Good Reading : September 2010
40 goodreading ı SEPTEMBER 2010 Everything about books www.goodreadingmagazine.com ONLINE word of mouth younger readers dinosaur details Learn how to tell your tyrannosaurus from your triceratops with Dinosaurs Aren’t Dead, DR KARL KRUSZELNICKI’s fascinating collection of facts about these colossal creatures. In the beginning 3.5 billion years ago Life was already thriving on Earth -- in the oceans. Way back then, all living creatures were tiny, maybe 10--100 microns wide. What's in a name? The name 'dinosaur' was coined in 1842 by Sir Richard Owen in England. The word comes from the Ancient Greek, with 'deinos' meaning 'ter rible, wonderful, powerful' and 'saurus' meaning 'lizard'. The long and short of it It's hard to work out the weight of a dinosaur just from the bones. But the heaviest dinosaurs were supposedly Amphicoelias (around 120 tonnes) and Argentinosaurus (around 80 tonnes). It's a little easier to work out the length of a dinosaur, especially if you have the skull and the tail bones. The longest dinosaurs were Amphicoelias (40--60 metres) and Supersaurus (30--35 metres). At the other end of the scale, Anchiornis huxleyi was smaller than a chicken -- it was about 30--35 centimetres long and weighed about 110 grams (less than an iceblock). It had orange feathers on its head and four wings. Most popular dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex is easily the most popular dinosaur. It's the only dinosaur that everyone knows by its full scientific name (Tyrannosaurus rex), and the only one that people are familiar enough with to casually use the official scientific abbreviation (T rex). And with a name meaning 'tyrant lizard king', Tyrannosaurus rex deserves to be known. Each of these creatures was made up of just one single cell. That single cell did everything that was needed to keep it alive. It could change its shape, and it could move towards food to eat it, as well as move away from threats. Hey! Big head For many years, paleontologists thought that T rex had the biggest head of any dinosaur. But in 1996, Carcharodontosaurus (meaning 'shark-toothed reptile') was discovered in Morocco. Its head was a whopping 1.6 metres long. Dinosaurs Aren't Dead: The shocking story of dinosaur evolution by Dr Karl Kruszelnicki is published by Pan Macmillan, r rp $39.99. Tyrannosaurus poo In 1997, the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Canada sent Karen Chin of the US Geological Survey a rather unusual 'specimen' that they had unearthed. It was large (44 cm x 16 cm x 13 cm), and quite heavy (7.1 kg). Careful analysis showed that it was full of shattered bones from a planteating (herbivorous) dinosaur. It turned out to be a Tyrannosaurus poo. It was twice as big as any other previously discovered car nivore's poo. T rex is a 'king', so it's only The cell could eat just by wrapping itself around what it wanted to eat. It drank by wrapping itself around some liquid, or by just absorbing the liquid through the cell wall. Receptors on the outside of the cell wall would detect small chemicals floating in the water -- so the cell could 'smell' food. There's a lot that single-celled creatures can do. Today's simple bacteria can have 30--35 different sensory systems -- food, oxygen, light, pressure, fellow bacteria, and so on. The single-celled creatures from our past probably had just as many sensory systems. A micron is one-millionth of a metre, or one-thousandth of a millimetre.You can easily see something 100 microns wide with your naked eye. For example, an individual strand of your hair is about 70--80 microns in diameter.You need a microscope to see something 10 microns wide -- but it doesn't have to be an expensive one, as any cheap microscope can see things that small.