10 Fascinating & Fun Science Facts - Dinosaurs
How much do you know about dinosaurs? Test your knowledge with these fascinating facts.
- The word ‘dinosaur’ comes from the Greek word for 'terrible lizard' and was coined by Sir Richard Owen in 1842.
- A person who studies dinosaurs is called a palaeontologist.
- Dinosaurs existed on Earth for over 160 million years - from the Triassic period around 230 million years ago to the Jurassic period, until the end of the Cretaceous period around 65 million years ago. The time period from 250 million years ago until 65 million years ago is the Mesozoic Era. It is often called the Age of the Dinosaurs because dinosaurs ruled over Earth during this time.
- Dinosaurs lived on Earth until around 65 million years ago when a mass extinction occurred. The event that caused the dinosaur’s extinction was most likely an asteroid impact or huge volcanic activity which could have blocked out sunlight and changed Earth's ecology. The dinosaurs couldn’t adapt to the changes, so died.
- There were survivors of the extinction. Species of turtle, lizard, snake, bird, and crocodile can all be traced back to dinosaurs. Dinosaurs can be defined as the last common ancestor of birds, which descend from a type of dinosaur called a Theropod.
- All dinosaurs are classified as reptiles and are divided into 2 groups based on whether they have lizard-like hips or bird-like hips. More than 700 different species of dinosaur have been discovered, all of which had varying characteristics. Some dinosaurs were carnivores, some were herbivores, some had 2 legs, others had 4. Some had feathers and others had spikes.
- The first dinosaur to be formally named was the Megalosaurus in 1824.
- Some of the largest dinosaurs were herbivores, not carnivores. To defend against meat-eaters, herbivores, such as the Stegosaurus and Triceratops, had natural weapons like spikes and horns.
- The Argentinosaurus was the largest dinosaur, as well as the largest land animal, ever. It was 37-40m in length, weighed 90-100 tonnes, and was a herbivore. In contrast, the smallest dinosaur was the Compsognathus which was 60cm-140cm long, weighed 3kg, and carnivorous.
- The smartest dinosaur, based on brain size, was the Troodon. The most ferocious dinosaur was most likely the T-Rex. The fastest dinosaurs would have been the ostrich-like Ornithomimids which could run at least 25 miles per hour. The oldest dinosaur is the Prosauropods who lived 230 million years ago.
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