Can you imagine being able to travel back in time and land on our planet as it was millions of years ago?Travel to a time when prehistoric predators with large teeth like Tyrannosaurus rex roamed and dominated the earth.
That would be awesome, wouldn’t it?
The T.rex, like all the other dinosaurs, is an object of fascination for young and old alike. We all long to know what was happening on our planet before that asteroid that caused the dinosaur extinction 65 million years ago fell.
But every good story deserves to be told from the beginning.
Before going into the history of dinosaurs in detail, we should answer a question that you may not have asked yourself.
What are dinosaurs?
Science defines a dinosaur as a type of vertebrate reptile that dominated the earth for nearly 200 million years. In particular, they lived during the Mesozoic Era.
Although the best known “terrible lizards” were the carnivorous super predators such as the T.rex. There is also information about herbivorous and omnivorous dinosaurs that shows us that they were equally fascinating.
However, while it is true that we have a great deal of information about these prehistoric animals, we are still a long way from knowing everything about dinosaur life.
Check if we are far away, that science has not yet managed to reveal exactly what dinosaurs are or were like.
Dinosaurs were gigantic animals, terribly ferocious and with a skin full of scales… Well, that’s how we imagine them or how the movies have shown them to us.
The reality is that paleontology still does not know exactly what these prehistoric creatures were like.
Although scientists are eager to search for dinosaurs and study them (what remains of them), there are countless questions that paleontologists have not yet been able to answer with the absolute consensus:
- Did they have feathers instead of scales?
- Did they or did they not have hot blood?
- How did dinosaur babies come into the world?
- Are there any dinosaur species that have been amazing mammals?
- Were dinosaur fights as fierce as they are in the movies?
Although we are still far from knowing all the answers to these questions, every day that a new fossil is discovered we are closer to knowing the truth.
We know it may seem impossible, but scientists discover so much data on every dinosaur in the world with every bone they find. Even if it’s just a few teeth they’re studying, any finding can be a real revelation.
From YourDinosaurs we are not going to be able to give you the answers to the questions that science has not yet reached, but what we are going to offer you is the best information about prehistoric dinosaurs that exist online.
Our goal is to become the best and most complete encyclopedia of dinosaurs on the Internet.
Don’t you believe us?
Follow us and we will open the doors of a fascinating and lethal world before your eyes. The world of dinosaurs.
When dinosaurs ruled the earth?
“Did dinosaurs really exist?”
We begin our journey through the life of these prehistoric animals with one of the most categorical doubts, which questions the very existence of these beings.
Can we be sure that these creatures inhabited the earth or doubt reasonable? How can Paleontology know that dinosaurs really inhabited our land?
Although it may be incredible, it is certain that these animals did exist. And if we can be certain of this, it is thanks to the study of fossils.
What are fossils?
They are remains or marks left by dinosaurs before they died and have withstood the test of time.
Many dinosaur fossils have been found in excavations that have been made in the earth, but also remains have been found inside large blocks of ice or amber.
And can the remains from the dinosaur era be preserved intact?
Of course, they do. In fact, although the most common remains are teeth or some bones, whole fossils have been found.
In 2013, the remains of Yuka, a 39,000-year-old mammoth baby, were found in Siberia. And we say baby because when Yuka died she was only 10 years old.
Yuka’s discovery has been a revelation, as he still has a large part of his coat and almost complete trunk.
But don’t think there are only fossils from when the dinosaurs lived. The oldest fossil found is 3.5 billion years old. These are stromatolites, microorganisms that look more like a rock than an animal.
3.5 billion years ago. Wow.
That surprising figure may have led you to another question:
When did dinosaurs live?
The first prehistoric dinosaurs lived about 245 million years ago. Although we will explain it in depth later on, we are referring to the Mesozoic Era.
If the appearance of the dinosaurs took “so long” to arrive, what happened in the meantime?
In order for you to situate yourself we will explain the different periods of the earth that have occurred before the arrival of the Mesozoic chiefs:
Protozoic era: it originated 4.5 billion years ago. We’re talking about the birth of our planet and the entire solar system. During this time the first living cells and stromatolites mentioned above appear. This era is divided into the Archaic and Pre-Cambrian periods.
Paleozoic Era: part of 590 million years ago. This is an era of multiple evolutionary advances. The first advances were aquatic beings. Mollusks or animals with shells develop and fish also begin to develop spines. We’re looking at the origin of amphibians.
But they are also sharks from this period, which have not changed much since then.
