Five of the Most Misunderstood Dinosaurs

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Dilophosaurus

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So what did they fuck up?

Dilophosaurus is always a curiosity to me, since nobody probably remembers its name, yet everybody will probably remember its physical appearance as the “dinosaur that spits shit” in the 1993 dinofest Jurassic Park. To give Spielberg (or Crichton, rather) credit, Dilophosaurus as depicted in there was one of the most creative dinosaur depictions committed to celluloid.

Usually, when it comes to depictions of creatures that actually existed once, creativity means throwing accuracy out the window.

The Dilophosaurus from Jurassic Park was a small little critter who would look all cute and everything (as cute as a scaly little lizardlike dinosaur could be), until it suddenly unfurls its gigantic neck frill (stolen straight from Australia, despite the fact that it evolved millions of years earlier) and pukes a big nasty chunk of sticky acidic scat on your face.

What’s the real deal?

First, I want to start with the obvious. We know of dinosaurs from fossils. There may be some exceptions, but fossils mostly consist of bones, most of which aren’t even well preserved. So how the fuck would scientists know whether or not Dilophosaurus spat acid? That’s complete speculation right there. There’s no evidence that it didn’t, but there’s no evidence that it did, either.

Also, that neck frill is also speculation. Complete speculation. Acidic spit, I can understand, but what exactly would the purpose of having a neck frill be? The real life Frill-Necked Lizard uses that frill to frighten predators. Dilophosaurus could have made the same use with such a frill, but it didn’t, not in the film, at least. Because when it flashes that thing at Nedry and then spits at him, it’s clearly not trying to frighten him away. It was trying to eat him. That’s why it followed him up a slippery slope and hid in his own damn jeep. When you’re trying to frighten fat guy away, you don’t follow him and then hide in his own damn jeep. So maybe it used the frill to frighten its prey. Why would a predator want to frighten its prey? What a predator wants to do with its prey is kill it so that it can eat it. Unless prey dinosaurs in the early Jurassic had weak hearts, Dilophosaurus would have no reason whatsoever to freak the shit out of its next meal before eating it. Besides, in the natural world, predators want to be as unnoticeable as possible. That’s how they catch their next meal.

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But to be fair, the real Dilophosaurus was bigger than its Hollywood counterpart. Much bigger. By bigger, I mean it was like, twenty feet long. It was certainly larger than any other known predator from its time period. So a real Dilophosaurus wouldn’t have needed to spit on Nedry to kill him. It would have simply done the same thing that every other dinosaur in the park did to kill. Although that would have been boring.

4. Dimetrodon

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So what did they fuck up?

Dimetrodon isn’t even a fucking dinosaur! It shouldn’t even be on this list, for fuck’s sake! It was a pelycosaur from the Permian, and it became exinct long before any dinosaur first showed up on the scene. And no, it wasn’t in Jurassic Park III. The star of that suck-fest was an actual dinosaur (and thus, completely different animal from Dimetrodon) that only happened by coincidence to have the same sail on its back, due to convergent evolution. Yes. A big sail on your back is a lot easier to evolve more than once than you’d expect.

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Remember, birds evolved from dinosaurs, that means Spinosaurus would be the more birdlike of the two. Dimetrodon was pretty much a lizard with a big fucking thing on its back.

What’s the real deal?

Dimetrodon, and the various other prehistoric thingies that had sails on their backs (I wasn’t kidding when I said sails were easytoevolve more than once) most likely used the sails to soak up the sun’s rays and regulate their body heat. They probably would have made very good displays for rivals and females, too.

Also, like I mentioned before, Dimetrodon was a pelycosaur, and pelycosaurs were synapsids, which were also known as “mammal-like reptiles”. That’s right. Dimetrodon was more similar to us than dinosaurs.

3. Brontosaurus

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So what did they fuck up?

It’s entire existence, that’s what! Anyone who’s actually into dinosaurs would know this, but the dinosaur they named Brontosaurus turned out to simply be another specimen of the already discovered Apatosaurus. The Apatosaurus skeleton that was initially attributed to Brontosaurus was missing a skull, so it was given the bulky, round, and totally not Apatosaurus-like skull of a Camarasaurus to fill in. Yet, people still recognize the name Brontosaurus more than they do Apatosaurus, and they still recognize the Camarasaurus-headed Apatosaurus more than they recognize the Apatosaurus-headed Apatosaurus (which would make much more sense than a Camarasaurus-headed Apatosaurus). Okay, you’re thinking, so maybe Brontosaurus has been in the public spotlight way too long for people to forget it. Well, do you know when Brontosaurus was officially declared a synonym of Apatosaurus? In 1903. That’s right, people. Brontosaurus has been invalid for more than a fucking century… and you still haven’t gotten that in your heads? What the fuck?

What’s the real deal?

Apatosaurus, which is probably the plainest and most boring dinosaur ever.

2. Pteranodon

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So what did they fuck up?

Wasn’t a fucking dinosaur, either. So now you may be wondering ‘What the fuck is a dinosaur, then?’

Well, to be a dinosaur, a dinosaur would need to have a hole in its hip socket. That’s pretty much what makes a dinosaur a dinosaur. For those of you who don’t have magical X-Ray machines that let you examine the skeletons of illustrated dinosaurs, you can also identify one via its legs. A dinosaur stands upright with its legs positioned directly beneath its body, not sprawled out to the side, like Dimetrodon, and certainly not hanging off its ass, like Pteranodon. And no, the Loch Ness Monster is not a dinosaur, either.

