What would surprise us most if we saw living dinosaurs?

That they look nothing like what we expect.

We have an ingrained view of what dinosaurs look like, based on years of speculative art, backed up by film and TV. It feels like we have a consensus about what they would have looked like, but that’s actually because the first people to draw them influenced everyone who came after them, and those views have created a cycle of drawing them looking a particular way.

The thing is, all of our reconstructions are based on taking the skeletons, adding muscle where it would have had to be, and then stretching flesh over the whole thing. That may sound logical, but we have no idea what their fat, soft tissue, or other features may have looked like. Paleontologist and artist Darren Naish has pointed out that, if we applied the same techniques to modern animals, they’d be unrecognizable. Here’s his reconstruction of what paleontologists would think an elephant, horse and rhinoceros looked like:

Crazy, right? Elephants are largely defined by their trunks and floppy ears. But you have a hundred-million-year-old skeleton, none of that survives.

In recent years, there’s been a growing consensus that many dinosaurs had feathers, which is a major shock to most of us who grew up on dinosaur art and movies, and it draws focus to the fact that we’ve always assumed a green or gray reptilian skin, but there were probably a wealth of features that we have no evidence for.

Here are some examples of purely speculative images which would still be completely consistent with the fossilized skeletons we have:

The point is not that any of these images are accurate, it’s that these are just as likely to be accurate as our traditional imagery. To a near certainty, any dinosaur we saw in real life would look completely different from what we expect.

To close, here’s an a comic from XKCD, making another point about the limits of what we can learn from fossils.

This information was taken from Quora. Click here to view the original post.

Do you also think that dinosaurs could look different than scientists expect?

#Science #Nature #Quora


What are your thoughts on this subject?
David Heinz
Very interesting but if dinosaurs were alive now, we probably would be dead or at least near extinction.
Jan 11, 2023 9:37PM
Wow! I am thrilled seeing all of the possible dinosaurs!
Jan 4, 2020 9:34PM
Stephen Sparrow
The hard truth is that these paleo-scientists can’t seem to be able to simply say “we just don’t know”?? Movies have them roaring louder than lions but it is just as possible that they made Squeaks like mice or perhaps nothing at all!!! We just don’t know!! Even when we do know we mess it up! Nowhere in the Bible is there any mention of three wise men! All it states is that there were wise me and their gifts were only mentioned to be three = Gold, Frankincense and Myrr - all off which were very valuable and in their ryes suitable for a King and in fact THE KING OF KINGS!!
Nov 5, 2019 9:20PM
Very interesting. I wonder what they will think humans looked like billions of years from now. Let's take care of the animals we have so they don't go the way of the dinosours. Knowledge is power, but imagination more important. Thanks.
Jul 25, 2019 12:11AM
Tony Ririnui
On the contrary, our Tuatara is a known survivor from the Jurassic period and is respected as a living dinosaur in my country...New Zealand
Jun 18, 2019 5:17PM
hector tubens
Interesting information
Jun 15, 2019 10:55PM
Kathryn Cavanagh
Yet another not showing pics on my computer, just words..!!
Jun 7, 2019 7:11PM
Pat Pace
Don Toombs, what sources did you use for this info?
Mar 17, 2019 9:41PM
Vladimir Orozco
Any idea of how these prehistoric animal looked is base in the creative mind of artists with not actual data of the sise or caracteritics of them. We may never know how they look regardles of the advance in that area. Millions of year are in between.
Mar 10, 2019 6:11PM
David Holmes
Don Toombs, What is "real and true" then?
Mar 7, 2019 6:37PM
Michele Dix
Very interesting article, which really gently tells us that we as humans are just discovering the tip of the earliest history was not necessarily as we were assured by those early scientists. We can learn something new every day but still misunderstand much. One of the best recent discoveries is just how INCORRECT the understanding of how T-Rex moved and walked & ran.which apparently was NOT upright on it's back legs at all but head forward , spine more horizontal (tail as a counter balance). They also now believe that T-Rex did possibly have feathering around the head and shoulder areas possibly for display like many birds still do. So interesting
Mar 2, 2019 6:03PM
Larry Paula Elliott
Don Toombs, why would scientists lie about something like this? Why did you put quotes around the word scientists? There are thousands of scientists who have studied, collaborated, and experimented for decades; most agree that the earth is much older than was originally thought and dinosaurs lived many, many many years before humans.
Feb 21, 2019 5:20PM
Don Toombs
Might be true if nobody had ever seen live dinosaurs to supply basic ideas of what they looked like. But, since people and dinosaurs were created at the same time, we have general ideas of wht they did look like. Hence "cave drawings", pictures on historical items, ancient statues, etc., and actual photos as of pteranadons with cowboys or soldiers from the 1800s, which was way before photoshop, by the way. Don't be mislead by the evolution fiction that dinosaurs lived and died millions of years before people came along. That's a serious lie perpetrated by "scientists" who just don't want to believe what's real and true.
Feb 16, 2019 9:58AM
Jacky Pierce Friedman
Very interesting
Feb 10, 2019 12:07AM
Claude Chantelois
Another day where I'll go to bed a bit smarter !
Feb 3, 2019 9:37AM

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