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What Is Pangea?

Pangaea, sometimes spelled Pangea, was a supercontinent that made up the earth that existed millions of years ago. You can often hear people refer to Pangaea as the “home of the Dinosaurs”, but it was much more than that! According to science, it has existed for more than 100 million years!

The name Pangaea, Greek for “all” (pan) and “Earth” (Gaia) came from Scientist Alfred Wegener, who introduced theories about how continents drift. The Earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old, and over this time, several different supercontinents have formed and broken up because of churning and circulation in the Earth’s mantle. The study of this movement is called “Plate Tectonics”. Scientists were studying plate tectonics way back in 1912, and since then, have learned a lot. This science of plate tectonics is just one reason we know how earthquakes and tsunamis happen.

Alfred Wegener

When Pangaea was formed, what we now know as Africa joined up with South America, with North America using Florida to get between them, kind of like when the kids join the parents in bed in the morning. The other continents kind of hung out on either side of them.

Pangaea

Scientists believe that Pangea started splitting apart about 200 million years ago to form the continents and oceans we know and love today. This is why we can find similar dinosaur fossils in different areas, even if they are continents apart! Stegosaurus fossils have been found in North America, Western Europe, South India, South Africa, and China! They sure did like to get around! Fossils of small, land-based reptiles have also been found on different continents, and since they wouldn’t have been able to swim long distances, it further gives us proof that the continents we have now were once all joined together.

Before and After

Pangaea, the famous home of the dinosaurs, probably won’t be the last of the continents to be a supercontinent. The Earth is always changing and drifting, and over millions of years, it is possible that the continents that we have now will form another supercontinent. If humans are still around when that happens, it sure will make travel a bit easier, right? With the science of plate tectonics, it is really interesting to learn about how our earth shifts and changes!

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Dinosaur Museums

Dinosaur museums are the best place to learn about dinosaurs. Here in Canada, we are really lucky to have many museums that centre around Dinosaurs! If you travel to Drumheller, Alberta, where many dinosaur fossils have been found, you’ll get to experience a variety of dinosaur specimens. Canada has an amazing dinosaur history for you to explore, and new dinosaur fossils are being found all the time!

George: Lambeosaurus at UBC

You don’t have to travel to Alberta, Canada to see dinosaurs though! Almost all of the provinces in Canada have museums with dinosaur exhibits. Not only that, there are many universities that study dinosaurs too, like the University of British Columbia. Victoria, British Columbia also has a place called “Dino Lab“, where they restore dinosaur fossils and get them ready for exhibits all around the world! Read more about Dino Lab in this blog here!

Dino Lab, Victoria

Usually places where a large amount of dinosaur fossils have been found have the largest museums for dinos and dinosaur artefacts. The Jurassic Morrison Formation in the Western part of the United States has provided lots of dinosaur fossils, including stegosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex fossils! The Field Museum in Chicago has the largest, best preserved, and most complete of all the T-Rex fossils found. She is so well known, they simply call her “Sue”.

Sue: Tyrannosaurus Rex at the Field Museum in Chicago

Dinosaur museums are educational and fun for the whole family. There is so much to learn about dinosaurs, and we are really lucky to have so much access to what paleontologists have found over the last hundred years. If you want to take a trip to see dinosaur fossils, I’m sure you won’t have to travel very far!

Royal Tyrrell Museum Drumheller, Alberta

What dinosaur museums have you visited? Tag us on Instagram in your dinosaur adventures! We would love to see them! And sign up for our email newsletter to get more fun dinosaur stuff delivered to your inbox, including a discount to The Dinoverse shop!

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Dinosaur Poop

Did you know that Dinosaur poop is as important to science as dinosaur bones? When one of our Jr Paleontologists suggested I write about dinosaur poop, or scientifically called “coprolite”, I thought, “Ew.” I had images of Elly from Jurassic Park up to her elbows in Triceratops poop! It definitely seemed like a topic a kid would be interested in! However, after doing a bit of research, I found it quite fascinating! Coprolites are the fossils of ancient poop that have been fossilized over millions of years because it’s been buried in sediment like ash, mud or sand. While the poop of dinosaurs may not seem like a topic you want to focus on, in terms of science, it turns out, it’s incredibly important!

Contains Plant Remains

Coprolites can tell us about what food dinosaurs ate and what life was like back then. Entomologist Emmanuel Arriaga-Varela found at least 10 water beetles and about another 20 fragments of heads and wings in one square inch of dinosaur dung from a sample of coprolite in Poland. That’s a big deal! This helps science researchers to understand the different types of organisms that were living back then, and gives us evidence of what dinosaurs ate. It also helps us understand dinosaur behavior.

Contains Bones & Teeth

That image of Elly I mentioned? Well, sauropods produced over a ton of dung every day, but scientists find more fossils of carnivore poop because it contains bones and teeth. Bones and teeth are rich in calcium, and helped the dinosaur poop to become fossils easier. The largest coprolite scientists have found is 17 inches long and almost 7 inches wide. That’s a big poop! Because it contains a lot of bones, scientists think that the poop probably belonged to a T-Rex or other large carnivore.

Barnum, T Rex

Paleontologists have also found dinosaur poop in the bones of herbivore dinosaurs. They believe this is because some herbivores didn’t have the teeth they needed to properly break down what they ate. Stones would be swallowed by the herbivores to help the digestion process. Sometimes, they would mistake coprolites for stones and swallow those!

You would think dinosaur poop would be easy to find, but coprolite is very rare. Paleontologists get really excited when they find dinosaur poop because feces decay so rapidly, it didn’t often get the chance to properly become a fossil. These “trace fossils” are just as important as “body fossils” to the science of dinosaurs. It helps us to learn how dinosaurs lived, where they lived and what they ate.

Dinosaur poop, or coprolite, might seem like a strange thing to study, but clearly it’s just as important as the dinosaur bones themselves. I would have never in a million years thought that dinosaur dung was of use, but these fossils from the meals of the past are very special finds for science. When dinosaur poop is found, it gives us so much information about our favourite extinct animals. I’m glad I have Jr Paleontologists to keep me informed! If you have a favourite dinosaur topic you would like to read about, connect with us on Instagram! And sign up for our email newsletter for more fun stuff about dinosaurs! You will even get a discount for The Dinoverse shop!