The environment of this era is exceptional. It is the origin of gigantic forests of ferns. But not ferns like the present ones. We’re talking about trees up to 30 meters high.
But if there is one thing that was a revolution in this era, it was the appearance of some very particular beings: the amniotes (common ancestor of the dinosaurs).
The age of reptiles had just begun.
We are facing a time of incredible and surprisingly dinosaur-like beings. We are referring to reptilian mammals, which in many cases are confused with real dinosaurs.
The Paleozoic Era is divided into the Cambrian, Orthodox, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous and Permian periods.
And the end of the Permian, with the extinction included of almost all known species, takes us to the Mesozoic Era. Dinosaur Era was beginning.
When were dinosaurs first on earth?
Although when we talk about Paleontology we cannot offer specific dates but we can estimate a fairly approximate figure.
According to a study by a team of scientists from Argentina, Brazil, California and the Utah Natural History Museum, the first dinosaurs were found in the Middle Triassic (between 250 and 240 million years old).
These old dinosaurs are the grandparents or distant uncles of the dinosaurs. Its best-known species are the Lewisuchus or the Lagerpeton.
Although initially it was considered that there were many years of difference between the existence of dinosaurs and the Dinosaur Era, new findings have shown that this is not the case.
The first dinosaur to exist, or rather, the oldest dinosaur fossil ever found, dates back some 243 million years… Right on the border between the Middle and Late Triassic. It was Nyasasaurus parringtoni.
Now that you know the date of birth of these prehistoric animals, we address one of the most important concepts:
How were dinosaurs created? How did they evolve into what they were?
When we talked about the time before the dinosaur ages, we talked about the arrival of amphibians.
From the amphibians, we move on to the age of reptiles, to the early amniotes.
We mention again the amniotes as they are very important in the process of evolution. Its importance is also due to what gives it its name, the amniotic egg.
This egg was the most decisive evolutionary characteristic for reptiles to leave the water and adapt to the earth.
What was so special about this egg?
As it was filled with liquid, the ideal conditions for the embryo to develop without being in the water were met. This would mean that reptiles would colonize our planet quickly.
How long did the dinosaurs live?
As we saw earlier, these amazing creatures lived in the Mesozoic Era.
The Mesozoic Era began 250 million years ago and is divided into 3 major periods.
Below is a brief mini summary of each of them and if you want to know everything about them a little more below we will provide you with all the information in articles dedicated to each of the ages.
Triassic Period: about 40 million years. This is where the origin of the dinosaurs, the first mammals (they have nothing to do with today’s mammals) and the dinosaurs themselves come from.
Jurassic Period: of the 3 periods of the dinosaurs, it is in this one when they became the dominant beings of the earth. It reaches 144 million years old.
Cretaceous Period: the first flowering plants are found and these animals become extinct.
So, according to this data, exactly how many years did the dinosaurs live?
If we set the date of the apparition as 243 million years ago (when the Nyasasaurus parringtoni fossil is found) and the end of these creatures is 65 million years ago, we can say that dinosaurs inhabited our planet for some 175 million years.
However, when many people ask these kinds of questions, they are only thinking about the existence of the most famous dinosaurs such as T.rex, Triceratops or Pteranodon.
When did the best-known dinosaurs ever exist?
For example, these three species dominated the Upper Cretaceous Period of the Mesozoic Era. So they inhabited the earth for about 80 million years, right up to the time when the meteorite that marked the end of this era and of all dinosaurs fell.
Paleozoic Era: Cambrian, Ordovician, Siluric, Devonian, Carboniferous and Permian.
Mesozoic Era: Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous.
This question is one of the most controversial questions in the world of science. 65 million years ago “something” was happening on our planet that led to the extinction of these beings and the beginning of the Cenozoic Era.
When the dinosaurs died, all other traces of life disappeared from our planet.
But what really happened, what could end up with such amazing and powerful beings.
When we see the destructive capacity of a bipedal predator such as a T. rex, it is surprising that with one stroke of the pen his life was over.
The force of nature and of evolution itself is much stronger than that of any dinosaur and of any living being in general.
Dinosaur extinction theories
As we said before, science has dueled several times with this theme. While some paleontologists defended a hypothesis to the death, there were also others who fiercely defended their theories that the real reason was another.
The result of this paleontological struggle is a long collection of assumptions and conjectures (some even a little ridiculous).
The main ones are as follows:
- Epidemic: a contagious disease would have made all these creatures disappear little by little.
- Volcanic activity: Iridium and dust from volcano eruptions caused a very dense cloud of dust to form. So much so that the sun’s rays did not reach the earth.
