Dinosaurs have not walked the earth for millions of years. They roamed our planet even before the existence of man. However, these prehistoric giants are fairly famous today. From blockbuster movies to written fiction and even cartoons, dinosaurs are everywhere!
Surely, it is safe to assume that the human race may not have crossed paths with the dinosaurs, but we love and admire them all the same. Learning about them is not only fun, but it can be very fascinating as well!
It is mind-boggling to think that while humans have existed on the Earth for about 66 million years, the reign of dinosaurs lasted for around 165 MILLION YEARS! These majestic beasts went extinct some 67 million years ago.
The cause of their mass extinction is highly debated. Some scientists believe that the planet was hit by a major asteroid that eventually led to the extinction of dinosaurs.
Others have reasons to think that it was a massive bout of volcanism that wiped dinosaurs right off the face of the Earth. Both these scenarios must have choked the skies with dirt and debris, cutting off the Earth’s supply of sunlight.
This, in turn, caused a massive disruption throughout the food chain and ultimately the poor big fellows starved to extinction.
When it comes to reasons for the extinction of dinosaurs, the effects of greenhouse gasses cannot be overlooked. It is believed that once the debris settled, the greenhouse gasses caused a chaotic change in the atmosphere.
Severe climatic changes and abrupt change in water levels all around the world further made things worse for the dinosaurs that were already starving.
It is also possible that the real cause was a gradual shift in climate and the change in sea level. Irrespective of what really caused the extinction, it won’t be wrong to say that the Mother Nature was a bit hard on these prehistoric giants, ultimately causing them to vanish from the face of the Earth forever.
For more information about fossils and what they teach us, check out our article here.
Return of the Dinosaurs
Once dinosaurs went extinct, they were forgotten for a long period of time. For hundreds and thousands of years, humans roamed the Earth without even realizing that the same lands had witnessed the rise and fall of creatures as majestic as the dinosaurs.
When it comes to the discovery of dinosaurs, Britain holds a special place. While dinosaurs roamed all around the world, it was in Britain where the fossils were discovered and properly studied by the scientists for the first time.
Around some 170 years back, the term “dinosaur” was coined by Richard Owen who was an expert animal anatomist of his time. However, it is believed that some geologists were already familiar with the animal that Owen described as dinosaurs
Nonetheless, his discoveries dawned new light on the prehistoric world of dinosaurs and piqued interest about them all over the world. Since then these colossal reptiles have managed to keep us captivated! Over the years, we have learned a lot about our favorite prehistoric animals.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular types of dinosaurs to learn a few interesting facts about them.
Pterodactyl is the image that conjures up in your mind when you think about a flying dinosaur. Almost all winged dinosaurs portrayed in modern fiction have been inspired by this giant bird-dino, which resided in Europe and Africa.
If you are wondering what it would have been like to ride one of these creatures, we’ve got bad news for you. New research suggests that owing to its unique anatomy, your dragon-dino was not able to not take off!
Lirainosaurus were herbivores with long necks. It is easy to imagine a Lirainosaurus enjoying fresh and juicy leaves off the tops of the trees in vast green fields. They are known to have inhabited Europe and seemed to especially prefer Spain.
Iguanodon was perhaps the first dinosaur identified by the scientists. The discovery was made when local workers unearthed fossil teeth in British forest. They took their findings to the neighborhood doctor, Gideon Mantell, who realized that they were not dealing with something ordinary.
Iguanodon is believed to be a herbivore. In the lands now known as Europe, North Africa, North America, Australia, and Asia, these giant dinosaurs ran around on two legs.
They had claws with fingers that would have been useful for cutting plants or fighting off predators. They roamed the Erath some 161.2 million to 99.6 million years ago, during the late Jurassic and early Cretaceous eras.
Allosaurus lived around 150 million years ago. With their huge jaws lined with razor sharp-teeth, these dinosaurs were ferocious meat-eaters. What makes them even more terrifying is that, unlike the T-Rex, the hand claws of Allosaurus were more than 1 foot long!
Moreover, it could reach speeds of 40mph! All these qualities combined give rise to one of the deadliest hunters of the prehistoric world – Allosaurus!
The name “Brontosaurus” comes from the Greek language and translates to “thunder lizard”. These dinosaurs are quite famous in Hollywood. In fact, this species of dinosaurs was not only featured in films and other types of fiction but also managed to make their way to postal stamps!
With their thin, long neck and giant bulky torso, the Brontosaurus was a herbivore. The various species of Brontosaurus roamed in what is now known as North America. These giants were around 22 meters long and weighed up to 17 tons.
To give you a better idea about how massive they were, did you know that the heaviest of elephants weigh only around 6 – 7 tons and grows up to only 3.2 meters?
With big eyes on each side of a relatively small head, adult Gallimimus weighed around 440 kilograms and were approximately 6 meters long and roamed prehistoric Asia. Scientists have reasons to believe that Gallimimus might have feathers on its body. Can you imagine a dinosaur without teeth?
