to this news, I have finally seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens! It was so awesome! The story was great (a rare thing for sequels) and so were the special effects. The only part I didn't like was when ___________ died. (I'm not gonna spoil it for those of you who haven't seen it, but I'm sure those of you who have seen the movie know who I'm talking about.). Let's get started with our first article of the new year!

Days Till
It is: 25 days till Martin Luther King Jr. Day
It is: 18 days till Groundhog Day
It is: Valentine's Day

In the Spotlight:
Not much to share this week, except my love for the new Star Wars movie! However, I recently found out about a new Disney movie coming to theaters on March 4. It's called Zootopia. The trailers for this film were hilarious! Basically, Zootopia takes place in an alternate universe where mammals are anthropomorphic -- they live like people, wear clothes (well, most of them do), own shops and restaurants and things like that. If you haven't heard of this movie, you need to check it out. See the trailer for it below, featuring the main characters trying to obtain some information from the DMV. There's one tiny problem though: everyone working at the DMV is a sloth!
Topic of the Week by Christian Ryan
People just love birds. One of everyone’s favorite types is no doubt the parrot. Parrots are very smart birds. We can train them to talk and recent tests even prove that at least some parrots actually know what they’re saying instead of just calling out words! God made these birds for us to enjoy. Parrots come in a wide range of sizes, from small Budgerigars to the giant Kakapo. Haven’t heard of the Kakapo? Well, it’s this large green parrot that lives on New Zealand. It’s not very parrot-like at all; it can’t fly! Most parrots, as we all know, can fly very well. We often like to have them sit on our shoulders, especially pirates. But one species of parrot is bound to surprise you.
A Kea sitting on a rock.

This Kea Parrot is about to land on a white car. As you can see, the undersides of its wings are a beautiful orange color.
It’s called the Kea, a small green parrot (about 19 inches long) living in New Zealand. Most parrot species are loved by millions, but not the Kea. It denies normal parrot behavior and is rather . . . “mischievous”. First of all, it likes to live in urban areas where they will tip over trash cans, break car windows, invade camping sites, and play with windshield wipers to the point of breaking them! (So they’re sort of like foxes on the wing) Another thing that makes this parrot unique is that instead of living in the lush tropical forests, it lives in the snow on the alpine slopes. Keas are the only parrots known to live in this kind of habitat.

But probably the most surprising thing about the Kea is that instead of asking it, “Polly want a cracker?” you may want to ask, “Polly want a lamb chops?” This parrot will eat fruit, but lately, they've decided to go . . . no . . . it couldn’t be . . . could these guys be turning . . . CARNIVOROUS?!? Strange but true, in the spring, summer and fall, they normally eat daisies, berries and other fruits, nectar, pollen, insects and etc. But Keas have been seen actually eating not only stuff from trash cans (which is why they tip them over in the first place), but they also will eat carrion. In winter, these foods are harder to find. The rampage began in the 1800’s when people introduced sheep to New Zealand and the Keas started to eat carrion of dead sheep. Then they really went on the rampage! Keas are believed to have actually killed 200 or so sheep in a single night (in 1884) and 15,000 sheep in a season in. Just when you saw some animals appeared to be giving meat up like the lions did in a post I wrote a couple of weeks ago, another animal switches onto meat.
How on earth do they kill sheep anyway? Well, they fly over to the sheep and start pecking at sores and I’d assume the sheep eventually died of shock and blood loss. Four main theories arose as to why the Kea transformed almost overnight to be a sheep-killer:
A Kea damaging a car.
  1. They just switched from eating insects to eating sheep
  2. There were maggots in the carrion they were eating so this is when they developed a taste for meat.
  3. The Vegetable Sheep theory is: Keas thought the sheep were plants when they were lying down so they just accidentally ate a sheep and thought, “Hey, this tastes pretty good! We should do this more often!”
  4. The bird’s diet changed because of theory adaptability, intelligence, curiosity and mischievousness

The last theory I mentioned is the one most scientists believe is most likely. Many scientists believe they also used to feast on Moa carrion too (Moas are giant birds that went extinct a few hundred years ago). Boy, I’m sure glad these birds don’t prey on people! If they did, we’d all be in big trouble no doubt! Because of their sheep-hunting behavior, the Kea was hunted and actually became endangered. The good news is, this bird received full protection in 1986.

Fortunately for all sheep-kind, Kea predations on livestock have gone down drastically. They are getting rarer and rarer over the past few years. However, occasional Kea attacks on sheep are still being reported, and most of these attacks are on sheep that are old, weak or sick (but some people sometimes will find healthy sheep with Kea wounds). So it seems as though the Kea is finally calming down . . . at least for the moment . . .

But don’t you start thinking this is the end of it! Kea’s aren’t the only so-called herbivores that weren’t told they are supposed to eat plants! A farmer in India lost 48 of his chickens. He suspected some dogs had done the deed, so he and his brother went out one night to catch the culprit. Boy were they in for a surprise when they saw his cow named Lal sneak into the chicken coop and started to grab and eat the chickens! How shocking in deed. So it turns out those cows promoting Chick-Fil-A aren’t only promoting the business, they’re also eating at the business!

