Ready to watch Jurassic World Dominion? Here's what science knows about dinosaurs

As Owen Grady tries to create a balance between humans and dinosaurs, a science refresher on the massive species that once dominated and roamed across the length and breadth of Earth.

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Dinosaur Jurassic world
Jurassic period began and lasted between 201 to 145 million years ago. (Photo: Pixabay)

Chris Pratt's Owen Grady has returned to theatres with a world that is learning to live alongside dinosaurs four years after the Isla Nublar was destroyed. As Grady looks to create a balance between the two species, the question remains: could we ever live with dinosaurs in the real world?

After all, they once did inhabit Earth, not just inhabit it, they dominated our world before a cataclysmic event wiped them off the surface of the planet.

Before you venture into the reel world of dinosaurs, we thought of giving a refresher on the real world of these species from a scientific point of view that is now only found in remains buried in the sand.

Scientists have discovered a perfectly preserved fossil leg of a dinosaur. (Photo: Pixabay)

WHAT ARE DINOSAURS?

Dinosaurs are a group of reptiles that lived and roamed on Earth for over 140 million years, evolving into varied sizes, shapes, and characteristics. Fossil records dug out from the surface of the planet have shown the presence of monster dinosaurs like Spinosaurus that were 18 meters tall and weighed over 4,000 kilograms to Oculudentavis, which was just about the size of a hummingbird.
According to the Natural History Museum, unlike lizards and crocodiles, dinosaurs had an upright stance thanks to their straight back legs, perpendicular to their bodies. The two-legged species was able to use less energy to move than other modern-age reptiles.

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The species comes from archosaurs, a larger group of reptiles that first appeared on Earth nearly 251 million years ago. The species, like other reptiles, laid eggs. Their facial structure was completely different, with a hole in the skull between the eye socket and nostril. "Dinosaurs also had two holes behind the eye socket. Large, strong jaw muscles went through the holes to attach directly to the top of the skull. As a result, the jaws were able to open wide and clamp down with more force," the Natural History Museum says in its report.

WHEN DID DINOSAURS LIVE ON EARTH?

The monster species roamed on Earth during the Mesozoic Era, millions of years before the first homo-sapiens appeared and began conquering the planet. The Mesozoic Era is separated into three timelines — Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous — during which dinosaurs ruled the planet alongside other wild species.

According to experts, the Triassic period was between 252 to 201 million years ago when the modern-day continents were all a single massive landscape known as Pangaea. Characterised by a hot and dry climate, the landmass was apt for the evolution of the first dinosaurs. Based on fossil records, planetologists have established that it was in this era that the species bloomed.

With Pangea beginning to break in the final years of the Triassic period, the Jurassic period began that lasted between 201 to 145 million years ago. This was the time when Pangea broke into Laurasia in the north and Gondwana in the south, with mass extinctions being triggered. With temperatures falling, it led to more rainfall and the growth of ferns, leading to the evolution of plant-eating sauropods like Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, and Brachiosaurus.

The final era is the Cretaceous Period, which lasted between 145 to 66 million years ago with continents forming up and new landmasses being created. This led to the evolution of different species of dinosaurs in different regions of the planet. According to the Natural History Museum, this period saw the evolution of snakes as well.

HOW DID DINOSAURS GO EXTINCT?

It was a cataclysmic event roughly 65 million years ago that wiped this massive species off the planet. A massive asteroid crashed into Earth, creating a hellish environment that led to the extinction of the species.

Analysis of fossils has revealed that fire rained from the sky and the ground shook far worse than any modern earthquake, triggering inland tsunamis. University of Amsterdam's Jan Smit in 2019 said that they found "definite proof that the dinosaurs were alive and kicking at the time of impact. They were running around, chasing each other" when they were swamped.

Scientists have discovered a perfectly preserved fossil leg of a dinosaur that still has remnants of its skin on the bone. The fossil has been dated to the day when the asteroid hit Earth resulting in a new evolutionary process, after causing the extinction of the dinosaur species.

It was a cataclysmic event roughly 65 million years ago that wiped this massive species. (File Pic)

Also Read | 100 million-year-old bones of sauropod dinosaurs discovered

HOW DO WE STUDY DINOSAURS?

The biggest source for studying dinosaurs is their fossils that have been found spread across the world, indicating that they once were present in every corner of the world, including in India. Paleontologists rely on Computed Tomographic (CT) scanning to study the species.

The technology uses X-rays to build a 3D model of both the internal and external anatomy derived from the fossil.

According to the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, a narrow beam of x-rays is aimed at the subject that generates cross-sectional images successively These images are then stacked together to form a three-dimensional (3D) image. The x-ray peers inside the bones of the fossil to identify their makeup and structure, giving a clear view.

Now that you know some of the basics about these species, hopefully, it will make the movie furthermore enjoyable.

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