We’re going bananas over these great pictures of monkeys- great job, Zooworks winners!
We refer to the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods as “the Age of Dinosaurs,” but they weren’t the only animals alive then.
Dimetrodons look like dinosaurs, but they’re actually more closely related to humans than to T. rex. They lived before the dinosaurs did, and they’re part of the group that branched off and eventually became mammals. We can tell by looking at the openings in their skulls– they have an extra hole by their ears that dinosaurs don’t have.
(image by Dmitry Bogdanov)
Pterosaurs, the flying reptiles, lived at the same time as the dinosaurs, but they’re actually only distantly related to each other. One way that we can tell is by looking at their leg bones– dinosaurs had different features on their limbs to help make them stronger.
Mosasaurs and other swimming reptiles aren’t dinosaurs either. They’re on a different branch of the family tree, more closely related to crocodiles and Komodo dragons than to dinosaurs. Their limbs sprawled out to the sides, while dinosaurs carried their legs directly beneath them. (Think about the difference between how a lizard’s legs are splayed out, but a bird’s legs are carried straight beneath their bodies.)
When paleontologists determine where an animal falls on the tree of life, they look at lots of specific little traits, like the structure of specific bones, to see just where they fit. These differences, like holes in the skull and the shape of the leg bones, might not seem important to the untrained eye, but they’re key for scientists to determine how animals are related to each other.
If you’d like to learn more about dinosaurs and the animals they shared their world with, […]
Have you heard about the new giant dinosaur at the American Museum of Natural History? Fossils from a new species of titanosaur (so new that it hasn’t been named) are on display, along with a 122-foot-long replica, called a cast, showing what the entire skeleton would look like. For reference, 122 feet is about the length of three city buses laid end-to-end. You can learn about it here.
There are amazing new discoveries happening every day in paleontology, and with our new book series about dinosaurs, we’ll share all the latest facts and stories that will get kids hooked on science and reading. We can’t make it happen without your help, though—visit our Kickstarter website to learn how you can make a difference!
Did you ever get a nickname that stuck when you didn’t really think it fit? Imagine how Oviraptors would feel. Their fossils were found around dinosaur nests, so paleontologists thought that they were stealing the eggs and gave them a name that means “egg thief.” Well, it turns out those Oviraptors had a good reason to be at those nests– they were taking care of their own eggs!
One of the great things about science is that it changes every day. That’s why we’re creating a brand-new series of books to teach kids about these amazing animals. Any help that you can give us is very much appreciated– and you can get some awesome dinosaur toys and prizes for being a part of our start-up!
Photo by HombreDHojalata
Sorry, Jurassic Park, you’re showing your age.
When the first Jurassic Park movie was made in 1993, the jury was still out on whether or not dinosaurs had feathers. Today, there’s no doubt in scientists’ minds—lots of dinosaurs, including T. rex and Velociraptor, had feathers. You can see some on this fossil—the dark brown fringe along the animal’s spine is made of feathers!
Early feathered dinosaurs didn’t use their feathers for flight, though—instead, they were probably all for show. Feathers could make the dinosaurs look bigger to intimidate predators, and they could be used to attract mates, just like peacock feathers today.
The idea of lizard-like dinosaurs has stuck in people’s minds, though, in part due to the scaly-skinned predators in movies like Jurassic Park. Some people think that it “ruins” dinosaurs to picture them with feathers, saying that they wouldn’t be scary any more. To which we say, really? You’re not scared of this?
In the new book about dinosaurs that we’re working on, we’ll be sharing dinosaurs with a whole new generation, giving kids (and their parents) the most cutting-edge scientific information about these amazing animals. Please help us make it happen!
Top photo by Olai Ose
Bottom photo by Domser
The owls in our latest issue of Zoobies got us thinking- those books are geared toward our smallest readers, so what better time to talk about the world’s smallest owls? Burrowing owls are just a little bit bigger than a robin. True to their name, they live in underground nests, including old prairie dog burrows. They’re some of the only owls that are active during the day, but they still do most of their hunting at night. You can spot them in the western United States during the summer, but this time of year, they’re in Central and South America.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons, via user belgianchocolate
As you might remember from the latest issue of Zootles, there are all kinds of frogs in the world. One of our favorites is this newly discovered frog from Papua New Guinea (an island nation just north of Australia). Scientists discovered them living in dead leaves on the jungle floor in 2012. The tiny frogs make sounds like insects, and the scientists who heard their calls tracked them down to see what was making the noise—they never expected to stumble across the world’s smallest frogs!
