Dinosaurs are a diverse group of reptiles of the clade Dinosauria. They first appeared during the Triassic period, between 243 and 233.23 million years ago, although the exact origin and timing of the evolution of dinosaurs is the subject of active research. They became the dominant terrestrial vertebrates after the Triassic–Jurassic extinction event 201 million years ago; their dominance continued through the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Reverse genetic engineering and the fossil record both demonstrate that birds are modern feathered dinosaurs, having evolved from earlier theropods during the late Jurassic Period. As such, birds were the only dinosaur lineage to survive the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event 66 million years ago. Dinosaurs can therefore be divided into avian dinosaurs, or birds; and non-avian dinosaurs, which are all dinosaurs other than birds. This article deals primarily with non-avian dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs are a varied group of animals from taxonomic, morphological and ecological standpoints. Birds, at over 10,000 living species, are the most diverse group of vertebrates besides perciform fish. Using fossil evidence, paleontologists have identified over 500 distinct genera and more than 1,000 different species of non-avian dinosaurs. Dinosaurs are represented on every continent by both extant species (birds) and fossil remains. Through the first half of the 20th century, before birds were recognized to be dinosaurs, most of the scientific community believed dinosaurs to have been sluggish and cold-blooded. Most research conducted since the 1970s, however, has indicated that all dinosaurs were active animals with elevated metabolisms and numerous adaptations for social interaction. Some were herbivorous, others carnivorous. Evidence suggests that egg-laying and nest-building are additional traits shared by all dinosaurs, avian and non-avian alike.
(meaning 'Alberta lizard') was a genus
of tyrannosaurid theropod dinosaur
that lived in western North America
during the Late Cretaceous Period
, more than 70 million years ago
. The type species
, A. sarcophagus
, was restricted in range
to the modern-day Canadian
province of Alberta
, after which the genus is named. Scientists disagree on the number of species
represented in the genus, recognizing either one or two species.
As a tyrannosaurid, Albertosaurus was a bipedal predator with a massive head, jaws lined with dozens of large teeth and tiny, two-fingered 'hands' and it may have been at the top of the food chain in its local ecosystem. Although relatively large for a theropod, Albertosaurus was much smaller than its more famous relative Tyrannosaurus, probably weighing only as much as a modern black rhinoceros. Fossils of more than twenty individuals have been recovered, providing scientists with a more detailed knowledge of Albertosaurus anatomy than is available for other tyrannosaurids. The discovery of ten individuals at one site provides evidence of pack behavior and allows studies of developmental biology which are impossible with lesser-known animals. (see more...)
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