Another example would be the was when someone took a trip to Kangaroo Island in Australia, the person dropped a BBQ steak sandwich. Then two grey kangaroos came in and devoured the sandwich, bread, meat and all.

In 1992, a wild Panda Bear killed and ate 26 goats before being captured and studied. In 2002, a British researcher got quite a shock when she saw a sheep snatch an oblivious grouse and devoured it whole! 

Another sheep was seen gobbling up nine chickens. There’s even a horse that actually will chase down chickens and eat them whole. And believe it or not, when a film crew was filming a migration of Wildebeest in Africa, they were migrating through a river where our “friendly” hippos live. Some wildebeest were killed by crocodiles who also inhabit the river, but before some of the crocodiles could eat, hippos came in and started eating the carcass!

Should I go on? Just as many carnivorous animals will have a vegetarian diet, many animals have become carnivorous herbivores. This, as horrifying as it may be, is a reminder to us that all animals were originally designed to eat plants as it says in Genesis. But after the first people rebelled against God, animals could go either ways. Most chose to go herbivorous because that was what their bodies were most designed for, but others chose to become carnivorous. Of course though, as we just learned, animals can change their diets. Fortunately most animals tend to stick with the diets that best suits their bodies (for instance, while horses can eat chickens, they must have a hard time tearing the bird apart with those dull teeth). Most animals probably would get sick if they tried to eat food that doesn’t suit their body. However, even in this fallen world we live in, God has promised us to one day, restore His beautiful creation.

Disclaimer: The images above are not my own unless otherwise indicated. If you own one of the above images and want it removed, please notify me via my email.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The New Dinosaurs of 2015

I can't believe it, but we're already approaching the end of 2015, which I think has been my best year of life so far. Not all of 2015 was easy, but this year made for a great life experience for me. So much great stuff happened over the course of this year. 2016 will soon be upon us, and we'll have new adventures to partake in. I can't wait to see what they are!

Once again, it's time to look at the past year's dinosaur discoveries!
Days Till:
It is: 2 days till New Year's
It is: 6 days till My Birthday
It is: 19 days till Martin Luther King Jr. Day

In the Spotlight:
The Ark Encounter, opening July 7th, 2016. (Property of Answers in Genesis)

In addition to the many other things we have to look forward to next year, I'd like to draw your attention to a new “theme park” opening on July 7th, 2016 called “Ark Encounter”. In case you're one of the individuals who's unaware, the Ark Encounter is a subdivision of the creationist company Answers in Genesis (I'm a BIG fan of their case you somehow haven't noticed); not too long ago they opened the Creation Museum in Kentucky. Now, not far from the Creation Museum, AiG is constructing a life-size wooden ark, modeled after the one Noah built in Genesis 6-7. It's going to be 510 feet long, 51 feet tall and 84 feet wide when complete! While the real Noah's ark was technically a floating zoo, perfectly designed to stay afloat on the high global seas, the Ark Encounter vessel will be so much more. The best I can describe it is as a museum inside of an ark, it's going to feature many different kinds of animals depicted as they might have looked on Noah's ark, and several dioramas and exhibits talking about how we know the global Flood of Noah's time happened, the Ice Age, the wickedness of the pre-Flood world and so on. But don't take my word for it, check out a video they recently released talking about what kinds of exhibits they'll have inside the ark:

When you're finished with that video, please go to their newly-designed website talking all about the Ark Encounter, and even a little bit about what kinds of animals they'll feature and so much more:

Topic of the Week
by Christian Ryan2015 has been a great year for dinosaur lovers. We've had more dinosaur movies/documentaries than you can shake a stick at (e.g. T. rex Autopsy, Dino Death Match, Dinosaur Britain, The Good Dinosaur and, the biggest of them all, Jurassic World). But not only have there been a multitude of dinosaur documentaries/movies, we've also had a great year for dinosaur discoveries. Below is a list of just a few of the newest species of dinosaurs discovered and new research on dinosaurs discovered in previous years.

New Dinosaur Species of 2015


Carnufex could swim after you in the water, and run after you on land! (Image Credits)
 OK, so Carnufex carolinensis is by no means a dinosaur, it's discovery is still quite fascinating. It was a species of crocodile-like reptile (a crocodylomorph to be more specific) that was discovered in North Carolina. Carnufex was about nine feet long from snout to tail. What makes it unique is that it probably could walk on its hind legs, like a theropod dinosaur. It inhabited the Triassic ecosystem of the pre-Flood world until 4,350 years ago when it and countless other animals were wiped out in the global Flood of Noah's time. Armored reptiles and so-called "mammal-like reptiles" would have likely served as prey for this creature.

