Written by Aindrila Jana, a third-year undergraduate student
Did you know that Dinosaurs roamed on our Earth for 170 million years? That’s an amazing fact about Dinosaurs that you may not have known 🙂
But, the question is – how did they originate, and when and how did they become extinct?
The truth is that despite the fact that dinosaurs lived on our planet for so long, and grew from tiny creatives to mammoth ones, we still don’t seem to know much about how they originated.
Here’s all about Dinosaurs…
Dinosaurs were a group of reptiles that lived on Earth about 245 million years ago. They went into decline about 66 million years ago. Some historians believe that not all dinosaurs died at that time, and some, they believe evolved into birds about 150 million years ago.
What does the name mean?
The name dinosaur originates from the Greek words deinos – which means terrible or “fearfully great”, and sauros, which means reptile or lizard. Basically meaning – a big, scary lizard!
Paleontologists have classified dinosaurs according to the time period they lived in, which includes:
The Triassic period – 251–201 million years ago
Jurassic period- 201-145 million years ago
Cretaceous period – 145–66 million years ago
Cenozoic period – 66 million years ago to the present day
Paleontologists are scientists who study the history of life on Earth through the fossil record
Here’s a look at some features of dinosaurs
- They had an upright stance, with legs perpendicular to their body. (This feature is what sets dinosaurs apart from other reptiles)
- They had a hole in the skull between the eye socket and the nostril
- Their ankle could bend like a hinge
- They laid eggs.
- Dinosaurs lived on land – barring some exceptions, like some birds, for example, penguins
What do penguins have to do with dinosaurs?
Paleontologists believe that penguins that existed 61 million years ago might have been really big, up to 5 feet tall!
And, what’s more, is that these may have evolved alongside dinosaurs, says a study!
Isn’t that an amazing fact about dinosaurs you got to know today?
Let’s get to know all about dinosaurs.
Top 20 Fun Facts About Dinosaurs
Here’s a superb list of the most interesting fun facts about dinosaurs…
1. Argentinosaurus, weighing up to 100 tonnes which is the same weight as around 15 elephants, is believed to be the biggest dinosaur to have ever existed.
2. The first genus of non-avian dinosaurs to be officially named is Megalosaurus or “the great lizard”. Charles Dickens, the famous British author, included it in his novel Bleak House.
3. Tyrannosaurus Rex is known to be the most ferocious dinosaur.
4. The little bird-like plant-eater Lesothosaurus, which was only the size of a chicken, was the smallest dinosaur.
5. Pegomastax is the strangest dinosaur ever known! It’s believed to be a cross between a parrot and a porcupine.
6. Aves or modern birds are believed to be the descendants of dinosaurs as they have skeletal features similar to some avian dinosaurs.
7. There are roughly 700 extinct species of dinosaurs known today.
8. 30-foot-long dinosaur, cousin of Tyrannosaurus Rex called Yutyrannus Huali is a fully feathered dinosaur, who is known to use its feathers to keep itself warm. The name means – “feathered tyrant”
9. A colourful turkey-sized dinosaur called Sinosauropteryx had an orange-and-white striped tail.
10. Dinosaurs crawled like human babies. A hatchling dinosaur, says a 2019 research paper, called Mussaurus patagonicus likely walked on all fours.
11. Dinosaurs drank the same water on Earth as us.
12. For more than 230 million years, dinosaurs have been here on Earth.
13. Titanosaurs were the largest dinosaurs.
14. The odd-looking Gallimimus, resembling an ostrich with arms, had beaks instead of teeth.
15. The sauropod, Nigersaurus, replaced its teeth every fourteen days!
16. Micropachycephalosaurus is the longest name of a dinosaur.
17. Four-legged dinosaurs were herbivores, but not all herbivorous dinosaurs were four-legged.
18. The Microraptor had four wings.
19. The smallest dinosaur egg is only 3 cm long.
20. Troodon is believed to be the most intelligent dinosaur.
Here’s another fun fact about dinosaurs – Sauroposeidon was the tallest dinosaur known – at 30 – 35 feet!
Where are Dinosaurs Found?
Initially roaming on the single supercontinent Pangea (a big continent that existed some 350 million years ago), dinosaurs are believed to have roamed every continent on Earth.
Mapping the Fossils
We know about where dinosaurs roamed by unearthing their fossils.
Quickly, a fossil is something physical that is found that proves that a particular animal or plant existed. It could be some preserved remains or other things, like marking they made in the ground, etc.
Fossilised remains are things like fossil bones, teeth, etc
Ok, so where are the dinosaur fossils found?
However, the largest number of dinosaur fossils are found in three main locations – China, Argentina, and North America. If you include Antarctica, the presence of dinosaurs has been recorded on all seven continents.
Also, different kinds of fossils are found in different parts of the world. Here’s a look…
The hotspot for Cretaceous Fossils is China. The Liaoning province northwest of Beijing has recorded several dinosaur fossils.
The first dinosaur bone believed to be of Megalosaurus was recovered from a limestone quarry in Oxfordshire.
Also, the United Kingdom has a large number of dinosaur fossils, mostly found in coastal sites such as the Isle of Wight and the Jurassic Coast of Dorset; the clay quarries of Surrey (Baryonyx); and the limestone and clay quarries of Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds.
The sedimentary rock layer, the Morrison formation is where fossils of the popular dinosaurs, like the Stegosaurus and the Brontosaurus were first found, according to the National Geographic Society.
Fossils of Stegosaurus species have been found by digging 150-million-year-old-rocks. Tyrannosaurus Rex fossils have been found buried under 67 million years old rocks in the western United States.
Canada’s Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta is a single site uncovering the fossils of 40 different dinosaur species, notably including the greatest variety of species.
Who discovered dinosaurs?
Like most things ancient, there are a number of people, historians, and paleontologists who are said to have made contributions to discovering dinosaurs.
Here’s a quick list…
Ancient Chinese writings dating back to 2,000 years ago have references to “dragon” bones, which are believed to be talking about dinosaur fossils.
Reverend Robert Plot, a curator of an English museum, discovered a large thigh bone in England in 1676, which is believed to be probably of a dinosaur named Megalosaurus.
William Buckland, the first professor of geology at Oxford University, correctly identified it as a dinosaur fossil.
Mary Ann Mantell discovered fossilized bones during a walk in Sussex, England in 1822. The bones looked similar to an iguana skeleton, so the reptile was named as Iguanodon, the second dinosaur to get its name.
Ultimately, in 1842, Sir Richard Owen named the family of fossils Dinosauria. Hence, the name “dinosaur” was coined.
New evidence came by the late 1800s, and Othniel Marsh and Edward Cope, two American scientists competed and it was responsible for the discovery of 136 new species of dinosaurs.
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