Millions of years ago, long before there were any people, there were dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were one of several kinds of prehistoric reptiles that lived during the Mesozoic Era, the “Age of Reptiles.”
The largest dinosaurs were over 100 feet (30 m) long and up to 50 feet (15 m) tall (like Argentinosaurus, Seismosaurus, Ultrasauros, Brachiosaurus, and Supersaurus). The smallest dinosaurs, like Compsognathus, were about the size of a chicken. Most dinosaurs were in between.
Color, Behavior, and Sound
No one knows what color or patterns the dinosaurs were.
It is very difficult to figure out how the dinosaurs sounded, how they behaved, how they mated, what color they were, or even how to tell whether a fossil was of a male or a female.
Kinds of Dinosaurs
There were many different kinds of dinosaurs that lived at different times.
- Some walked on two legs (bipedal), some walked on four (quadrupedal). Some could do both.
- Some were speedy (like Velociraptor), and some were slow and lumbering (like Ankylosaurus).
- Some were armor-plated, and some had horns, crests, spikes, or frills.
- Some had thick, bumpy skin, and some even had primitive feathers.
When Could You Find Dinosaurs?
The dinosaurs dominated the Earth for over 165 million years during the Mesozoic Era, but mysteriously went extinct 65 million years ago. Paleontologists study their fossil remains to learn about the amazing prehistoric world of dinosaurs.
The dinosaurs went extinct about 65 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous period, which was a time of high volcanic and tectonic activity. There are many theories why the extinction occurred. The most widely accepted theory is that an asteroid impact caused major climate changes to which the dinosaurs couldn’t adapt.
Are There Any Left?
Dinosaurs probably live on today as the birds. All that’s left of the dinosaurs are fossils and, perhaps, the birds. Dinosaur fossils have been found all over the world, maybe even near where you live!
Although dinosaurs’ fossils have been known since at least 1818, the term dinosaur (deinos means terrifying; sauros means lizard) was coined by the English anatomist Sir Richard Owen in 1842. The only three dinosaurs known at the time were Megalosaurus, Iguanodon, and Hylaeosaurus, very large dinosaurs.
The oldest known dinosaur is Eoraptor, a meat-eater from about 228 million years ago.
Dinosaur Info Sheets
Names with an asterisk (*) were not dinosaurs.