Saturday, November 24, 2012

The dinosaurs in your garden

A few days ago I published a blog about Loch Ness, in which I made mention of the so-called Loch Ness Monster (or ‘monsker’ as I like to call it). Presumably the Monsker is a holdover dinosaur, which have been extinct for some millions of years. This led to one of my followers (thanks, Lynn) to send me a link with the following information --

Birds really are dinosaurs, and a sparrow or a blackbird is every bit as much a dinosaur as Tyrannosaurus or Stegosaurus.

The dinosaurs first arose in the Late Triassic period about 225m years ago. No specific ancestral species is identified, but we recognise that there is a distinct lineage of animals that can be grouped together by shared features of their anatomy that we call dinosaurs.  Living birds are literally dinosaurs by definition.
This means several things, most obviously the fact that dinosaurs are not actually extinct. Most lineages of course have gone: every dinosaur lineage except the birds is extinct (and indeed various birds are no longer with us). Second, this means that when biologists and palaeontologists talk about dinosaurs, they actually generally mean all dinosaurs except the birds.


It's really quite relevant, as accuracy is an inherent part of science communication and the statement that "dinosaurs are extinct" is incorrect, whereas "non-avian dinosaurs are extinct" is correct. Third and most amazingly, we have dinosaurs everywhere around us.

We have dinosaurs nesting in trees in our gardens, tiny dinosaurs that can hover and fly backwards and feed on nectar, aquatic dinosaurs that live in Antarctica. There are dinosaurs that we eat, (chicken, turkey), we have dinosaurs that can circle the globe without landing, intelligent and puzzle-solving dinosaurs, tall and flightless dinosaurs  that can sprint at over 40 miles an hour, (ostrich) and brightly colored and beautiful dinosaurs almost too numerous to mention.

The world is replete with these animals and they live on every continent and inhabit almost every ecological niche going. We might consider the Earth to be ruled by the mammals at the moment (and it's not an unfair position) but there are some 10,000 of bird compared with a more modest 6,000 mammals (give or take). In some ways, at least, dinosaurs still rule the roost.

(So my two little characters are my own dinosaurs!)

Did I read that right?

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
Do they taste like chicken?
Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
Chainsaw Massacre all over again!
Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors
Boy, are they tall!

Typhoon Rips Through 
Cemetery; Hundreds Dead
Did I read that right?


  1. 'Tis amazing! "To Life, Learning and the wonder of the Internet!"

  2. Tyrannasaurus Beaks! And Pepper will have you know it, too!