Dinosaur - Definition, Types, Pictures & Facts


Temporal rangeLate Triassic–Present, 233.23 – 0 Mya
Owen, 1842
Major groups†Ornithischia

Possible dinosaurs of uncertain affinity
†Silesauridae? (paraphyletic?)

Dinosaurs are some of the most fascinating creatures to have ever lived on Earth. From their massive size to their unique characteristics, these prehistoric giants have captured the imagination of people for generations. In this article, we will take a deep dive into the world of dinosaurs and explore everything you need to know about these amazing creatures.

Dinosaurs are a group of reptiles that lived on Earth during the Mesozoic Era, which spanned from about 252 million to 66 million years ago. They are known for their impressive size, with some species growing as tall as a four-story building. Although most dinosaurs went extinct millions of years ago, their legacy lives on today in the form of fossils, pop culture, and scientific research.

What are Dinosaurs? - Definition and Characteristics

Dinosaurs are a group of reptiles that are characterized by several unique features. First, they all laid eggs, which is a trait shared by modern-day reptiles. Second, they had a unique hip structure that allowed them to stand upright and move quickly. Finally, they had a range of adaptations that made them well-suited to their environment, such as sharp teeth for eating meat or long necks for reaching vegetation.

History of Study of Dinosaurs

The study of dinosaurs dates back to the early 19th century, when the first dinosaur fossils were discovered in England. Since then, scientists have uncovered thousands of dinosaur fossils from all over the world, which have helped us learn more about these fascinating creatures. In recent years, advances in technology have allowed scientists to study soft tissue and even DNA from dinosaur fossils, which has provided new insights into their biology and evolution.

Soft Tissue and Molecular Preservation

One of the most exciting developments in dinosaur research is the discovery of soft tissue and even DNA in some fossils. This has allowed researchers to study dinosaur biology in ways that were previously impossible, such as analyzing the proteins that made up their feathers or determining their sex based on the presence of certain hormones. Although this research is still in its early stages, it has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of dinosaurs and their place in the evolutionary history of life on Earth.

Types of Dinosaurs - Classification and Examples

Dinosaurs can be classified into two main groups, based on the structure of their hip bones. The first group, Saurischia, includes dinosaurs with a hip structure similar to that of modern-day reptiles. This group includes the famous carnivorous dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus rex and Velociraptor. The second group, Ornithischia, includes dinosaurs with a hip structure that is more similar to that of modern-day birds. This group includes herbivorous dinosaurs such as Triceratops and Stegosaurus.


Dinosaurs are further classified into various subgroups based on their physical characteristics, such as the shape of their teeth or the presence of feathers. This system of classification is known as taxonomy and allows scientists to better understand the evolutionary relationships between different dinosaur species. The dagger symbol † indicates taxa with no members currently living.

Order Saurischia

  • Suborder Theropoda
    • †Infraorder Herrerasauria
    • †Infraorder Coelophysoidea
    • †Infraorder Ceratosauria+
      • †Division Neoceratosauria+
        • †Subdivision Abelisauroidea
          • †Family Abelisauridae
          • †Family Noasauridae
        • †Subdivision Ceratosauridae
    • Infraorder Tetanurae
      • †Division Megalosauria
        • †Subdivision Spinosauroidea
          • †Family Megalosauridae
          • †Family Spinosauridae
      • †Division Carnosauria
        • †Subdivision Allosauroidea
          • †Family Allosauridae
          • †Family Carcharodontosauridae
          • †Family Neovenatoridae
          • †Family Metriacanthosauridae
      • Division Coelurosauria
        • †Family Coeluridae
        • Subdivision Maniraptoriformes
          • †Family Tyrannosauridae
          • †Family Ornithomimidae
          • Infradivision Maniraptora
            • †Family Alvarezsauridae
            • †Family Therizinosauridae
            • †Cohort Deinonychosauria
              • †Family Troodontidae
              • †Family Dromaeosauridae
              • Class Aves
  • †Suborder Sauropodomorpha
    • †Thecodontosaurus
    • †Family Plateosauridae
    • †Riojasaurus
    • †Family Massospondylidae
    • †Infraorder Sauropoda
      • †Family Vulcanodontidae
      • †Family Omeisauridae
      • †Division Neosauropoda
        • †Family Cetiosauridae
        • †Family Diplodocidae
        • †Subdivision Macronaria
          • †Family Camarasauridae
          • †Infradivision Titanosauriformes
            • †Family Brachiosauridae
            • †Cohort Somphospondyli
              • †Family Euhelopodidae
              • †Family Titanosauridae

