Jurassic June: Haast’s Eagle
Name: Haast's Eagle
Named After: Julius von Haast, a German born explorer and geologist.
Haast's Eagle is a large, extinct species of eagle that soared the skies of prehistoric New Zealand during the Pleistocene Epoch and early Holocene. This bird of prey was about the size of an adult person, with a wingspan reaching 2-3 meters in length (approximately 6-9 feet). They also possessed a series of sharp talons that grew to 49 inches. These talons were used to strike and grapple large prey such as New Zealand's large species of flightless bird called the Moa.
While being the largest eagles to have flown, it was also the heaviest. Due to its weight it likely could not have flown great distances but more likely soaring from trees to cliff to other locations.
Of all the prehistoric animals I've written about for Jurassic June, this is one of the most recent animals to have gone extinct. They have survived up until 1400 CE (common era) as man has become the dominant species of New Zealand and their main food source, the Moa, had gone extinct around that time.
#JurassicJune #Megafauna #bird #eagle #prehistoric #education #science
Jurassic June: Arctodus
Name: Arctodus (Ark-Toe-Dus)
Name means: "Bear Tooth"
Arctodus (better known as the giant short-faced bear) was one of the largest genus of bear to have been discovered. This large mammal grew to about 2 meters in length (while on all fours) and stood to about 3 meters tall (while on its hind legs), and weighed over 1700 lbs. This animal lived in North America during the Pleistocene Epoch (approximately 2.5 million years ago), living alongside other megafauna such as the Mammoth and Irish Elk, and even alongside prehistoric humans.
This was a fearsome predator. Unlike most ursine, this bear's diet was reserved for meat. It was also capable of running 40 miles per hour in order to catch its helpless prey and had powerful jaws capable of crushing bone. It would regularly fight against other apex predators such as dire wolves and the Smilodon (saber-toothed cat), chasing them off and stealing their prey.
The giant short-faced bear went extinct approximately 12,000 years ago due to climate change and competition with humans, much like other predatory megafauna. While these predators have gone extinct, one of their descendants still remains, the much smaller South American Spectacled bear.
#JurassicJune #megafauna #education #science #learning
Jurassic June: Dryptosaurus
Name: Dryptosaurus (Drip-Toe-Sawr-Us)
Name Means: "Tearing lizard"
Dryptosaurus was a bipedal carnivorous therapod that lived in North America during the Late Cretaceous Period (approximately 84-66 million years ago). This dinosaur is in fact a distant cousin of the famous Tyrannosaurus Rex. It grew to about 25 feet in length and weighed about 1.5 tons.
It was first discovered by paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope in 1866 and was one of the first North American dinosaurs to be named. However, it was originally named Laelaps, after a dog from Greek mythology. Unfortunately for Cope, this name already belonged to an existing species of parasitic mite. The name was then changed to Dryptosaurus by Othniel Charles Marsh, which probably annoyed Cope since the two paleontologists were fierce rivals. This dinosaur has also become synonymous with a famous painting by paleoartist Charles Knight, which depicts a pair of Dryptosaurs fighting.
#JurassicJune #paleonotolgy #dinosaurs #education #learning #science
Jurassic June: Australopithecus
Name: Australopithecus (Aw-Strawl-Loe-Pith-The-Cus)
Which means: "Southern ape"
Australopithecus was an early hominid that roamed the plains of Africa during the Late Pliocene and Early Pleistocene (approximately 4.5-1.9 million years ago), making it one of the longest lived primates. These primates were our earliest ancestors, standing to about 3-5 feet in height.
Like most primates, Australopithecus likely lived in social groups, looking out and taking care of one another. They also likely used tools for getting food and fending off predators.
There are in fact several different species of Australopithecus. And one of the most well known specimens of Australopithecus was Lucy, a member of Australopithecus afarensis. Lucy was one of the first hominin fossils to become a household name and the most complete hominin to have been discovered, with roughly 40% of her remains uncovered.
#JurassicJune #mammals #humans #ancestors #science #paleontology #facts #education
Jurassic June: Pyroraptor
Name: Pyroraptor (Pie-roe-rap-tor)
Which Means: "fire thief"
Pyroraptor was a small carnivorous theropod that lived what would be modern France during the Late Cretaceous (approximately 70 million years ago). This dinosaur was very similar to its Asian relative Velociraptor. It was about the same length (measuring 6 feet) and size (at least a meter in height), both were dromeosaurids as they both had the signature curved claw on each foot, and both were feathered.
This was the first dromeosaurid dinosaur to have been discovered in Europe, whereas most dromeosaurid remains were found scattered throughout Asia, North America, and South America. It lived alongside various species of dinosaurs such as the iguanodont Rhabdodon, the long-necked titanosaur Atsinganosaurus, and the carnivorous abelisaur Tarascosaurus.
Pyroraptor got its name after partially preserved remains of this dinosaur were discovered outside of Providence, France, after a forest fire swept through the area. Its scientific name is in fact Pyroraptor olympius, which translates to "olympic fire thief".