At 0.27 inches long, they’re one of the world’s smallest vertebrates, or animals with backbones. This one fits on a dime with plenty of room to spare! Can you imagine discovering a new species? Where would you look?
Photo by Saibo
Cheetah at Whipsnade Zoo
The St. Louis Zoo is home to some amazing animals, including cheetahs. Even if you can’t make it out to the zoo to visit them, you can still learn all about these amazing animals on their website. For instance, have you ever noticed the long black “teardrops” under cheetahs’ eyes? On their site, you can learn about how these stripes may help cheetahs see their prey better by reducing glare, like the eye black that baseball players wear. Is there anything else you’ve ever wondered about these animals? There’s a good chance that you can find the answers with a little help from the St. Louis Zoo!
Photo by William Warby.
Quick—what’s a fact you know about cheetahs? Chances are, the first thing that came to your mind was their speed. It’s a reputation they’ve earned—they’re the fastest land animals, reaching up to 70 miles per hour. But did you know that they can go from standing still to running at 45 miles per hour in two seconds? That’s faster than most race cars can accelerate!
Cheetahs’ long legs and flexible spines help them move at high speeds, and their muscular tails help them balance.
Why do cheetahs need to be so fast? Rather than stealthily sneaking up on their prey in close quarters and relying on brute strength, cheetahs use their speed to hunt. They live on open, grassy savannahs, where they spot their favorite prey, fast-moving animals like gazelles, from a distance. When food is scarce, though, cheetahs eat small animals and even birds’ eggs and fruit!
Photo via Flickrfavorites.
Some bad news for all the kids out there who love dolphins, whales, and sharks—you probably can’t get one as a pet. But, thanks to the Shedd Aquarium’s fun crafts, you can decorate your room with them! Their website has all kind of fun sea creature-related activities for families to enjoy, from baby beluga origami to paper crowns decorated with sharks. You can also spend some time on the Shedd’s website to learn more about your favorite animals. For instance, did you know that dolphin milk has as much fat in it as half and half that we put in our coffee? That’s so that the baby dolphins can build up a layer of blubber to keep them warm in the cold water. There’s a lot to explore on the Shedd’s website—have fun!
It’s starting to get chilly outside, and while some animals have thick layers of fur to keep them warm, other animals, like the frogs featured in the latest issue of Zootles, need to find other ways to stay warm. So how do cold-blooded, thin-skinned frogs keep warm in the winter?
Like many other animals, frogs slow down their bodies and hibernate during the winter. Frogs that spend most of the time in the water nestle into the mud at the bottom of their pond.They don’t bury themselves completely, though– they still need to be able to access the oxygen-rich water. Meanwhile, land-dwelling frogs burrow into the ground beneath the frost line. Some of them even have an “anti-freeze” substance in their bodies that prevents their organs from being damaged. Come spring, their bodies thaw, and they return to their normal, active lives.
Photo contributed to Wikimedia Commons by Eugene van der Pijll.
The dolphins and porpoises in the latest issue of Zoobooks have a lot in common, but here are a few ways to tell them apart!
Dolphins and porpoises have differently shaped beaks—porpoises have short, rounded noses, while dolphin’s beaks are longer and pointier.
Dolphin teeth are cone-shaped, but porpoises’ teeth are shaped like spades.
3. Dorsal fin
Porpoises’ dorsal fins (the fins that stick up from the middle of their back) are curved, but dolphins have triangular dorsal fins.
4. Body shape
Most dolphins have long, lean, torpedo-like bodies, while porpoises are usually chubbier.
Dolphins and porpoises are extremely intelligent animals, and they communicate with each other just like humans do. However, dolphins make whistling noises with their blowholes to communicate with each other underwater, but porpoises don’t. Scientists think this is due to porpoises’ blowholes being built differently.
Can you tell whether the animal in this picture is a dolphin or a porpoise?
Photo via Wikimedia Commons.