Chilesaurus was an herbivorous theropod. (Image Credit: Gabriel Lio)
Theropod – the word often conjures up images of large predators like Tyrannosaurus and Allosaurus, or perhaps fast and deadly smaller predators like Velociraptor and Coelophysis. So imagine paleontologists' surprise when seven-year old Diego Suárez discovered Chilesaurus, a theropod from Chile, in 2004. However, it wasn't scientifically described until 2015. It had an overall body shape of a theropod, but it had a small head with a beak and leaf-shaped teeth akin to stegosaurs, a hip structure like an ornithopod, hind feet like a prosauropod and two-fingered hands like a T. rex! It's no wonder scientists nicknamed it the “platypus dinosaur”. Despite being a theropod, 10-foot long Chilesaurus' leaf-shaped teeth, beak and large gut tell us that it was an herbivore.


Dakotaraptor was one of the most dangerous dinosaurs ever to walk the earth. (Image Credit: Emily Willoughby)
Up until 2015, the only apex carnivores known from the Hell Creek Formation (which spans Montana and the Dakotas) were the turkey-sized, Velociraptor-like Acheroraptor, and of course, Tyrannosaurus rex. This all changed this year, when scientists studied and described fossils of a large raptor uncovered in South Dakota in 2005. Meet Dakotaraptor! This dromaeosaur was 18 feet long, six to nine feet tall, weighed over 500 pounds and could run at speeds of 30-40 mph. As if this weren't dangerous enough, Dakotaraptor may have hunted in packs like its cousins, like Deinonychus and Utahraptor. In addition to blade-like teeth and incredibly strong arms, it had a nine-inch sickle-shaped claw on each foot for dismembering prey. If you're ever exploring the pre-Flood ecosystem of Hell Creek, beware of this dinosaur!

To read more about Dakotaraptor, please see my full article.

Hualianceratops was a smaller relative of Triceratops. (Image Credits:PortiaSloanRollings)

Triceratops is the most popular member of the ceratopsian baramin (“created kind”), but cousins of this 10-ton herbivore come in all shapes and sizes, from another 2015 discovery, the extra-frilled Regaliceratops which grew over 15 feet long, to the spaniel-sized Hualianceratops. This ceratopsian made its home in what is now China's Gobi Desert; at the time, the area was certainly much more forested than it is today. This Jurassic ecosystem boasted a wide range of dinosaurs, from long-necked sauropods, to the predatory Guanlong, a small raptor-like tyrannosaur described in 2006. Unlike its larger relatives, Hualianceratops lacked horns and an elaborate frill and it walked on two legs rather than four.

Kunbarrasaurus was thought to belong to the genus Minmi until very recently. (Image Credits: Australian Geographic)

Ankylosaurs are a group of dinosaurs known for being covered in tough armor plates. These plates cover the entire upper half of the animal – even the eyelids are hardened! Some ankylosaurs even had clubs on the ends of their tails. Kunbarrasaurus is a newly discovered ankylosaur from Queensland, Australia. Actually, Kunbarrasaurus was officially dug out of the ground in 1989, but it was thought to be a genus of ankylosaur already discovered, called Minmi (a previous record-holder for the shortest dinosaur name). But recently, scientists found that Kunbarrasaurus' fossils have enough distinctions to make it a different genus.

Qijanglong had a neck half as long as its entire body! (Image Credits: Lida Xing)
Dinosaurs like Guanlong and  Hualianceratops roamed in the shadows of giants, like the newly discovered Qijanglong, emphasis on “looong”! This dinosaur was a member of the sauropod group, a group of dinosaurs known for having long necks. However, Qijanglong and its closest kin, members of the mamenchisaurid family, had necks long even for sauropods. The necks of most sauropods are a third the length of their bodies, but in the 45-50-foot Qijanglong, its neck was almost half the length of its body! How did sauropods carry such long necks without toppling over? Well, the ultimate Designer (the God of the Bible) made sauropods with neck vertebrae that were filled with pockets of air, making them both strong and lightweight. Interestingly, Qijanglong's skull was discovered attached to its neck; usually sauropod skeletons lack skulls because they easily become detached after the animal dies.

Morelladon was a sail-backed relative of Iguanodon. (Image Credits: Carlos de Miguel Chaves)

Dinosaurs just get weirder and weirder, don't they? (And we're not even to the weirdest one on the list yet!) Morelladon was an iguanodont dinosaur with a sail on its back. Scientists aren't sure why this Spanish herbivore had this feature; it's likely however that the sail was used for display purposes. Morelladon wasn't the only dinosaur to possess a sail: the fish-eating spinosaurs and another iguanodont called Ouranosaurus also had sails. However, perhaps the most elaborate sail of all the dinosaurs belonged to Spinosaurus – its sail stood over six feet tall!

