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ZoomDinosaurs.com
Dinosaur and Paleontology Dictionary
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Click on an underlined word for more information on that subject.
If the dinosaur or paleontology term you are looking for is not in the dictionary, please e-mail us.

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PRECAMBRIAN

The Precambrian is the geological time period before the Cambrian period (before 540 million years ago). It is the time period from when the Earth formed until simple life-forms evolved.

PREDATOR

A predator is an animal that hunts and kills other animals for food.

PREDENTARY BONE

The predentary is a beak-like, crescent-shaped bone at the tip of the lower jaw in Ornithischian dinosaurs.

PREDENTATA

Predentatan is another name for the beaked or Ornithischian dinosaurs, which have a predentary bone in the lower jaw (in front of the teeth).

PREHISTORIC

Prehistoric refers to the time before people began recording history in writing. This time varies from culture to culture.

PRENOCEPHALE

Prenocephale (meaning "sloping head") was a plant-eating dinosaur that lived during the late Cretaceous period, roughly 83.5 to 65 million years ago. This thick-skulled ornithischian (a pachycephalosaurid similar to Stegoceras) had a thick, dome-like skull (hence its name) with some bony knobs protruding along the sides and the back of the head. This dinosaur walked on two legs, had short arms had a long, stiff tail. Prenocephale was about 7.5 feet (2.5 m) long. It is known from skulls and a few other bones. Fossils have been found in the Nemegt Formation, Omnogov, (Mongolia), Alberta (Canada) and Montana (USA). Prenocephale was named by paleontologists Maryañska & Osmólska in 1974; the type species is P. prenes.

PREONDACTYLUS

Preondactylus was a primitive pterosaur that lived during the late Late Triassic period. It is the oldest pterosaur yet known. This flying reptile had a wingspan of 5 feet (1.5 m) and a very short lower jaw bone. It may have eaten insects. Fossils have been found in the Preon Valley of Udine, northern Italy. The type species is P. buffarinii, named by Wild in 1983.

PREPARATOR

A preparator is a person who carefullly removes a fossils from its rock matrix.

PREY

An animal is prey when another animal hunts and kills it for food.

PREZOIC

Prezoic menas before life appeared.

PRIMARY CONSUMER

Primary consumers are plant-eaters (also called herbivores). Most dinosaurs were plant-eaters.

PRIMITIVE

A primitive form has characteristics similar to those of earlier forms.

PROBACTROSAURUS

(pronounced pro-BACK-troh-SAWR-us) Probactrosaurus (meaning "before Bactria lizard") was an early Iguanodontid dinosaur that lived during the late Cretaceous period, about 97.5 - 91 million years ago. This plant-eater was about 17-20 feet (5-6 m) long. This ornithopod had a narrow snout, an elongated lower jaw, and double layers of flat cheek teeth. Fossils of this possible ancestor of the duck-billed dinosaurs have been found in China. The type species is P. gobiensis. Probactrosaurus was named by Rozhdestvensky in 1966.
PROCERATOPS
(pronounced pro-SER-uh-TOPS) Proceratops (meaning "before Ceratops") is an invalid genus. It represents a ceratopsian, a horned, frilled, plant-eating dinosaur that lived during the late late Cretaceous period, roughly 80 to 73 million years ago. Although paleontologist C. O. Marsh found the first Proceratops fossil in 1888, he named it Proceratops, but it was actually Ceratops (diagnosed by Richard Swann Lull, of the Peabody Museum, in 1906). The type species of this invalid genus is P. montanus, now called Ceratops montanus.


PROCERATOSAURUS

(pronounced pro-ser-RAT-uh-SAWR-us) Proceratosaurus (meaning "before horned lizard") was a meat-eating dinosaur that was about 10 feet (3 m) long, weighing roughly 220 pounds (100 kg). This advanced theropod, the earliest-known coelurosaur, had a small crest on the very front of its snout. Because of this crest, it used to be thought that Proceratosaurus was an ancestor of Ceratosaurus. It had long legs, short arms with long digits, and a long, stiff tail. This bipedal predator lived during the middle Jurassic period, about 170-164 million years ago. Proceratosaurus is known from a partial fossilized skull found in England. It was named by paleontologist von Huene in 1926. The type species is C. bradleyi.