- Ice Age: Climate change is believed to have caused the earth to be hidden under ice.
- Excess males: Excessive heat could have caused the vast majority of dinosaurs born to be male, cutting off the possibility of reproduction.
- Their eggs are eaten by other mammals: other animals would have eaten the eggs, so the chances of increasing in number were drastically reduced.
- They ate their own offspring: yes, just as you hear it. It was believed that such was the desperation of carnivores to eat that they were able to eat their own young.
- Abnormal egg shells: egg fossils with 2 abnormalities were found. While some were very thick, others were extremely thin. In both situations, dinosaur babies could not have developed.
- The tremendous pituitary gland: an extravagant theory argued that the pituitary gland of dinosaurs would have made their growth bigger and bigger. This would lead to it not being a development, but a disease.
- Negative evolution: this hypothesis suggests that evolution made dinosaurs become more and more “foolish” and “useless”, which meant that they were not able to stay alive.
- Caterpillars vs. dinosaurs: a pest of this larva could have caused the disappearance of the plants, which caused the disappearance of the herbivorous dinosaurs. This, in turn, also entails that of carnivores.
- Blindness: According to the ophthalmologist, LR Croft, the intense sun at that time could have led to these animals developing vision problems.
- Extraterrestrials: you can’t talk about extravagant theories and not having an extraterrestrial appear. According to a TV show, ET and company had annihilated the dinosaurs so that we could inhabit the planet.
- Dead by their winds: and what is undoubtedly the most absurd hypothesis. According to the paleontologist, David Wilkinson, the methane gases expelled by the dinosaurs have caused climate change. This led some people to conclude that this had been the cause of extinction.
- The explosion of a star: the explosion of a supernova would have produced a level of radiation that would have altered the climate.
- Meteorite: and finally we arrive at what is today the most established theory. The impact of a meteorite would have radically changed the earth’s environment, leaving these creatures with no chance of feeding.
How long have the dinosaurs been extinct?
Whatever the reason, these animals disappeared from the face of the earth, leaving us their fossils as their only memory.
Its extinction occurred 65 million years ago. The Cenozoic Era was beginning.
In all those millions of years, mammals would still have to proliferate and develop in that habitat before it would be possible for humans to set foot on planet earth for the first time.
But… Are there any dinosaur descendants among us? Is this really possible?
Descendants of the “dinos” among us?
We are not referring to whether there are dinosaurs still out there as many people promulgate on the Internet, but whether any species could survive and evolve into a known animal at this time.
Are there any prehistoric animals still alive? Let’s see it.
- Sharks: Sharks are known to have about 400 million years of life, which means they are even older than the dinosaurs themselves.
- Hens and ostriches: as you hear it. And you know who they’re descended from? From T. Rex himself.
- Crocodiles and alligators: both reptiles are reported to have already inhabited the Cretaceous Period. They are among the animals that have changed the least in relation to their ancestors.
- Elephants: of these, it sure sounds more like their ancestors to you. Yeah, you guessed it, the mammoth.
- The lamprey, or “sea vampire” as it is also known, is an elongated fish that has no jaws but has teeth. It attaches itself to its victims and sucks their blood with an embolus-like system. It’s about 360 million years old.
- Sea sponges: this strange animal (for a long time it was mistaken for a plant) has a history of 600 million years. Dinosaurs are babies next to them.
Where did dinosaurs live?
Many, many of the fossils of these creatures have been found in North America, but that is not to say that they were found only there.
In fact, the reality is that they inhabited all the continents, but not as we know them today.
At the beginning of the Mesozoic Era, the earth was made up of a single continent called Pangaea. The only sea that existed was called Panthalassa.
Therefore, when the dinosaurs appeared, they could freely camp on a single expanse of land.
It was in the middle of the Jurassic when the Pangaea began to separate. Gondwana and Laurasia arose.
Gondwana included the countries of South America, Africa, Australia, Hindustan, Magadascar Island and Antarctica. Laurasia was North America and Eurasia.
The separation continued during the Cenozoic, although the process is still ongoing today.
We are now fully immersed in one of the most swampy topics in the world of dinosaurs: classifications.
Just think for a second about how many types of dinosaurs you know.
I’m sure in less than a minute you’ve imagined dinosaurs with crest, dinosaurs that fly and you might even have thought of a dinosaur with feathers.
But no doubt, you’ve thought of the famous Triceratops with its fearsome three-horned head, the Velociraptor (who forgets Jurassic Park) with its powerful hind legs that could reach up to 39 kilometres per hour of speed or the Stegosaurus, with its barbed tail.
