Triceratops, a horned dinosaur whose head bore a large fan-shaped protuberance, emerged Tuesday as the winner of The Daily Circuit's Bracketosaurus competition.
The winner was announced by Kristi Curry Rogers, a paleontologist at Macalester College, who was visiting the show at the time the voting closed. "I like triceratops, but I actually voted for velociraptor," she said.
The Bracketosaurus competition asked voters to choose their favorite species of long-dead monster lizard. Votes were cast in four rounds, conducted for both herbivores and carnivores/omnivores.
Curry Rogers did not explain her decision to back velociraptor, though she did bring a cast of the animal's skull with her during the show. She explained that the predator was smaller than depicted in the "Jurassic Park" movies, having actually been more comparable to a German shepherd — that is, if German shepherds had sharp claws and feathers.
The scientist raised an eligibility question about two of the species that competed in Bracketosaurus, the aquatic plesiosaurus and the airborne pterodactyl. Strictly speaking, she said, neither was a dinosaur. But she said she understood where the confusion comes from.
"When you're a kid, and you read this dinosaur book, you're going to see everything mixed together," she said. "When you buy a tube of dinosaur toys, things in that tube include pterosaurs and plesiosaurs, and even animals like the sail-backed reptile called dimetrodon. It's actually more closely related to us than it is to dinosaurs. I think pop culture misrepresents what dinosaurs actually are, a lot of the time."
Another eligibility question arose at the very end of the interview: There is a challenge to the legitimacy of triceratops, the winner of Bracketosaurus. "It's an idea that triceratops is a juvenile of an animal called torosaurus," Curry Rogers explained. "So there's a much bigger horned dinosaur in Montana that has similar anatomical characteristics."
"We were just brushing that under the rug," she said.
See the Bracketosaurus competition here.
LEARN MORE ABOUT DINOSAURS:
• Giant "Chicken From Hell" is New Dinosaur Species
More prosaically known as Anzu wyliei, the beaked dinosaur stood about ten feet tall and more than 11 feet long with a tall crest on its head and sharp claws. A. wyliei lived about 66 million years ago in what's now North and South Dakota, possibly sharing the same habitat as the iconic Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops species. Researchers announced the new species this week. (Discover)
• New Golden Age for Pterosaurs, Flying Reptiles of the Dinosaur Era
Paleontologists have known about the existence of pterosaurs since the early days of fossil investigation, but researchers are just now getting to know these extinct fliers. (National Geographic)
• Bracketosaurus! (MPR News)