Critter of the Week: Camarasaurus

Meet Bella. She’s big, she’s loud, and she’s really happy to see you! She’s happy to see anyone really, except Alfred, but can you blame her? There’s about a-bazillion years of conflict going on there…

bella

There she is! She is the most accommodating of Pete’s very large camarasaurus herd- voted least likely to accidentally trample the equipment. They can be an excitable bunch, and don’t always pay attention to what they’re bumping into. Continue reading

Critter of the Week: Apatosaurus

Meet Ajax. He’s a gentle giant with a big heart and a big appetite.  He’ll do anything for food and a belly rub.  And when I say anything, I mean anything…

 

ajax update

 

 

Ajax is big, heavy, and always hungry.  He’s got a knack for sniffing out treats and getting into places he shouldn’t.  He really didn’t think things through when he squeezed into the shed that one time… Continue reading

Critter of the Week: Castorocauda

Meet Cassie.  All she wants in life is to get her feet wet, and perhaps a fish or two.  Yes, she would really like fish.  Do you have some?

Cassie_update

Pretty please with cherries on top?

Can’t fool her, she knows I brought some of those little dried fishy treats.  Look at that face, she might even snuggle for some.

But please don’t Cassie.  Down girl.  Thank you.  I don’t really want to smell like river mud at the moment.

Have a treat!

I’m sure you must be wondering what she is…

She is a small mammal from the middle of the Jurassic China, just a bit smaller than a modern platypus.  She has a lot in common with platypus, such as a love for water, strong digging paws, a thick fur pelt, and probably even laid eggs like a platypus (though there’s no way to know for sure).

But she’s not actually related to platypus, beavers, or any modern mammal.  She is from an extinct group of mammals called docodonta.

You can find out more about Cassie and her family here.

 

Making progress… Continue reading

Critter of the Week: Scutellosaurus

Meet Skittles.  She might be all hard and pebbly on the outside, but on the inside she wants nothing more than a nice warm hug.  Scratch just a little in between those rocky scutes, and she’ll roll on her back so you can rub her smooth, soft belly scales.

skittles_update

Skittles is happy to see you!  She wonders if you would please, pretty please, give her a treat.  Can you resist those puppy-dog eyes?

She may be about the size of a golden retriever, but believe it or not, Skittles here is the great-great-great-great-grandmother of Stegosaurus!

It’s hard to imagine how long a time span the Jurassic period covers, but we can get a few hints when we see that a little critter like this had enough time to change and diversify into animals like the spike-tailed Stegosaurus, or the armored, club-tailed Ankylosaurus.

The Jurassic period started at the end of the Triassic period (big extinction event there, to separate the two), and lasted 56.3 million years until the beginning of the Cretaceous.

56.3 million years.  Think about that.  Humans have been around for about 2 million.  Between us and the latest dinosaurs like T-rex?  About 65 million years.

So that means Dinosaurs had their “golden age” in the Jurassic for almost as long as the nearest T-rex is to us.  Pretty mindboggling.

And that’s not even thinking about the Triassic and Cretaceous periods yet…

Dinosaurs have been around for a looong time (especially if you count birds living today!).

Skittles is just happy to have a few moments to cuddle. 🙂  Completely oblivious to how long dinosaurs have been around.  Or that she’s related to Steggy. 😛

Making progress… Continue reading

Critter of the Week: Juramaia

Meet Maya.  She’s a sweet little fuzzball who loves nothing more than to curl up in your pocket.  At least during the day.  When the sun goes down, that’s when the party starts!

Maya update

Wait a second…what’s a squirrel doing in a dinosaur book?  Well I’m glad you asked.  So far, her kind is the first mammal discovered that nourishes her babies in utero with a placenta.  A placental mammal.  This is unique from marsupials like kangaroos, or egg laying monotremes like platypus.  🙂

My little girl keeps calling Maya a squirrel (she’s 2 🙂 ), but she’s a bit more like a tree shrew.  Little Maya has sharp little teeth that are great for just about anything she can get her paws on, but bugs are her favorite.  That slender nose helps her sniff them out in the dark.  She has long arms and sharp claws that make her completely at home in the tree tops.

When you’re the size of a squirrel it’s good to be out of reach of giant dinosaurs!

If you want to learn more, here’s a great news article with a picture of the beautiful fossil. It even has fur!

Making progress… Continue reading

Critter of the Week: Pterodactylus

Meet Terry. She’s a chipper little flyer who would love to scramble up onto your shoulder and nibble your ear (just a little nibble, it tickles).  And could she please, pretty please have a tiny bit of that sandwich?

terry-update

Terry always likes a snack, especially small morsels like snails, grubs, and worms she digs up.  That sandwich looks quite tempting though, and she won’t turn her nose up at an opportunity to snatch it out of your hand, so keep an eye and a firm hold on it. 😀

She might not look it, but this little pterosaur (not dinosaur), is very good at walking and running around on the ground.  She spends a lot of her time poking her sensitive snout in the dirt for all sorts of burrowing creepy crawlies.  When she feels one, she nabs it with her tiny teeth and gulps it down.  Yum! Continue reading