Asides from that, though, there are several things people assume about Pteranodon that just plain pisses me off. One is an assumption (I’m not even going to dignify it by calling it a misconception) that they are the link between dinosaurs and birds. Anyone who comes to this conclusion needs to smacked in the face with a huge glob of acidic throat scat from a Dilophosaurus.

Tell me, asides from the fact that they have wings, what the fuck does a pterosaur have in common with a bird? They’re not even the same kind of wings! Just because bats have wings, does that mean they’re birds? No, they’re flying rodents! As a matter of fact, pterosaur wings are more similar to bat wings than bird wings. A bird’s wing is basically its entire arm, covered in feathers which give it lift for flying. Bat and pterosaur wings are made of flaps of skin between their fingers. As a matter of fact, Pterodactylus is Latin for “wing finger”. The only difference between bat and pterosaur wings is that a bat uses all of its fingers (i.e. its entire hand), whereas a pterosaur uses only one finger (which is kind of awkward, if you think about it).

But that isn’t even the start of the stupidity of thinking pterosaurs are dino-birds. Compare the following skeleton of Velociraptor with the skeleton of an eagle.

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They’re pretty much the same thing. Asides from the fact that they’re both called raptors, the only thing a small therapod like Velociraptor would need is to fuse its fingers, evolve a wishbone, and it would be ready to fly. In the meanwhile, look at this skeleton of a Nyctosaurus.

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In case you haven’t noticed, that’s nothing like the skeleton of a Velociraptor or a bird. So you tell me, how in fuck’s name would a dinosaur with an already birdlike skeleton evolve into what pretty much amounts with lizard with huge flaps of skin hanging off of its pinkies, and then suddenly go back into the original birdlike design again? It doesn’t fucking fit!

And also, they’re called pterosaurs, not pterodactyls. Pterodactylus was a specific species, not a group. So the next person who I hear say the word pterodactyl when referring to anything other than a Pterodactylus will get promptly punched in the face.

What’s the real deal?

Pterosaurs evolved from the same common ancestors as dinosaurs and appeared at around the same time as the first dinosaurs. I only listed this entry under Pteranodon because Pteranodon is the most famous of the pterosaurs. If you couldn’t tell just by looking at all the pictures, pterosaurs were pretty fragile, and likely did a lot more gliding than actual flying. Oh, and some, like Quetzalcoatlus had wingspans that rivaled a bus in size. Holy fuck. They were also the first known vertebrate animals known to have evolved the ability to fly, which was pretty awesome, because it meant that they could completely take over and rule the airborne niche for the next hundred million years. But then, the dinosaurs, who were apparently unsatisfied with ruling and hogging all the land niches, decided to go Archaeopteryxon all those pterosaur asses in the Jurassic Period and take over the skies, too. Pretty smart move, if you ask me, since all the birds are still alive (although not as badass) and all the unbird dinosaurs are now dead.

1. Velociraptor

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So what did they fuck up?

In terms of famous dinosaurs, Velociraptor is probably the newest kid on the block. This leaping, shrieking machine of avian-reptilian death owes most of its fame to Jurassic Park. Sorry to pick on you, Spielberg. That one film is also where all of the misconceptions come from.

This is the badass cattle killing bitch fucker of the Jurassic Park films:

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This is Velociraptor in real life:

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Yup. What you thought was a vicious man sized beast of killery which could easily shove its sickle claw up your ass and rip out your intestines was in reality the size of a dog. And this is what it looked like in real life, too:

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Jurassic Park placed quite an emphasis on the bird dinosaur connection, but clearly not enough. Velociraptor in real life had feathers all over it, like a bird. That doesn’t mean it could fly, though. And to be fair, it was only discovered that Velociraptor was feathered after quill knobs were found in some of its bones in 2007, fourteen years after Jurassic Park was released. In fact, the Velociraptors in Jurassic Park were meant to be another dinosaur, which was more like the ones shown on screen. Deinonychus. This raptor was truly man-sized, and actually lived in prehistoric Montana, where a Velociraptor skeleton was shown being dug up in the beginning of the film. Actual Velociraptors come from Mongolia. Hell, their full scientific name is Velociraptor mongoliensis. Back to the point, when Jurassic Park the novel was being written, there was some talk in the scientific community of reclassifying Deinonychus as a species of Velociraptor. Michael Crichton obviously agreed. By the time the film was being filmed, the debate was settled, and Deinonychus kept its own name. But I guess Spielberg though Velociraptor was a more badass name than Deinonychus (probaby because it is), so the name stuck.

What’s the real deal?

Killer raptor junkies, don’t fret. While Velociraptor in life was really nothing more than an oversized chicken with slightly sharper claws, they most certainly weren’t the only raptors around. At the time of Jurassic Park‘s filming, another species of raptor was discovered in Utah. Named Utahraptor (probably the least creative name you could give to any raptor), this bitch was fucking 20 feet long. That’s twice the size of the Jurassic Park motherfuckers. Can’t help you with the feathers issue, though. Most raptors aren’t preserved with feathers, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t feathered, because all unfeathered raptor skeletons are found in areas that wouldn’t have ideal conditions for preserving feathers. It can be inferred from Velociraptor and other feathered raptors (all discovered in Asia. Go figure) that all raptors had feathers. But that’s not going to make them any less badass when they’re shoving their sickle claws up some poor hadrosaur’s ass and ripping their intestines out to eat.

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