How do we know so much about dinosaurs (Diet, form, etc) from just looking at their bones?


How do we know so much about dinosaurs (Diet, form, etc) from just looking at their bones?

In: Biology

I asked a similar question a few months ago. My question was,

“Why do we assume dinosaurs roared? How do we know they didn’t speak some sort of language”

From the bones you can tell how the muscles anchored and how strong that anchoring was, which gives you a good idea of how it moved around and how much it weighed.

The teeth tell you a lot about diet because they’re often specialized for one specific job. An animal with flat, grinding treeth likely ate tough plant matter that needed to get ground up. An animal with sharp, needle like teeth ate fast but weak prey like small fish that were hard to catch but easy to kill. An animal with huge jaws and impressive dagger teeth was an apex predator.

But there’s limits to the bones of course. Non-bony structures aren’t usually fossilized so their frills and feathers and flaps are often long gone. Some are so rare 100 million years later that only one or two partial specimens exist and much of the dinosaur is educated guesswork.

The sounds they made, their non-feeding behavior, and the color/consistency of their skin is usually a mystery.

Diet is pretty easy. Their teeth are one of the best ways to tell this. Flat grinding teeth are for plants, sharp ripping teeth for meat. A mix of both (like humans have) would indicate an omnivorous diet. You can compare them to animals we have today.

As far as form, you can look at how the bones fit together. To go further you can look at where muscles would have connected on the various bones and how those muscles would have pulled them when flexed.

Behavior is really up in the air, but a lot of the times we assume they would act like animals today. Herbivores in larger groups while carnivores working solo or in small packs.

There something in engineering science called “Scalling” meaning that i can tell lets say how fast you great great great grandfather used to walk or how he looked (almost) ,because you two are related by genes and DNA i can take your info of how fast you walk or how you look and scale that to your great grandfather! Similar thing with the dinasours they take the closest animal to its bloodline and structure , take that animals bio info and scale that to the dinasours! Of course the numbers arent accurate at all but its better to have a general idea than to be in total darkness of the matter

For diet, it is mostly the teeth. Carnivores have sharp piercing fangs. Their arrangement can tell us if it was like a croc that clamped onto its prey or were serrated to cause bleeding, thus narrowing they types of animals it can hunt. Herbivores have flat grinders. How strong the teeth were determines whether they stuck to soft vegetation like berries or grazed on tough grass.
For forms, we refer to what we know; if it has an eye socket, it probably had an eye. Its not just bones, impressions have been perserved, so we know some had proto-feathers and fluff.