PROCESS

A process is a bony projection, like a neural spine.
Lambeosaurus

PROCHENOSAURUS

Prochenosaurus is an invalid genus of dinosaur - see Lambeosaurus.

PROCOLOPHONIDS

Procolophonids are extinct possible ancestors of turtles that had turtle-like skull features (some scientists think that pareiasaurs are the turtles' ancestors). These reptiles lived from the late Permian (about 260 million years ago) until the late Triassic period (about 210 million years ago). These amniotes were early anapsids, a type of cotylosaurian (captorhinid). Fossils have been found in South Africa and Russia. When the procolophonids went extinct at the end of the Triassic period, the turtles were the only remaining anapsids.
Procompsognathus

PROCOMPSOGNATHUS

(pronounced pro-komp-SOG-na-thus) Procompsognathus triassicus (meaning "before pretty jaw from the Triassic period") was a small, speedy theropod dinosaur (an early ceratosaur) from the late Triassic period, about 222 to 219 million years ago. This carnivorous biped had long hind legs, short arms, large hands (which it used to catch prey), a long pointed snout with many pointed teeth, and a stiff, pointed tail. It may have been about 3.8 feet (1.2 m) long, weighing roughly 2.2 pounds (1 kg). It probably ate insects and lizards in a relatively dry, inland environment. A very incomplete skeleton was found in Württemberg, Germany. It was named by Eberhard Fraas in 1913.

PRODEINODON

(pronounced pro-DIEN-oh-don ) Prodeinodon (meaning "before Deinodon") was a theropod dinosaur (perhaps a tyrannosaurid) from the mid-late Cretaceous period. Scanty fossils of this carnivorous biped were found in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, China. Prodeinodon was named by Osborn in 1924. The type species is P. mongoliensis. Prodeinodon is a dubious genus.

PRODUCER

A producer (or aurotroph) is an organism that makes its own food from light energy (using photosynthesis), or chemical energy (using chemosynthesis). Most green plants, many protists (one-celled organisms like slime molds and amoebas) and most bacteria are producers. Producers are the base of the food chain.


PROGANOCHELYS

Proganochelys is the oldest known turtle, dating from the late Triassic period, evolving about 210 million years ago, only a little before the dinosaurs and mammals evolved. This anapsid was about 2 feet (60 cm) long, had a shell (formed by fused ribs and other bones), was an omnivore, had no teeth, and had a large ear-opening. It had protective spikes on its neck, which could not retract. It probably couldn't pull its other appendages into its shell for protection either (like later turtles could). It had a relatively long tail equipped with bony spikes and a tail club. It lived near ponds and other small bodies of water, but was probably primarily terrestrial. Fossils have been found in Germany and Thailand.
PROIGUANODON
(pronounced pro-ig-WAN-oh-don) Proiguanodon (meaning "first or before Iguanodon") was an iguanodontid dinosaur discovered by van den Broeck in 1900. This thumb-spiked plant-eater had hoof-life feet and a toothless beak. It lived during the Cretaceous period. Proiguanodon was named by van den Broeck in 1900.
PROSAUROLOPHUS
(pronounced PROH-saw-ROL-oh-fus) Prosaurolophus (meaning "before Saurolophus" since it may have been an ancestor of Saurolophus) was a duck-billed dinosaur (it was an early hadrosaurine hadrosaur). It dates from the Cretaceous period, about 77 to 73 million years ago. This plant-eater was about 26 feet (8 m) long, had a flat head with no crest, a large, long skull, a toothless beak, and cheek teeth. Fossils were found in Alberta, Canada. Prosaurolophus was named by Brown in 1916. The type species is P. maximus.

