Dinosaurs are a category of creatures of the clade Dinosauria, which first emerged around 250 million years ago, in the Triassic period. Generally these creatures have been classified as reptiles, with their name itself meaning "terrible" (deino) "lizard" (sauros), since their discovery and cataloging by modern science. However due to recent discoveries, it created a large divide in the Paleontology community on whether they should still be classified as inherently reptile or something completely new.
Dinosaurs came to be the dominant form of large, scaly (or feathery), land dwelling life forms across all of earth's major continents through the Jurassic and Cretaceous period. Dinosaurs were, and are, the biggest animals ever to live on the planet, however, what counts as THE biggest is often up in debate by the scientific community, as this usually this ends in flamewars between Sauropod-Fanboys and Cetacean-Fanboys (yes, they do exist, kind of like the relationship between Star Wars fanboys and Star Trek fanboys), but the more neutral agreement is Sauropods=Land and Whales=Ocean.
They are regarded as awesome for several reasons....
- They appeal to the sensational because they're "monsters", but unlike most, they actually DID exist.
- It's also been postulated that dinosaurs were the inspiration for dragons with people discovering dinosaur bones and making up stories about them, though that is debatable.
- Quite a few of the more massive dinosaurs were larger (as in much larger) then the biggest living land mammal, the African Elephant. In fact, the Paraceratherium orgosensis (a relative to the direct ancestor to the modern Rhinoceros) which was the largest land mammal to have ever existed, would be classified as "small-sized" by sauropod standards.
- The largest sauropods are so colossal that they could be classified as "Kaiju-Size" and could furthermore cause mini-earthquakes and create sonic booms with their tails.
- A once popular now controversial idea is if the asteroid did not hit Earth, then it would be the Troodon (arguably the most intelligent non-avian dinosaur, which resembled Velociraptor) that would be building civilizations and spaceships rather than humans (though this caused some Skub even among evolutionists).
- Not even the Angry Marines will DARE fuck with these things. They rage all the time, but they're not that stubbornly, angrily boneheaded.
- Miniatures are easily and cheaply obtained. This is why they got into D&D in the first place (see down).
Tl;dr, Dinosaurs are NOT to be fucked with.
Most lines of dinosaur were extinguished during the Cretaceous–Paleogene Extinction Event some 65 million years ago. Most scientists actually do consider birds the only surviving branch of dinosaurs (that's right, its fair to say that all birds everywhere are living dinosaurs). The other close surviving relatives of dinosaurs are the crocodiles, a different branch of the archosaur family that carries on its traditions of eating whatever they want and giving no fucks about mammals Contrary to popular belief, the Komodo dragon, a species of monitor lizard, was not descended from dinosaurs. It is, however, somewhat closely related to creatures commonly mistaken for dinosaurs - Mosasaurs. The dragon is notable for carrying Jurassic period bacteria so virulent that a single bite can fatally infect other animals.
Why Dinosaurs are Relevant to /tg/
- They're completely awesome.
- They've existed as monsters to slay since the early days of Dungeons & Dragons. The Eberron setting has them as animal companions for Halflings.
- Cavalry mounts for Exodite Eldar in Warhammer 40k.
- Cavalry mounts for Lizardmen in WHFB.
- They are literary dragon without wings and the ability to spew flame.
- Ok, some of them can fly, but that's even more awesome.
Things people think are dinosaurs, but are not:
Some people think of dinosaur as any large extinct prehistoric reptile and tend to lump a bunch of non dinosaurs into the dinosaur category. These include...
- Pterosaurs: These flying archosaurs had among their ranks the largest flying creatures that ever lived and were the closest clade to dinosaurs, but are not actually dinosaurs. And anyone who says different needs to be introduced to the K-T asteroid there and then.
- Marine Reptiles: During the Mesozoic era there were a variety of large marine reptiles, including Ichthyosaurs, Plesiosaurs, Pliosaurs, Mosasaurs and various other sea beasties. As these creatures are big, reptillian, and look like dinosaurs, the general public often lumps them in as dinosaurs. In truth these are a number of separate families that took to the sea.
- Synapsids: Before the dinosaurs really took off as the dominant form of life during the late Triassic period, the Synapsids, sometimes known as "mammal-like reptiles" were king. One member of this clade is Dimetrodon or "that fin-back lizard thing' in the Land Before Time and those sets of dinosaur toys your mom bought you when you were a kid". You can tell they're not dinosaurs (and this is a very loose definition) thanks to an extra opening in the skull behind the eye where jaw muscles attached and later became the Sphenoid bone which sits behind the eyes, specialized teeth including canine teeth, among many other distinguishing traits. As the name suggests these guys became the early mammals which turned into us. It's unknown at what point they began to give birth to live young and lactate, although since fur was an extremely late adaptation its generally thought there was a point where something that looked like a dinosaur had lizard
Major groups of dinosaurs
Prepare for SCIENCE. The major two types of dinosaur are divided according to the shape of their hip bone.
The "lizard-hipped" dinosaurs. Ironically, birds are part of Saurischia.
- Easy name: Meat-eaters
- Well known members: Tyrannosaurus, Velociraptor, Gallus
- Awesome obscure members: Deinocheirus, Yi, Gypaetus, Majungasaurus
You know them well. The hunters of the prehistoric world. Theropods were likely the first group of dinosaurs to arise, and diversified quite a lot. Also the only group to survive the asteroid impact (and subsequent climate change). The loss of these awe- inspiring hunters was one of the only things to make Khorne sad. EVER. Then he RAGED because there were no Psykers around at the time, so he couldn't have sent his Daemons to capture the Theropod dinosaurs and make them his servants.
