June 09, 2006
Tiny Dinos

I saw an announcement about the discovery of "miniature" dinosaurs in the Post on Wednesday, but didn't really understand the significance until I read this article about the same topic:

When unusually small dinosaur fossils were found in a quarry on the northern edge of the Harz Mountains in 1998, it was initially assumed that these were the remains of a group of young dinosaurs. This was a fallacy, as the Bonn palaeontologist, Dr. Martin Sander, recently discovered.

"Unusually small" in this case still means something as big as most cars, but when you're talking dinosaurs, that's definitely on the tiny side.

Interesting fact: According to Predatory Dinosaurs of the World, there are no dinosaurs (at least that we've found) smaller than a chicken. It seems mammals took over all the small land-based niches, and dinos took everything else.

Posted by scott at June 09, 2006 01:00 PM

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So, it seems fossils are not consistently sized. Isn't it possible that the fossilization process might distort the sizes of the impressions made, depending on the environment? After all, fossils are formed in a manner similar to stalactites and stalagmites... might they not also have a tendency to grow over million-year periods in a similar fashion?

It would go a long way toward explaining how their bone structures were able to support their own weight... the actual dinosaurs may have been tiny little lizards, instead of behemoths made of ultralight, ultrastrong materials modern science can't even emulate.

Posted by: Tatterdemalian on June 9, 2006 07:58 PM
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