Remember when dinosaurs were monsters? Just big, dumb, scaly, devilbeasts that brutally killed and died in the distant past. That’s why you liked them when you were a kid. That’s why Jurassic Park made so much money.
But as always, science comes along with facts and blows away our misconceptions, even the kewl ones. Now we know that lots of dinosaurs probably had feathers. And that they were more complex than slavering beasts. And that one of them, recently discovered in China, had a great big dumb-looking nose.
According to the BBC:
The 66-million-year-old predator, officially named Qianzhousaurus sinensis, is described in Nature Communications.
“Pinocchio” looked very different to other tyrannosaurs.
“It had the familiar toothy grin of T. rex, but its snout was long and slender, with a row of horns on top,” said Edinburgh’s Dr Steve Brusatte.
“It might have looked a little comical, but it would have been as deadly as any other tyrannosaur, and maybe even a little faster and stealthier.
“We thought it needed a nickname, and the long snout made us think of Pinocchio’s long nose.”
Scientists don’t know why Pinocchio had such a long nose, but think that perhaps it had a faster bite or hunted in a different way.
Other fossil examples have been found, leading scientists to believe the tyrannosaur with the large honker wasn’t a freak, but was instead one of the terrors of prehistoric China.
“Although we are only starting to learn about them, the long-snouted tyrannosaurs were apparently one of the main groups of predatory dinosaurs in Asia,” said Prof Junchang Lu of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences.
Oh well. So hordes of silly-looking dinosaurs once ruled Asia. I can deal with that. Even though we come up with cool things in our ignorance, the truth is usually stranger and more interesting.
Image by Chuang Zhao