Of Dinosaurs And More

dino.jpgThe Jurassic Park phenomena just got bigger. Scientists and paleontologists have identified the two 110 million year old fossils discovered eight years back in the Sahara Desert. The research on these fossils is still on, but the experts believe that both the species were carnivorous. One of them stalked live prey while the other probably ate dead animal flesh. In fact, it is being said that these are some of the earliest species in a major carnivore group and would go on to spread across a number of regions of the world.

Named Kryptops palaios or “old hidden face”, researchers believe that one of the creatures was of about 25 feet in length and may have scavenged food like a hyena. Eocarcharia dinops, the other carnivorous dinosaur discovered, had blade-shaped teeth, more suited to attacking live prey and hunting. These meat-eaters are thought to be contemporaries of another carnivorous dinosaur, Suchomimus, a large fish-eating theropod. Research suggests that the two animals were probably eating different type of carnivorous food. Kryptops ate smaller animals while Eorcarcharia was a more major meat eater. Scholars insist that this is a fascinating discovery considering that, even today, different species of carnivores eat different types of food. There has thus been a sort of continuity in the food habits and survival tactics in this ecosystem for millions of years.

These creatures, which walked on Earth many millennia ago, have always captured the human imagination. The word “dinosaur” itself has entered the English language as an expression describing anything that is impractically large, slow moving, or obsolete, bound for extinction. Although there have been many unscientific depictions of dinosaurs in popular media, many depictors have striven for accuracy and present up-to-date information. Michael Crichton and Bill Watterson are two contemporary examples. Paleoartists and illustrators, in particular, have been keeping up with research. Popular conceptions of dinosaurs have also been important in stimulating the interest and imagination of young people, and have been responsible for initiating their careers into the field of paleontology. However, it is also true that popular depictions can be more imaginative and speculative than technical works.

Such discoveries and active research does help in recreating the world that existed millions of years back. As we make technological progress, it is interesting to speculate how the popular interest in one of the ancient inhabitants this planet, is still alive. We may never know for sure but this very ambiguity is a part of the enduring magic.

Ipshita Ghosh

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