by Nikki Lopez
A essay/ speech about a specific allosaurus fossil
|What is a fossil? Most people know what a fossil is. I will give you a definition from The Encyclopedia Britannica, Copyright 1984. Allosaurus: genus of large carnivorous dinosaurs found... in the late Jurassic to early Cretaceous rocks of North America. (The Jurassic period preceded the Cretaceous period, and ended about 136 million years ago.) This is a speech about a very special Allosaurus fossil found in the Badlands of Wyoming.
How so much is known
about a very dead dinosaur.
By Brittany Osborne
Allosaurus. When most people think of this dinosaur, they think of a small Tyrannosaurus Rex. Actually, an Allosaurus is more sophisticated than a T-Rex. One Allosaurus fossil caught the attention of the Paleontological world. This particular fossil, which was found on a supposed riverbank, is the most complete Allosaurus skeleton ever found. The scientists then named the fossil Big Al.
The scientists put together Al's life story by looking at his bones. His bones were found with his tail connected to his spine, his spine connected to his
neck, which was connected to his skull, or cranium. According to Dr. Nick Chase, whom I met in Wyoming, who also discovered Big Al, Big Al died when he was 6 years old. "He would have lived much longer, up to 15 years old, had he not broken the middle toe on his right foot," says Dr. Chase, "the infection that raged tripled the size of his toe-bone and probably caused Al a great deal of pain as the middle toe was probably running up against the other two toes." This meant that Al probably could not hunt as well because he could not run fast enough. According to the article, "Big Al, Out At Last," from the magazine, Scientific Discoveries, Al also broke 6 ribs, ripped open his forearm, had his claw about ripped off, and at least 17 other injuries and diseases during his lifetime.
Another thing is that the region where Al lived was struck by a 6 month dry period while having only 5 months of wet season. Where Al lived, it would soon become the badlands of Wyoming.
I went to the Natural History Museum at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, and saw Big Al's fossil. I measured Al at 8 meters long and 5 meters high. I asked one of the paleontologists there how Al related to our modern dinosaurs, the Crocodile and Alligator. She said, "Al actually is related to both
Crocodiles and Birds." She explained to me that for Al to have lived this long, he would have had to grow rapidly like a bird. So by the time a child is just starting school, Al would have been a fine physical specimen.
On the other hand, how would he have been able to feed this fantastic growth? Dr. Chase says, in the video Allosaurus: A Walking with Dinosaurs Special, program Copyright 2000 British Broadcasting Corporation, "The brain is our clue to how Al ate. If we look at a Bird brain, we see that it has an unusually small section for sensory information, and a large area for processing that information. If we take a Crocodile/Alligator brain, we see that it is just the opposite, a large area for sensory, and a small processing area. So we look at this amazing fossil Allosaurus brain, and see that it is very similar to a Crocodile brain. So when Al smelled something that smelled like food, he struck at it."
Some people think dinosaurs are extinct. I say they just evolved into smaller, more modern species.
If you do not know what I am talking about, I will tell you. I am talking about the birds, crocodiles, and lizards.
I first became interested in dinosaurs when I was about 4 years old, and it is one of my many anti-drugs. I have been interested in them ever since. Have you ever been to a museum? I hope you have, it is very interesting.
Al never reached his full size, instead he died as a mature adolescent. Whatever we have learned from this fossil, we should "fossilize" so future generations can bathe in the wonder of these creatures. Dr. Chase says, "Even though these animals are extinct we must learn as much as we can about them and record it in a way that future children and adults alike can see that technology is helpful in not only pollutant ways, but also in resourceful ways."
I hope this has been of interest to you and that you have gone to a museum and seen the ancestry of birds, crocodiles, and lizards.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to my speech. I hope that next time you see a bird, a crocodile, or a lizard, you will think of Al, of all the other dinosaurs, and say "You are still a wonder to us all!!!!"