April 30th

2008 – Dinosaur Land in Rügen opens

On this day in dinosaurs, an attraction opened in Germany that brought life-size dinosaurs to the public on land that once belonged to the East German National People’s Army.

Tyrannosaurus at Dinosaur Land / Wikimedia Commons

In 2008, Dinosaur Land opened with almost 1000 model dinosaurs, all made from glass-reinforced plastics. Each dinosaur was accompanied by signage that explained more about the animal when it was alive. The park has expanded since its opening, and also includes an area with a simulated paleontological dig so that visitors can put themselves in a scientist’s shoes.

There are a whole range of prehistoric lifeforms on display at the park, but dinosaurs are the main focus. If you’ve visited Dinosaur Land, we’d love to see your pictures from your visit. Share them with us on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #TDIDinos.

April 29th

2015 – Yi qi Described

On this day in dinosaurs, the bat-winged dinosaur spread its wings into the popular imagination.

Yi qi / Emily Willoughby / Wikimedia Commons

With its membranous skin flaps preserved in its fossil remains, Yi qi became an instant sensation–like a miniature bat-dragon-dinosaur, appealing to all manner of dinophiles. And like so many popular dinosaurs, Yi qi brings mysteries, questions, and debates about its true nature.

The questions and speculations concerning the true nature of its long mandibles (were they supporting the skin membrane so the animal could glide or fly like modern bats or flying squirrels or using them as some kind of food-collecting instrument or battle spike?) will not be settled without additional fossil evidence. But these intriguing quandaries continue our path into the realities of the Mesozoic. These ancient riddles only become less foggy with decades of unflagging persistence from researchers both in the field and in the laboratory.

Meanwhile, the rest of us will be forced to satiate ourselves with tantalizing paleo-art of Yi qi being generally awesome. Share your favorite Yi qi photos with us n Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #TDIDinos.

April 28th

2000 – Santanaraptor announced

On this day in dinosaurs, a 112 million year old theropod from South America took its place in the paleontological sun.

Santanaraptor / Wikimedia Commons

At about 4 feet long, the “thief from the Santana Formation” doesn’t seem incredibly ferocious, but researchers believe it may be the earliest member of the tyrannosaur family found in the southern hemisphere. Later studies indicated the dinosaur is definitely a coelurosaur, and perhaps a more distant relation of the tyrannosaurs.

Also noteworthy, Santanaraptor was discovered with mineralized soft tissue of skin and muscle. Though the specimen was incomplete and the soft tissue fossils are not substantial enough for celebrations, the dinosaur does shed light on coelurosaur evolution on the Mesozoic southern continent, Gondwana.

Share your photos of Santanaraptor and other predatory dinosaurs with us on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #TDIDinos.

April 27th

2014 – NMNH Fossil Halls close for renovation

On this day in dinosaurs, one of the most famous and inspirational fossil halls shut its doors to begin a transformation. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History boasts some of the most fantastic dinosaur specimens in the United States and in 2014, these behemoths were taken from public view to allow the installation of the museum’s new Hall of Deep Time, which will open in 2019.

Smithsonian Institution

The dinosaurs stood, largely unaltered, for decades before this renovation began. This allowed generations of families to stroll through the hall, looking up at a range of Mesozoic megafauna. It makes sense to update the old exhibits, but there will always be a special place in any dinophile’s heart for the inspirational displays of the past.

Share your photos of D.C.’s dinosaurs with us on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #TDIDinos.

April 26th

On this day in dinosaurs, it’s an early ’90s double feature:

1991 – Dinosaurs sitcom debuts on ABC

Take the situation comedy format and cast a family of dinosaur puppets in the place of human beings. And somehow, it worked. Dinosaurs was a smash hit and some people are still saying “not the momma.”

1993 – TIME Magazine – The Truth About Dinosaurs

Two years later and dinosaurs were on the cover of Time. This comprehensive story detailed the dinosaur renaissance and how decades of scientific revolution was finally hitting the mainstream. It featured the biggest names in paleontology as well as previewing the latest exhibits that aimed to reinvent dinosaurs for the general public.

TIME

Share your favorite dinosaur moments from the early 90s with us on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #TDIDinos.

