• Question: how do we know dinosaurs eally existed?

    Asked by janvi to Davie, James P, James V, Nuala on 4 Jul 2012.
    • Photo: James Verdon

      James Verdon answered on 4 Jul 2012:

      HI janvi,

      The best evidence is the fossils that are preserved in the rocks. We have huge quantities of fossil material, and when we find the whole skeletons of animals we can reconstruct them to reveal what the animals would have looked like. We can date the rocks in which they are found using radiometric methods, that allow us to see how long ago they lived.

      Perhaps one of the most famous dinosaur skeletons is the Diplodocus in the Natural History Museum – if you’re ever in London you should visit to see it – it’s huge!!!

      Another good piece of evidence for dinosaurs are birds. Birds evolved from dinosaurs, and we can still see many similarities between the skeletons of some dinosaurs (specifically the therapods, like raptors) and birds. The birds inherited these characteristics from the dinosaurs.

    • Photo: James Pope

      James Pope answered on 4 Jul 2012:

      Hi janvi,

      A great answer from James V, all I can add is we reckon it is less than 1% of all life that gets fossilised, so having any fossils is really lucky! Fossils though are massively useful, we use fossils of microscopic plankton to work out temperatures in the oceans over the last 80 million years!