Well, it is interesting to note that this one was one of them! It had no teeth and relied on its long beak for feeding. The long and thin neck provided a lot of agility while preying and feeding. If you are a fan of The Jurassic Park movies, you might already have seen Gallimimus!
Herbivore and native to Asia, Isanosaurus lived in the Triassic period, which occurred between 250 million and 199 million years ago. These dinosaurs made Asia their home, especially Thailand, approximately 210 million years ago. If you really want to brush up on your knowledge about dinosaurs,
you may be interested to know that while most other “lizard-hipped” dinosaurs are two-legged, the Isanosaurus used all four legs to move around.
Did dinosaurs live in water? Sure! Since they were found to roam across all lands, it only makes sense that dinosaurs lived in the ocean as well.
Mosasaurus is one of the extinct water reptiles. Known as the lizard of the Meuse River or simply the Meuse Lizard, the creature was a carnivore and lived around 66 to 70 million years ago.
Experts believe that due to their barrel-shaped bodies and poor vision, these prehistoric fish dinosaurs avoided deep seas and stayed near the surface of the water. The largest species of Mosasaurus is known to be as long as 17m!
Can you imagine an animal as long as a city bus? Well, that’s how big a regular Diplodocus could get. It is interesting to note that the Dino is named after the structure of its body – double-beamed.
In other words, it had bones on the underside of its massive tail. Even though the Diplodocus’ were colossal, if we existed at the same time as them, these dinosaurs probably would not have posed a threat to us. This is mainly because Diplodocus dinosaurs were herbivores, happy to feed on leaves and other greenery.
Tyrannosaurus, more commonly known as T-Rex, is undoubtedly the most famous dinosaur. You may be surprised to know that the term “Tyrannosaurs” essentially means “tyrant lizard king”. After being depicted multiple times in different forms of media, today, everyone knows that the T-Rex is a carnivore.
This dino probably loved to chase its prey around and ultimately use its comically small arms and powerful jaws to devour its meal. This is how most artists have depicted it.
However, according to recent developments, it is possible that our favorite T-Rex had feathers all over its body! How do you think this 40ft frightening beast would have looked with feathers?
Styracosaurus roamed the earth in the Cretaceous period, which is a geological period that spanned 70 million years! The special thing about this period is that it ended 66 million years back when dinosaurs went extinct.
This means it won’t be wrong to say that the Styracosaurus was part of the last generations of dinosaurs. This reptilian creature was a herbivore. According to the fossils discovered, Styracosaurus lived in North America, especially Canada. Its fossils have been discovered in Montana and Alberta!
The term Baryonyx is Latin for “heavy claw”. As the name suggests, the dinosaur had strong, claws, which it made use of to hunt and feed. However, it is not famous for its colossal claws or the long balancing tail. Instead, its most characterizing feature is its crocodilian head!
Can you imagine a huge dinosaur with razor sharp claws and a crocodile head? The image that conjures in mind is the definition of a “monster”! It is important to note that while there is not really any proof that the Baryonyx loved fishing in water with its gigantic claws, this is how it is usually depicted by most artists.
Raptorex, more commonly known as Raptor, is another rather famous carnivore in the world of dinosaurs. They originate from Asia and some of the most important Raptorex fossils have been located in China and Mongolia.
Raptorex looked like a miniature version of their cousins, Tyrannosaurus. In fact, at first glance, it might have been easy to think that the Raptorex is nothing but a baby Tyrannosaurus. Keep in mind that while these dinosaurs were much smaller in size, they were equally terrifying.
In fact, it won’t be wrong to say that Raptors were the tiny tyrants of the prehistoric era. Also, they had sharp incisors that just add to their killer hunting skills. While it is impossible to say how much truth it holds, it is believed that Raptorex was one of the most intelligent species of dinosaurs.
Out of all the dinosaurs, Stegosaurus is one of the most distinctive ones out there. It is easily recognized, owing to the two rows of armored plates that ran down its bulky back, down the length of its spine, to
its tail. It had a short bulky body and held its tail to the ground. It squats slightly as its hind legs were longer than the front legs. It was a herbivore and usually grazed on the ground. While experts believe that Stegosaurus inhabited areas of Europe and North America, Its fossils remains have been discovered as far to the East as China!
This is a terrifying one! With devil horns protruding from both sides of its head, Carnotaurus was nothing less than the devil of the prehistoric world. Its name translates to the “meat-eating bull” –talk about scary. It is that one species of dinosaurs that makes us thankful to Mother Nature for not allowing the timeline of dinosaurs cross ours!
Its fossils were mainly discovered in South America, especially in Argentina. The body of Carnotaurus was quite similar to its celebrity cousin, Tyrannosaurus Rex. However, Carnotaurus is believed to have even smaller arms. In fact, some experts argue that the arms of Carnotaurus may have been completely vestigial and served no purpose.
Native to Asia, Tsintaosaurus could easily have been the unicorn of the dinosaur world! It is interesting to note that the true appearance of the Tsintaosaurus is still a mystery to us.
Sure, we have the skulls and other bone structures to work with. However, reinventing the original appearance of an extinct animal based merely on the shape of a few bones is not an easy task!