All very different, but all dinosaurs.
Have you also wondered about how many dinosaurs there were?
You can’t really give a number. We must not forget that we know different races of dinosaurs thanks to the fossil remains that have been found throughout history.
Who knows what new kind of dinosaur might be found tomorrow. We don’t even know all of them yet.
On the sea floor or in the deepest layers of our land there are still many fossils waiting to be discovered. Fossils that may still have some surprises in store for us.
But let’s get back to the facts, to what we know so far.
According to a 2006 study by Steve Wang and Peter Dodson, at the time, there were 527 species counted.
At the time, there were more than 700 kinds of dinosaurs mentioned, but that number was reduced by half since only about 350 are based on complete samples. By complete samples, we mean that enough fossils have been found to reconstitute a large part of the skeleton.
This distinction is important because many species that have been named are discovered over time to be not a new genus but belonged to an already known species.
Before we go into the different classifications that exist to order all the dinosaur breeds that exist, we want to talk to you about something very important for their distinction: the names of dinosaurs.
The dinosaurs and their names give us valuable information about what they were like and what their characteristics were. We give you examples.
The diplodocus is the long-necked dinosaur par excellence. Its name comes from the Greek diploos (double) and dokos (beam). Although at first, one might think that the name “double beam” comes from its enormous neck and tail, it is not so.
That term comes from the shape of its bones at the bottom of its tail.
Another example is with one of the largest dinosaurs in the world: the Argentinosaurus.
As you may have imagined, in this case, the name is related to the place where it was discovered. To find a reference to their size we would already have to go to their family name: titanosaurus.
And although it had a small head and teeth as sharp as needles, this imposing animal measured about 33 meters long and about 77 tons in weight.
Another curious example of a name is the Chilesaurus diegosuarezi.
The first name comes from the fact that the fossils were found in Chile. However, the second, the “diegosuarezi”, comes in honor of the discoverer of the find: Diego Suárez. A 7-year-old boy who, instead of finding the striking stone he was looking for, found the remains of a dinosaur.
When you hear the name of a dinosaur, don’t forget that part of its history is locked up in it.
Unofficial dinosaurs classification
As you can imagine, there are many ways to classify these creatures, but officially there is only one and it is the one we will introduce you to later.
The ones we are going to show you now, are 2 classifications less scientific but easier to understand for a wider public.
In the first one, we’re going to see a division based on the feeding of dinosaurs.
The second classification classifies them according to their nature and is that there are different races of dinosaurs: terrestrial, marine and flying. Although you’ll see later that this is not entirely true
According to their diet
We started with the diet these creatures followed.
Omnivorous dinosaurs are those that can eat vegetables and meat without any problem, so they can feed on all kinds of food.
Herbivorous dinosaurs are the ones that feed on plants. And yes, before you ask the question, we already answered it, they did have teeth. See if they used them if there are species of dinosaurs that had their teeth knocked out several times for this reason.
And the carnivorous dinosaurs you already know are all those who fed on meat.
The second unofficial classification of dinosaurs is based on their nature. Whether they were terrestrial, marine or flying.
According to their nature
There is no need to enter the terrestrial dinosaurs, as they are widely known. Seafarers and flyers, on the other hand, are not so much.
As we were telling you before, it’s really not entirely true that there are sea dinosaurs or flying dinosaurs.
Although it is true that during the Mesozoic Era there were amazing creatures that swam in the air and swam in the dark depths of the sea, the truth is that they were not dinosaurs.
All these creatures were reptiles. Then, when we talk about the official classification of dinosaurs, we will give you the scientific reason.
What are the best known marine dinosaurs?
Without a doubt, our number one is the Ichthyosaurs. So that you can easily imagine them, the best description is to tell you that they were very similar to dolphins but with an enormous size (they were up to 15 meters long). They also had a powerful jawbone.
What about the flyer dinosaurs?
If there’s one known flying dinosaur, it’s the Pteranodon. An animal whose largest specimen was about 7 meters long and could fly because it developed its own aerodynamic structure.
And now, yes, we are entering the world of Paleontology. Now we are going to present you with the most accurate and detailed scientific classification of all dinosaur breeds on the Internet.
Official dinosaurs classification
To date, scientists have identified thousands of individual dinosaur species, which can be assigned to more or less 13 major breeds. These range from Ankylosaurs (dinosaurs with shells) to ceratopsios (horned dinosaurs), or ornithomimiformes (“feathered”).
