We all know that imagination is a force to be reckoned with. Afterall, it was Einstein who said, "the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination". Nurturing imagination is especially important in children. Utilising their creativity is crucial to their development and we wanted to see what weird and wonderful dinosaur designs children could come up with, so we held the My Dream Dinosaur competition. And we were amazed. Here, we have 5 of the top dinosaur designs brought to life through digital illustration.
These roar-some dinosaurs sit alongside the child’s vivid description of their beast! How would these creatures have lived on Earth millions of years ago? Would they be a peaceful friend or a fearsome foe? We found, Dougal Dixon, a palaeontologist, to bring some science to the fight as we find out who knows best. It’s a battle of imagination and science, where creative thoughts flourish, and dinosaurs are reborn in Kid Vs Paleontologist!
Dougal Dixon is a Scottish paleontologist, author, geologist and all-round dinosaur expert! Considered to be the founder of speculative evolution, Dougal’s work has inspired various projects such as the modern King Kong reboot with the inhabitants of Skull Island. He has written many books on dinosaurs including the World Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Creatures, and has received various awards for journalism, education and scientific literature.
We asked Dougal for his scientific expertise on our dinosaurs to see if they could have lived among other creatures like the dangerous T-Rex.
“I wanted to have a big scary dinosaur that could fight and catch it’s prey. That’s why I gave him two heads. One is an evil head and the other is hungry. The big volcano does not scare the Two-O-Saurus because he is brave and has strong claws.
Two-O-Saurus eats other little dinosaurs and is bad. He has fights with other big dinosaurs to guard his home that’s why he has big claws and teeth. He has a very loud roar to scare off dinosaurs and his curly tail can hit them and scratch them.”
“Two-o-saurus has two heads! This has actually happened, not really on a dinosaur but on Hyphalosaurus - a water reptile that lived in China in early Cretaceous times, alongside the dinosaurs. We have one fossil of this. It did not live long, as the fossil is of a baby.
It sometimes happens nowadays, when a reptile does not develop properly in the egg, so it is possible that it may have happened in dinosaurs too. The problem is that the animal has a particular shape that allows it to fit into its environment and have a particular lifestyle. The extra head makes it more difficult to survive and so these two-headed individuals do not usually survive long. The heads of modern two-headed snakes are known to fight each other for the same food, for example.”
The fearsome Two-O-Saurus sounds like it could have existed but one that has been lost to the sands of time. As our paleontologist put it “Two-o-saurus, being a theropod, would probably have killed its prey all right, but then would have difficulty in deciding which head would eat it.” In the battle for food, no one wins.
“I chose the cosmic blue for the Comotriceratops as it reminds me of my school computer screen when it switches on. I made her spotty because it reminds me of a turtle’s shell. She's a friendly, helpful herbivore that loves to help other species to get food so they don't starve. She's light footed and graceful and always looks her best.”
“Comoticeratops is a ceratopsian one of the horned dinosaurs. A denizen of arid uplands, its blue colouration helps it to blend in with the mountain mists. It is a large animal, bigger than the mountain trees on which it feeds. However, it is very exposed, and vulnerable to vulture-like pterosaurs of the high crags. It builds up extra armour by rolling in the loose stones of mountainside screes. The stones become embedded in the mucus of its skin, and the skin grows around these and holds them tightly to the body - like the larval cases of caddis-flies”
There’s no doubt how well the Comotriceratops would have fitted in with the other horned dinosaurs. Molly even implemented it’s unique mucus-stone defence mechanism to help it protect against larger predatory dinos. If she’s as defensive and lives in the arid mountains, it will definitely need to help other smaller creatures eat!
“Once in dinosaur times the fish ripper ruled the sea. It ripped big and little fish out of the sea. It lived around Jurassic times and eats a lot of fish every day. It has rough scales and teaches the younger ones to fly and catch their fish. This was the best dinosaur I could do.
