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10 Bumpy Facts About Ceratosaurus

Like a ’56 T-Bird parked in a lot full of hybrids, Ceratosaurus shared its range with several less-archaic carnivores. This primitive predator really stands out in films and in museums, which helps explain the odd dino’s enduring popularity.

1. Ceratosaurus Had an Armored Backside.

A row of bony plates called osteoderms ran down the animal’s spine. They probably didn’t offer much defense, but they sure helped Ceratosaurus score some major style points! 

2. It Might Have had Semi-Aquatic Habits.

Like modern gators, Ceratosaurus came with a strong, broad, and flexible tail—and the animal’s teeth are sometimes found scattered near lungfish skeletons. So was it amphibious? According to paleontologist Robert Bakker, the idea has merit. He’s even envisioned Ceratosaurus as a wannabe crocodile of sorts, stealthily lurking beneath Jurassic rivers. But while this dinosaur was likely a halfway-decent swimmer, many feel that Bakker’s very speculative hypothesis can’t keep its head above the water.   

3. It’s Been a Movie Star for Over 100 Years.

Audiences watched the bonafide celebrity stalk cavemen in Brute Force (1914), take on Triceratops in One Million Years B.C. (1966), and gag at the sight of Spinosaurus poop in Jurassic Park III (2001).

4. Some Argue that This Creature Directly Competed with the Better-Known Allosaurus.

Both carnivores stalked Utah and Colorado 150 million years ago, and both had nasty jaws designed for slicing (as opposed to crushing bone and all that fun stuff). Because similar bites often mean similar diets, maybe these two titans hunted the same game. Or they might have found separate niches and steered clear of each other—Allosaurus did have proportionately-smaller teeth, after all. Regardless, the late Jurassic was clearly a tough time to be an herbivore.    

5. Scientists Still Aren’t Sure About What Ceratosaurus Did With its Dynamic Nasal Horn.

In 1920, an American geologist named Charles Whitney Gilmore wrote that Ceratosaurus’ horn “formed a useful weapon for offense and defense.” Nowadays, however, this thing’s function no longer seems quite so clear-cut.  Thin and probably on the fragile side, most 21st-century specialists hold that Ceratosaurus’ best-known feature was better-suited for display than combat.

6. It Featured Unusually Long Teeth.

One specimen manages to look just as scary with its mouth shut. This dino’s upper teeth are so long that—when the creature’s maw assumes a “closed” position—they extend below the lower jaw!

7. Ceratosaurus was Relatively Rare

Allosaurus seems to have been far more common than Ceratosaurus. The latter, bumpy-snouted predator is only known from a relative handful of skeletons. Meanwhile, very few dinos are as well-represented by the fossil record as Allosaurus: A single quarry contains assorted bones belonging to at least 44 individuals. How many Ceratosaurus specimens has this same site yielded? One.

8. Its Remains Have Been Found on Three Different Continents.

Though frequently cited as a North American creature, Ceratosaurus material has also turned up in Portugal and Tanzania.

9. Size-Wise, Not all Ceratosaurus Were Created Equal.

Ceratosaurus dentisculatus could have really done some damage. While the 18-foot Ceratosaurus nasicornis is, by far, this genus’ most famous species, C. dentisculatus was noticeably longer, with an estimated length of over 23 feet (7 meters)—and it may been twice as massive.

10. Ceratosaurus was Named by One of America’s Greatest Paleontologists.

Othniel Charles Marsh (1832-1899) also introduced the world to such prehistoric icons as Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Allosaurus, Diplodocus, and Apatosaurus. Plus, he lobbied for Native American rights, regularly corresponded with Charles Darwin, and was among the first to suggest that present-day birds evolved from dinosaurs. 

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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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