†Order Ornithischia

  • †Family Pisanosauridae
  • †Family Fabrosauridae
  • †Suborder Thyreophora
    • †Family Scelidosauridae
    • †Infraorder Stegosauria
    • †Infraorder Ankylosauria
      • †Family Nodosauridae
      • †Family Ankylosauridae
  • †Suborder Cerapoda
    • †Infraorder Pachycephalosauria
    • †Infraorder Ceratopsia
      • †Family Psittacosauridae
      • †Family Protoceratopsidae
      • †Family Ceratopsidae
    • †Infraorder Ornithopoda
      • †Family Heterodontosauridae
      • †Family Hypsilophodontidae
      • †Family Iguanodontidae *
      • †Family Hadrosauridae

Evolution of Dinosaurs - From Triassic to Cretaceous Periods

Dinosaurs first evolved during the Triassic period, which spanned from about 252 million to 201 million years ago. At that time, the Earth was a very different place, with large areas covered in forests and a much warmer climate than today. Over time, dinosaurs evolved and diversified, with new species arising and others going extinct. By the end of the Cretaceous period, which ended about 66 million years ago, most dinosaurs had gone extinct, likely due to a catastrophic asteroid impact.

Famous Dinosaurs - Pictures and Descriptions

There are many famous dinosaurs that capture the imagination of people around the world. One of the most iconic is Tyrannosaurus rex, or T. rex for short. This massive carnivorous dinosaur lived during the late Cretaceous period and is known for its powerful jaws and tiny arms. Other famous dinosaurs include Triceratops, Stegosaurus, and Velociraptor, each with their unique characteristics and adaptations.

Tyrannosaurus rex.
Tyrannosaurus rex

Fascinating Dinosaur Facts - Size, Behavior, and Habitat

Dinosaurs are full of fascinating facts, from their massive size to their unique behaviors. For example, the largest dinosaur known to have ever lived is Argentinosaurus, which could grow up to 100 feet long and weigh as much as 10 elephants. Some dinosaurs, such as the Stegosaurus, had bony plates on their backs that may have been used for defense or temperature regulation. And some dinosaurs, such as the Troodon, were thought to be among the most intelligent animals of their time.

Dinosaur Fossils - Discovery and Importance

Dinosaur fossils are some of the most important clues we have to understanding the history of life on Earth. They tell us about the diversity of life that existed millions of years ago and provide insights into how these animals lived and evolved. Fossil discoveries have also helped us understand how Earth's climate and environment have changed over time, and how these changes have affected the evolution of life.

Dinosaurs in Pop Culture - Movies, TV Shows, and Books

Dinosaurs have captured the imagination of people in popular culture for decades. From classic movies like Jurassic Park to modern-day TV shows like Dino Dana, dinosaurs continue to fascinate and inspire people of all ages. In addition to entertainment, dinosaurs have also played an important role in education and scientific research, helping to inspire the next generation of scientists and researchers.

Studying Dinosaurs - Paleontology and Dinosaur Research

Studying dinosaurs is an exciting and challenging field that requires a combination of skills and expertise. Paleontology, the study of ancient life, is a key discipline for understanding dinosaur biology and evolution. Other fields, such as molecular biology and biomechanics, also play important roles in dinosaur research. As technology continues to advance, new opportunities for studying dinosaurs and their place in the history of life on Earth are constantly emerging.

The Historical Effect of Dinosaurs and their Importance Today

Dinosaurs may have gone extinct millions of years ago, but their legacy lives on today in many ways. From the fossils that help us understand the history of life on Earth to the popular culture that continues to inspire and entertain us, dinosaurs have had a profound impact on our world. As we continue to study and learn more about these amazing creatures, we gain new insights into the natural world and our place in it.

Dinosaurs are truly fascinating creatures that have captured the imagination of people for generations. From their unique characteristics to their impressive size, these prehistoric giants continue to inspire and intrigue us today. Whether you are a scientist studying dinosaur fossils, a child fascinated by their images in books and movies, or simply someone who appreciates the natural world, dinosaurs have something to offer everyone.

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