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Re: "What did dinosaurs really look like..."
It is true that we'll never know "exactly" how dinosaurs looked like (except
some really improbable "Jurassic park" in the future)
But we can make educated guesses based on what we know about them and what
we know about our extant environment: For example, predatory animals are
more modest in color than herbivores, this is more evident in birds than in
everything else, and why is that?, well, they tend to live in flocks and
showing off to get status or a mate is more important than being eaten.
(numbers are a great defense for a species, if not for the individuals)
check out parrots, chicken, peasants, etc.
On the contrary raptors find harder to make a living, so they tend to be
less conspicuous, and in that females need to take care of the next
generation, so they're best camouflaged than males.
Other example is in pack predators, they usually have distinct patterns so
the individuals can recognize each other. (cape dogs, wolves, and yes,
So using common sense, we can have a fair image, if not an exact one, of
what any extinct animal looked like. and even color blind mammals (wich
actually are NOT the mayority of species in our modern world) use patterns
for camoflage or to deliver messages to other animals (cats, deer, antelope)
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, August 20, 2000 10:06 PM
Subject: "What did dinosaurs really look like..."
> The September issue of Discover Magazine features the article "What did
> dinosaurs really look like...and will we ever know?" by William Speed
> The focus is primarily on the what and how of paleo-life reconstructions,
> Mark Hallett's and the Fighting Dinosaurs exhibit in particular. The soft
> tissue research that Larry Witmer is currently involved with is also a
> Two things I took exception to in the article:
> 1. "And most scientists say we may never know a lot more than we do now."
> (Page 76 on what we know about dinosaurs.) Most as in who? Every new
> supplies valuable information. Feathers? Fossilized hearts and internal
> organs anyone? CT scans?
> 2. (On patterns and pigments - p. 78) "By necessity, this reasoning makes
> unscientific assumptions about the ability of dinosaur eyes to distinguish
> colors and shapes... We do not know what dinosaurs saw, or if they saw in
> color, so we cannot know how they evolved to hide from one another."
> might have a comment or two on this.