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Kissing Dinosaurs

image credit: Daisy Lin

You know you are in dinosaur heaven when you are welcomed by a huge statue of a dinosaur, and when I say huge, I mean huge. The town of Erenhot in Northern China is home to what is known as the “Kissing Dinosaurs”, two enormous Brontosauruses, stretching their long necks over the highway, to meet in what looks like a kiss.

The Brontosauruses are 34 meters wide, 19 meters tall, and together reach 80 meters across. That’s MASSIVE! It’s also, according to science’s best guess, larger than life. And make sure you stop to take pictures (duh!) before you pass the Kissing Dinosaurs! They have dino friends; dotting the surrounding area are smaller statues of other dinosaurs like T-Rex, Pachycephalosaurus, Triceratops, and avian dinosaurs.

This amazing site is located on the Sino-Mongolian border, on the main highway. It was built in 2007 to remind the world of the town’s reputation as a fossil hub, and it really is! During the 1920s, dinosaur fossils were discovered in the Erlian Basin, and one of those fossils is still the biggest, and best-preserved fossil to have ever been found in Asia. People started calling it, “Dinosaur City”, and rightly so.

The town of Erlian (sometimes called Erenhot) is definitely a dinosaur town. Not only do they have the huge Brontos to welcome you in, but they also have an amazing museum for you to see many of the fossils that have been found in the surrounding area. The town in Northern China was home to more than 20 different species of dinosaurs, with the most famous being the Gigantoraptor. This 8-meter-long birdlike predator was discovered in 2005. And as if that wasn’t cool enough, they even have a theme park; “Dinosaur Fairyland”.

As far as Dinosaur holidays go, this is definitely one that should be on every dino lover’s list. Giant brontosauruses kissing, dino statues, a museum; even a theme park. Doesn’t that sound like a dino-mite vacation? It’s definitely on my list of places to see!

If you have been to “Dinosaur City”, or have pictures of Erenhot to share, We would LOVE to see them! Send us an email or tag us with your pictures on Instagram! And don’t forget to sign up for our email newsletter! You will hear about fun dino stuff, and even get a dinosaur treat on your birthday from Vester the Velociraptor!

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What is a Carnotaurus? 5 Fun Facts About This Fast Dinosaur

If you have seen Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, then you have sat on the edge of your seat watching Owen, Claire, and Franklin be attacked in the gyrosphere by this terrifying dinosaur, just hoping that the glass will hold the teeth back so they don’t get devoured! Until T-Rex saves the day by swooping in and killing the mighty Carnotaurs, allowing the humans time to get away.

The humans probably would have been a tasty treat for the Carnotaurus! Although paleontologists have only found one, almost complete skeleton, that skeleton has taught us a lot about this fast dinosaur! Here are some fun facts about the Carnotaurus that we have learned from studying the fossils we have.


Carnotaurus Was A Carnivore
Carnotaurus had super sharp teeth and long, strong legs allowing them to easily catch and devour their prey. They probably had a weak bite, due to their small jaw, but that was ok! They would have used the horns on their heads like a club or hatchet to hurt or kill their prey like the Pachycephalosaurus before having their snack. (If you want to learn more about Pachycephalosaurus, check out this blog HERE!)

Capri Carnotaurus – A super friendly character from The Dinoverse, who’s always ready with a high-five, a hug, or a wave!

The Fastest Dinosaur Alive
You wouldn’t have wanted to challenge this dinosaur to a race! The carnotaurus had long, large, and very strong lower legs, allowing it to run super fast. Scientists believe that this dino was very likely one of the fastest theropods in its 2000lb class!

If You’re Happy And You Know It…
Yup. All those T-Rex jokes? We really should be making them about the carnotaurus! The Tyrannosaurus had tiny arms, for sure, but T-Rex could use them, and their fingers and claws. The Carnotaurus? Not so much. In fact, the carnotaurus didn’t even have claws, and their fingers were fused together! This meant that not only could they not use them to grab or tear animals, but they also couldn’t even move them independently. Pretty useless back then, but if you want to see some adorable art and stickers of them, check them out here!


Skin And Bones!
Paleontologists have found an almost complete skeleton of Carnotaurus in South America, but not only that they have also found fossilized Carnotaurus skin in Argentina! This is a pretty rare find for a carnivore! This has given them some really cool information about the Carnotaurus; that it was scaly and more reptilian, like the one we saw in Jurassic Park. This is surprising for scientists because most Theropods of the late cretaceous period seem to have feathers. Even baby T-Rex may have had tiny feathers.

The skeleton of Carnotaurus on display at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa. Photo by Nicholas Carter

What’s In A Name?
The Carnotaurus was named the “Meat Eating Bull” by Argentinian Paeleontologist Jose Bonaparte in 1985. Dr. Bonaparte was the paleontologist to find the Carnotaurus skeleton, among many other dinosaur fossils.

José Bonaparte (1928-2020). Picture Credit: Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales, Bernardino Rivadavia

The Carnotaurus was a powerful and fast carnivore, and quite a terrifying dinosaur, even if its tiny, little arms were a bit useless. I’m really glad that movies like Jurassic Park are featuring new and exciting dinosaurs. It gives us a chance to get to know them better! This dinosaur from the late cretaceous age with its horned head and scaly skin is definitely a dinosaur worth studying!

