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A Field Trip to the Mesozoic

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Naturalists and outdoor buffs like to travel further in time, into the era of the large dinosaurs, to ponder these wonders of evolution, and the writer Henry Gee and the artist Luis Rey have provided them with a valuable asset to take along on their perilous journey... A Field Guide to Dinosaurs is indeed a boon for the dinosaur enthusiast, but its contents are still as imaginary as is this futuristic scenario... The introductory 20% of A Field Guide to Dinosaurs provides a wide range of background information about how the appearance of dinosaurs could be reconstructed, a concise history of dinosaur discoveries, and a brief overview of their dynamic world, classification, and partial extinction—partial because, as Gee and Rey correctly emphasize in their narrative and feathered illustrations, birds are the descendants of a group of small predatory dinosaurs, and, as such, dinosaurs are still ubiquitous in both natural and urban environments... Yet the understanding of their behavior has been a far more difficult task... In most cases, dinosaur behavior is best inferred from its preserved products because behaviors themselves do not fossilize... For example, some degree of parental care can be inferred for all Mesozoic dinosaurs because such a behavior exists in both crocodiles and birds... Gee and Rey are clearly aware of this, and their examples draw extensively from these and other cases in which the behavior of long-extinct dinosaurs can be inferred with confidence... Even so, A Field Guide to Dinosaurs ventures far beyond this limited collection of inferrable behaviors... Such license may ruffle the feathers of the well-informed audience, but in my opinion, those critical readers should not rush to discount the value of this book on the basis of such an overt incursion into conjecture... A Field Guide to Dinosaurs does not aim to be factual so much as to be an enjoyable and provocative exercise in dinosaur biology, something the authors have made as clear as water... Thus, if you are ready for a trip to the Mesozoic, get comfortable, fasten your seatbelt, and don't worry if you forget your binoculars—you may not need them after all!

No MeSH data available.


Inferred Dinosaur BehaviorThe discovery of skeletons of Velociraptor and Protoceratops locked in a mortal combat has provided the basis for inferring the predatory behavior of the former. (Illustration kindly provided by Raul Martin.)
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pbio.0000040.g002: Inferred Dinosaur BehaviorThe discovery of skeletons of Velociraptor and Protoceratops locked in a mortal combat has provided the basis for inferring the predatory behavior of the former. (Illustration kindly provided by Raul Martin.)

Mentions: Fortunately, some aspects of behavior can also be inferred from what we know about the genealogical relationships of dinosaurs to other vertebrates. Because all Mesozoic dinosaurs are bracketed by modern crocodiles and birds—the two living groups of archosaurs—behaviors shared by these modern vertebrates can be extrapolated to their extinct Mesozoic relatives. For example, some degree of parental care can be inferred for all Mesozoic dinosaurs because such a behavior exists in both crocodiles and birds. Furthermore, although exceedingly rare, spectacular fossils can occasionally provide a precise glimpse into dinosaur behavior. These exceptional occurrences include adults brooding their own egg-clutches, foes buried in mortal combat, and stomach contents. For instance, a handful of brooding oviraptorid adults have documented the presence of this avian behavior among predatory dinosaurs, and the discovery of a Velociraptor eviscerating the herbivorous Protoceratops—a distant relative of horned dinosaurs such as Triceratops—has offered a snapshot of the food preferences of Jurassic Park's vicious celebrity (Figure 1). Similarly, the juvenile remains of Coelophysis contained inside the abdominal cavity of an adult specimen of this carnivorous dinosaur has documented the cannibalistic behavior of this primitive dinosaur species.


A Field Trip to the Mesozoic
Inferred Dinosaur BehaviorThe discovery of skeletons of Velociraptor and Protoceratops locked in a mortal combat has provided the basis for inferring the predatory behavior of the former. (Illustration kindly provided by Raul Martin.)
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC261880&req=5

pbio.0000040.g002: Inferred Dinosaur BehaviorThe discovery of skeletons of Velociraptor and Protoceratops locked in a mortal combat has provided the basis for inferring the predatory behavior of the former. (Illustration kindly provided by Raul Martin.)
Mentions: Fortunately, some aspects of behavior can also be inferred from what we know about the genealogical relationships of dinosaurs to other vertebrates. Because all Mesozoic dinosaurs are bracketed by modern crocodiles and birds—the two living groups of archosaurs—behaviors shared by these modern vertebrates can be extrapolated to their extinct Mesozoic relatives. For example, some degree of parental care can be inferred for all Mesozoic dinosaurs because such a behavior exists in both crocodiles and birds. Furthermore, although exceedingly rare, spectacular fossils can occasionally provide a precise glimpse into dinosaur behavior. These exceptional occurrences include adults brooding their own egg-clutches, foes buried in mortal combat, and stomach contents. For instance, a handful of brooding oviraptorid adults have documented the presence of this avian behavior among predatory dinosaurs, and the discovery of a Velociraptor eviscerating the herbivorous Protoceratops—a distant relative of horned dinosaurs such as Triceratops—has offered a snapshot of the food preferences of Jurassic Park's vicious celebrity (Figure 1). Similarly, the juvenile remains of Coelophysis contained inside the abdominal cavity of an adult specimen of this carnivorous dinosaur has documented the cannibalistic behavior of this primitive dinosaur species.

View Article: PubMed Central

AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED EXCERPT
Please rate it.

Naturalists and outdoor buffs like to travel further in time, into the era of the large dinosaurs, to ponder these wonders of evolution, and the writer Henry Gee and the artist Luis Rey have provided them with a valuable asset to take along on their perilous journey... A Field Guide to Dinosaurs is indeed a boon for the dinosaur enthusiast, but its contents are still as imaginary as is this futuristic scenario... The introductory 20% of A Field Guide to Dinosaurs provides a wide range of background information about how the appearance of dinosaurs could be reconstructed, a concise history of dinosaur discoveries, and a brief overview of their dynamic world, classification, and partial extinction—partial because, as Gee and Rey correctly emphasize in their narrative and feathered illustrations, birds are the descendants of a group of small predatory dinosaurs, and, as such, dinosaurs are still ubiquitous in both natural and urban environments... Yet the understanding of their behavior has been a far more difficult task... In most cases, dinosaur behavior is best inferred from its preserved products because behaviors themselves do not fossilize... For example, some degree of parental care can be inferred for all Mesozoic dinosaurs because such a behavior exists in both crocodiles and birds... Gee and Rey are clearly aware of this, and their examples draw extensively from these and other cases in which the behavior of long-extinct dinosaurs can be inferred with confidence... Even so, A Field Guide to Dinosaurs ventures far beyond this limited collection of inferrable behaviors... Such license may ruffle the feathers of the well-informed audience, but in my opinion, those critical readers should not rush to discount the value of this book on the basis of such an overt incursion into conjecture... A Field Guide to Dinosaurs does not aim to be factual so much as to be an enjoyable and provocative exercise in dinosaur biology, something the authors have made as clear as water... Thus, if you are ready for a trip to the Mesozoic, get comfortable, fasten your seatbelt, and don't worry if you forget your binoculars—you may not need them after all!

No MeSH data available.