Until the 1980s, there was ongoing controversy (occasionally reflected in cryptozoological literature) over whether dinosaurs had a single ancestor or many different ones. In the current view, it appears that Richard Owen had it right in
1842 when he invented the name Dinosauria ("terrible reptiles"), based only on three known fossil genera that he thought had one common ancestor. The defining characteristic of the Di-nosauria is now considered to be (along with a few other minor skeletal characteristics of the femur, humerus, ankle, and foot) a ball-and-socket joint at the hip, like the mammals, that supports the body weight and allows for an erect, bipedal gait in certain types. As a group, they flourished for 160 million years, from the Late Triassic to the end of the Cretaceous (225—65 million years ago). The most primitive dinosaur yet found is the 3-foot-long Eoraptor, discovered in northwestern Argentina in 1991.
Not all huge fossil reptiles were dinosaurs. The flying pterosaurs, the marine plesiosaurs and mosasaurs, the diapsids Tanystropheus and Champsosaurus, the mammal-like therapsids— none of these are classed with the dinosaurs.
The Superorder Dinosauria is subdivided into two orders, the Saurischia and the Ornithischia.
The Saurischia included carnivorous, bipedal therapods such as Tyrannosaurus and the herbivorous, long-necked sauropodomorphs such as Apatosaurus. They had in common elongated necks, long second fingers, and skeletal cavities housing air-filled sacs connected to the lungs. It was this type of dinosaur that survived extinction at the end of the Cretaceous in the form of Birds.
The Ornithischia included dome-headed and horned cerapods (such as Iguanodon and Tricer-atops) and the armored thyreophorans (such as Stegosaurus and Ankylosaurus). They shared key characteristics of the jaws and teeth that enabled them to chew plants efficiently.
Giganotosaurus may have been the largest carnivorous animal that ever lived on land. A theropod dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous of Argentina that was first described in 1995, it was at least 42 feet from nose to tail tip. Vertebrae from a related species yet unnamed that was discovered in Patagonia in 2000 indicate an even greater length of 45 feet. The largest Tyrannosaurus rex was only 40 feet long.
At 110-120 feet, the herbivorous sauropod Seismosaurus of the Late Jurassic of New Mexico is the longest land vertebrate yet discovered, weighing in at 33 tons. Its tail alone was about 50 feet, and its head and neck were nearly that length. The Cretaceous sauropod Argenti-nosaurus of Patagonia may also have attained this size, though it is only known from vertebrae and limb bones. In late 1999, some vertebrae from a possibly even larger sauropod were discovered in southern Patagonia; preliminary estimates gave it a length of 167 feet.
Different species of dinosaurs went extinct throughout the Mesozoic, not just at the end of the Cretaceous. For example, more time elapsed between the death of the last Stegosaurus and the hatching of the first Tyrannosaurus than between the extinction of the last dinosaur and the birth of the first modern human.
There is no unambiguous evidence for dinosaur fossils after the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary. Dinosaur teeth mixed with mammalian bones in Paleocene deposits have been found in the Hell Creek Formation in Montana, but it's not clear whether they had originally come from earlier, dinosaur-bearing levels. Redeposition of older fossils into younger sediments by rivers or streams is not uncommon.
Surviving dinosaurs are not a zoological impossibility, especially in areas that have been geologically stable for the past 60 million years (such as Africa). Large dinosaurs that are coldblooded (ectothermic) would have a better time surviving in hot, equatorial regions than warmblooded (endothermic) animals with high metabolic rates. Ectotherms also require only 10 percent of the amount of food taken in by full endotherms. However, determining dinosaur energetics and thermal biology without living models is, at best, a speculative endeavor.
The two major types of African dinosaur in this section are the Mokele-Mbembe, which might be a surviving sauropod, and the EmeLA-NtOJKA, which some think might be a ceratop-sian survivor such as Monoclonius. Both are known by many different local names. The others in the list are much less documented.
Emela-Nxuka; Mb iehj-Mbiehj-Mbiehj; Mok-ele-Mbembe; Partridge Creek Beast; Row; Siwane Manzi.
See also Dragons, Lizards (Unknown), and the WAter Lion.
South American dinosaurs: A few rumors of huge, amphibious beasts in South America are on record, but no local Indian names have surfaced.
In 1882, an odd, 40-foot saurian was killed on the Río Beni, El Beni Department, Bolivia. It was said to have two additional, doglike heads sprouting from its back, a long neck, and scaly armor. "A Bolivian Saurian," Scientific American 49 (1883): 3.
The explorer Percy Fawcett mentioned dinosaur-like animals briefly on several occasions as occurring in the Río Guaporé area on the border of Bolivia and Brazil, in the Madidi region of La Paz Department in northwestern Bolivia, and in swamps around the Rio Acre in Acre State, Brazil. Percy H. Fawcett, Exploration Fawcett (London: Hutchinson, 1955).
In late 1907, Franz Herrmann Schmidt and Rudolph Pfleng allegedly encountered an aquatic, dinosaur-like monster, 35 feet long, in a swampy area in the forested swamps of Loreto Department, Peru. It had a tapirlike head "the size of a beer keg," a snakelike neck, and heavy, clawed flippers. Their bullets seemed to have no effect on the animal. Franz Herrmann Schmidt, "Prehistoric Monsters in Jungles of the Amazon." New York Herald, January 11, 1911.