Phosphorosaurus is not a dinosaur, but a marine lizard of the mosasaur family. (Image Credits: Tatsuya Shinmuru)

Mosasaurs were marine lizards that were very similar to modern monitor lizards. They got a burst of popularity when Mosasaurus (the type species of the mosasaur family) ate Jaws for lunch in the Mosasaurus Feeding Show. Unlike the monster, 60-foot long Mosasaurus, the newly-discovered Phosphorosaurus was not an apex predator of the pre-Flood seas. It was only 10 feet long and fed on fish and squid-like animals. Paleontologists believe Phosphorosaurus may have hunted at night because it had large, forward-facing eyes, unlike other mosasaurs. This means it probably would have been capable of night-vision. Phosphorosaurus was discovered in Japan.

Ugrunaaluk was misidentified as Edmontosaurus for decades. (Image Credits: James Havens)

Diplodocus. Stegosaurus. Parasaurolophus. You thought those names were hard to pronounce! But you haven't seen a hard-to-pronounce dinosaur name until you've tried to say Ugrunaaluk (Ug-ru-naa-luk). It took me forever to learn how to pronounce this one! This dinosaur was a member of the hadrosaur (duck-billed dinosaur) family and if its name sounds rather unusual for a dinosaur, that's because it isn't derived from the Greek or Latin like most dinosaur names are, but the Inupiat language reflecting where the dinosaur was found – northern Alaska; Ugrunaaluk means “ancient grazer”. Pretty much since the 1980's, scientists have unearthed over six thousand hadrosaur fossils from Alaska. At first, they were believed to belong to a type of lambeosaurine hadrosaur (a hadrosaur with a bony crest). But after more examination, the fossils were classified as Edmontosaurus fossils. However, in 2014 scientists continued to study the fossils and found out something shocking – they weren't Edmontosaurus fossils, or the fossils from any other known hadrosaur, but a new species! As if this weren't surprising enough, many of Ungrunaaluk bones aren't actually fossilized – these are “fresh” dinosaur bones! You would think that this would be a revolutionary discovery, but alas it has been ignored by most of the media or “shoved under the rug”. This is likely because it would further jeopardize the idea that the dinosaur bones are millions of years old and make the biblical view that these dinosaurs were buried in the waters of the Genesis Flood the only logical explanation.

Yi qi and similar weirdos are from the strange family scansoriopterygidae. (Image Credits: Dinostar)

Dinosaur names are known to be long, tongue-twisty and hard to pronounce, especially names like Ugrunaaluk. So try this one for size: Yi. Yes, that's actually the name of a dinosaur, and it was almost as weird as its name. Its full name (genus and species name) is Yi qi (pronounced “ee-chee”) and it means “strange wing”. So what makes Yi qi stand out? Firstly, this Chinese dinosaur is small, about the size of a pigeon. It also boasts the smallest name of any dinosaur (beating previous record-holders, Mei and Minmi). The most amazing thing about Yi qi though is that it possessed a special membrane supported by a bony rod protruding from its wrist. It was the first, and so far only, dinosaur discovered with bat-like wings! Now it couldn't fly like bats or pterosaurs (flying reptiles with similar wing membranes); instead it was probably a glider, moving from tree to tree, using its “wings” to glide long distances between them. Evolutionists call an instance where a creature has similar features to another unrelated creature “convergent evolution” (strangely, when the same finds occur in creatures they claim are related, it is presented as evidence that the creatures evolved). Instead, Yi qi's bat-like wings point to a Designer who created both Yi qi's baramin and bats. Another interesting thing about Yi qi's discovery is that scientists found melanosomes, which contain pigment cells. By looking at these, scientists were able to tell that Yi qi glided through the forest in a shade of black, with yellow-brown coloration on its head and wing membranes.

Zhenyuanlong is from the same ecosystem as many other well-known so-called "feathered dinosaurs", including Microraptor, Sinosauropteryx and Sinornithosaurus.

While being touted as positive proof that it's supposed cousin Velociraptor was a feathery feign, Zhenyuanlong is hardly the proof dino-to-bird theorists are looking for. What was actually discovered in China's Liaoning Province? Well, scientists recently described a five-foot-long, nearly complete skeleton complete with fossilized feathers. Contrary to popular opinion, aside from the tremendous evidence against the idea that theropod dinosaurs evolved into birds, Zhenyuanlong cannot act as an aid to the theory, as it has several features that identify this creature as a bird, and not a dinosaur; certainly no cousin to Velociraptor. To see why, please see this article by Answers in Genesis. So what of Zhenyuanlong's clawed wings, long bony tail and sharp dinosaur-like teeth? Well, like many other now-extinct birds, like Alexornis, Archaeopteryx, Microraptor, Hesperornis and Ichthyornis, Zhenyuanlong was a species of predatory bird, unique to the pre-Flood world. Zhenyuanlong must have been a terror to smaller creatures in the forest it lived in.

To read more about why dinosaurs could not evolve into birds, please see this article.

New Research of 2015

Brontosaurus, once considered synonymous to Apatosaurus, might make a comeback! (Photo Credits: Davide Bonadonna)

Since the early 20th century, scientists have thought that sauropod Brontosaurus was the same species as the closely related Apatosaurus. Therefore, the name invented first – Apatosaurus – was kept and Brontosaurus was dropped, until a 2014-2015 study, that is. A group of scientists was able to conclude that after reevaluating the fossils of both dinosaurs, that Brontosaurus was distinct enough to return as its own species. See an article about the discovery here.

