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In this special issue of BBC Focus Magazine discover how dinosaurs conquered the world, what would have happened if the asteroid hadn’t hit Mexico, what T. rex really looked (and sounded) like, and the modern-day dinosaurs living in your back yard. INSIDE YOU’LL FIND... -In-depth articles on the latest discoveries -Expert interviews with palaeontologists -Detailed annotated diagrams of all your favourite dinosaurs -A timeline clearly explaining when different species lived

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United Kingdom
Immediate Media Company London Limited
R 197

in this issue

14 min
how do we know what dinosaurs looked like?

Back in October 2015, a new dinosaur was revealed from the 66-million-year-old Hell Creek formation in South Dakota, in the US. Colourful pictures of this swift, bipedal predator – covered in feathers and with a jaw full of sharp teeth – were published around the world. Experts behind the discovery reported that Dakotaraptor had large, sickle-shaped claws on the second toes of its hind feet, and would have been about five metres long and slightly taller than a human. This made it one of the largest ever dromaeosaurs (‘swift seizers’), the group to which Velociraptor also belongs. We take these kinds of reconstructions for granted these days, but just how realistic are they, and how do we know what dinosaurs really looked like? The first attempts by humans to imagine the animals…

2 min
man’s best friend?

Microraptor Dark and glossy iridescent plumage, with large flight feathers on its hind and forelimbs, making for a beautiful pet. Likes to preen, nap and observe everything with its hawk-like watchful eyes. SIZE: One of the very smallest dinosaurs at less than 1kg in weight and about 80cm in length PROS: Four wings of awesomeness; intelligent and responds well to commands CONS: Can attempt to disembowel the cat Sinosauropteryx The first known feathered dinosaur, found in 1996. This relative of Compsognathus has lovely, fluffy ginger plumage and enjoys scratches and strokes. Likes to chase toys in lieu of fast-moving prey. SIZE: A metre in length including the long tail but very dainty, weighing just 0.5kg PROS: Loves to snuggle; fetching ginger-andwhite tail stripes CONS: Can be neurotic and restless; requires frequent exercise Psittacosaurus This parrot-beaked herbivore was a compact, primitive ceratopsian…

1 min

The small, swift and nimble dinosaur was a lethal predator. It had a long snout and slender jaws, housing 28 dagger-like teeth. An enormous, curved talon on each foot was used to pin down struggling prey – anything from insects to other dinosaurs. When not in use the talon was raised up off the ground. Velociraptor’s body was fully covered in a bird-like plummage. DID YOU KNOW VELOCIRAPTOR WAS 12 TIMES SHORTER THAN T. REX BUT COULD RUN FASTER AT A MAXIMUM SPEED OF 40KM/H (25MPH) FOUND IN Mongolia FACT FILE MEANING OF NAME: Quick plunderer PRONOUNCED: Vel-oss-ee-rap-tor SIZE: 1.8m long, 0.5m tall, 7-15kg DIET: Amphibians, insects, reptiles, mammals, pterosaurs and other dinosaurs (like Protoceratops) WHEN IT LIVED: Late Cretaceous (84-80 million years ago) DISCOVERED BY: Henry F. Osborn in 1924 Approximate size comparison…

8 min
earth through the ages

MYA = MILLION YEARS AGO 4,600 MYA FORMATION OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM A!er the Big Bang (13.8 billion years ago) when our Universe was born, it was many billions of years before our Solar System started to develop. Then around 4,600 MYA, a giant molecular cloud, full of hydrogen, began to collapse under the pull of gravity. Most of the molecules fell to the centre to create our Sun, while the remainder flattened out into a spinning disk, out of which the planets (including Earth), moons and asteroids in our Solar System formed. 4,550 MYA EARTH’S FORMATION The solar wind swept away lighter elements like hydrogen, and Earth (along with Mars, Venus, and Mercury) formed as the remaining heavier rocky materials clumped together under gravity. Over time the densest material sank to the centre of the…

1 min

1824 Megalosaurus is described by William Buckland (pictured) as a giant reptile. 1842 Richard Owen names dinosaurs as a group. Early depictions show them as giant lizards. 1905 Giant carnivore and dinosaur-poster-boy Tyrannosaurus rex is named by Henry Fairfield Osborn, president of the American Museum of Natural History. 1964 Deinonychus is discovered by John Ostrom, leading to the ‘dinosaur renaissance’ – a rebirth of interest and research into the animals. 1996 The first known feathered dinosaur, Sinosauropteryx, is discovered in China by a team including Canadian dinosaur hunter Philip Currie. 2010 Sinosauropteryx becomes the first dinosaur to have its colours revealed, thanks to preserved melanosomes found in its fossilised feathers. 2014 New fossils allow scientists to piece together the detailed appearance of Spinosaurus, showing it was the largest ever carnivorous dinosaur. It was adapted to life in and out of water.…

1 min
could we ever clone a dinosaur?

The oldest DNA fragments recovered are only 800,000 years old, so dinosaur cloning is probably impossible. True cloning also requires an intact, living cell and it has only ever been successful using a host animal of the same species. That rules out mammoth cloning too. What we might be able to do is splice some mammoth genes into the DNA of the Asian elephant, their closest relative. Most of the mammoth genome has already been sequenced from fragments recovered from mammoths frozen in permafrost. In 2015, a team at Harvard managed to insert 14 mammoth genes into an elephant cell in a petri dish. But Asian elephants and mammoths are thought to differ by at least 400 genes, and figuring out exactly which ones are different will take a while. And…