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10 Big-Nosed Facts About Muttaburrasaurus

Get a whiff of Muttaburrasaurus, everybody—this dino’s awesomeness “nose” no limits!

1. It’s Among Australia’s Most Complete Dinosaurs.

Relatively speaking, there aren’t many dino fossils Down Under; the sunburnt country has produced fewer than 20 recognized species. Those that do hail from this continent are generally known from a handful of isolated or fragmented remains. Luckily, however, we have multiple Muttaburrasaurus specimens to work with, ranging from partial skeletons to shattered skulls.

2. Muttaburrasaurus May Have Had a Musical Schnoz.

That abnormal nose has given many a scientist pause over the years. Did its enlarged nasal passages produce resonant, long-range calls? Or did its bulbous snout help warm up the cool, Australian air? (Back in its day, parts of this continent sat well within the Antarctic circle.) Both ideas have merit, but, until some heads with well-preserved soft tissue start turning up, neither can be further scrutinized. 

3. The Animal Had Curious Teeth.

Despite being an ornithopod, or “duck-billed” dinosaur, Muttaburrasaurus had one feature in common with the distantly-related Triceratops and its horned kin. Like these spikier herbivores (but unlike most of its closer cousins), Muttaburrasaurus sported strong jaws and teeth which were clearly designed for heavy-duty shearing. In fact, these chompers were so powerful-looking that (some argue) Muttaburrasaurus might have even been capable of tearing through carcasses, though fibrous plants are a more likely entrée.

4. There’s a Muttaburrasaurus Statue in Queensland.

When traveling through the town of Hughenden, be sure to check out “Mutt”—a full-sized, fiberglass Muttaburrasaurus replica near Main Street. The species takes its name from a neighboring town called Muttaburra, where it was originally discovered in 1963.  

5. …And a Muttaburrasaurus Playground near Melbourne.

If you build it they will come—especially if “it” happens to be dinosaur-shaped. Meet Mimi the Muttaburrasaurus. Aussie kids can climb through her belly, slide down her tail, or hide inside her massive, sculpted eggs. Oh, and she’s got her own children’s book, too.

6. Contrary to Earlier Belief, Muttaburrasaurus Probably Lacked Thumb Spikes.

At first, Muttaburrasaurus was thought to have been related to Iguanodon, a plant-eating dino with conical spikes on its hands. Though many assumed Muttaburrasaurus had them as well, it now appears that these two creatures are distant cousins, and, hence, the latter likely lacked such spurs.

7. Some Muttaburrasaurus Bones Were Trampled by 20th-Century Livestock.

Queensland rancher Douglas Langdon deserves credit for bringing Muttaburrasaurus to scientific light, since its original remains were located on his property during the 1960s. However, by the time these precious bones were at long last collected, they’d spent several decades being exposed to the unwary hooves of his sheep & cattle, which wore many down considerably.

8. Kellogg’s Helped Sponsor its Museum Debut.

The company which brought us Corn Flakes and Froot Loops also ensured that Muttaburrasaurus would get its time in the spotlight. Getting this dinosaur’s first-known skeleton cleaned up and put on display in its native country was a meticulous, costly process which Kellogg’s chose to help finance. We can only assume Tony the Tiger would’ve called Muttaburrasaurus “Grrrrreat!” 

9. Trackways Suggest Muttaburrasaurus Might have Been a Decent Swimmer.

Australia’s Dinosaur Stampede National Monument might soon have to change its epic name. This dazzling site (located near Winton, Queensland) has yielded over 3000 footprints, and for many years, scientists held that they’d been laid haphazardly by hundreds of panicking dinos. But the truth may be far less dramatic: New research indicates that these tracks weren’t actually laid on dry land, but instead by dinosaurian swimmers casually crossing some prehistoric river. Previously, a series of large, three-toed prints were attributed to an antagonistic predator, one which allegedly triggered the “stampede.” However, paleontologist Anthony Romilio claims they actually belonged to a wading, Muttaburrasaurus-like herbivore.   

