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What happened to the dinosaurs? For over a century, paleontologists have been puzzling over the fate of our favorite prehistoric oddities. The non-avian dinosaurs dominated the planet for an inconceivably long period of time, and their evolutionary success only heightens the mystery of their downfall.

From cataracts and caterpillars to a planet overrun with males: The 10 strangest dinosaur extinction theories ever suggested by experts Spy and paleontologist Baron Franz Nopcsa thought dinosaurs had overactive glands and low sex drives and dies out as a result Entomologist Stanley Flanders proposed caterpillars ate all the vegetation on Cretaceous Earth, causing the herbivorous dinosaurs to go hungry Ophthalmologist L.R. Croft believed bad eyesight was to blame for the extinction of the dinosaurs as they developed cataracts By SARAH GRIFFITHS PUBLISHED: 17:23 GMT, 8 August 2013 | UPDATED: 18:08 GMT, 8 August 2013 14 shares 14 View comments Paleontologists have long pondered what caused the extinction of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago and came up with some crazy theories. While a spy proposed the dinosaurs suffered from overactive glands and a low sex drive, which led to their downfall, other scientists believed growing too big, hungry caterpillars, aliens and a taste for eggs were all good reasons as to why the ancient beasts died out. Now-a-days most scientists agree a combination of

Our understanding of dinosaurian demise has changed a great deal since 19thcentury naturalists started studying the long lost animals. Today, paleontologists have discerned that most dinosaur lineages disappeared by about 66 million years ago after intense

volcanic activity, climate change and a catastrophic asteroid impact triggered one www.copyscape.com/compare.php

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volcanic activity, climate change and a massive asteroid impact probably finished 1/8


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of the worst mass extinctions in our planet’s history. Many forms of life disappeared. Among our favorite prehistoric celebrities, only the avian dinosaurs— birds — were left to carry on the legacy of Velociraptor and kin.

off land-dwelling dinosaurs - with the exception of birds. a spy proposed the dinosaurs suffered from overactive glands and a low sex drive which led to their downfall While a spy proposed the dinosaurs suffered from overactive glands and a low sex drive which led to their downfall, other scientists believed growing too big, hungry caterpillars, aliens and even farting were all good reasons as to why the ancient beasts died out A spy and Hungarian-born aristocrat, Baron Franz Nopcsa von Felső-Szilvás, had plenty of extinction theories in the early 20th century including that dinosaurs had a low sex drive and overactive glands. The keen paleontologist thought dinosaurs got so large because of secretions from the pituitary gland, which caused them to grow too large. While he tried to apply knowledge of human conditions to the dinosaurs, there is no evidence to suggest that the gland had anything to do with the animals' size or extinction, Smithsonian reported. Another scientist living at the same time, called George Wieland, believed

But before our current view came together, the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs was an open-ended question. Here is a list of some of the stranger—now discarded— theories explaining the loss of our dear departed dinosaurs: Egg-eating George Wieland, an early 20th-century paleontologist, argued that

the dinosaurs ate themselves

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into extinction. The ancestors of the fearsome Tyrannosaurus, he said, probably “got their first impulse toward gigantism on a diet of sauropod eggs.”

to death and the T-Rex got its '

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Even the most caring of dinosaur mothers couldn’t stop the near-constant depredations of egg-hungry carnivores. Wieland conceded that monitor lizards and snakes may have consumed their share of embryonic dinosaurs, too, but

the Yale researcher ultimately concluded that, “The potent feeders on dinosaur eggs and young must be sought for amongst the dinosaurians themselves.” In the years since Wieland’s 1925 hypothesis, fossil evidence has confirmed that dinosaurs, snakes and even www.copyscape.com/compare.php

the dinosaurs ate themselves

first impulse toward gigantism on a diet of sauropod eggs'. More... Reptile enthusiast becomes the UK’s first person to successfully breed an endangered dragon - beating a number of zoos that are also trying Spiders in disguise: The bizarre tropical arachnids that deliberately resemble everything from ladybirds to bird dung to tree stumps

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The Yale researcher said the greedy carnivores ate too many eggs and caused their mass extinction, but now-a-days scientists agree that while fossils show the creatures had a taste for eggs, they could not have eaten them all. Staying with eggs, 2/8


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mammals preyed on dinosaur eggs and infants, but never at a rate that could have caused mass extinction. Pathological Shells Invertebrate fossil expert H.K. Erben