Cave Lion
This cave lion cub is one of the best preserved extinct cats ever found. (Image Credits: Academy of Sciences in Yakutia)

While clearly not a dinosaur discovery, I thought this was worthy to bring up. A few months ago, scientists reported on the discovery of two cave lion cubs that were found frozen in Russian permafrost. Cave lions were a subspecies of the modern lion that lived throughout Europe and Asia during the Ice Age. This discovery is rather amazing because the cubs are the best preserved extinct cats ever found. Until now, we have only had cave lion skeletons and paintings of these cats by Ice Age people to know what they looked like.

For more on this discovery, go here.

Well, that wraps up my blogging until next year. To everyone out there:
See you in 2016!

Disclaimer: The images above are not my own unless otherwise indicated. If you own one of the above images and want it removed, please notify me via my email.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Around the World

It's officially Christmas Eve. I hope that all of my readers are at home with their families during this special time of year when we celebrate Jesus Christ's birthday. So we all know how we in the USA celebrate Christmas, but people in celebrate this holiday different all over the world. So, today I thought it would be nice to see what people in other regions do when the Christmas season rolls around.

Days Till
It is: 1 days till Christmas
It is: 8 days till New Year's
It is: 12 days till My Birthday
It is: 25 days till Martin Luther King Jr. Day

In the Spotlight:
Before the Christmas season comes to an end, I wanted to bring to your attention some of my favorite Christmas songs that I've been listening to countless times this year. Take a look:

Pentatonx is an acapella music group, and let me just say that they sound awesome, especially singing this song, called "Mary, Did You Know?"

This next song, "Christmas the Whole Year Round", is sung by young singer/songwriter/actress Sabrina Carpenter. I first learned about her from the Girl Meets World TV series on Disney Channel. Check it out:

Topic of the Week by Christian Ryan
Christmas is almost here and all of us in the United States are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ (at least, that's what we should be doing...hint, hint!), decorating trees, singing Christmas carols, waiting for Santa Claus, gift-giving, “giving Christmas away” (again, hint, hint!) by helping and giving to those who are unfortunate and singing about figgy pudding (actually, I don't know anyone who actually knows what figgy pudding is.). But those are things we do here in America. What do people do in other parts of the world when they celebrate Christmas? Well, let's take a journey around the world to see what other cultures do when the festive season comes around.

Because Canada sits directly above the United States, it makes sense that many traditions there are similar to ours. People sing Christmas carols, they decorate trees and their children wait eagerly for Santa Claus to deliver presents on Christmas Eve. However, Canada also is home to a tradition known as “mummering”. People participate in this tradition by dressing up in costumes and going up to someone's door in a disguised voice ask, “Are there any Mummers in the night?” The person inside the house must guess who the person (or people) who at the door is. If they guess successfully, the host accepts the mummerers into the house where they make merry and eat sweet treats. But if they fail, the host must join in the mummering fun!

While technically a part of the United States, Hawaii also technically is not (I mean, we're separated by almost 3,000 miles of Ocean). Hawaii often takes on a culture of its own. Before missionaries from the mainland introduced native Hawaiians to Christianity, native Hawaiian people had their own celebration around Christmastime called Makahiki, and it continued for an entire four month period! They would worship the earth, have feasts and games and would not have war with each other. Today, Christmas is celebrated in a more tropical fashion – poinsettias grow wild and free on the island while people get together and have picnics on the beach. They have Hawaiian versions of Christmas carols, such “The 12 Days of Christmas”, and even some of their own, like “Here Comes Santa in a Red Canoe”. By the way, if you're looking for Santa in Hawaii on Christmas Eve, don't look to the sky, but to the sea – Hawaiian children believe that Santa comes in a red canoe pulled by dolphins!

Now we head just south of the American border to Mexico, where people say “Feliz Navidad”, which is Merry Christmas in Spanish. Though some people celebrate Christmas on the 25th like we do, many celebrate from December 12th to January 6th! Between the first day of “Christmas” and the 24th, children partake in Posada, which is the Spanish word of “inn”. Children will go to nine such “inns”, where they are given a candle and a board with clay figurines of Mary riding a donkey and Joseph. They also stop by the houses of friends and neighbors to sing special song about Mary and Joseph being unable to find a suitable place to stay. After being told there is no room for them to stay at many of the houses they visit, they arrive at the house where they are welcomed in. There, they pray, give thanks and have parties with food, games and fireworks.

Instead of calling him Santa Claus, he is referred to as Papai Noel (meaning “Good Old Man”) in Brazil. Brazilian children leave socks on their windows so that “Papai Noel” may leave goodies inside them. During this time of year, Catholic Brazilians attend the Missa do Galo, or Midnight Mass Service, which finishes at 1:00 in the morning! People in Brazil also often attend on Christmas Day.

