Feared and Worshipped

NAGA RASSA MASK

This mask is used during popular festivals in Sri Lanka to frighten evil spirits. In Asian cultures, nagas represent sacred serpents.

Because of their frightening appearances, snakes, dragons, and crocodiles are found in the legends and myths of peoples throughout the world. In sculptures, paintings, and masks used for various ceremonies, many of these animals are represented as good or bad gods for are associated with magical powers. The snake is usually linked to the primordial waters from which life was created. In Asia, it is said that nagas (sacred serpents) are descended from Kasyapa, the father of all life. Consequently, it is common during popular festivals for both men and women to dance disguised L with masks that represent these ^ animals in order to frighten away evil ^ spirits and seek protection. Certain fek Papuan peoples believe that crocodiles have special powers, and in Europe, mythical winged fcv y . dragons that breathe fire are , \\ viewed as the guardians of treasures. Throughout \ history, these animals v \y have been both feared and respected, I ^ objects of

\ fascination and \ passion. The \ V purpose of \ this book is to reveal, in detail, what reptiles are really like. Here you will find clear, precise information about the appearance and behavior of reptiles, including dinosaurs—a group of reptiles that dominated the globe for millions of years. This fascinating book, which features specially prepared illustrations and images, will reveal details about these creatures as if they were alive on these pages.

Did you know that reptiles were the first vertebrates to become totally independent of aquatic environments? This was made possible by the emergence of the amniotic egg. Its shell and membranes enabled reptilian young to develop on land without the need to return to water. Today there are about 8,200 classified species of reptiles in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. These species include turtles, lizards, snakes, crocodiles, and tuataras. Clues about the lives of many of these animals can be found by examining their feet. Different species use their feet to scale walls, climb slender stalks, or run across loose, hot sand dunes. Some reptiles live underground, while others prefer the surface. Since their body temperature is variable, reptiles tend to spend many hours in the sun exposed to direct solar rays and infrared radiation released from heated surfaces.

With their long, narrow bodies, snakes are different from all other reptiles because they have long spines with many vertebrae. Although they cannot hear in the way mammals do, they can detect low-frequency vibrations in the soil that reveal the presence of predators or prey. Most snakes are carnivorous and can eat objects larger than their own bodies. Stealthy, undulating crawling, sudden color changes, and oversized jaws are other identifying characteristics of reptiles-amazing animals with extraordinary traits that have enabled them to survive for millions of years.

Each page of this book will help you to become familiar with these creatures that are so different from humans. Some of them give birth to completely developed young. They are not born fragile and immature, dependent on their parents to feed and take care of them, as most mammals are. Reptile species also vary widely in the types of scales they have. Their scales may have defensive knobs and spines, as is the case with the tails of some lizards, or they may form crests along their necks, backs, or tails.

Although snakes are some of the most commonly feared animals, only one out of ten is dangerous. Few people know that snakes are timid creatures that prefer to stay hidden. Most snakes will never attack unless they feel threatened and use warning mechanisms and behaviors before attacking. Unfortunately, others are poisonous—so most snakes are hated and persecuted. The process of learning more about them and learning to identify the really dangerous ones may help us to keep them from disappearing. Many reptile species today are in danger of extinction because of indiscriminate hunting and habitat destruction. Not only ecologists but all people must be concerned about their welfare, helping to ensure that they continue to be part of life on Earth.

Dinosaurs

Fossils of this flying dinosaur are found in rocks from the late Jurassic and Cretaceous

uring the 170 million years from the late Triassie Period to the late Cretaceous Period, an extraordinary group of animals, called the dinosaurs, dominated the Earth. Some were small, but others were gigantic. Some ate only plants and had long necks, and others had sharp teeth. Currently we are increasingly well-informed about dinosaurs because of the

Coelophysis

findings of paleontologists, who study the fossilized teeth and bones of these animals. Sometime during the late Cretaceous Period, dinosaurs disappeared from the face of the planet in an event known as the

K-T extinction event. Some attribute the dinosaurs' disappearance to the impact of a large meteorite with the Earth. In this chapter, you will find very detailed illustrations of these prehistoric creatures.

Terrible Lizards

^^ Depending on their lifestyle, ^^ some dinosaurs walked on two legs, and some walked on four. However, they all had a similar posture. Due to the structure of their legs, they bear little resemblance to their relatives today: lizards, tuataras, turtles, snakes, and crocodiles.

golden years

From the primitive dinosaurs of the Triassic Period, evolutionary lines of carnivores and herbivores diverged. Later in the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods large herbivores and fierce carnivores dominated the landscape, living under environmental conditions that favored enormous diversity in body forms and feeding behaviors— until their extinction.