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and colleagues thought that eggs led to the dinosaurian downfall in a different way. In a 1979 paper, the researchers reported that fossilized dinosaur eggshell fragments found in southern France and the Spanish Pyrenees showed two sorts of disorders — some had multiple shell layers, while others were pathologically thin. Either situation was lethal. Multi-layered eggs could have suffocated developing dinosaurs, while thin eggs easily broke or dehydrated the embryos. Some sort of climate change spurred hormonal changes in dinosaur mothers, the researchers suggested. But this explanation didn’t fit for other dinosaurs around the globe at the time. The deformed eggshells seem to have been a local phenomenon. Overactive Glands Baron Franz Nopcsa von Felső-Szilvás, a Hungarian-born aristocrat and a spy, was one of the most peculiar characters in the field of paleontology—and his extinction theories were just as unusual. Early in the 20th century, Nopsca suggested that a shortage of food, a “low power of resistance” and even diminished sex drive contributed to the demise of the dinosaurs. His favorite theory, though, was death by overactive glands. He believed that dinosaurs grew to their tremendous size thanks to secretions from their pituitary gland. Eventually, he argued, the gland drove the growth of dinosaurs to such excess that the animals became pathologically huge and grotesque. Nopsca tried to tie human pathologies to the conundrum of dinosaur extinction, but there’s no indication that the pituitary had anything to do with immense dinosaur sizes or their disappearance. www.copyscape.com/compare.php

fossil expert H.K. Erben proposed in the 1970s that dinosaur eggs

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had multiple shell layers, while others were too thin, causing developing dinosaurs to either suffocate, or dehydrate if the shell was too thin and got broken. One researcher said greedy dinosaurs ate too many eggs to cause mass extinction One researcher said greedy dinosaurs ate too many eggs to cause mass extinction, but now-a-days scientists agree that while fossils show the creatures had a taste for eggs, they could not have eaten them all. A nest of petrified dinosaur eggs being analysed is pictured While he based his idea on eggshells found in Southern France, fossil records show this was a local phenomenon and not a widespread problem. In

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Evolutionary self-destruct In a slight to some of the most wonderful creatures of all time, “Going the way of the dinosaur” means falling into obsolescence by becoming too sluggish, stupid or oversized to survive. For a time, that’s what paleontologists believed happened to the dinosaurs. During the early 1900s— when

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Darwin’s theory of natural selection was still

Darwin's

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not entirely accepted within the scientific community— many paleontologists believed that organisms evolved along confined pathways. According to this thoroughly debunked notion, dinosaurs possessed a kind of evolutionary inertia

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a kind of evolutionary inertia and spent their energy getting larger instead of smarter, despite the fact that

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biggest and strangest specimens —such as Stegosaurus and Brachiosaurus—thrived

theory of natural selection was still catching on, many palaeontologists thought the beasts became too sluggish, big and stupid to function. The now unpopular theory supposed that dinosaurs had

that caused them to keep getting bigger and weirder. Some researchers even proposed that dinosaurs were dumb (compared to mammals) because they invested too much of their internal energies in growing huge and fierce. Yet, as even fossil experts of the time realized, this notion couldn’t explain why some of the

the early 1900s, when

some of the largest species of dinosaur including the

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throughout the dinosaurs’ reign on Earth.

Stegosaurus and Brachiosaurus thrived. More recently, in

Too many males Within the past decade, infertility specialist Sherman Silber has repeatedly asserted that dinosaurs perished because they couldn’t find mates. Silber has speculated that—much like www.copyscape.com/compare.php

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the past decade, an infertility specialist has argued the dinosaurs died out as they couldn't find partners. Sherman Silber said that as temperatures 4/8


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present-day alligators and crocodiles— changes in external temperature could determine the sex of

can

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dinosaur embryos developing in their eggs. In this case, he has argued, climate change caused by volcanic activity and asteroid impact could have skewed the global thermostat so that only one sex

some animals, like crocodiles, climate change could have ensured

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was produced. But beyond the fact that we really don’t know whether dinosaur sexes

were determined by temperature

determine the sex of

that only one sex

of dinosaur babies were born. There are several holes in this theory including that scientists do not know if the sex of dinosaurs

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or genetics alone, the idea doesn’t explain why reptiles that probably did have temperature-determined sexes, such as crocodylians, survived while non-avian dinosaurs died out. Silber’s proposal contradicts itself.

were determined by temperature. In the 1960s, entomologist Stanley Flanders proposed that the first moths and caterpillars ate all the vegetation on Cretaceous Earth, causing the herbivorous dinosaurs to go hungry. Stanley Flanders proposed that the first moths, butterflies and caterpillars ate all the vegetation on Cretaceous Earth In the 1960s by

Caterpillars In a fight, a caterpillar would hardly seem to be a match for a Triceratops. But in a 1962 paper based on his observations of the devastation caterpillars could cause among crops, entomologist Stanley Flanders proposed that

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entomologist Stanley Flanders proposed that

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the first moths,

the larvae of the first moths and butterflies would have quickly and totally denuded the Cretaceous landscape of vegetation. Herbivorous dinosaurs would have starved, Stanley argued, and predatory dinosaurs would soon be left with nothing to eat but each other. But not only did

