The following are a couple of fossils from Troodon formosus, a small (though rather intelligent) dinosaur from the Maastrichtian Period of the Upper Cretaceous (around 75 million years ago). The fossils come from the Two Medicine Formation of Pontera County, Montana. They are rather rare. Troodon was little (by dinosaur standards)… only weighing in at around 70 pounds. They are one of my most favorite of dinosaurs. This is because they were closely related to the bird lineage… and because they were rather intelligent (having the biggest brain to body weight ratio, of all the dinosaurs). Though some of the troodontid dinosaurs (related to Troodon) did have nice sized brains, their brains were (according to recent data) not exceptionally large. Troodon formosus, one of the troodontid species, however, seems to have had a pretty large brain (relatively speaking). Lines in the cranial case (of Troodon skulls) even show the beginnings of brain matter enfolding, just as our human brains exist as. The partial cranial cases of Troodons shows some impressions from convoluting of the brain matter. Additionally, Troodons, unlike most all theropod dinosaurs, had opposable thumbs. They were able to pick up and examine small objects!
Troodons, from their teeth structure, were mostly meat-eaters, though most of them were probably omnivorous. Troodon, unlike many dinosaurs with a few large teeth… had a lot of small, serrated teeth. Each side of the lower jaw of Troodon, for example, had around 35 teeth. They likely fed a lot on our ancestors… for, before that giant asteroid impact hit, dinosaurs were the ruling class, and would hunt and eat plenty of little mammals (like our ancestors). Old scientific books on dinosaurs were very wrong; dinosaurs were not just slow, cold blooded and sluggish. Many of them had thermal oriented bodies just as birds did; in fact, birds are closely related to the theropod line of dinosaurs. (Really, birds are theropods!) Birds have a super high (and hot) metabolism… and so did the theropod dinosaurs. They were more active than even the mammals… with way superior breathing mechanisms; this holds true to this day. Most birds (and likely past theropod dinosaurs) had an average body temperature of around 105 degrees Fahrenheit.
Troodon fossils (consisting of teeth) found in Alaska were twice the size of those found in the Montana area. Why? Paleontologists speculate that the extremely cold climate (of Alaska) back then prevented most theropods, such as T-rex, from living in Alaska. Without the competition from T-rex and similar dinosaurs, Troodon was able to be the top predator, thus enabling it to get proportionally larger. Troodons also had (on each foot, just like velociraptors) a raised sickle claw… used for attacking, and disemboweling, larger prey.
Paleontologists speculate that if that 6 mile across asteroid would not have hit 65 million years ago… dinosaurs like Troodon may have evolved to be very intelligent… maybe even with human-like intelligence. But the asteroid hit… and mammals are reading this blog… not beings from the superorder Dinosauria. We had better get our act together, limit our superfluous population, and get way more into green energy… or we will sadly go extinct like the dinosaurs did!
The Troodon Tooth below is rare, in that it has the unworn, complete posterior and anterior serrations. Paleontologists say that this type of tooth was used for eating a lot of soft flesh and likely some veggies too.
Below: A large Troodon tooth in matrix… still partially embedded in the substrate that it was found in.
Below: Fossil finger digit of a Troodon; it shows capability of being highly opposable.