Greetings young reader! Today we are going to take a step back in time and enter the age of the dinosaurs. The dinosaurs are an extinct species of animal that began to live on the Earth over 200 million years ago. “Extinct” means that they no longer exist. The dinosaurs are some of the most intriguing and awe-inspiring animals that have existed on our planet. The dinosaurs’ colossal size, strange characteristics, and mysterious disappearance make them inherently worthy of study and interest. Even more than these reasons, the study of dinosaurs itself is an incredible adventure which requires thought and imagination. The study of dinosaurs helps you to appreciate just how mysterious and amazing nature really is. Our planet supports not only us and the animals that live today, but it even supported creatures as gigantic and strange as the dinosaurs- just think how cool that is! I hope that you bring a spirit of openness and wonder to your study of the dinosaurs, and that you come to appreciate the mystery and value of the dinosaurs.
Today we are going to learn about the Allosaurus. The Allosaurus is one of the most famous dinosaurs in the scientific community because it is one of the most well-known dinosaurs. There is so much known about the Allosaurus because so many almost complete Allosaurus skeletons have been discovered. We are going to learn about what this particular dinosaur looked like, how it behaved, and how it interacted with other dinosaurs in its environment. We know what we know about the dinosaurs from a variety of sources including fossils, biology, and other scientific disciplines. Fossils are the ancient remains of the dinosaurs, the most familiar being their bones. Biological science is the study of life in general, but many scientists compare the dinosaurs to modern day animals to support their theories.
Before a talk about dinosaurs can take place it is important that we discuss the theory of evolution. Evolutionary theory supposes that all the animals we know and see today are the direct descendants of animals that existed millions of years ago. The dinosaurs and other creatures that existed millions of years ago either died out or gradually changed into different animals. For instance, birds are considered to be surviving dinosaurs because their dinosaur ancestors survived the dinosaur extinction event (we will discuss this later).
Remember that any time you see an * next to the name of a dinosaur, it means that a book has been written about this dinosaur in the Dinosaur Books for Young Readers series. Any word written in bold is an important scientific term which is defined in-text. Italics are used to denote the first time a dinosaur’s name is mentioned in the book.
The name Allosaurus is a combination of Greek words which means “Strange Reptile.” The Allosaurus was a bipedal dinosaur with a large skull and a long tail. Bipedal means that it walked on two legs- humans are bipedal.
The skull of the Allosaurus possessed powerful jaws lined with sharp teeth. The teeth of the Allosaurus were serrated and somewhat small compared to some of its relatives (the teeth of the Tyrannosaurus Rex* could reach a length of 1ft.!). The Allosaurus was powerfully built and it bore its weight on staunch, thick boned legs. The hands of the Allosaurus were equipped with long sharp claws which would have helped the dinosaur slice through prey.
The most peculiar feature of the Allosaurus are two bony crests which extend above its eyes. It is currently unknown what the purposes of the crests were, though a number of explanations have been proposed. One is that the crests were different depending on the gender of the dinosaur. It is possible that males had larger crests and females had smaller crests. Another explanation is that the crests contained glands that facilitated the Allosaurus’s sense of smell.
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