10. Muttaburrasaurus Appeared in a Nude Calendar to Help Some Good Causes.

Never let it be said that Muttaburra lacks chutzpah. To generate cash for a local school and an ambulance defibrillator, the local Community Development Association began producing “slightly risqué” calendars. Buck-naked citizens stood with every prop from vegetables to fire hoses, but the ante was seriously upped when two older residents posed with a life-sized Muttaburrasaurus replica. Mercifully, these photos don’t appear to have found their way online. Please help keep it that way. 

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LEGO
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New LEGO Set Recreates Jurassic Park's Iconic Velociraptor Chase Scenes
LEGO
LEGO

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the fifth installment in the Jurassic Park franchise, is skulking into theaters on June 22. That makes now the perfect time to revisit the original film in LEGO form.

This LEGO set, spotted by Nerdist, depicts some of the most suspenseful scenes from the 1993 movie. There's the main computer room where Ariana Richards's Lex shows off her hacker skills while Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) struggle to keep a hungry dinosaur from barging in. Just like in the film, the door features a deadbolt lock that's velociraptor-proof (though, unfortunately for the characters, the detachable window is not). Other Easter eggs hidden in this part include a map of Isla Nublar and a screener saver of LEGO Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight).

In the neighboring room, you'll find the cold storage unit where the dinosaur embryos are kept, along with the fake shaving cream can Nedry uses to steal them. The final section is the kitchen, where Tim (Joseph Mazzello) and Lex are stalked by the velociraptor. There's less room for them to hide in the LEGO version compared to the movie set, but there is at least one functioning cabinet for Lex to tuck herself into. Closer inspection reveals even more details from the film, like the lime-green Jello Lex is eating when the raptors first arrive and the step ladder the gang uses to escape into the air ducts during the final chase.

LEGO Jurassic Park set.

LEGO Jurassic Park set.

LEGO Jurassic Park set.

The Jurassic Park Velociraptor Chase set is currently available from the LEGO shop for $40.

[h/t Nerdist]

All images courtesy of LEGO.

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CHLOE EFFRON / DINOSAURS: ISTOCK
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science
Why Are There No More Dinosaurs?
CHLOE EFFRON / DINOSAURS: ISTOCK
CHLOE EFFRON / DINOSAURS: ISTOCK

WHY? is our attempt to answer all the questions every little kid asks. Do you have a question? Send it to why@mentalfloss.com.

Actually, there are still dinosaurs: Birds! But let’s talk about that a little later. Scientists have found clues in rocks and fossils that tell us that by 65 million years ago, the climate (CLY-met), or usual weather, of the Earth had changed a lot, becoming cooler and drier. That was hard on the heat-loving dinosaurs. But that’s not why almost all of the dinosaurs became extinct, or disappeared forever. Scientists think a terrible event occurred that killed them off.

In 1991, scientists discovered a huge 110-mile-long crater, or hole, in the Gulf of Mexico. They think this crater was made by a giant, fiery, 6-mile-wide asteroid (AST-er-oyd) from space that smashed into the Earth about 65 million years ago. The impact was more powerful than any bomb we have ever known. Scientists believe this event killed most plant and animal life—including the dinosaurs. The asteroid probably caused shockwaves, earthquakes, fireballs, wildfires, and tidal, or really big, waves. It also sent huge amounts of dust and gas into the atmosphere, which is like a big blanket of air that surrounds the Earth. That was really bad for the planet.

The dust blocked sunlight, making the planet very cold and dark. Then, over time, the gases trapped heat, causing the Earth to get even hotter than it was before the asteroid hit. This change was deadly for most dinosaurs, and they became extinct. But birds survived. Many millions of years earlier, they had evolved (ee-VOL-ved), or changed slowly over time, from one group of dinosaurs. And when the dinosaurs disappeared, mammals diversified (die-VERSE-uh-fide), or changed, into many different kinds of animals—including us, many millions of years later. So the next time you see a bird swoop by, wave hello to the little flying dinosaur!    


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