Do you have any great Carnotaurus jokes? Here at The Dinoverse we LOVE dinosaur jokes (especially Tatum!). send us an email or tag us with your best joke on Instagram! We would love to hear them! And don’t forget to sign up for our email newsletter! You will hear about fun dino stuff, and even get a dinosaur treat on your birthday from Vester the Velociraptor!

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Baby Yingliang

getty images
Have you heard about Baby Yingliang? Baby Yingliang is the name of one of the most exquisitely preserved dinosaur embryos that have ever been found. For a paleontologist to find a dinosaur egg or nest is rare, and those that have been found are usually incomplete, or the bones are dislocated. This is part of the reason we don’t actually know what baby dinosaurs look like before they hatch. With this discovery, researchers can hopefully get a better picture of that!

And guess what? For the “Are dinosaurs birds or reptiles?” question, BabyYingliang is an oviraptorosaur. Oviraptorosaurs are part of a group of Theropods. Researchers believe that Theropods are closely related to birds, and with the discovery of Baby Yingliang, their theory is even more substantial! Baby Yingliang is shown to be in a “tucking” position, a position that is unique to modern baby birds before hatching. This doesn’t mean all dinosaurs are birds (check out this blog for more on that topic!), but it definitely gives us evidence that some dinosaurs were!

Life reconstruction of a close-to-hatching oviraptorosaur dinosaur embryo, based on the new specimen, Baby Yingliang. Image Credit: Lida Xing

Baby Yingliang was found in the Ganzhou region of Southern China and ended up in storage in a museum for almost 15 years before the museum staff of the Yingliang Stone Nature History noticed the exquisitely preserved bones through some cracks in the egg. They were sorting through some boxes that were in storage and discovered the fossils. What a beautiful thing to find in storage! I certainly don’t have anything like that in my attic!

It’s amazing discoveries like Baby Yingliang that help us understand more about what dinosaurs actually looked like. Researchers now have an even stronger theory that today’s modern birds evolved over millions of years from Theropod dinosaurs. Hopefully, we can look forward to more discoveries like this one for more evidence of that hypothesis!

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Can Dinosaurs Be Cloned?

The simple answer is no. Well, not yet, anyway, and highly unlikely. Let’s start by talking about where Jurassic Park got it right.

Amber does exist. Amber is tree resin that has been fossilized and preserved due to high pressure and temperature, covered by many layers of sediment over thousands of years. Eventually, it can harden to make a gemstone that is actually quite expensive, and people do turn it into jewelry! It is possible for things to get trapped in the amber; scientists have indeed found mosquitoes and biting flies preserved in amber from the time of the dinosaurs, but unfortunately, the amber only preserves the outside, the “husk”, not the soft tissue. Any tasty snack they had before getting trapped doesn’t get preserved.

Lebanese amber specimen from the Early Cretaceous Period

There is fun news though! Scientists have found blood residue inside ancient bugs! They just weren’t found in amber, they were found in bones! Dr. Susie Maidment and a team of researchers from the Natural History Museum in the UK have discovered what they interpret to be red blood cells inside a dinosaur bone from the cretaceous period, and in 2020, scientists from the US and China found cartilage that possibly contains Dino DNA. Unfortunately though, just because you find dinosaur blood cells, doesn’t mean you have found dinosaur DNA. DNA is super vulnerable. It breaks down rapidly and has to be handled in very strict conditions.

Here’s where Jurassic Park went a bit wrong. In order to clone something, you need an intact, living cell, and a living host of the same species. Science dinosaurs are extinct, it would be pretty hard to use one as a host. In Jurassic Park, they took fragmented DNA, figured out where the holes were and filled the DNA sequence with frog DNA, then used a lab to grow the dinosaur. The big problem with this is, that if you don’t have the full sequence already, you don’t know where the holes are! Even if you did, it wouldn’t help filling it with frog DNA; you would need to use birds. Or crocodiles maybe, but definitely not frogs.

Compsognathus: SMNS, R. Haring. & M. Aurich

Scientists are giving it a go though. There are a few labs that are trying to reverse engineer extinct animals. Scientists see this as a possible way to bring back species that have gone extinct during the time that humans have inhabited our planet. For dinosaurs, you could in theory take a chicken and try to give it a long tail or teeth! Really though, would it be a dinosaur, if it was reverse engineered, and not grown from actual DNA?

Scientists have successfully cloned certain animals already, but that’s because they already had the DNA of the animal, and they are working on reverse engineering extinct species that we already know could survive living now with care and protection. Without finding perfectly preserved, complete dinosaur DNA, the chances of cloning a real dinosaur is basically impossible. Even if it was possible, we’ve seen how that movie ends! Like Dr. Malcolm says, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should.”

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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!

To get more dinosaur info and fun activities, and to hear about the latest The Dinoverse promotions, sign up for our email newsletter! You’ll even get a gift from Vester the Velociraptor on your birthday! And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram!

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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!