Original image

4 Real Life Dinos Used to Make Jurassic World's Hybrid

Original image

Jurassic World won’t be hitting theaters until June 12, but the movie’s official website is already giving audiences a sneak peek at its new, genetically-modified dino, a beast that’s been named Indominus rex (or “Untamable king”). Toothy, aggressive, and highly intelligent, the monster’s said to contain the spliced DNA of several real-life dinosaurs, including these guys.

1. Carnotaurus

LIVED: Roughly 70 million years ago
RANGE: Argentina
MAXIMUM LENGTH: 25 feet (7.5 meters)
NAME MEANS: “Meat-eating bull”

Carnotaurus’ name comes from a pair of devilish-looking horns above its eyes. Additionally, this predator’s backside was covered in bony knobs called “osteoderms,” which leaked photos show Indominus rex also has.

Paleontologists suspect that Carnotaurus could have been very fast thanks to its muscular tail and powerful hind limbs. The dinosaur’s forelimbs, meanwhile, were a lot less impressive—in fact, they actually make T. rex’s much-maligned arms look beefy by comparison. Still, these stubby appendages do contain some pretty robust bones, which suggests that, despite outward appearances, they probably served some kind of function.

2. Majungasaurus

LIVED: Roughly 66 million years ago
RANGE: Madagascar
MAXIMUM LENGTH: 20 feet (6 meters)
NAME MEANS: “Mahajanga lizard” (after the province in which it was discovered)

This beast has been accused of dino cannibalism, and the evidence is pretty damning: Several recovered Majungasaurus specimens are riddled with bite marks that perfectly match the teeth and jaws of another Majungasaurus.

Stature-wise, Majungasaurus left a bit to be desired, given its unusually-short legs (by meat-eating dinosaur standards). Buts its neck was strong, its skull sturdy, and its bite powerful—three attributes we hope Indominus rex displays!   

3. Rugops

LIVED: Roughly 95 million years ago
RANGE: Niger
MAXIMUM LENGTH: Probably around 20 feet (6 meters)
NAME MEANS: “Wrinkle face”

Known exclusively from its skull, Rugops had fourteen holes arranged in two mysterious rows on its snout, which theoretically supported snazzy head-crests. Like Carnotaurus and Majungasaurus, Rugops belonged to the abelisauridae, a group of predators that once terrorized South America, Africa, Madagascar, India, and France.

4. Giganotosaurus

LIVED: Roughly 97 million years ago
RANGE: Argentina
MAXIMUM LENGTH: Around 40 feet (12.2 meters)
NAME MEANS: “Giant southern lizard”

Rivaling (and possibly surpassing) T. rex in size, Giganotosaurus was one of the largest carnivores to have ever walked the earth. Unlike the tyrant lizard’s blunt, bone-crushing teeth, this predator’s chompers were thin and blade-like—perfect for gliding through flesh. A few paleontologists think Giganotosaurus was a school bus-sized pack-hunter because numerous skeletons of a closely-related dinosaur named Mapusaurus have been found buried together. Granted, from a scientific standpoint, this association really doesn’t prove anything, but just imagine the cinematic possibilities! 

And Here are Two Questions We Hope Jurassic World Answers:  

Where Did Indominus rex’s Opposable Thumbs Come From?
Somebody at Ingen decided to give this man-eating monster something we’ve never seen in actual dinosaurs: primate-style thumbs. Though a few species, such as Europe’s Iguanodon, had thumb-like spikes protruding from each hand, opposable grasping digits akin to those with which we play video games are quite another matter.

What’s Up with Its "Quills"?
For reasons unknown, an herbivorous dinosaur named Psittacosaurus had glorious bristles on its tail. Might the rods we see running down Indominus rex’s neck and arms be something similar?

Original image
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
Original image

According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

Original image
Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.406E
New Smithsonian Exhibit Explains Why Felines Were the Cat's Meow in Ancient Egypt
Original image
Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.406E

From bi-coastal cat cafes to celebrity pets like Lil Bub, felines are currently enjoying a peak moment in popular culture. That’s part of the reason why curators at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery—which will re-open to visitors on Saturday, October 14, following a 3-month closure—decided to dedicate a new exhibition to ancient Egypt’s relationship with the animals.

Divine Felines: Cats of Ancient Egypt” looks at the cultural and religious importance of cats, which the Egyptians appreciated long before YouTube was a thing and #caturday was a hashtag. It's based on a traveling exhibition that began at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City. On view until January 15, 2018, it's one of several exhibits that will kick off the grand reopening of the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler galleries, the conjoined national museums of Asian and Middle Eastern Art.

