When biologists conduct wildlife surveys they sometimes have to rely on only brief glimpses of their subject in order to document them. A birder often only gets a quick look at a bird, and then only a small part of the bird, in order to identify it. Many times, it’s only a flash of a wing, the head, or even the tail that’s visible as the bird moves around in the dense brush, or flies away only to duck down into tall grass.
With the above information in mind, picture this scenario. You’re on an expedition to western North America as it was during the late Cretaceous Period, a warm lowland bordered by a shallow sea. You’re there to document the animals of the area. As you walk through the forest, you hear a loud, crunching noise to your left. You turn. You get a glimpse of the tail of a large animal disappearing into the brush. It was a large, reptilian-looking tail. A dinosaur tail!
After you ask yourself why you agreed to do this survey, and then congratulate yourself on the fact that the creature went away from you and not towards you, you wonder, “what kind of dinosaur was that?” You’re there to document the animals that you see. Do you think that you could identify the dinosaur by the tail alone?
I’ve taken photos of the tails, some eyes, and a few other body parts of all of the dinosaurs here at the Museum. The photos are below, and are numbered. There are sixteen photos of nine different dinosaurs. See if you can identify them.
How ya doin’ so far?
To be fair, you would almost certainly ?have had to have seen the dinosaurs here at the Museum to identify any of them that are pictured in the photos. While no one really knows what the dinosaurs actually looked like as far as color and skin texture, they are depicted at various museums, in magazines, books and movies differently. A parasaurolophus in one book may have a red crest, a blue crest in another. A Troodon may be brown in one movie, green in another. So, to identify the dinos in the pictures you would have had to have seen how we have rendered them here on our Dinosaur Trail.
Of course, color is not necessarily the most important characteristic in identifying an animal, in many cases only the shape, behavior, or structure of a particular animal is all you need to differentiate it from another species. Since we can’t really get too deeply into the behavior here (dinosaurs are extinct and these are models), the shape and structure of the tail may be all that some of you need to ID these dinosaurs.
Don’t be shy, go ahead and make a guess or two. Let me know what you come up with.
Some are easy, some you may have trouble with, but it’s only a game, no one will be harmed if they give the wrong answers.
The answers will be published next week, or as soon as I hear from enough people to make it worthwhile.
And oh yeah, to refresh your memory as to what species are included, here’s a list, in no particular order: