Updated: Nov 30, 2018
By Reeti Shah
Did you know that dinosaur in Greek means “terrible lizard”?
Paleontology refers to the study of fossils—most notably dinosaur fossils. Thanks to paleontology, we know about the different dinosaurs that existed millions of years ago, such as the Tyrannosaurus rex (T-Rex), Velociraptor, Stegosaurus, and Triceratops.
The heaviest dinosaur was the Brachiosaurus, a sauropod which weighed 80 tonnes (176,370 pounds)! Paleontologists have identified over 700 species of dinosaurs, but they believe that there’s still more species that are yet to be discovered.
Dinosaurs are now classified into two major groups--the Ornithischia and the Saurischia. The Ornithischia includes bird-hipped dinosaurs, such as the Stegosaurus, whereas the Saurischia includes lizard-hipped dinosaurs, such as the T-Rex.
Some recent discoveries in paleontology include a dinosaur known as Patagotitan mayorum, which is regarded to be the largest animal that has lived on Earth. Its fossils were discovered by a Patagonian shepherd in 2013, but it was just recently named in 2017. Also, scientists recently discovered ticks preserved in amber that may have fed on dinosaurs’ blood. These ticks are a mind-boggling 99 million years old and they give direct evidence that ticks used to suck on dinosaur blood before they did on us modern animals. Unfortunately, DNA from the dinosaur blood in the ticks could not be recovered, so no Jurassic Park for us.
Although the common conception is that dinosaurs have leathery skin, scientists have found that they were actually covered in feathers. In addition, contrary to our belief of the T-Rex being a ferocious predator, it could have been a scavenger, eating the bodies of already dead animals. We just have to see what paleontologist dig up next to view the ancient world!
Editor: JoAnn Sun