- Easy name: Long-necks
- Well known members: Apatosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Diplodocus
- Awesome obscure members: Amargasaurus, Shunosaurus, Dreadnoughtus
The other most well-known group. Titans with nothing on their minds other than eating. Notable for having the largest animals in the history of the planet (longer than whales, but not nearly as heavy). Could, though, rear up on their hind legs (if those legs were the longer of the two pairs), and come down HARD to crush the LIVING FUCK out of ANYTHING, ANYTHING underneath.
The "bird-hipped" dinosaurs. Might be weird that birds aren't in this group, but the terms were coined in the 1800s, so what can ya do.
- Easy name: Armored Dudes
- Well known members: Stegosaurus, Ankylosaurus, Euoplocephalus
- Awesome obscure members: Kentrosaurus, Polacanthus, Scutosaurus, Dacentrurus
Armor, man. These guys were walking tanks with rows of bony armor, or spikes or plates, with many species having weaponized tails which (among the Stegosauridae family) are known informally as Thagomizers after a Gary Larson Far Side Cartoon. Yes really. Also notable because some scientists believe that they had colossal, sideways dongs. Seriously, how the hell else could they bone? Can't do normal fucking with those spikes in the way...
- Easy name: Duck Bills
- Well known members: Iguanodon, Parasaurolophus, Edmontosaurus
- Awesome obscure members: Kulindadromeus, Shangtungosaurus, Tsintaosaurus
Your standard "dino plant-eaters", though some theorize they could have actually been quite aggressive, which considering how many people are killed by plant eating hippos and elephants is quite probable.We also actually know what one type sounded like!
- Easy name: Horned Faces
- Well known members: Triceratops, Protoceratops, Pachycephalosaurus
- Awesome obscure members: Diabloceratops, Einosaurus, Nasutoceratops
Probably the last major group to arise. All originally bipedal, but some grew too massive for that. Also had a weird convergent evolution with birds, they had straight-up beaks. Also made fuck-awesome battering rams or goring beasts in battle. Like, GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY WAY OR I WILL CRUSH YOU UNDER 9 TONS OF MOVING MUSCLE AND SPEAR YOU LIKE A FISH fuck-awesome.
/tg/ Dinosaur Trivia
- Gary Gygax used a set of cheap "Prehistoric Animals" toys that could commonly be found in supermarkets in the 1970's as monsters during the creation of Dungeons & Dragons. The Owlbear, Rust Monster, and Bulette are all based off cheaply made Hong Kong plastic versions of dinosaurs.
- Some dinosaurs had feathers. The only ones who didn't were the oldest, such as Plateosaurus, and as a result didn't survive to see poofy dinos. Whether this is adorably awesome or ruins your childhood is subjective.
- The famous Velociraptor was about the size of a large dog, and likely hunted similarity to wolves. Although some would put anything that looks similar under the name "Velociraptor", the actual species are simply called Raptors of which Velociraptor is only one member (other species include Pyroraptor, Microraptor, and Utahraptor).
- Some scientists believe that a relative of the Velociraptor called the Troodon may have used tools (not too surprising, some animals use tools today; tools as in "some birds, bugs and primates use sticks and rocks to help them crack open or dig out their food"), and possibly had the intelligence of modern crows (for reference the American Crow is believed to be one somewhere in the top five most intelligent animals on Earth). A small handful of scientists believe that had it not gone extinct likely due to lack of food, it could have evolved to become a human-like species.
- As described above, scientists consider birds to be dinosaurs. As a result their Clade, Coelurosauria, are the dinosaurs that survived the Cretaceous–Paleogene Mass Extinction Event. Its a subgroup of Theropods, meaning those tiny bastards that wake you up at 6:00 am and the one who died to become your lunch sandwich are all cousins to the MOTHERFUCKIN' T-REX.
- Jurassic Park style resurrection (discover intact dinosaur DNA, inject into frogs, create hermaphrodite dinosaurs) may not be possible due to actual surviving DNA not being likely to still exist . Unlike mammoths and early humans who died in frozen temperatures and were naturally preserved like a big freezer and not long ago comparatively, dinosaurs went extinct in a hot climate with 65 million years to decay. technically we don't find dinosaur bones, we find minerals which took the place of bones, remember that DM's if you ever find a necromancer in a natural history museum! However, scientists at ivy league schools such as Yale and Harvard as well as research funded by the Chinese government have been progressing towards discovering existing ancient DNA in living birds then combining genes to create something that resembles a dinosaur (the process is similar to the creation of Glofish, created by using SCIENCE to hybridize jellyfish and Zebra Fish into an abomination that will probably destroy humanity).
- Dinosaurs lived on this planet for 177 million (1.7*10^8) years. 40k takes place in the 41st millennium. Even in the far, far future humanity has only existed for only about 2.25% as long as the dinosaurs had.
- A lot of the skills used in the modeling and painting aspects of the wargaming hobby are the same skills used in preparing fossils. These include filling gaps with putty (used to fill gaps/cracks in bone), cleaning mold lines or filing down other unwanted plastic/resin (similar to removing matrix from a bone), and painting (painting casts of bones). If you REALLY love dinosaurs, hone your hobbying skills and volunteer at a museum. /a vertebrate paleontologist