April 25th

1914 – Brute Force film released

On this day in dinosaurs, the very first live-action dinosaur film ever made was released to the public. It’s really more about cave people than dinosaurs–which erroneously are depicted as contemporaries. But nevertheless, it’s a historically significant film for portraying a large–if not convincing–dinosaur on screen.

Have twenty minutes? Check it out for yourself:

Share your favorite dinosaur movie moments with us on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #TDIDinos.

April 24th

On this day in dinosaurs, it’s about death and birth.

1944 – British bomb Stromer’s Spinosaurus

One of the most fateful nights in dinosaur paleontology transpired on this day in 1944. During a nighttime raid over Germany, the British bombed Munich, destroying Ernst Stromer’s prized Saharan dinosaurs–including one of the most enigmatic predators of the Mesozoic, Spinosaurus aegypticus.

The only surviving photograph of Stromer’s Spinosaurus display / National Geographic

While new research is attempting to shed even more light on the bewildering carnivore, the original skeleton is lost forever. Amidst the countless human tragedies of war are irreplaceable losses to the scientific enterprise.

It is with some optimism that paleontologists from both sides of World War II joined together to begin piecing together the most recent Spinosaurus skeleton. Their work is a reminder of what can be accomplished across national borders.

1984 – Stephen Brusatte born

We also want to wish Stephen Brusatte a very happy birthday today. Keep up the roaringly good work.

 

Share your Spinosaurus photos and well wishes for Dr. Brusatte with us on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #TDIDinos.

April 23rd

2014 – Cetiosaurus installed as holotype

In 1869, Thomas Henry Huxley added Cetiosaurus to the list of dinosauria. It was the first sauropod ever described. But since its discovery, a whole mess of taxonomic and skeletal disputes have made it a difficult animal to pin down.

Cetiosaurus / DinosaurPictures.org

On this day in dinosaurs in 2014, Cetiosaurus oxoniensis was officially named the holotype species of the animal and the Mesozoic muddle was cleared up. The English “whale lizard” now has relatives and a place in the sauropod family tree.

Share your favorite sauropod photos with us on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #TDIDinos.

April 22nd

On this day in dinosaurs, it’s about beginnings…

1964 – New York World’s Fair opens

The New York World’s Fair featured a celebration of the prehistoric world. Both Sinclair’s Dinoland exhibit and Ford’s Magic Skyway featured dinosaurs. The Magic Skyway dinosaurs were Disney animatronics (still on display today) while Sinclair’s models have almost all found new homes around the country.

Take a look at some archival footage to see just how grand the event was:

Start at 9:20 if you want to skip straight to the dinosaurs:

And here’s Walt Disney talking about his dinosaur contributions:

 

1961 – Scott Sampson born

We also want to wish Scott Sampson a happy birthday today. May your research–and your work on the Dinosaur Train–long continue!

 

We want to hear about your favorite World’s Fair and Dinosaur Train moments today. Share your stories with us on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #TDIDinos.

April 21st

Where Dinosaurs Are Found

Isn’t it curious that dinosaurs are found on all seven continents, in all climates, in a variety of different geologic formations? What’s even more intriguing is that these areas were completely different than they were today. Areas of the Arctic and Antarctic were forests. Mountain ranges and deserts were floodplains and river deltas.

Map of Major Dinosaur Fossil Sites / Britannica

We dam rivers to find dinosaur footprints and excavate hillsides to find their ancient burial grounds. We find them in all corners of the globe–their world frozen in time by the Earth’s embrace of their sedimentary stone. Their preservation in such varied locales tells us fantastic tales about their dominion over the planet.

The distribution and variety of dinosaur discoveries tells us that dinosaurs inhabited most of the terrestrial niches throughout their 140 million year reign. While dynasties rose and fell with changing climatic conditions and ecological changes, dinosaurs as a whole survived whatever nature hurled at them. They lived in a variety of habitats and had a range of lifestyles to match their homes. Like modern animals, some cared for their young, fought for mates and territory, and migrated great distances. They were dedicated to survival.

Wherever we look–at least where the rocks are of the right age–we find the dinosaurs. Not just for a short period–but for most of the time vertebrates have lived on land. Will humans be as universal over the same length of time?

We want to hear your views on the success and distribution of dinosaurs! Share your thoughts with us on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #TDIDinos.