The animals we see today come in many shapes and sizes; some are even tinier than a mouse, while others are massive, like elephants. Dinosaurs were no different. Some Mesozoic beasts weighed as little as two pounds, while others weighed thousands of pounds! Why were some dinosaurs so big? In this article, we’ll dive into the dino facts and offer hypotheses for these Mesozoic mysteries.
To Protect Themselves
With threats like the T-rex or velociraptor wandering around, herbivores needed to protect themselves. Their armored skin or enormous stature did just that. For some species, this occurred naturally through breeding and evolution since large dinosaurs typically lived longer than little ones. Moreover, it took a much larger or stronger dinosaur to take down these big beasts.
Some sauropods and theropods had hollow bones, which made it easier for them to become giant. This genetic makeup is different than many creatures of today, which have solid bones. Since dinosaurs were lighter, it was easier for them to grow bigger as their respective species evolved. Scientists hypothesize that the lighter bones may have made it easier for some sauropods to develop long necks.
While some dinosaur bones may have been hollow, they weren’t more delicate than solid bones; they didn’t hinder a dinosaur’s survival!
A Nutritious Diet
Many of the massive, long-necked sauropods—brachiosaurus, mamenchisaurus, diplodocus, etc.—ate their greens. Since they had extra long necks, they had access to food in tall trees that many other beasts couldn’t reach. Some species had to develop longer necks to survive, which means natural selection favored long necks.
A Combination of Things
There are likely several reasons why some dinosaurs were so big. Bigger, taller dinosaurs could reach food others couldn’t and stood a better chance of protecting themselves against predators. The combo platter would also be the case for apex predators such as the T-rex. Giant theropods had to evolve into massive beasts to hunt the large sauropods. Small predators such as the microraptor didn’t stand a chance against a giant brachiosaurus.
Larger sauropods and theropods of their respective species were more likely to have offspring that grew large like their parents. The constant cycle of selective breeding allows a species to evolve over time, eventually leading to the massive beasts we know and love today.
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