Dinosaurs have been extinct for millions of years, but the mystery surrounding their demise has remained. They were once thought to be slow, stupid, and tail-dragging lizards until scientists discovered more about them in the last few decades. Some of these dinosaur facts won’t be new for you, but I’m sure there will be some that you’ve never heard before.
Did You Know That:
- Dinosaurs roamed the earth for over 160 million years. For comparison, humans have only been around for a mere 200,000 years.
3) Not all dinosaurs lived during the same period. Tyrannosaurus Rex, for instance, lived 68–66 million years ago. Brachiosaurus lived 157–93 million years ago. Those two never met.
4) Dinosaurs were not the first animals on earth. They evolved from other reptiles. Dimetrodon for instance lived 295–272 million years ago, while the first dinosaurs appeared 243-233.23 million years ago.
5) The largest dinosaurs ever found are part of a group called Titanosaurs. Argentinosaurus, a member of this group, reached a length of 40 meters (130 ft) and had an estimated weight of up to 100 tons. That’s as much as 15 African elephants (the heaviest current living land animal) but still less than a blue whale.
6) The name “dinosaur” comes from two Greek words meaning “terrible lizard.” Dinosaurs were not lizards. Not all dinosaurs were giant either. Some, such as Microraptors, were the size of a chicken.
7) Many dinosaurs had feathers, although no one is sure why. Some think it was for warmth, while others say it appeared larger and scarier to predators. Movies often portray dinosaurs as scaly, but many were probably fuzzy or flocked with feathers.
8) When first discovered, people thought dinosaurs were ancient dragons or even demons. They were first recognized as prehistoric animals in about 1854.
9) There were no dinosaurs who only lived in the water. Plesiosaur, Mosasaurus, and Ichthyosaur were fully aquatic animals, but they don’t count as dinosaurs but marine reptiles. Spinosaurus, however, could live both on water and land, like a crocodile or a comodo dragon.
10) Dinosaurs with long necks are part of a clade called Sauropods, including Apatosaurus, Brontosaurus, Brachiosaurus. All of them were herbivores, meaning they ate only plant matter. They probably had a lifespan of 80 – 100 years. Some paleontologists think it was even longer. A grown-up Sauropod had few predators (meat-eating animals that would try to kill them).
11) Over 700 different dinosaur species have been discovered – many more will follow over the years to come!
12) It is not yet known why dinosaurs went extinct. The best theory is that a giant asteroid hit the earth about 66 million years ago. This caused volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters that destroyed habitats, and the climate changed drastically, creating a desert in the place of lush forests.
13) There were no flying dinosaurs. Some could glide from tree to tree, but none could fly. Pterosaurs could fly but don’t count as dinosaurs. They were flying reptiles.
14) Archaeopteryx is a dinosaur thought to be the link between dinosaurs and birds. It wasn’t able to fly but flapped small distances.
15) Even if some (awesome) movies show dinosaurs living with cavemen, they never did. There are about 68 million years between the dinosaurs and the first appearance of humans.
16) Dinosaurs weren’t stupid. Many dinosaurs had a bird-like intelligence, and we now know that even though they are not as intelligent as humans, many bird species can perform complex tasks. It depends from species to species.
17) Dinosaurs weren’t tail dragging, as depicted in older drawings and movies.
18) Most carnivore (meat-eating) dinosaurs were biped, meaning they could walk on two legs (like tyrannosaurus rex or velociraptor).
19) Many herbivore (plant-eating) dinosaurs lived in herds, like elephants, as fossil remains have shown.
20) Not all dinosaurs lived in the same place. Some lived all over the world, but others lived only in certain parts of the world. Velociraptor, for instance, was primarily found in what’s now Asia.
21) The fastest dinosaurs were probably bird-like dinosaurs, velociraptors, Gallimimus, and Compsognathus. They could run 40 kph (25 mph), maybe faster.
22) Many documentaries and movies show dinosaurs spending most of their time killing each other, but nothing could be further from the truth. Most dinosaurs were herbivores, and many carnivores were scavengers (ate dead animals that had died from natural causes).