How do we know what dinosaurs looked like? - Deepstash
How do we know what dinosaurs looked like?

How do we know what dinosaurs looked like?


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How do we know what dinosaurs looked like?

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Knowing how dinosaurs look

Nobody today has ever seen a dinosaur in real life. We may have seen museum models and illustrations, but we don't know if dinosaurs really looked like that.

The best skeletons are only 90% complete, and even specialists called paleoartists have to make informed guesses.


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  • Stance: Without cartilage and connective tissues, experts map extinct skeletons against how birds and reptiles stand and walk.
  • Head: Dinosaurs were terrestrial and may have needed to trap moisture inside their mouths. That's why many depictions have partial lips similar to lizards.
  • Muscle and fat: Paleontologists most often refer to the same muscle groups in birds. A T. rex is given a thicker neck because he could bite through bones.


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  • Limbs: The structure of the bones can show how appendages moved. The T.rex used to be shown with its hands facing down but a 2018 analysis of turkey and alligator shoulders worked out that their palms may have turned in. The angle between M. gui's shoulder blades and rib cage may not have allowed its wings to flap.
  • Skin: A small piece of fossilised skin of a T. re was found in Montana and helped artists make a stamp of the texture to apply to the rest of the body.


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Small structures named melanosomes vary in colour depending on their shape: Black ones are sausage-like, and reds are round. A well-preserved M.guid feather shone raven. Nanostructures also suggest it had an iridescent sheen.

Close relatives to the T. rex have protofeathers on their heads, backs, and tails, suggesting that the T. rex may have had too.


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