The Tyrannosaurs have always been one of the most iconic family of dinosaurs ever to walk the Earth. However, their ancestral evolution largely remained a mystery until recently. Two years ago, the earliest ancestor of the Tyrannosaurs was discovered. This animal was no larger than a deer and was built for speed. Its name became Moros intrepidus, which means “harbinger of impending doom”, which is a fitting name considering what this creature’s descendants would one day become. Due to this discovery, experts theorize that Moros intrepidus lived in the shadow of larger carnivorous dinosaurs such as the carnosaurs. However, when the large theropods fell into extinction, Moros intrepidus and its kin wasted no time filling the power vacuum. Over the course of 16 million years, this one small predator evolved and diversified into over a dozen species of powerful predators including Tyrannosaurus Rex itself. This goes to show that even the mightiest of beasts come from the humblest of origins.
The time of the dinosaurs was a great time for crocodilians. It was an era where crocodilians grew from their archosaur ancestors and diversified into countless different species. Some became marine reptiles, some became large enough to eat giant dinosaurs, and some became regular fish eaters. One unique crocodilian that lived alongside dinosaurs was Kaprosuchus. Kaprosuchus was as big as the largest of modern crocodiles, but it had a number of distinct physical adaptations. Compared to most crocodilians, Kaprosuchus had a lean build with long slender legs. This allowed it to move swiftly on dry land in short bursts of speed. A number of its teeth were longer than others, giving them a tusk-like appearance. These teeth were often used against rivals to settle disputes and they also gave the animal additional weapons to grip onto struggling prey. I find Kaprosuchus to be a very intriguing specimen from a time long forgotten. Kaprosuchus is one of the genetic donors that are used in the creation of one of my fictional dinosaurs in my dinosaur series.
Have you ever read or seen 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea? If so, do you remember the part with the giant squid? Over 450 million years ago, there were giant cephalopods that were 36 feet long. These cephalopods were called Orthocones and they were the original giant squids. Unlike most modern cephalopods, Orthocones possessed large shells that encased half their bodies. These hard shells not only provided protection from predators, but they also contained various pressurized chambers that helped the Orthocone float. Like modern cephalopods, the Orthocones used their powerful tentacles to grab any prey item within reach before crushing them to death with their horny beaks. Experts theorized that the crunching would be so loud that you could hear it underwater. As armored jawed fish started to appear, these cephalopods were outcompeted and their descendants gradually shrunk. In my dinosaur series, I will be featuring a large, shelled cephalopod that serves as a common aquatic predator.
My all-time favorite pterosaur would be Quetzalcoatlus because it was one of the largest animals to ever fly in Earth’s skies. It had a forty foot wingspan and it was as tall as a giraffe when it walked on all fours. Despite its enormous size, this creature’s body was built to be extremely lightweight, which is very important when it comes to flying. In terms of diet, this beast feed on small animals, fish, and carrion. It is such a tragedy that this pterosaur joined the dinosaurs in the ash heap of history. If it was allowed to continue its evolution, it could have grown into an even larger flier possibly with a fifty or sixty foot wingspan. We will likely never see such a colossal flier again in our lifetime. One of my fictional dinosaur species in my dinosaur series will be as large as Quetzalcoatlus.
