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How to Find and Identify Dinosaurs

Updated on April 25, 2014

Identifying a Dinosaur

We all are aware that dinosaurs, long before humans walked the Earth, they were one of the most extraordinary animals that ever lived on the planet.

Dinosaurs are among the most successful creatures that have ever lived. Some dinosaurs were harmless and ate plants, and known as herbivores. Other dinosaurs were cruel and fierce hunters with vicious teeth who caught their prey then pierced into their bodies with extrememy sharp teeth before eating their flesh.

Dinosaurs are special reptiles and lived on land, and most of them laid their eggs with hard shells. They had strong scaly skin and the claws of some sort. Reptiles cannot produce their own body heat, instead they have to rely on the air around them to make them warm or to cool them down. Some scientists believe that particular dinosaurs were 'warm-blooded' and that they could produce their own heat inside their bodies, like the mammals do for instance. (public domain worldwide image) (public domain worldwide image) | Source

Dinosaurs were different from other reptiles like the ones existing today. So what makes them different and how do we identify one? To start of with, here's a picture on the right which gives a rough idea, not entirely accurate, on what a typical dinosaur looks like. This may be how a Tyrannosaurus rex looked like in prehistoric age. If you spot one on the road, run like mad otherwise you'd get beaten or eaten.

We know today's reptiles include crocodiles, lizards, alligators, turtles, tortoises and snakes. Reptiles do not have a 'central heating system'. They are unable to control the heat inside their bodies as mammals, or such as humans can. If the surrounding air is cold, their blood is cold, but if the air is warm, their blood is warm.

For a start, the dinosaurs legs were tucked straight under their bodies, and not protruding to the side like the legs of other reptiles. They could walk and maneuver much more easily and flexibly than other reptiles who had to drag their bodies along the ground as they walked, which makes the movement more harder. Dinosaurs walked in a more upright way, either on two legs or four legs and although certain dinosaurs moved quite slowly, other dinosaurs could run very rapidly indeed.

There are hundreds of examples of dinosaurs and some were not classified as dinosaurs in the prehistoric times. There were huge and gigantic dinosaurs. If they were still in existence today, they would be able to see over the top of a four-story high building. One fine example of a tall dinosaur was the Brachiosaurus. There were also dinosaurs that were as long as four long vehicles like buses for example. Others scuttled around closer to the ground, they were the size of chickens and some were tiny enough to place on a human hand.

Dinosaurs lived on land and they did not fly. The Pterosaurs are known as the 'flying reptiles' and were not dinosaurs. The plesiosaurs were the giant 'swimming reptiles' and were not dinosaurs either, they lived in the sea and not on land. (public domain worldwide) (public domain worldwide) | Source

Is it possible to discover a new form of dinosaur today?

It is slightly possible and not totally impossible to discover new kinds of dinosaurs. In fact, finding a complete dinosaur skeleton is highly rare in today' times, but if a fossil of a dinosaur is found by luck, it will require experts to dig it up meticulously and professionally. To find a new dinosaur can be difficult and exhaustive work. You must acquire a mind of a sleuth carrying a magnifying glass, and if you are committed to do such work, first you must search for specific types of rocks like mud-stones or sandstones. Furthermore, the rocks must be between 60 to 200 million years old. What experts normally do is they search for traces of fossils and these can be broken fragments of a bone at the foot of cliffs, quarries, hills or even down the mines.

If a discovery of a dinosaur skeleton is made, you will require a team of experts depending on the size of the dinosaur. To remove and free the dinosaur skeleton, the fossil bones needs to be excavated carefully out of the rock so that the skeleton of the dinosaur can be assembled together like a jigsaw at the laboratory. As I've already stated, dinosaur fossils are mainly found in rocks that were being formed from mud and sand when the dinosaurs existed back then. The fossils are mainly buried deep down in the lowest layers of the rock.

Finding Fossils

The experts or paleontologists do not actually dig holes all over the area in the hope of discovering a fossil, this is time consuming and wasting energy. First the experts examine the rock and be absolute positive it's the right one, and then they rely and let the wind and rain to assist them with their work. The ideal places to search for fossils are where the rock has been worn right down to its lower layers by the action of the wind and rain and sometimes the waves can assist in a way. Quite often, huge parts of a hill or a cliff can crumble away and reveal part of a fossil.

Many paleontologists often go to quite remote parts of the world like in Mongolia or China in eastern Asia to find dinosaur fossils. Sometimes fossils can also be found by accident or sheer luck. They can be found by workmen working and constructing the roads, quarry workers by blasting stones, or even miners when they are digging underground. Fossil hunters must also be aware and cautious because the areas where fossils are mainly found are often dangerous and hazardous. So basically, I don't think scientists have found all major classifications of dinosaurs and it's still possible to discover new ones.


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    • aziza786 profile image

      Zia Uddin 4 years ago

      Thanks both for commenting. It's surprising to know that you live a few miles away from T-rex, Rolly A Chabot, that is great. If you see a real dinosaur, let me know, lol. Thanks again.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 4 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi aziza786... great hub and good reading... the first picture you have of the larger replica of the dinosaur is only a few miles from me in te heart of fossil country here in Canada ... quite the site and you can climb all the way to te top and look out over the land they once roamed...


    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      wow this is an awesome hub.. I have always said lizards are just little dinosaurs.. lol.. You know i bet you are right.. they have not found all the fossils of dinosaurs..

      I am sharing this great hub