Did you know that people couldn't even celebrate Christmas in Scotland until the 1950's? It was banned 400 years before because it was deemed to support Romanism. It became an official Scottish holiday in 1958, but it is still generally treated as low-key today in this country. Even still, many a Scottishman (and woman) know how to keep Christmas in their own special way. One such tradition is performed on Christmas Eve is the burning of branches from rowan trees. They burn the branches to represent ill feelings toward friends and loved ones that have been tossed out for this special time of year. Some children in Scotland leave pillowcases out for Santa Claus to fill with goodies instead of stockings.

While Santa Claus, also known as Father Christmas in these parts, is a big part of Christmas in Germany, some German children write letters, asking for presents, to “Das Christkind”, or “The Christ Child”. Though the names are similar, Jesus Christ and the German's Christ Child are not the same, as Christ Child is often described as a young girl, and Jesus was definitely male. The Christ Child is said to deliver presents on December 6th, which is also known as Saint Nicholas Day; it is on this day when St. Nicholas is said to visit the homes of children and leave presents behind for them. Father Christmas delivers presents on the 24th of December, just like he does in America.

Everyone knows that Jesus, the true reason for this season, was born in Bethlehem, but have you stopped and wondered how Christmas is celebrated here today? Bethlehem is a busy place to be during the Christmas season because many different denominations and religions – Armenians, Catholics, Ethiopians, Greek Orthodoxes and etc. – celebrate this holiday in different ways throughout the month of December. It makes sense that Bethlehem would have a longer Christmas celebration than most – the festivities begin on the December 25 and ends around the 18th for some denominations. During Christmastime, cities and decorated with lights and other adornment and parades are conducted through the streets; many of these concessions pass by the place where Jesus is believed to have been born.

South Africa
When the word “Christmas” is said, snow, pine trees and winter weather come to mind. But Christmas in South Africa is anything but. Since South Africa is located in the Southern Hemisphere, Christmastime comes around in the summer, where the climate is warm and flowers and other flora is plentiful. As you'll find out if you go to South Africa during Christmastime, many of their Christmas traditions resemble those from the UK because of the historical affiliations between the two countries. In this region of the world, it is common to enjoy the summer weather by camping during the holidays. Instead of Santa Claus, many from South Africa refer to the jolly old man as 'Sinterklaas', like the Dutch do. A favorite Christmas meal consists of either duck, roast beef, turkey, mince pies or suckling pigs with a side of yellow rice, raisins and vegetables.

In Russia, the holidays (Christmas and the New Year) are usually considered to be the time between December 31st and January 10th. On Christmas Eve, Russians like to have a special meal where Sauerkraut is the primary dish. On the side, onion rings, shredded carrots, cumin and cranberries are often served. While Christmas is commonly celebrated in Russia (though on January 7th by most people in this region), it was not always this way. During the time of the Soviet Union, New Years celebrations were more common.

In a place like China, which makes so many of our Christmas products (in addition to just about everything else sold in America), you might be surprised how few people here are familiar with Christmas themes and traditions, especially Christian themes. In fact, Christmas is usually only celebrated in larger cities. One Chinese Christmas tradition that's becoming increasingly well-received is giving apples on Christmas Eve. This is because Christmas Eve is called “Ping An Ye” in the Chinese language, which means “silent night”. “Ping An Ye” sounds similar to the Chinese word for apple, “Ping Guo”.

Did you look forward to escaping school during Christmas break as a kid? Well, Japanese children don't get that privilege – Christmas is not a national holiday here! So businesses and schools are still in operation on the 25th of December. It isn't even usually celebrated to remember Christ's birth here, because most people in this region are not Christian. Instead, Japanese usually see Christmas as a time to spread happiness. A favorite Christmas dessert of the Japanese is a type of Christmas cake – usually a sponge cake that is covered in strawberries and whip cream. During Christmastime, it is common to see young couples strolling through Christmas-decorated cities and towns and exchanging gifts with each other, making it almost like more festive version of Valentine's Day.

Finally, we reach Australia, where Christmas comes during the summertime and just like those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, families cherish being together and home on this day. They also enjoy decorating trees and their yards and gardens with Christmas lights. Each State capital city holds a large Candles by Candlelight services where famous Australian singers are invited to help everyone sing Christmas carols. These services are widely broadcast so that even those who can't be at the services can still enjoy them. As can be expected, having Christmas in the summer doesn't make people want to drink hot chocolate or hot dinner meals. Instead, Aussies prefer to have either a cold Christmas dinner or barbecue a meal. Common favorites are prawns and lobsters, as well as many customary English dishes.

We have traveled around the world to see what people are doing for the most wonderful time of the year. With that said, how do YOU celebrate Christmas?


