The first dinosaurs evolved during the middle to late Triassic period, about 230 million years ago, in the part of the super continent of Pangea that currently corresponds to South America. Before that, the dominant terrestrial reptiles were archosaurs (dominant reptiles), therapsids (mammal-like reptiles), and pelycosaurs (such as the Dimetrodon that lived during the Permian period). The earliest archosaurs are believed to be from the early Triassic period, approximately 227 to 242 million years ago. They evolved quickly and managed to diversify giving rise to carnivores, but also herbivores.
For roughly 20 million years after the evolution of dinosaurs, the most fearsome reptiles on Earth were prehistoric crocodiles. It would take until the beginning of the Jurassic period, 200 million years ago, for the dinosaurs to make their appearance on the planet and begin their rise to domination.
The dinosaurs lived on Earth for about 215 to 245 million year s (about 64 times more than the time it takes humanity on Earth). All non-avian dinosaurs became extinct about 66 million years ago. And its name is the work of the English naturalist Sir Richard Owen who coined the term Dinosauria in 1842, derived from the Greek deinos, which means “terribly large”, and sauros, which means “lizard”.
How many known species are there of extinct dinosaurs? Approximately 700 different species.
Although Mosasaurs, Ichthyosaurs, Pterosaurs, Plesiosaurs, and Dimetrodon are commonly considered dinosaurs, they are not technically dinosaurs. The term “dinosaur” refers only to reptiles that inhabit the earth that have a specific hip structure, among other traits.
Did you know that the name “Velociraptor” means swift thief? Today we will meet the best known dinosaurs and delve into their characteristics and peculiarities. Like the brutal Tyrannosaurus rex bite that was more than twice as powerful as a lion’s bite. It was the most ferocious carnivore of all.
As we have commented previously, there are an infinity of dinosaurs, however there are some better known ones that have even starred in some fantasy films such as Jurassic Park (Jurassic Park, in English).
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The Tyranousaurus Rex ( Tyrannosaurus rex) whose name means Tyrant Reptile, lived during the late Cretaceous period. It was 10 to 14 meters long and weighed between four and seven tons (its skull was only 1.5 meters long). It was one of the most ferocious carnivores and also one of the most feared . Despite its size, many paleontologists believe that it could efficiently run after prey and certainly outperform a human. T. rex lived in an area of Earth that now makes up western North America about 66 million years ago.
The Triceratops ( Triceratops horridus ), whose name means Horrible Head with Three Horns, lived during the late Cretaceous period 66-68 million years ago. The adult specimens could be between 8 and 9 meters long and 3 meters high, with a body mass of between 6,000-12,000 kg. With its colossal size, this dinosaur fed on tough, fiber-rich plants. It was the largest of the horned dinosaurs of this stage. The first known fossils of a Triceratops were found near Denver, Colorado in 1887.
The Velociraptor ( Velociraptor mongoliensis ), whose name means “swift or swift thief,” was small in size (approximately 1.8 meters in length and barely 15 kilograms), smarter than most dinosaurs, and a fast runner thanks to its two hind legs. In fact, it could reach up to 65 kilometers per hour, which was great for hunting prey, as it was a carnivore (its favorite prey could be the protoceratops). He lived during the late Cretaceous period and hunted in groups.
The Diplodocus ( Diplodocus longus ), whose name means “double bundle”, refers to the strangely shaped bones found in the Diplodocus’ tail (which contained around 80 vertebrae). The end of its tail was so thin that it allowed it to be used as a whip to defend itself from predators. This dinosaur lived in an area that is now western North America at the end of the Jurassic period , about 150 million years ago. It seems that it could measure up to 35 meters and weigh around 10 to 15 tons in weight. He lived during the late Jurassic period. It was a herbivorous dinosaur that fed on the leaves and fruits of tall trees and shrubs, as well as ferns and horsetails that grew at ground level.
The brachiosaurus ( Brachiosaurus Brancai) , whose name means Reptile with Arms, lived in the late Jurassic period in what is now North America. This herbivore was adapted to feed on tall trees. It is estimated that he ate about 200-400 kilos of food a day. It had a long neck, a small head, and a relatively short tail. It was up to 28 meters tall and weighed approximately 50 tons. It was the only dinosaur that had its front legs longer than the back ones. It is a sauropod, like Diplodocus and Apatosaurus.
