A duckbill dinosaur (left) next to its eggs buried in the ground, and a bird-like oviraptorid dinosaur (right) incubation of the eggs in an open nest.
(Illustrated by Julius Csotonyi)
When you think of dinosaurs, your mind immediately goes to the impressive force of the tyrannosaurus rex or maybe the huge size of the brontosaurus.
These iconic dinosaurs become synonymous with the species that dominated the planet for about 150 million years — but they weren’t always the force of nature and she grew to be.
“We have little idea about how the animals like T-rex and brontosaurus rose to dominance,” palaeontologist Dr. Steve Brusatte told the news.com.au. “But now we know that dinosaurs began humbly, as gangly-looking, house-cat-sized creatures staking their claim in the brave new world after millions of years of supervolcanoes scars of the planet.”
But before they could rise, they had to best their rivals.
“They started small, humble, anonymous, life in the shadows, and they gradually overcome their competitors about tens of millions of years. It is like the Game of Thrones, but it actually happened.”
In the end, they became one of the most dominant species on our planet has ever known. The Homo sapiens have existed for less than 200,000 years, and now all we talk about planetary extinction. The dinosaurs ruled for 750 times.
“The dinosaurs were an empire. That is how we should think of them,” Dr. Brusatte said.
Dr. Brusatte, 34, is widely recognized as one of the leading palaeontologists of his generation. Currently working at the University of Edinburgh, he has written more than 100 peer-reviewed scientific articles during his ten years of research in the field and has also been named and described, more than 10 new species of dinosaurs.
Fossils have been unearthed at a dizzying speed, which can us to learn new things about our predecessors, who were wiped out of the face of the earth some 66 million years ago.
Dr. Brusatte believes that we are in a “golden age of paleontology” and helps to this recent (and not so recent) discoveries to life in a new book called The Rise And fall Of The Dinosaurs: A New History Of A Lost World. The book aims to tell the incredible story of how we have pieced together the life and times of the dinosaur empire, a story where most of the adults are still not so familiar with.
“There are so many books about dinosaurs for children,” Dr. Brusatte said. “But there are not so many books for adults, and that is a shame.”
The book provides an insight into the life of a paleontologist in the field. It introduces readers to a cast of fossil hunters, and the details of the current research, Dr. Brusatte own and that of his colleagues.
It tells the paleontologist journey of a dinosaur-loving child to make a number of discoveries including the primitive human-sized tyrannosaurs, monstrous carnivores, even bigger than T-rex and the feathered raptor dinosaurs preserved in lava from China.
“You can never predict what the next discovery, and that’s what makes paleontology such as an addictive activity,” he told the news.com.au.
While he used to be surprised by what he digs, he still has a few ideas about what he would love to discover.
“For me, what would I like to see is the world’s oldest bird,” he said. “Birds evolved from small carnivorous dinosaurs sometime in the Middle of the Jura. Each year my team and I head up to the Scottish Hebrides islands, where there are Middle Jurassic rocks, on the hunt for the first bird.”
If they ever have to worry that the discovery may be another book.
This story was previously published in the news.com.au.