Disclaimer: The images above are not my own unless otherwise indicated. If you own one of the above images and want it removed, please notify me via my email.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Dakotaraptor: Terror of the Hell Creek Forest

Can you believe it? We've only got just over a week till Christmas! I've been busying myself with trying to get all the Christmas movies on my “watch-list” watched and decorating around the house. Have you guys started decorating yet? Or do you prefer to start decorating later in the two nights before Christmas? Let me know in the comments below.

As you might have noticed (if you're a dinosaur nut-case like me, anyway), that 2015 has been a great year for dinosaur-lovers! We've had more fascinating discoveries than you can shake a stick at, lots of dinosaur documentaries were aired, The Good Dinosaur is in theaters now AND last but not least, Jurassic World finally came out in theaters this past summer! I'll cover all the details of our dinosaur-filled 2015 in an upcoming article, but for now, I'd like to highlight one recent discovery that was released to us this past November. But first...

Days Till:
It is: 9 days till Christmas
It is: 16 days till New Year's
It is: 20 days till My Birthday
It is: 33 days till Martin Luther King Jr. Day

In the Spotlight:
As I'm sure many of you know, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is coming out this Friday. Unlike Jurassic World, we haven't had to wait 13 years for a sequel, but it should still be a pretty cool movie. I look forward to watching. When you see it, be sure to leave a comment down below and express how you liked the movie. In the meantime, here's the trailer:

Topic of the Week by Christian Ryan
The newly discovered Dakotaraptor (seen here as a skeleton) is truly an impressive find! (Wikimedia Commons)

The Hell Creek Formation, located in the badlands of Montana, North and South Dakota and Wyoming, represents a once-thriving ecosystem of the world before the Genesis Flood around 4,350 years ago, when the entire environment was inundated by floodwaters that swept away and buried countless animals and plants and preserved them. Today, the Hell Creek Formation yields a number of the more popular dinosaurs that lived in this environment, such as Triceratops, Ornithomimus and Edmontosaurus. And of course, these dinosaurs were hunted by the most famous dinosaur of all, Tyrannosaurus rex! For almost a century, T. rex was the sole apex predator that dominated the Hell Creek ecosystem, but this soon changed upon the discovery of an all-new dinosaur: a raptor, called Dakotaraptor steini.
The Hell Creek ecosystem would have been a lush, floodplain-like environment. (Wikimedia Commons)

Uncovered in northwestern South Dakota in 2005, Dakotaraptor's discovery is a unique one. Before, the 40-foot long, 7-9 ton T. rex was the only other apex predator found in the region. This seemed strange to paleontologists, because in both modern ecosystems and ecosystems of the pre-Flood world, there are always large, medium and small-sized predators. While T. rex fossils have been found in Hell Creek since the late 1800's (though the dinosaur wasn't officially named until 1905) in relatively great abundance, all scientists knew of other Hell Creek predators came from scattered and broken teeth. No bones, claws or skulls. Just the teeth. It was only in 2013 that these teeth were found to belong to a turkey-sized, recently discovered dromaeosaur called Acheroraptor. Why were there no medium-sized predators in this ecosystem? This all changed in 2015 when paleontologist Robert Depalma, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Palm Beach Museum of Natural History, and his research team, and several other paleontologists including Dr. Peter Larson, Dr. Larry Dean Martin, and Dr. Robert Bakker, finished and published their study on October 30th on the raptor leg and arm bones, tail vertebrae, teeth and wishbone unearthed in 2005. They realized they had found a new species of raptor.

Dakotaraptor steini was 16-18 feet long, stood up to nine feet tall and weighed about 500 pounds. (Wikimedia Commons)
 They named the new species of raptor Dakotaraptor steini; the genus name means “Dakotan Plunderer”, in reference to South Dakota, while the species name is a reference to paleontologist Walter W. Stein.

Dakotaraptor was about the size of the raptors in Jurassic World. ("Dakota raptor scale mmartyniuk" by Matthew Martyniuk - Own work)
The word “raptor” is properly used to refer to all members of the dromaeosauridae family. Dromaeosaurs were a family of relatively small predatory dinosaurs found throughout Cretaceous Flood deposits. They come in a wide range of sizes and lived in a vast array of habitats. While most raptors are smaller than a domestic turkey, Utahraptor is by far the largest, weighing up to 1,100 lbs and reaching 23 feet long; however the most famous is undoubtedly the turkey-sized Velociraptor, the intelligent pack-hunting assassin from the Jurassic Park franchise. Dakotaraptor measures in at about six to nine feet tall (depending on body posture) and 16-17 feet from nose to tail, making it about the size of the genetically-engineered, man-sized versions of Velociraptor seen in Jurassic World. This means it was almost the size of its cousin Utahraptor, making it the second-largest raptor we have discovered so far. According to Dr. Thomas Hotlz, “That is what is important about this find. In fact, it was rather bigger than most of us expected, almost the size of the largest known dromaeosaurid, the...Utahraptor.” Like other members of the dromaeosaur family, Dakotaraptor would have possessed dozens of needle-sharp teeth, forward-facing eyes, a long, stiff tail for balance and sharp claws on its hand and feet, things that were essential for an agile predator. Like modern birds, Dakotaraptor (as did other raptors, like Velociraptor) had a wishbone that gave extra strength to its arms. Raptors are famous for having large, sickle-shaped claws on the second toe of each foot, and Dakotaraptor was certainly no exception! Its claw was 9 ½-inches long and unusually large, even for a dromaeosaur. Dr. DePalma described Dakotaraptor as “the most lethal thing you can possibly throw into the Hell Creek ecosystem.”