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butterflies and caterpillars ate all the vegetation on Cretaceous Earth, causing the herbivorous dinosaurs to go hungry. A modern Pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly is pictured Consequently he argued the predators would also starve as they had no more vegetarian dinosaurs to eat. However, once again, modern science and fossil records have shown that

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butterflies and moths 5/8


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coexist with dinosaurs for millions of years, there is no sign of such a disastrous caterpillar spike in the fossil record.

happily coexisted with dinosaurs and did not gobble all the plants. The Smithsonian article notes that as the expertise of scientists often informs their theory, it is not surprising that

Cataracts Explanations for dinosaur extinctions often reflected the expertise and perspective of the people who proposed them. No surprise, then, that in 1982 ophthalmologist L.R. Croft

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suggested that bad eyesight undid the dinosaurs. Since exposure to heat can make cataracts form more quickly, Croft surmised that dinosaurs with weird horns or crests developed these bizarre ornaments to shield

their eyes from the

ophthalmologist L.R. Croft believed bad eyesight was to blame for the extinction of the dinosaurs. In the 1980s he said rising temperatures caused cataracts to develop faster and even went as far to suggest that dinosaurs successfully evolved horns on their faces to protect

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relentless Mesozoic sun. In the world warmed by harsh sunlight, though, Croft expected that even these attempts to shade dinosaur eyes failed and that the creatures started to go blind before they hit sexual maturity. Croft’s idea, however, totally fails to explain the mass extinction of species other than the non-avian dinosaurs, 66 million years ago.

their eyes from the sun. The theory does not explain why flying dinosaurs did not go blind too. While not strictly a scientific idea, last year paleontologist David Wilkinson speculated the dinosaur's annual output of methane gas would have been enough to cause global warming.

Supernova Before the asteroid impact hypothesis gained widespread credibility, in 1971 physicist Wallace Tucker and paleontologist Dale Russell suggested another kind of death from above. Although the researchers lacked any direct evidence for their idea, they proposed that a nearby supernova could have had catastrophic consequences for life at the end of the Cretaceous. The explosion of a neighboring star, Tucker and Russell proposed, would bombard the upper atmosphere with X-rays and other forms of radiation that would quickly alter the climate, causing temperatures on Earth to plummet. No evidence of such a nearby event 66 million years ago has ever been uncovered. www.copyscape.com/compare.php

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physicist Wallace Tucker and paleontologist Dale Russell suggested in the 1970s that a death blow came from space Before the idea of an asteroid impact (pictured) was embraced by the scientific community as a reason for the extinction of dinosaurs, physicist Wallace Tucker and paleontologist Dale Russell suggested in the 1970s that a death blow came from space While they did not mention extinction, the media seized upon the idea to conclude dinosaurs farted themselves to death. Likewise, a TV programme last year called 6/8


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'Ancient Aliens' amalgamated various scraps of science to state

Aliens A display at Utah State University’s Prehistoric Museum points out that aliens could

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that aliens could

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have wiped out the dinosaurs.

not have wiped out the dinosaurs, not least of all because, “

There is no evidence of aliens or their garbage in the fossil record.” That hasn’t stopped some more imaginative folks from suggesting such scifi scenarios (most recently given a nod in the monster mash blockbuster Pacific Rim). Last year, the basic cable program “Ancient Aliens” devoted an entire episode to the idea, borrowing misunderstandings and outright fabrications from creationists to help make their case that extraterrestrials eliminated the dinosaurs to make room for humanity. Apatosaurus only ever faced down aliens in comic books and movies.

Dinosaur Farts

However, Utah State University’s Prehistoric Museum said

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there is no evidence to suggest this theory is true as no fossilized aliens, or alien waste has ever been discovered. Finally, before the idea of an asteroid impact was embraced by the scientific community as a reason for the extinction of dinosaurs, physicist Wallace Tucker and paleontologist Dale Russell suggested in the 1970s that a death blow came from space. However, they thought a supernova relatively close to the Earth exploded and bombarded the upper atmosphere with Xrays causing temperatures to decrease sharply. But no evidence of an astronomical event has been found.

Much like death by aliens, the idea that dinosaurs farted themselves into extinction was never a scientific hypothesis. The notion was a misconstrued conclusion drawn from some recent dinosaur research. Last year, paleontologist David Wilkinson and collaborators tried to calculate how much gas the long-necked, hefty sauropod dinosaurs could have produced. The researchers speculated that the dinosaurs’ annual output of methane gas would have been enough to influence the global climate, but the researchers said nothing about extinction. After all, a variety of sauropods existed for tens of millions of years without showing any sign of gassing themselves out of existence. Ignoring the actual research by Wilkinson and colleagues,, various news sites jumped on the study to suggest that dinosaurs gassed themselves into oblivion. Such sites were www.copyscape.com/compare.php

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