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No. 55: Jan-Feb 1988

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Do we really understand the dinosaurs?

Until very recently, the standard dinosaur scene in the books and magazines showed huge, ungainly beasts shuffling around in lush swamps. Things are changing. Dinosaurs are now becoming more lively and talented; they may even have been warm-blooded!

A recent paleontological expedition to the Gobi Desert by some Canadians will change the dinosaur stereotype even more. The Gobi dinosaur-bone sites are incredibly rich -- comparable with those in Alberta. What is most impressive, however, is the environment the Gobi dinosaurs lived in.

"The dinosaurs of China and Mongolia did not live in the same type of lush, well-watered environment that existed in North America during the Mesozoic era, when dinosaurs dominated the globe. The dinosaurs of Alberta flourished on a great swampy coastal plain on the edge of a vast inland sea. In ancient China, conditions were much harsher. A modern-day equivalent would be the Great Salt Lake Basin of Utah. Water did exist in vast shallow lakes, but it was often alkaline and high in soda. The vegetation was scrubland with coniferous forests on the higher ground."

(Anderson, Ian; "Chinese Unearth a Dinosaurs' Graveyard," New Scientist, p. 26, November 12, 1987.)

Comment. To these Gobi observations should be added those above from northern Alaska, all of 70 north latitude, which suggest that dinosaurs also survived in a land where darkness reigned almost six months of the year. It seems that these great beasts could live almost anywhere. Why, then, do most scientists maintain that climatic changes wiped them out?

From Science Frontiers #55, JAN-FEB 1988. 1988-2000 William R. Corliss