While we know that the Tsintaosaurus had a single horn protruding from the middle of its head, some scientists believe that it was probably more like a shoehorn than a unicorn.
On the other hand, some paleontologists, like Philippe Taquete, suggest that the “horn” may simply be a nasal bone that was dislocated after the death of the animals. This is a viable explanation since, currently, we lack enough fossil samples to rule it out!
Scientists have unearthed hundreds of Coelophysis. These dinosaurs were born hunters. It is believed that they would dine on anything and everything, including other Coelophysis – talk about being a foodie!
Despite being an excellent hunter, these dinosaurs were relatively small in size, growing only up to 3 meters in length and 1.3 meters in height.
Are you wondering why this distinctive looking dinosaur is called triceratops? Well, it is because of its three horns and the bony frail around its neck, which is perhaps the most distinctive feature of this ancient reptile. If you are a fan of the movie, The Jurassic Park, you may already know what triceratops are all about.
No one really knows for sure about their true nature but despite being a herbivore they are often described and depicted as quite aggressive.
In other words, if we have existed in the same era as them, these dinosaurs may not have eaten us whole but probably would have enjoyed trampling all over us!
Now, if this gets you wondering about the size of triceratops, you may be interested to know that these dinosaurs were only as big as an African elephant in today’s world!
Ankylosaurus roamed the grounds more than 66 million years ago. They were one of the last remaining dinosaurs. In fact, experts believe that these dinosaurs were there to witness the dino-apocalypse and mass extinction. The term “Ankylosaurus” means “fused lizard”. While they did not look much like the modern lizards, the name is aptly suitable.
An adult Ankylosaurus could easily reach up to 30 feet and weighed around 6,000 kilograms. As compared to their bodies, these dinosaurs had surprisingly small teeth.
However, it wasn’t really a problem for them because they were herbivores. Its body was covered in scales but the most amazing thing about the Ankylosaurus is its tail. It had a massive tail club which it swirled around during battles to create massive energy.
It is estimated that a swirl of an Ankylosaurus’ tail would have been enough to break the bones of its competitor.
Parasaurolophus were herbivores that could walk on two as well as four legs! This dinosaur is characterized by its oddly shaped head, having a curved crest. These majestic animals wandered across the plains of North America around 75 million years ago. Their fossils have been found all around, including Canada, Utah, Alberta, Mexico, and even the USA.
Parasaurolophus belongs to Hadrosauridae group, the family of dinosaurs named after their strangely shaped heads.
The crest on their head curved backward from the skull and experts believe that it helped them differentiate between male and female species while increasing their hearing ability and maintaining their body temperatures.
Without the head crest, survival for the Parasaurolophus in the prehistoric world would have been difficult – if not completely impossible!
Belonging to the Sauropod family, Europasaurus is probably the tiniest member of the family member. It is interesting to note that Europasaurus are known from a single excavation in Germany.
However, the excavation site contained more than 10 animals. While a complete skeleton is yet to be discovered, scientists have unearthed multiple bones that have helped discern the anatomy of Europasaurus.
In comparison to the other dinosaur species of the same family, Europasaurus are considerably small. In fact, some people argue that being only 6 feet tall and as heavy as a modern cow; these dinosaurs are an example of “Island Dwarfing”.
Keep in mind that island dwarfing is a phenomenon in which the average size of some species decreases in response to the scarce resources.
Among the long-necked dinosaurs, Andesaurus were the real giants! Also known as the vine lizards, these dinosaurs were herbivores. They could grow up to 13 meters in height, 40 meters in length, and 80 tons in weight.
In other words, one Andesaurus weighed as much as 16 big elephants! While there is a lot of ambiguity about the appearance of these dinosaurs, experts agree that the Andesaurus might have been one of the biggest dinosaurs around in its time!
Spinosaurus is none other than the leading star of “Jurassic World III”. Also known as spine lizards, these carnivorous dinosaurs could grow up to 15m in length and 16 meters in height. It is shame to note that once an almost complete skeleton of Spinosaurus was at display in a museum in Germany but it was destroyed during the WWII.
Silvisaurus is one of the many types of armored dinosaurs. Armored dinosaurs are typically defined as four-legged herbivores with distinctive body armor. While it is common to think of dinosaurs as large and scary, Silvisaurus was quite the opposite.
This species was no more than 4 meters long. Their fossils are discovered all around North America, including Kansas. While we can’t be sure, Silvisaurus might be one of the gentle dinosaurs that we could have gotten along with!
Brachiosaurs is one of the gentle giants. With their long front legs and never-ending necks, these huge herbivorous dinosaurs were specially designed to reach the treetops and devour the fresh leaves. If dinosaurs existed in our time, Brachiosaurs probably would have loved to give you rides!
Isn’t it strange to think that dinosaurs traveled around on the same lands as us? For all we know, you might be standing on a huge fossil right now! In order to understand more about mother Earth, it is important we learn about all the creatures that roamed around on it. What’s more fascinating than dinosaurs?