Like my darling Calvin (from Calvin and Hobbes), the one problem that I had in school was that they never taught us about Dinosaurs. And I have never been able to fathom why! There is so much to learn about those majestic – now extinct – creatures. The first dinosaur to be scientifically described was Megalosaurus in 1824, by William Buckland. Of course, it has been widely speculated that even Greeks and Romans may have found their fossils which then lead to creation of legends of ogres and griffins.

Paleontologists have shown much interest in this species, which in all probability died out before Man even became a Homo Sapien. Initially, this excitement was more about discovery of new fossils and building together a whole creature. The one thing which I have not understood till date is the reason why the scientists kept such gargantuan sounding names for them. Was it to justify the mammoth size of these creatures? It is hard when one tries to justify the nomenclature of the smallest dinosaur as Compsognathus (“pretty jaw”). This teeny-weeny creature was slightly smaller than a chick. This certainly dispels the myth of all dinosaurs being dino (large) creatures. And this is one of the biggest misconceptions that we have to date. Thanks to all those jazzy Jurassic Park movies.

The interest in dinosaurs has never wavered and perhaps it never will. Speculation on whether this species died due to a meteorite hitting the earth, or a volcanic eruption, or climatic cooling, or just general deficiency of food still continues. I am of firm belief that this discussion will only definitely be concluded the day we are able to get a flashback, or we are able to just prove one of the theories as a hundred and one per cent true. Apart from speculating, scientists have also been busy in making life size models of the fossils that have been discovered. But that is old news! The National Geographic states that scientist Peter Dilworth has designed robots which would mimic dinosaur movements. They are lifelike dinosaurs which use force control to walk smoothly, not with stiff joint movement. This will definitely help the kids get more interested in this species and get a clearer picture of what these creatures were like. On a more blasphemous note, I have always wondered it would have been to see two super huge dinosaurs try to mate. I guess that was the reason why they soon became extinct…

A fossil find in China apparently also suggests that Dinosaurs were doting parents who spent quality time with their little kiddies. The fossil remains of Psittacosaurus was found surrounded by 34 juveniles suggesting that they cared for their little ones even after they hatched. So this discards the theory that parental care started from the birds; it seems the birds learnt it from the long extinct dinosaurs! Who knew those rugged extra huge savage creatures could actually be gentle, good parents and herbivorous. Nature always springs surprises, doesn’t it?

Shravya Jain

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