#JurassicJune #dinosaur #paleontology #science #education #facts
Jurassic June: Kronosaurus
Name: Kronosaurus (Krone-no-sawr-us)
Named after: The Greek titan, Kronos.
Kronosaurus was a large pliosaur that ruled the seas during the Early Cretaceous, approximately 100 million years ago. It was a massive reptile, measuring up to 36 feet from head to tail. Its skull alone measured up to 9 feet in length (approximately 3 meters).
This animal was the apex predator of the Cretaceous seas, feeding off of plesiosaurs, cephalopods, fish, sharks, and smaller pliosaurs. Hence why it was named after the king of the Greek titans, Kronos.
#JurassicJune #marinereptile #education #science #paleontology #facts
Jurassic June: Archelon
Name: Archelon (Ark-kay-lon)
Which Means: "Ruling turtle"
Archelon was the largest turtle to have ever been discovered. It swam the great seas during the Late Cretaceous Period, approximately 80-74 million years ago. This extinct species grew to about 16 feet in length from head to tail, and weighed about 4900 pounds.
This behemoth swam the shallow waters of the Western Interior Seaway, a large inland sea that once separated North America into two continents, Laramidia and Appalachia. It likely fed off of small fish, squid, and jellyfish like modern sea turtles. It also shared its habitat with other marine life, such as various species of sharks and fish, and even larger marine reptiles such as the long-necked plesiosaur Elasmosaurus and the fearsome mosasaur Tylosaurus.
It was originally believed that the leatherback sea turtle, which is the largest modern turtle, was this animal's closet living relative. It's hard not to see why. The resemblance to both Archelon and the leatherback sea turtle is uncanny. Later studies revealed that it was actually part of a separate extinct family called Protostegidae, which consisted of other extinct members such as Protostega and Desmatochelys.
#JurassicJune #reptiles #science #education #facts #paleontology
Jurassic June: Majungasaurus
Name: Majungasaurus (Ma-jung-ga-sawr-us)
Named after: the Mahajunga Providence of Madagascar
Majungasaurus was a bipedal theropod dinosaurs that ruled prehistoric Madagascar during the last days of the dinosaurs, roughly 70-66 million years ago. It grew to about 25-28 feet in length and 2 meters in height. It may not have been a very big carnivore, as compared to Tyrannosaurus Rex, yet it was the largest carnivorous dinosaur to have been found in Madagascar, meaning it was likely the region's apex predator at the time.
When it was first discovered only the top part of the skull was known. This initially led paleontologists to believe that this was the skull of a pachycelphalosaurid. However, upon further findings, it was revealed to carnivorous dinosaur with a small horn atop its head, above the eyes.
This is also (so far) one of the few dinosaurs to have fossil evidence that suggest this animal was known to have engaged in cannibalism, with teeth marks found on some specimens that matched the teeth of similar to its own.
#JurassicJune #dinosaurs #paleontology #dinosaurs #education #science #facts
Jurassic June: Minmi
Name: Minmi (Min-My)
Name after: the Minmi crossing, Australia
Minmi was a small armored herbivore of the Early Cretaceous (133-120 million years ago). It was no bigger than a dog, growing about ten feet in length. This dinosaur belonged to a the ankylosaur family, and like most ankylosaurs they had bony armor that protected them from predators. It was one of the few dinosaur fossils that is found in Australia.
Its full name is Minmi paravertebrae. The reason for its name is that, unlike other ankylosaurs, it had thin bony rods going along its spine. Why these bony rods are like this is unclear. It is suggested that, along with its unusually long legs, they helped Minmi outrun predators rather than solely rely on its armor for protection.
For a while this dinosaur held the record for having the shortest dinosaur name in discovery until it was surpassed by the discovery of the dinosaurs Mei and Yi.
#JurassicJune #dinosaur #paleontology #facts #science #education
Jurassic June: Quetzelcoatlus
Name: Quetzelcoatlus (Ketz-zell-coe-ought-lus)
Named after: Quetzelcoatl, the Aztec feathered serpent god of the winds
Quetzelcoatlus was the largest pterosaur that ever soared across the skies during the final days of the Late Cretaceous, 68-66 million years ago. This giant was as tall as a giraffe and had the wingspan of 40 feet. That's about as long as a Cessna 172 light aircraft.
Due to its size it would likely had to jump at least 2 meters into the air in order to take flight. Once in the air it likely flew like modern vultures or condors, gliding rather than flapping its enormous wings.
Quetzelcoatlus fossils can be found throughout North America from Texas to Montana. It lived along the last of the dinosaurs such as the horned Triceratops, the duck-billed Edmontosaurus, and the apex predator Tyrannosaurus. Its fossil may have influenced the myth behind the Thunderbird, a mythological creature among certain Native American cultures.
This pterosaur will make its first big screen debut in Jurassic World Dominion where one Quetzelcoatlus is attacking a plane operated by Owen Grady (played by Christ Pratt), Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise), and Claire Dearing (played by Bryce Dallas Howard).
#JurassicJune #pterosaur #paleontology #science #education #facts