If you search the term “smallest dinosaur” you’ll get a hummingbird as a result. It’s correct, but birds are not what we think of if we talk about dinosaurs. And because modern birds are boring compared to the dangerous prehistoric beasts we call dinosaurs, this list includes only non-avialan (non-bird) dinosaurs. And because the smallest non-avialan dinosaurs are still related to birds, we’re going to create a video for the smallest dinosaurs by group.
Figuring out which dinosaur is the smallest is quite a task – some tiny dinosaurs are only known because of a single bone, which makes it impossible to say if it was adult or juvenile animal. We only list well-researched animals on this list, which means there are likely some smaller unknown dinosaur fossils waiting for their discovery.
Here are the smallest dinosaurs in the world!
Compsognathus lived 150 million years ago in Europe and reached a length of 125 centimeters (which equals 4 feet and 1 inch). Paleontologists thought for a long time Compsognathus was the smallest dinosaur, but recently more and more small dinosaur fossils have been discovered. It was most likely not feathered.
Microraptor is a feathered dinosaur and is closely related to birds. This raptor is known for its tiny size. It’s only about 77 cm long (which equals 2.5 feet) and is one of the smallest non-avialan dinosaurs. Microraptor lived during the Early Cretaceous Period, 126 million years ago, in what is now China. Microraptor was a dromaeosaurid dinosaur, a family of dinosaurs commonly known as raptors.
3) Nqwebasaurus thwazi
Pronounced n-kweb-ah-sawr-us, is a small dinosaur with a length between 30 and 100 cm (or 12-39 inches) found in South Africa. It’s part of the orni-thomi-mosaurs, a group of dinosaurs that resemble the modern-day ostrich. They are fast runners with two legs and feathered or had at least a feather coat. Nkwebahsawrus was likely a herbivore, as missing serrations on its maxillary teeth suggest. Only one fossil of this dinosaur has been discovered.
The Parvicursor reached a length between 30 and 39 centimeters (or 12-14 inches). There’s only one fossil known of Parvicursor, and paleontologists thought this dinosaur was the smallest known non-avialan dinosaur until they realized it was the fossil of a juvenile individual. It lived 72 million years ago in Mongolia and was a fast runner, as its long legs suggest.
5) Epidexipteryx hui.
This small dinosaur had a length between 25 and 30 cm (or 10-12 inches) and is the smallest currently known non-avialan dinosaur. Its fossil is well-preserved. Epidexipteryx lived 164 million years ago in what’s now China. It was a carnivore with sharp teeth and had feathers but couldn’t fly, as it was missing the pennaceous feathers necessary for flying.
Dinosaurs were the biggest living land animals, but some were just as small as a dove, and it’s only a matter of time until paleontologists discover a smaller dinosaur.