BAROSAURUS

or "heavy reptile

Herrerasaurus Coelophysis Eoraptor Mussaurus Plateosaurus Dryosaurus Megatosaurus Brachiosaurus

Length: B feet (4 m) Length: 9.2 feet (2.8 m) Length: 3 feet (1 m) Length: 6.6 feet (2 m) Length: 26 feet (8 m) Length: B feet (4 m) Length: 29.5 feet (9 m) Length: 82 feet (25 m)

peino; sauro

Terrible Lizard

IDENTITY

The term Dinosauria was proposed for these extinct reptiles by paleontologist Richard Owen in 1842. The name of each species is based on characteristics of its shape and physiology, the name of its discoverer, or the location where it was found.

Terrible Lizards

Dinosaurs dominated the Earth for 170 million years, from the late Triassic to the late Cretaceous periods, when the supercontinents of Laurasia and Gondwana were splitting into the landmasses of today. The mass extinction of the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago left fossil remains, including footprints, eggs, and bones. Finding these fossils has enabled scientists to study and classify dinosaurs and to learn about their posture, size, diet, and many other aspects of their lives. These studies revealed that this prehistoric group of lizards included herbivores and carnivores of extraordinary size and striking shapes. •

^^ Depending on their lifestyle, ^^ some dinosaurs walked on two legs, and some walked on four. However, they all had a similar posture. Due to the structure of their legs, they bear little resemblance to their relatives today: lizards, tuataras, turtles, snakes, and crocodiles.

O lizards

The limbs project outward. At the elbows and knees, the legs are bent at right angles. This arrangement is called extended posture.

golden years

From the primitive dinosaurs of the Triassic Period, evolutionary lines of carnivores and herbivores diverged. Later in the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods large herbivores and fierce carnivores dominated the landscape, living under environmental conditions that favored enormous diversity in body forms and feeding behaviors— until their extinction.

BAROSAURUS

or "heavy reptile crocodiles

These animals have semi-extended posture. The limbs project out and down. The elbows and knees are bent at a 45° angle. These species crawl slowly and straighten up to run.

dinosaurs

These animals had erect posture. The limbs project below the body. Both the elbows and the knees are beneath the body.

Herrerasaurus Coelophysis Eoraptor Mussaurus Plateosaurus Dryosaurus Megatosaurus Brachiosaurus

Length: B feet (4 m) Length: 9.2 feet (2.8 m) Length: 3 feet (1 m) Length: 6.6 feet (2 m) Length: 26 feet (8 m) Length: B feet (4 m) Length: 29.5 feet (9 m) Length: 82 feet (25 m)

TRIASSIC PERIOD 251-199.6 MILLION YEARS AGO

JURASSIC PERIOD 199.6-145.5 MILLION YEARS AGO

Marsh vs. Cope

^^ The American paleontologists M^M Othniel C. Marsh and Edward D. Cope faced off in a very peculiar struggle. They competed to determine who could find more dinosaur bones and species. The competition was plagued with corruption, mutual accusations of espionage, fraud, theft, and even personal violence. Marsh considered himself the winner of "Bone Wars," but the field of paleontology was the real winner as roughly 130 species were identified between the two rivals.

SIR DINOSAUR Sir Richard Owen, a British paleontologist, was the first to identify fossil remains of "terrible lizards," or "monstrous lizards." He proposed the term Dinosauria, based on his studies and discoveries, and made the first reconstruction of a fossil for the great London Exhibition of 1851.

SUBORDER

Hieropoda

Sauropodomorpha

INFRAORDER

Ceratosauria

Coelophysis bauri

Tetanurae

A llosa unis fragilis

Prosauropoda

Plateosaurus engelhardti

Sauropoda

Argentinosaurus huincufensis

SUBORDER

Thyreophora

Cerapoda

INFRAORDER

Scelidosauria

Trimucrodon cuneatus

Stegosauria

Stegosaurus armatus

Ankylosauria

Centrosaurus sp.

Margin ocephalia

Triceratops prorsus

Euornithopoda

Pisanosaurus mertii

Lizard Hip

Pelvic structure of saurischian dinosaurs

Lizard Hip

Pelvic structure of saurischian dinosaurs

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  • sarah
    Why dinosaurs are feared by many?
    9 years ago

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