They’re the former masters of this planet, huge animals that roamed the earth millions of years before the first human walked the earth. They were the dinosaurs, named after the Greek words that mean terrible lizards and below you will find the 10 most popular dinosaurs and links to quick facts about each. The dinosaurs were among the most successful animals that ever lived due to their sheer size and longevity of their life on earth. We know they evolved into many shapes and sizes by the fossils they left behind that we are still finding today around the world. In addition, not only are they wonders of science, but they have also captured the imagination of popular culture in movies and on TV and represent a time when the earth was still coming into its own.
Fact: The most basic division of dinosaurs is into two groups: Saurischia and Ornithischia. The two groups first appeared at the start of the Late Triassic Period, and both survived until the end of the Late Cretaceous.
The Iguanodon is the most famous of the Ornithopods, the duck-billed dinosaurs. They lived during the early Cretaceous period, some 140 million years ago. The Iguanodon is a large bipedal (two-legged) dinosaur. It is a herbivore, which means that it primarily eats plant tissue. The Iguanodon is also notable for the spikes located on its thumbs, used primarily as weapons against enemies.
This species of dinosaur is known only through a single specimen, a skull found in the central United States, but the unusual features of this skull made it one of the most interesting dinosaurs around. The skull is characterized by its very thick skull roof. The dome is as thick as 10 inches, which encloses the Pachycephalosaurus tiny brain. A probable use of the thick skull would be defense or mating purposes, banging their heads against each other like antelope and bulls today.
The Stegosaurus is a herbivorous, four-legged dinosaur well-known for the large, upright plates located on its back, the spikes on its tail, and the assumption that this dinosaur is very dumb. The dumbness factor lies in the fact that its brain is no larger than a walnut. Its name means roofed lizard, referring to the plates. Paleontologists are not sure about the purpose of these plates, but it is believed that the Stegosaurus uses them to control its body temperature.
Apatosaurus is a well-known plant-eating dinosaur that lived during the Jurassic period, 150 to 200 million years ago. Also known as Brontosaurus, the dinosaur best represents the sauropods, a group of dinosaurs known for their immense size and for the length of their necks and tail. The purpose of the extreme length of the necks is debated, but many believe that it was used to reach the topmost parts of tall trees, where the freshest, most nutritious leaves are located.
Troodon is a small, bird-like dinosaur that lived during the late Cretaceous period. Its name means wounding tooth, which refers to the dinosaurs teeth, which feature distinct serrations. Troodon was one of the first dinosaurs to be discovered in North America.
The most notable thing about Troodon is its intelligence. Paleontologists believe that the Troodon possessed intelligence higher than most animals of its time. It is even proposed that if it werent for the widespread extinction, the Troodon had the possibility to evolve into a being very similar to humans. A statue made by paleontologist Dale Russell and artist Ron Sequin depicts how an evolved Troodon could have looked: a reptilian humanoid with lizard eyes and green skin.
Velociraptor is one of the well-known small, predatory dinosaurs. About the size of a turkey, the Velociraptor is nonetheless said to be a cunning and calculating meat-eater. It is believed that this dinosaur hunted in groups, not unlike many carnivorous animals today, such as wolves and big cats. A full-grown Velociraptor could weigh up to 33lbs.
Recently, scientists discovered some evidence that the Velociraptor may have been feathered. This proves the theory that birds descended from the dinosaurs, and that the feathers came first before the birds ability to fly.
The Parasaurolophus is a duck-billed dinosaur that roamed the planet during the late Cretaceous period. It is noted for its very long crest, extending out the back of its head. The crest is longer than the dinosaurs skull. Scientists think that this crest was used by Parasaurolophus to produce foghorn-like sounds, presumably for mating purposes. This crest made the Parasaurolophus a highly-recognizable species of dinosaur, and it is often portrayed in many feature films and documentaries.
According to paleontologists, Deinonychus is one of the most agile predators of the early Cretaceous period. This well-known member of the Dromaeosaurid family is a two-legged dinosaur with a height of about 11 feet. Its name is derived from two Greek words that mean terrible claw, referring to a prominent claw that protrudes from the second toe of each foot. The dinosaur uses the huge claws to slash through its prey. Recent findings have proven that, like the related Velociraptor, the Deinonychus had feathers.
Triceratops is the most well-known member of the Ceratopsids, a family of herbivorous dinosaurs characterized by their elaborate frills and horns. The Triceratops is about 10 feet high, 30 feet long, and weighs around 10 tons. It can be likened to a rhinoceros. It walks on all fours, has a large armored frill that protects its head, and has three long horns on its head used to defend itself against predators. Because it is always pitted against large predators such as the Tyrannosaurus in books and movies, the Triceratops is often regarded as a champion of the herbivores.
1. Tyrannosaurus Rex
No dinosaur list is complete without any mention of Tyrannosaurus Rex. It is one of the largest flesh-eating dinosaurs that ever lived. Its about 40 feet high and can weigh more than 6 tons. The tyrannosaurus is bipedal, and its two legs and tail are used to counterbalance its huge head. Tyrannosaurus is notable because of its miniature forelimbs, a relatively useless feature compared to its powerful legs and mouth. There is some debate whether its a top predator or a just a powerful scavenger, but no one contests the power of its bite.