PROSAUROPODA

(pronounced proh-sawr-OP-oh-da) The prosauropods (meaning "before sauropoda [lizard-footed]") were an infraorder of the sauropodomorpha dinosaurs and were either the ancestors of the sauropods or had a common ancestor with them. Prosauropods had a long neck, a small head, and large, hooked claws on their 5-toed feet; they had a reduced fifth metatarsal (toe). They ranged in size from 8-40 feet (2.4-12 m) long, and lived from the mid Triassic period to the early Jurassic period. The earliest-known sauropodomorph is a prosauropod about 230 million years old. The earliest prosauropods were semi-quadrupedal (able to walk on two or four legs) and were omnivores with knife-like teeth and light bones. Later prosauropods were heavier, quadrupedal and herbivorous. Prosauropods include the families: Anchisauridae, Massospondylidae, Melanorosauridae, Plateosauridae, etc.
PROTARCHAEOPTERYX
Protarchaeopteryx (meaning "early ancient wing") was a bird-like, non-flying, meat-eating dinosaur that had symmetrical feathers (asymmetrical feathers are needed for flight). The feathers covered its arms, most of the body and the short tail. The feathers ranged from downy to structured quills with shafts and veins. It dates from about 128-110 million years ago during the Cretaceous period, had long legs, short arms, and was the size of a turkey. It lacked the typical theropod long tail but had a fan of tail feathers. Fossils have been found in the sediment of an ancient lake bed in China's Liaoning Province.
PROTEROZOIC
The Proterozoic (also called the Cryptozoic) was an eon in geological time that lasted from 2.5 billion years ago to 540 million years ago. During the Proterozoic Eon, the first multicellular life evolved, including colonial algae, solf-bodied invertebrates, and sponges.
PROTOAVIS
Protoavis (meaning "first bird") is an extinct diapsid from the late Triassic period (80 million years earlier than Archaeopteryx). Its partly toothless jaw and keel-like breast bone were like those of birds. It also had a tail, dinosaur-like rear legs, and hollow bones. There is some dispute about whether this animal was a bird (which would make it the earliest-known bird) or a theropod dinosaur; the answer depends partly on whether the Protoavis fossil belongs to two different genera (a chimera) or one (a valid genus). Fossils of this carnivore have been found in Texas, USA. Protoavis was named by Chatterjee in 1991. The type species is P. texensis.

PROTOCERATOPS

(pronounced PRO-toh-SER-ah-tops) Protoceratops (meaning "first horned face") was a small, frilled, plant-eating dinosaur up to 6 feet long (1.8 m), weighing about 900 pounds (400 kg). This ceratopsian lived in the late-Cretaceous period, about 86 to 71 million years ago in what is now Mongolia. Eggs and dozens of fossilized skeletons have been found. It was named by Granger and Gregory in 1923. The type species is P. andrewsi.

PROTOHADROS

(pronounced PRO-toe-HAD-ros) Protohadros (meaning "first hadrosaur") is the oldest-known duck-billed dinosaur, dating from about 95 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period, and seems to indicate a North American origin for hadrosaurs. Protohadros was a large, plant-eating, duck-billed dinosaur with relatively large, deep jaws. Its fossils were found in 1994 in North Central Texas (the Cenomanian Woodbine Formation), USA. Protohadros was named by paleontologist Jason J. Head in 1988, and was found by Gary Byrd (an amateur paleontologist). The type species is P. byrdi.

PROTOSUCHUS
(pronounced PRO-toh-SOOK-us) Protosuchus (meaning "first crocodile") was a primitive terrestrial crocodile that lived during the early Jurassic period, roughly 200 million years ago. This carnivore (meat-eater) had a long tail, a large, wide, short skull with powerful jaws and many large, dagger-like teeth. On the lower jaw, two large teeth extended past the other teeth and fit into notches in the upper jaw. The rear legs were longer than the front legs. It had five-toed, clawed feet. Protosuchus was about 3 feet (1 m) long. Fossils of this meat-eater have been found in Arizona, USA, North America. Protosuchus was not a dinosaur; it was an early crocodilian.

PROTOZOA
Protozoans (meaning "first animals") are a phylum of primitive animals that include the following classes: Mastigophora (flagellates), Sarcodina (amoebas), Sporozoa (Parasites), and Ciliata (Ciliates).


PROXIMAL

Proximal means closest from the point of attachment to the body (compare with distal, its opposite).

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ZoomDinosaurs.com
Dinosaur and Paleontology Dictionary
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Click on an underlined word for more information on that subject.
If the dinosaur or paleontology term you are looking for is not in the dictionary, please e-mail us.

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