I have a lot of affection for Tenontosaurus, the dinosaur I did my master's thesis on. There's nothing particularly exciting about it - no spikes or sharp teeth or horns or armor. Its tail is kind of long, I guess. Even its name ("tendon lizard"; it has a lot of bony tendons in its tail) is kind of dull. But there are a lot of them, known from a large range. So you can ask questions about Tenontosaurus that you can't ask for many "flashier" dinosaurs known from one or two specimens, because the data are there.
Plus I feel bad for Tenontosaurus, because in art it's only ever depicted as the lunch of a pack of cooler raptor dinosaurs (Deinonychus).
Triceratops might be my favorite...it's certainly one I've worked with a lot, and we are learning a fair bit about it still!
In that case, what is your opinion about the theory that many triceratops specimens are juvenile stages of other dinosaurs (torsaurus I think)? (or is it the other way round...)- Pete Binfield •
I had no idea that Pete was such a dino fan until today! Agree with the triceratops answer.- Jason Hoyt •
Oh, someone would ask about Torosaurus! The issue here is whether or not Triceratops changed its skull shape drastically as it got old, so that it transformed into an animal with a really long and thin frill with holes in the middle. This form was named as Torosaurus many years ago, but scientists John Scannella and Jack Horner recently proposed that Torosaurus and Triceratops are the same thing, just different growth stages. I disagree for several reasons (some of the transformations just don't match what we know about dinosaur growth, and there is at least one Torosaurus that might be a young animal), so for now I consider them two animals. You can read a great comment/response that John Scannella and I had a few months back for more!
(and as a completely pedantic aside, the Toro/Trike issue is more of a hypothesis than a theory--"theory" is usually reserved for very solid and quite accepted explanations for broad natural phenomena--more here for those who want to learn more on the distinction. I am taking off my Professor Science Pedant hat now.)- Andrew Farke •
Speaking of which, my favorite dino was always brontosaurus until it had its "Pluto is not a Planet" moment. I have to think that Disney has a hand in this somewhere...- Pete Binfield •
Since Jurassic Park, my favorite dino has been Velociraptor. But was he really so smart? I mean.. he figures out how to turn a doorknob in the movie!!- Sophie Kusy •
Animals are pretty good at escaping. Snakes can open doors if they're big enough. So I think the question is whether Velociraptor was tall enough to reach the doorknob. The Jurassic Park movies make Velociraptor out to be the size of a person, but in reality, they were pretty short.- Sarah Werning •
Mine is Deinonychus! Not because it preyed on Tenontosaurus (which I also did my Master's thesis on!), but because of how it helped to revolutionise the way we think about dinosaurs. When John Ostrom described it, it had already been hypothesised for a long time that birds may have evolved from a dinosaurian ancestor, but he helped to reignite the debate, and hey presto, about 30 years later the link was well, set in stone! Also, it had a rudder-like tail, with structures functionally similar to those in Tenontosaurus perhaps, and also those wicked sickle claws which made me both fear and love it as a kid.
Also, can someone do an image of a Tenontosaurus whiplashing a Deinonychus with it's tail? That'd be awesome.
When: November 13, 2013 08:00 am PST