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

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?

Watch How a Bioluminescence Expert Catches a Giant Squid

Giant squid have been the object of fascination for millennia; they may have even provided the origin for the legendary Nordic sea monsters known as the Kraken. But no one had captured them in their natural environment on video until 2012, when marine biologist and bioluminescence expert Edith Widder snagged the first-ever images off Japan's Ogasawara Islands [PDF]. Widder figured out that previous dives—which tended to bring down a ton of gear and bright lights—were scaring all the creatures away. (Slate compares it to "the equivalent of coming into a darkened theater and shining a spotlight at the audience.")

In this clip from BBC Earth Unplugged, Widder explains how the innovative camera-and-lure combo she devised, known as the Eye-in-the-Sea, finally accomplished the job by using red lights (which most deep-sea creatures can't see) and an electronic jellyfish (called the e-jelly) with a flashy light show just right to lure in predators like Architeuthis dux. "I've tried a bunch of different things over the years to try to be able to talk to the animals," Widder says in the video, "and with the e-jelly, I feel like I'm finally making some progress."

[h/t The Kid Should See This]

Big Questions
Why Are There No Snakes in Ireland?

Legend tells of St. Patrick using the power of his faith to drive all of Ireland’s snakes into the sea. It’s an impressive image, but there’s no way it could have happened.

There never were any snakes in Ireland, partly for the same reason that there are no snakes in Hawaii, Iceland, New Zealand, Greenland, or Antarctica: the Emerald Isle is, well, an island.

Eightofnine via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Once upon a time, Ireland was connected to a larger landmass. But that time was an ice age that kept the land far too chilly for cold-blooded reptiles. As the ice age ended around 10,000 years ago, glaciers melted, pouring even more cold water into the now-impassable expanse between Ireland and its neighbors.

Other animals, like wild boars, lynx, and brown bears, managed to make it across—as did a single reptile: the common lizard. Snakes, however, missed their chance.

The country’s serpent-free reputation has, somewhat perversely, turned snake ownership into a status symbol. There have been numerous reports of large pet snakes escaping or being released. As of yet, no species has managed to take hold in the wild—a small miracle in itself.

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