The Freer has been closed since January 2016 for major renovations, and the Sackler since July 2016 for minor ones. The upgraded institutions will make their public debut on October 14, and be feted by a free two-day festival on the National Mall.

Featuring 80 artworks and relics, ranging from figurines of leonine deities to the tiny coffins of beloved pets, "Divine Felines" even has a cat mummy on loan from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. These objects span from the Middle Kingdom (2008 to 1630 BCE) to the Byzantine period (395 to 642 CE).

An ancient Egyptian metal weight shaped like a cat, dating back to 305 to 30 BCE, on view at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Weight in Form of a Cat, 305 to 30 BCE, Bronze, silver, lead
Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 36.114

The term “cat” is used loosely, as the Egyptians celebrated domestic mousers and fearsome predators alike.

“The Egyptians were close observers of nature, so they were observing cat behaviors,” Antonietta Catanzariti, the exhibition's in-house curator, tells Mental Floss. “They noticed that cats and lions— in general, felines—have aggressive and protective aspects, so they associated those attributes to deities.”

The ancient Egyptians viewed their gods as humans, animals, or mixed forms. Several of these pantheon members were both associated with and depicted as cats, including Bastet, the goddess of motherhood, fertility, and protection; and Sakhmet, the goddess of war and—when appeased—healing. She typically has a lion head, but in some myths she appears as a pacified cat.

A limestone sculptor's model of a walking lion, on display at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
Sculptor's Model of a Walking Lion, ca. 664 to 630 BCE, limestone
Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 33.190

While Bastet was a nurturer, Sakhmet—whose name means “The Powerful One”—could use her mighty force to either slay or safeguard humanity. These characterizations are typical of the ancient Egyptian worldview, which perceived the universe in dualistic terms. “There’s always a positive and a negative,” Catanzariti explains.

Contrary to popular belief, however, ancient Egyptians did not view cats themselves as gods. “The goddess Sakhmet does have the features as a lion, or in some cases as a cat, but that doesn’t mean that the Egyptians were worshipping cats or lions,” Catanzariti says. Instead, they were simply noting and admiring her feline traits. This practice, to an extent, also extended to royalty. Kings were associated with lions and other large cats, as they were the powerful protectors of ancient Egypt’s borders.

These myriad associations prompted Egyptians to adorn palaces, temples, protective amulets, ceremonial vessels, and accessories with cat images. Depending on their context, these renderings symbolized everything from protection and power to beauty and sexuality. A king’s throne might have a lion-shaped support, for example, whereas a woman’s cosmetics case might be emblazoned with a cat-headed female goddess of motherhood and fertility.

An ancient Egyptian figurine of a standing lion-headed goddess, on display at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
Figurine of a Standing Lion-Headed Goddess, 664 to 630 BCE, Faience
Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.943E

While cats were linked with heavenly figures and kings, they were also popular domestic pets. Their ability to catch vermin made them an important addition to households, and owners loved and anthropomorphized their pets just like we do today.

Egyptians often named, or nicknamed, their children after animals; Miit (cat) was a popular moniker for girls. It's said that entire households shaved their eyebrows in mourning if a house cat died a natural death. Some also believe that cats received special legal protection. (Not all cats were this lucky, however, as some temples bred kittens specifically to offer their mummified forms to the gods.) If a favorite cat died, the Egyptians would bury them in special decorated coffins, containers, and boxes. King Tutankhamen, for example, had a stone sarcophagus constructed just for his pet feline.

An ancient Egyptian bronze cat head adorned with gold jewelry, on display at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
Cat's Head, 30 BCE. to third century CE, bronze, gold
Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 36.114

“Divine Felines” breaks down these facts, and more, into five thematic sections, including “Cats and Kings"; “Cats and Gods”; “Cats and Death”; “Cats and Protection”; and “Dogs as Guardians and Hunters.” Yes, there’s also an exhibition section for dog lovers—“a small one,” Catanzariti laughs, that explains why canines were associated with figures like Anubis, the jackal-headed god of mummification and the afterlife.

Did the ancient Egyptians prefer cats to dogs? “I would say that both of them had different roles,” Catanzariti says, as dogs were valued as hunters, scavengers, and guards. “They were appreciated in different ways for their ability to protect or be useful for the Egyptian culture.” In this way, "Divine Felines" is targeted to ailurophiles and canophiliacs alike, even if it's packaged with pointed ears and whiskers.

An ancient Egyptian cat coffin, on display at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
Coffin for a Cat, 664 to 332 BCE, or later, Wood, gesso, paint, animal remains
Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 37.1944Ea-b


More from mental floss studios