It can swim fast and protect the younger Rippers from bad sea monsters. It can breathe underwater for a little bit but must swim up for air after. It lives and sleeps on the rock with its younger family or sometimes in caves when it is bad weather outside. Other dinosaurs cannot catch Fish Ripper because he is fast and lives on the dangerous rocks. ”
“Fish ripper is a pterosaur, but one that has lost its powers of flight. We have that nowadays - there are plenty of birds that have lost their flying abilities and are perfectly well adapted to life on the ground, or in the water. The penguin is a good example here. In the Fish ripper, the wing membranes are much reduced and form a flat fin-like structure along the neck and the body. It hunts on the bottom of the shallow seas, using its membranes as a kind of a camouflage net, blending in with the sandy bottom, like skates and rays do. When a fish comes too close, the elongated body loops up to catch it, like a snake striking, and the Fish ripper makes its way to the surface to eat it.
Although the pterosaurs had become warm-blooded, the Fish ripper has resorted to the cold-blooded metabolism. This allows the animal to hold its breath underwater for long periods of time. Modern crocodiles are like this - cold-blooded, although they evolved from warm-blooded ancestors.”
Oliver has combined various reptile elements to create an aquatic pterosaur capable of hunting fish with ease. Pterosaurs were of the Jurassic period so Oliver has his dino history spot on here! We think the Fish ripper definitely could have ruled the sea...the shallow part anyway.
“I wanted it to look as unusual as possible but still be a real dinosaur. I worked hard. I gave him big teeth to fight with but I still wanted him to look quite friendly. I have lots of dinosaur things, so when I found the stickers I thought that would look very unusual.
The little dinosaurs live on Flynnosaurus and he keeps them safe from big bad dinosaurs. He has lots of colour to make him look friendly so other little birds and creatures will like him more. He can bash down trees with his big tail and will get bigger from eating more plants.”
The Flynnosaurus builds its own armour. It is a slow-moving plant-eater, related to the ankylosaurs - the armoured dinosaurs. However, unlike its heavy relatives it never developed the armoured plates. The soft skin of its back is very attractive to parasites - especially the tiny moth-like pterosaurs and little theropod-like lizards. These are in turn preyed upon by large beetles. The metabolism of Flynnosaurus generates a poison that is harmless to the parasites, but it makes eating the parasites deadly. The beetles die and their carapaces cover the back of the dinosaur to produce armour.”
Flynn encapsulated the perfect ankylosaurus-inspired dinosaur and even incorporated the relevant parasites to create his armour! His big teeth may help him chomp through trees but we aren’t sure how quick the Flynnosaurus may be in a fight.
“The dinosaur is called Polyosurussunyus Bananashaurus. She is a bit sad because she likes snow but it's summer now. She has got a giraffe's neck because I like giraffes. She is decorated with hearts and glittery shapes because she likes going to parties and likes decorations. She has so many legs because she likes to dance, dance, dance like me! The weather on this day is sunny but there are big storm clouds coming. There is a big puddle in the corner where the dinosaur likes to drink and get clean. The alien monkey up the tree is trying to make the tree fall over so he can get the coconuts but he's going to make the tree fall down. The bird in the sky is circling, trying to see its prey”
“It looks as though the Polyosurussunyus Bananashaurus is more of a crab/giraffe instead of a dinosaur! It lives on land and is disguised as a dinosaur to keep predators away. A long spine on one side of the shell looks like a head and neck, and a long spine on the other looks like a tail. It has many eyes, allowing it to see all around and watch out for danger. We have never found a fossil of this creature, as it lives far away from the sea or from the rivers - the places where dead animals tend to be fossilized.”
Could the Polyosurussunyus Bananashaurus be a crab in disguise? Poppy certainly doesn’t think so, but Dougal is less convinced how likely this giraffe-dinosaur hybrid was to exist. However, our paleontologist did assert that due to the location that the Polyosurrusunyus lives in, finding a fossil would be near impossible. We still think there’s hope for this glamorous looking creature but Dougal may have science on his side this time.