No one knows why the stegosaurus (which translates to “covered lizard”) had such distinctive plates that on average they were two feet tall and wide. On average, it was about 30 feet long and 13 feet high and weighed a maximum of two tons. Some believe that the pointed plates of this dinosaur could have been brightly colored and could move, and the tips on the tail could have been horizontal rather than vertical, helping to ward off predators. The stegosaurus lived on the plains of what is now North America about 150 million years ago. It was a herbivorous dinosaur from the late Jurassic period.
The Iguanodon (Iguanodon Bernissartensis) , whose name means “iguana tooth, lived in the early Cretaceous about 125 million years ago. It was first discovered in 1822 by the English geologist Gideon Mantell and was the second dinosaur to receive a formal name (in 1825), the first being Megalosaurus (in 1824). It was a herbivorous dinosaur that weighed about 3.5 tons and reached about 10 meters in length. Along with Tyrannosaurus rex and Stegosaurus, the Iguanodon was one of the three dinosaurs that inspired the appearance of Godzilla.
The Archaeopteryx ( Archaeopterix Lithographica ) whose name means “ancient wing”, lived in the Jurassic period. It is a primitive carnivorous bird that had terrifying-looking claws and sharp teeth. Regarding its diet, it probably included small reptiles, mammals, and insects. It measured approximately 60 centimeters and weighed 500 grams. Its physiological characteristics place it as a kind of evolutionary transition between dinosaurs and birds.
The Protoceratops , whose name means “first horned face”, lived in the late Cretaceous period 75 and 71 million years ago in what is now Asia (especially in Mongolia) so ago. It fed on plants and was approximately two meters tall and weighed up to 177 kilos. Did it really have horns? No. This Campanian herbivore did not wear real horns, but bony buttons on the tip of the nose and cheeks.
The Allosaurus ( Allosaurus Fragilis ), whose name means “strange / different delicate reptile”, was a carnivorous dinosaur smaller than Tyrannosaurus rex but faster and with a jaw full of teeth. It had a large skull and walked on two legs. But, unlike its cousin Rex, its body and head were quite balanced by a long and heavy tail. Another of its characteristic features is the series of bumps in front of each eye, although its function is unknown. Allosaurus lived during the late Jurassic period, about 150 million years ago. It was first described by Othniel Marsh in 1877 and it became one of the first known dinosaurs.Marsh also named and gave the first description of the Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus) in that same year. The Allosaurus was approximately 12 meters long and weighed up to two tons. It fed on small dinosaurs such as Camptosaurus and Stegosaurus, as well as lizards and mammals. It is possible that he hunted in packs. It is a very popular dinosaur, featured in books, documentaries and movies, including Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1912 book “The Lost World” and the BBC television series “Walking Among Dinosaurs” (1999).
The Gallimimus ( Gallimimus Bullatus ), whose name means “chicken reptile”, is the only known species of the genus Gallimimos . It lived during the late Cretaceous period approximately 70 million years ago in what is now Asia. It measured four meters and weighed just over four tons. It was omnivore and fed on small animals, insects, eggs, and plants. It was a fairly agile dinosaur that walked on two legs, which were quite thin. It is likely that it ran as much as the current ostrich (about 70 km / h).
The Ankylosaurus ( Ankylosaurus ), whose name means “stiff reptile”, lived at the end of the Cretaceous period approximately 66 million years ago. They were undoubtedly one of the last dinosaurs left before the great extinction event due to the impact of a meteorite . The Ankylosaurus was herbivorous and fed on low plants. Its teeth were very small compared to the size of its body , measuring up to 11 meters long and weighing about 4-6 tons. The most characteristic thing about this dinosaur is its body armor: thorns and bone plates embedded in the skin that represented a wonderful defense against predators. His tail is not negligible either, because it was capable of breaking the bones of another dinosaur with its onslaught.
The Spinosaurus ( Spinosaurus aegyptiacus ), whose name means “reptile thorny Egypt”, lived about 100 million years ago during the Cretaceous period in what is now northern Africa. It was larger than the Tyrannosaurus Rex and probably one of the largest carnivores in history. It was up to 15 meters long and weighed between 7 and 20 tons. It featured a long, thin skull and distinctive spines that were 1.5 meters long. It is believed that this sail or crest absorbed and dispersed heat, thus regulating its body temperature. It is another of the best known dinosaurs, which has appeared in films such as “Jurassic Park 3”.