One of my favorite dinosaur documentaries would be Chased By Dinosaurs, which is a spin-off of Walking With Dinosaurs. The show was presented by zoologist Nigel Marven, who seems similar to the late Steve Irwin. The documentary consists of five episodes. One episode depicted Nigel traveling to Argentina during the early Cretaceous, one depicted Nigel visiting Mongolia during the mid-Cretaceous, and the other three show Nigel taking a dive in the seven deadliest seas in all of prehistory. In general, this documentary series shows what could happen if someone like Steve Irwin went on a prehistoric safari. I have learned a great deal from this series and I will definitely use the knowledge I have gained for my dinosaur series.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I greatly value fossils because they are irreplaceable relics of our planet’s history. The loss of one fossil is an unforgivable loss to our planet’s past and whatever secrets that fossil held would die with it forever. Do you know what coal is made of? It is made from fossil remnants of the Carboniferous Period 300 million years ago. Because the atmosphere in that era was so oxygen-rich, forest fires were very commonplace. As a result, the fossilized remains of the plants and animals that died in those fires became the coal we burn in the modern world. If you look at a piece of coal, you are not looking at an expendable rock that keeps you warm when burned. You are looking at what remains of primitive ferns that were as tall as trees, centipedes that were as big as cars, spiders as big as a human head, and dragonflies as big as eagles. 300 million years ago, these organisms burned to death until only ash and smoldering flesh remained. In the modern era, all of that priceless history was burned out of existence so that we can have warmth and power. The burning of fossil fuels may contribute to global warming and climate change, but all of that is nothing compared to all the natural history that has been permanently lost. If we cause our own extinction with global warming, it will be karma for spending countless years destroying pieces of our planet’s history for our own selfish gain.
Because of the constantly changing nature of our planet, the atmosphere was never the same composition all the time. Before there was terrestrial plant life, the Earth had an atmosphere with a lot more carbon dioxide, which made it impossible for modern terrestrial life forms to breathe. On the other hand, the atmosphere of the Carboniferous Period had twice as much oxygen as today. Because of the high oxygen levels, insects and vegetation were allowed to grow to massive size. Unfortunately, the high oxygen levels increased the chances of forest fires, which is why so many scorched fossils were found from that era. In addition to giant insects and colossal plants, the Carboniferous Period was ruled by amphibians the size of crocodiles and saw the evolution of the earliest reptiles.
If I built a dinosaur theme park like Jurassic Park, I have a few ideas of what to include. At the front gate, I would build a statue dedicated to Michael Crichton, the man who first presented us with the idea of bringing dinosaurs back to life. There would be a natural history museum that would rival the Smithsonian and will house fossils from all throughout history. There will be the largest prehistory themed gift shop in the world, selling anything from DVDs, books, toys, and actual fossils. The food court would have the most diverse menu and choice of restaurants of any theme park.
Now we come to the fun part of the park: the animals. For the dinosaurs, Ice Age creatures, and other large animals, there would be a series of safari parks. The vehicles that would go through the safari would be heavily armor-plated yet have big enough windows for the passengers to see the wildlife. Next, there would be a section that houses the small creatures such as prehistoric insects, reptiles, and amphibians. For the flying creatures, there would be an aviary and would house prehistoric birds, pterosaurs, and flying mammals. Finally, there would be a Sea World-like section that would house the marine creatures such as prehistoric whales, sharks, fish, cephalopods, and marine reptiles.
Overall, I am picturing a theme park that will not solely feature dinosaurs, but all animals throughout prehistory. Dinosaurs were only one section of prehistory so I would like a theme parks that features all sections. If I write a story about a prehistoric theme park, I would want it to feature all of these attractions and more.
A couple days ago, I discovered something fascinating. We often think that Megalodon was the most terrifying sea monster in the Miocene oceans. However, it turns out that Megalodon had an arch nemesis that was as big and ferocious as it was. That creature was a close cousin of the sperm whale known as Livyatan Melvillei. It was named after the biblical sea monster Leviathan and Herman Melville the author of Moby Dick. This beast had teeth bigger than Megalodon’s and was an apex predator that attacked and ate everything in the ocean including the occasional Megalodon. I have seen videos of whales outsmarting and killing sharks. Due to this, this creature would have Megalodon’s size and power, but would be much smarter. If you heard whales sing, then imagine how this thing would sound in the water. I can imagine it being louder and deeper than any modern whale call, which would be far more ominous and haunting. I am thinking of writing a book about this whale in the future once my schedule opens up. I am aiming to make this creature the modern Moby Dick!