In 1931, Swedish explorer Harald Westin saw a 20-foot lizard walking along the shore of the Rio Mamoré on the border of Brazil and Bolivia. It had an alligator-like head, four legs, and a body like a distended boa constrictor. Harald Westin, Tjugu ärs djungel- och tropikliv (Stockholm: Bonnier, 1933).
Leonard Clark heard rumors of an animal resembling a sauropod dinosaur from Peruvian Indians around the Río Marañón, Peru, in 1946. Leonard Clark, The Rivers Ran East (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1953).
In 1975, a Swiss businessman hired a seventy-five-year-old guide named Sebastian Bastos, who told him that the Amazonian Indians knew of animals 18 feet long that overturn canoes and kill humans. Bastos himself had survived an attack several years earlier. Liverpool Daily Post, January 3, 1976.
A gold figurine from Ashanti Province in Ghana, West Africa, and now located at the University of Pennsylvania Museum seems to depict a sauropod dinosaur. It was made as a trademark representing a particular family of gold dealers and resembles an Apatosaurus (bulky body, four legs, long tail), except for a relatively large head that looks more like a Tyrannosaurus. Some researchers see it as a representation of the Mokele-Mbembe. Margaret Plass, African Miniatures: The Goldweights of the Ashanti (London: Lund Humphries, 1967); "An Iguanodon from Dahomey," Pursuit, no. 9 (January 1970): 15-16; Bernard Heuvelmans, Les derniers dragons d'Afrique (Paris: Plon, 1978), pp. 336-337.
In October and November 1924, an expedition led by archaeologist Samuel Hubbard and paleontologist Charles W. Gilmore explored the Havasu Canyon area on the Havasupai Indian Reservation west of the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona. Near where the Tobocobe Trail intersects Lee Canyon, they discovered pictographs on the red sandstone along the trail, one of which seems to show a bipedal ornitho-pod dinosaur. Oakland Museum, Discoveries Relating to Prehistoric Man by the Doheny Scientific Expedition in the Hava Supai Canyon, Northern Arizona (San Francisco, Calif.: Sunset Press, 1927); A. Hyatt Verrill, Strange Prehistoric Animals and Their Stories (Boston: L. C. Page, 1948).
In July 1944, German merchant Waldemar Julsrud discovered a cache of clay and stone figurines depicting dinosaurs, weird animals, humans, masks, and vessels on El Toro hill near Acambaro, Guanajuato State, Mexico. By the mid-1950s, he had found some 33,500 separate objects, which filled his twelve-room mansion and, it is said, forced him to sleep in the bathtub. The collection is no longer open to the public, and it is suspected that only a fraction of the original number of objects exist now. Though apparently seven distinct artistic styles are represented in the collection, none are typical of artifacts found elsewhere in Mesoamerica. Most, if not all, of the dinosaur-like figures are fanciful or composite animals, though some have seen resemblances to the sauropod Bra-chiosaurus, the ornithopod Iguanodon, and an Ankylosaurus. Other figures resemble such extinct Pleistocene fauna as CameIOPS. Radiocarbon dates for the artifacts range from 4530-1110 b.c, though in some cases, laboratories have retracted these findings upon learning of their controversial nature, referring to suspected contamination or even "regenerated light signals." William N. Russell, "Did Man Tame the Dinosaur?" Fate 5 (February-March 1952): 20-27; Charles C. Di Peso, "The Clay Figurines of Acambaro, Guanajuato, Mexico," American Antiquity 18 (1953): 388-389; William N. Russell, "Report on Acambaro," Fate 6 (June 1953): 31-35; Ronald J. Willis, "The Acambaro Figurines," INFO Journal, no. 6 (Spring 1970): 2-17; "The Julsrud Ceramic Collection in Acambaro, Mexico," Pursuit, no. 22 (April 1973): 41-43; Charles H. Hapgood, Mystery in Acambaro (Winchester, N.H.: Charles H. Hapgood, 1973; Kempton, Ill.: Adventures Unlimited, 2000); Dennis Swift, Dinosaurs of Acambaro, http://www.omniology. com/3-Ceramic-Dinos.html.
In 1966, Peruvian physician Javier Cabrera obtained a rock on which was a picture of a fish, seemingly carved thousands of years ago. He found where it came from and eventually amassed a collection of thousands of volcanic rocks with pictures of dinosaurs, kangaroos, mastodons, winged humanoids, telescopes, open-heart surgery, and other fantastic images. Now housed in his Museo de Piedras Grabadas in Ocucaje, near Ica, Peru, Cabrera claims they were made 1 mil-lion-250,000 years ago by an unknown culture. Others have accused Cabrera of producing the stones himself or at least turning a blind eye to local forgers. Ryan Drum, "The Cabrera Rocks," INFO Journal, no. 17 (May 1976): 6-11; Javier Cabrera Darquea, El mensaje de las piedras grabadas de Ica (Lima, Peru: INTI-Sol, 1976); David Hatcher Childress, Lost Cities and Ancient Mysteries ofSouth America (Stelle, Ill.: Adventures Unlimited, 1986), pp. 29-31, 48-52; Michael D. Swords, "The Cabrera Rocks Revisited," INFO Journal, no. 48 (March 1986): 11-13; Robert Todd Carroll, "Ica Stones," in Skeptic's Dictionary, http://skepdic.com/icastones.html.
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