Dakotaraptor had a huge, sickle-shaped claw on each foot for making devastating wounds in its prey. (Wikimedia Commons)

Evolutionary scientists are especially excited by the discovery of Dakotaraptor because they found tiny bumps that they interpreted to be quill knobs on one of the creature's forearms. In birds, quill knobs are the attachment points for flight feathers. A similar claim was made in 2007 when scientists allegedly identified quill knobs on a Velociraptor forearm. Evolutionists are eager to use evidence like this to try and prove the theory that dinosaurs evolved into bird. There are several problems with this idea, however, many of which we have covered before. In addition to these problems, these bumps are not necessarily quill knobs and may in fact be attachment points, not for feathers, but connective tissues, as evolutionary paleontologist Darren Naish pointed out in his 2010 blog post regarding another theropod called Concavenator. In his blog article, he also brought up the fact that quill knob-like bumps have been found on the bones of mammals too, and mammals clearly do not sprout feathers. This of course doe not mean Dakotaraptor and other dinosaurs like it weren't feathered; the concept of feathered dinosaurs is not unbiblical, though it is unscientific until actual dinosaurs, with actual feathers are discovered. They would merely be dinosaurs that God created with feathers, like He created all the other land animals on Day 6 as described in Genesis chapter 1.

Was Dakotaraptor a feathered dinosaur? While feathered dinosaurs aren't unbiblical, there is not enough evidence to support this claim. (Wikimedia Commons)
As I mentioned earlier, ecosystems, both modern and extinct, generally have predators that come in small, medium and large sizes. Dakotaraptor helps paleontologists fill in the ecological gap between smaller predators from Hell Creek (e.g. recall Acheroraptor, known only from isolated teeth and pieces of the skull) and the monstrous Tyrannosaurus. Did Dakotaraptor fight with T. rex for food? Perhaps on occasion, but they probably more often gave each other their space and specialized in eating certain species of herbivorous dinosaurs. This is the case in modern ecosystems. What would have been on the menu? Well, Dakotaraptor had many species to choose from, such as the duck-billed Edmontosaurus and the three-horned Triceratops. They could have also hunted down faster dinosaurs, such as Ornithomimus and Struthiomimus, creatures adult T. rex were too slow to catch.

Perhaps Dakotaraptor fought with juvenile T. rex for food. (Wikimedia Commons)
Even though Dakotaraptor looked an awful lot like its cousin Utahraptor, there were plenty of differences between the two which would have affected how the dinosaurs hunted prey. At around 1,000 pounds, Utahraptor was more heavily-built; it probably had a top speed of about 20-30 mph. While no doubt quick and agile, it didn't need to be especially fast because it was more specialized for taking down larger animals. It would probably lie in ambush until it was close enough to the prey to strike and take down the prey relatively quickly. Dakotaraptor was different; it was a much more lightly-built animal, weighing about 500 pounds, akin to its smaller relatives like Deinonychus and Dromaeosaurus. It was likely an attack-and-dash kind of hunter and was probably capable of running after prey at 30-40 mph, making it more of a long-distance runner; this would come in handy if it chose to chase down an ornithomimid. Many paleontologists believe that Dakotaraptor would have hunted in packs, enabling them to bring down animals far larger than themselves. Evidence for this idea comes from fossil sites holding several individual dromaeosaur skeletons near an herbivorous ornithopod that bears the bite marks and broken teeth in and around the herbivore's bones, and fossil trackways that were made all at the same time by a small group of dromaeosaurs. Then, when Dakotaraptor reached its prey, it would attack with its claws and teeth. That nine-inch sickle-claw on each foot could slice deadly lacerations into the sides of Dakotaraptor's prey. “It had one of the strongest killing strokes in that slashing claw of any raptor known,” DePalma boasted. I don't know if I'd like to be present when a pack of these raptors attacked and mercilessly brought down a hapless hadrosaur!

Dakotaraptor was a lethal predator! (Wikimedia Commons)
Fast. Agile. Aggressive. Relatively intelligent. Lethal. Pack-hunting. Dakotaraptor – the new kid in T. rex's neighborhood – was one of the most deadly predators to roam the Hell Creek forests and floodplains more than 4,350 years ago.

Dakotaraptor was one of the most deadly predators ever to roam the Hell Creek ecosystem. (Wikimedia Commons)

Disclaimer: The images above are not my own unless otherwise indicated. If you own one of the above images and want it removed, please notify me via my email.

Jurassic Fight Club: ep. 8 Raptor's Last Stand