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A Few Words on Feathered Dinosaurs
Stealthiness and thievery could be very well typical for raptors if they did lived up to their names. Raptor, meaning “to seize or take by force” are not unlike birds of prey with their quick striking sickle-shaped claws. Of the coelurosaurian clade Maniraptora so far, are the closest ancestors to modern birds. Raptors are now considered the missing links between birds and scaly dinosaurs. They share uniquely bird-like traits: feathers (some capable of flight), hollow bones, hip structure, fused clavicles forming a wishbone, a hardened sternum (breastbone), egg laying, and possibly higher developed intelligence unlike the old dinosaurs. Goodbye t. rex.
The Origins of Flight, the Few, the Privileged
Of all life on earth, only five families ever evolved powered flight; they exclusively belong to man, bugs, bats, birds, and the largest of flying reptiles -the pterosaurs. The first of which by unnatural means, but aviation does make use of bird-like designs: adjustable wings and tails, convexed upper surfaces, and rounded wing tips. All of these features reduce drag and create additional lift although, heavier-than-air aircrafts can simply forgo bird logic from jet fueled engines. The two things required for true flight are thrust and lift; a speedy momentum followed by a steady stream of air currents. Something which flying squirrels, snakes, lizards, frogs, fish, and even the strange primate-like colugo (not photoshopped) are incapable of. Only birds, arguably the best fliers, can catch prey spiraling at 242 mph midair (25 g-forces) with their hooked talons as peregrine falcons often do.
The Mystery of How and Why Flight Became to Be
It was probably similar to many of the same theories as why tetrapod descendants bothered crawling onto land such as food, predation, and adaptation to a changing new world. The evolution of locomotion whether by flight, swimming, and or running are shaped by behaviors from the pressures of the environment. Only the best can survive and notable mentions included the raptors which could possibly do all three. All raptors ran to catch prey or evade predators, some glided short distances as in the four-winged microraptors, and others swam as deinonychus inhabited swamps. Ancient avians were remarkable like today’s modern birds which are the fastest and most powerful fliers in the animal kingdom and evolved to be swimmers and runners as well. Penguins can swim 22 mph and ostriches average 43 mph, so raptors held the genetic makeup for particularly some dynamic creatures.
Of Ancient Avians
The most famous was of course velociraptor, which weighed only 30 pounds but the largest and most completed giant found was achillobator, an 800 pound 20 foot monster by raptor standards. Found throughout the Mesozoic era, the age of reptiles, raptors lived from the deserts, plains, scrubs, woodland, swamps, to sub-tropical environments of their time. The long-lasting raptor reign endured, co-existing with much larger, fiercer theropods they outwitted competitors to leave a dynasty giving rise to today’s modern birds.
Below: From left to right the fearsome achillobator, deinonychus, and velociraptor.
Mastodons are interesting enough elephants. Sharing its name with a heavy metal band, Mastodon, also known as Mammuts confusingly are not closely related to mammoths. They evolved 25 millions earlier than the first woolly mammoth and had different molars and musculature. While chimpanzees or bonobos evolved only 5-7 million years apart from their modern human counterparts.
A very ancient proboscidean, they’re heavily built, shorter, and more robust. Mammuts topped out at 9 feet in height and 5 tons in weight, the largest recorded individual was possibly 11 feet tall and 6 tons with an added 16.4 feet of ivory; the biggest set of tusks yet to be recorded. Impressive, considering mastodons are not even the largest variety of elephants, that title belongs to Mammuthus sungari or the very rare Songhua River mammoth; estimated at 17 feet tall and 17 tons. Mastodons browsed in coniferous forests or woodlands, these ivory equipped bulldozers perhaps traveled in herds throughout North America and Europe for a reign spanning 30 million years.
Mammut scale model replica is finely sculpted for the ©2012-2014 RareBreed Prehistoric Collection.
Possibly giving rise to accounts or tales of the mythological unicorn legend, the extinct giant “Thin Plate Beast”, was in some rights a prehistoric unicorn. It was mammoth-sized and could gallop with nearly a two meter horn; the biggest specimens were twice the size of today’s largest modern rhinos, 4 to 5 tons and 15 feet in length. One such depiction of this genus of rhinoceros in Rouffignac Cave, France shows paleolithic art, an image of what it may have looked like. This creature grazed on open steppes in Eurasia from 2.6 million to 11,000 years ago.
Elasmotherium scale model replica is finely sculpted for the ©2012-2014 RareBreed Prehistoric Collection.
A charging chasmosaurine bull by RareBreed. Pentaceratops sternbergii possess the largest skull of any known land animal; 9.8 feet from frill to beak.
Pentaceratops, meaning “five-horned face”, is related to triceratops but adorned with a more impressive skull and elaborate frill. With two brow, one nose, and two cheekbone points; this, gives its name. The largest individuals are estimated at 23 feet in length weighing up to 5 tons. Ceratopsians like pentaceratops were herbivores, possibly omnivores, from the late Cretaceous and roamed the forests of prehistoric North America.
Pentaceratops scale model replicas are finely sculpted for the Prehistoric Collection by ©2012-2014 RareBreed.
Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, the “spine lizard” from Egypt, could be the largest terrestrial carnivore averaging 50-60 feet in length and 10 metric tons.
Its only competitor may be the giant 40 feet and 8 ton Sarcosuchus imperator or “SuperCroc”, as they both might have shared the same habitats of river and swamps in search of fish or unwary prey. Apex predators such as spinosaurus and its crocodilian comtemporary lived around the same time period and place, 112 million years ago in Africa.
Spinosaurus and sarcosuchus scale model replicas are finely sculpted for the Prehistoric Collection by ©2012-2014 RareBreed.
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