Science Question From a Toddler: Omnivore Dinosaur


19 Responses to “Science Question From a Toddler: Omnivore Dinosaur”

  1. Marchhare says:

    “I arrived home this evening and asked my 8 year old son who was a paleontologist for halloween…”

    That itself is awesomeness.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great article – but like a few others I was intrigued by the picture as it reminded me a lot of a Dan McCarthy Print ghost buddies

  3. arikol says:

    Agree about the learning. Toddlers unbridled curiosity throws these interesting curveballs regularly.

    Brilliant idea for a regular feature, and this answer was interesting, if somewhat unfulfilling ;)

  4. wolfiesma says:

    We went to a local nature/science center yesterday and hung out for a bit at the “Dino Pit.”

    There was a group of college students completing an assignment there, which consisted of digging out the sand covering various model dinosaur bones. The students dug and sketched while a handful of toddlers scurried underfoot. (Sorry guys!)

    My 3 year old was really intimidated by the college students because he became very downcast and finally said to me, “I want to be a paleontologist, but it’s so so hard!” Well, imagine if you were three and walked into a college level class. You’d think it was hard too!

    I keep hoping he’ll ask a really good question I can submit to Maggie, but the best he’s come up with so far is, “How are we supposed to get off of this strange planet!?!” Then I told him we have to wait for the mothership….. just kidding! :)

  5. Anonymous says:

    There’s a new-ish theory going around that Ceratopsians may have also been omnivorous, sort of like giant Cretaceous boars

  6. Anonymous says:

    I totally had a raptor escape plan too. Still do… Jurassic Park was my favorite weekend movie from the ages of 9-12, it made a lasting impression.

  7. Chrs says:

    Definitely agree with Ben. There are clear instances where herbivorous dinosaurs descended from carnivorous lines, which strongly implies intermediate forms.

    More importantly, though, it’s clear that animals are rarely so picky about their choices. Alligators, for example, will eat fruit. Hell, even a supremely-vegetarian-adapted cow will in rare cases scavenge dead things (I’m thinking of a picture captioned “hare lip”) when they’re short on certain nutrients. It’s true of a lot of otherwise apparently vegetarian or carnivorous animals.

  8. David D. Gillette says:

    I am a professional paleontologist. I work at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, Arizona. My team discovered the recently described therizinosaur that we named Nothronychus graffami. It was excavated from a site in southern Utah, and it is the most completely known skeleton of the entire family of therizinosaurs. We had a 2 year exhibit on the discovery, and its many puzzles. It was called “Therizinosaur, Mystery of the Sickle-Claw Dinosaur.” That exhibit was moved to the Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa, Arizona in September and will be there for one year. The Museum of Northern Arizona published a popular account of these mysteries in our Plateau Magazine. It sells for $10. It has lots of wonderful art, and it presents the entire story as a set of hypotheses. One concern is feeding behavior, which we posed as a mystery: specialized carnivore (say ants or termites), herbivore, or a combination in which case it was an omnivore. I would be glad to forward any requests for the Plateau issue to our sales office at MNA. I am the author.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I arrived home this evening and asked my 8 year old son who was a paleontologist for halloween if there were any omnivorous dinosaurs and he said “Avimimus” and showed me in one of his dinoencyclopedias that it was. Wikipedia says it may have been

  10. nanuq says:

    If there was an evolutionary niche to be filled, there was probably at least one dinosaur species to fill it. Then again, maybe this was one of the factors that enable the early mammals survive whatever killed off the big lizards.

  11. MonkeyBoy says:

    Many herbivores have been documented snacking on animals presumably to correct nutritional deficiencies. For example sheep and deer will eat baby birds, presumably for their calcium content.

  12. PBryden says:

    Wow, thanks so much Maggie for answering my little guy’s question, he is going to be so overjoyed when I show him this. I am off to find night-time reading on coprolites for him!

  13. vert says:

    What a strange bit of serendipity. My daughter was asking me about this just last night.

    Now I have an answer for her. Awesome.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Gods, thank you! I LOVE it when someone answers a kid’s science question with, “we don’t know, yet, but if you study, you could be the one to figure it out and tell us.” If more kids were told that in school, more of us would understand that “learning science” isn’t just memorizing wisdom handed down from on high by people who already know all the answers.

  15. Anonymous says:

    IIRC, perhaps from “At The Water’s Edge” or “Your Inner FIsh” (or maybe Bill Bryson’s book on the history of everything), the first land dwellers (from fishy things) were carnivores, and herbivores came later (so we think currently given what we know). The writing I recall mentions how meat eaters might have slowly transitioned (over thousands of years) by eating meaty little critters that were on leaves or plants, and ingesting some of the plant material with the little snacky creature. If I have recalled that correctly, there were clearly omnivorous creatures, although I don’t know if they were dinosaurs or before dinosaurs.

  16. Anonymous says:

    There’s also a belief that Troodon may have been an omnivore.

  17. Ben Morris says:

    There were carnivores. There were also herbivores. It is reasonable to assume that whatever transitional species sat between the two ate both at some point.

  18. lowrahk says:

    That picture reminds me of something along I-90 in South Dakota. Where is the photo from?

    I really like this idea for a series. I have a feeling I will learn a lot, even though I am not a toddler. =]

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