But don’t worry, we now tell you about the special characteristics of each of these breeds.
The ankylosaurs were among the last dinosaurs to be found 65 million years ago, before the mass extinction of the Cretaceous-Paleogene, and rightly so: these herbivores, although harmless for their food, were the Cretaceous equivalent of Sherman tanks, with large plates as armor.
The ankylosaurs (which were closely related to the Stegosaurs) seem to have developed their weaponry mainly to repel predators, although this does not remove the existence of fights between males to be the dominant one in the group.
Among the strangest dinosaurs that lived on the face of the earth are the ceratopsians (including varieties such as Triceratops, Pentaceratops, among others) and are characterized by their huge horned skulls.
Most of the ceratopsians were large specimens, easily comparable with today’s large mammals such as elephants. It is a very common breed in the Cretaceous Period.
The Protoceratops, for example, weighed a few hundred kilos, although other varieties of Asian origin of this same breed are known with the size of a cat!
Among the last races of dinosaurs to live on the face of the earth, the hadrosaurs (commonly known as duck-billed dinosaurs) were characterized by their large dimensions, ridges on the head, herbivores with very resistant beaks in their snouts to crush vegetation.
It is believed that most Hadrosaurians lived in herds, and some genera (such as Maiasaura and Hypacrosaurus Americana) were especially familiar because they raised very well from their young until they were completely independent.
Ornithomimids, despite having plumage, had nothing to do with flying dinosaurs, but rather resemble rats as some varieties had such small plumage that it looked like a coat of hair.
This two-legged breed was extremely fast during its Cretaceous life span. Some genera (such as Dromiceiomimus) may have been able to reach speeds in excess of 25 kilometers per hour.
Curiously, the ornithomimids were among the few who enjoyed an omnivorous diet, tasting the meat of prey left behind by previous fights between large mammals, as well as the vegetation they had in their natural habitat.
Ornithopods were a breed of small to medium-sized herbivores, mostly bipedal, among the most common dinosaurs of the Mesozoic Era, wandering the plains and forests in large herds.
By an accident in history, ornithopods (examples such as Iguanodon and Mantellisaurus) were among the first dinosaurs to be discovered in the excavations carried out in search of these dinosaurs.
Twenty million years before the dinosaurs became extinct, a strange new breed evolved and with it were born two- or three-legged herbivores of small to medium size with unusually thick skulls.
Pachycephalosaurs like Stegosaurs are believed to have used their large skulls to fight each other for herd dominance, although their skulls may have been nothing more than a technique to evade and frighten other mammals from possible attacks.
During the last Triassic Period, a strange and curious breed of small to medium-sized herbivorous dinosaurs emerged around planet earth.
The prosauropods were not the ancestors of the sauropods of the late Jurassic Period, but they did have a small lineage among them, parallel, in the evolution of the dinosaurs and their races.
Interestingly, most prosauropods appeared to have been able to walk on both two and four legs, and there is some evidence that they supplemented their vegetarian diets with small portions of meat, making them another apparently omnivorous variety.
Among the most feared dinosaurs of the Mesozoic Era are the raptors, which have a great resemblance to today’s birds, as well as other bird dinosaurs that we will discuss later.
This breed was distinguished by its bipedal postures, its three-fingered hands, its larger-than-average brains and the firm, curved claws known in the Velociraptors in the Jurassic Park film.
Most of them had feathers. Among the most famous specimens are the Deinonychus, Velociraptor and the Utahraptor.
The sauropod breed, the great vegetarians of the time, was an exaggeratedly enormous breed, some of them reaching a height of more than 30 meters and weighing more than 100 tons per specimen.
Most sauropods are characterized by their extremely long necks with very broad tails and bodies. In some cases, they would squat, especially when it came to feeding you from the tallest trees.
They were the dominant herbivores of the Jurassic Period, although a small variety of the breed called Titanosaurus flourished during the Cretaceous Period. Among the best-known sauropods are the Brachiosaurus, Apatosaurus, and Diplodocus.
The Stegosauria breed is the most famous example of the known dinosaur breed, there are at least a dozen varieties of the stegosaurus (herbivorous dinosaurs with large defensive plates all over the spine, very closely related to the ankylosaurus discussed above. They lived during the late Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods.
The function of these plates on the bib is still an unknown question that has not been clarified to this day. The possibility is being considered that they existed for mating exhibitions between specimens of the same species, as a radiant of the heat that existed at that time, or even perhaps both.
Technically, they are similar to the breed of theropods, although they are not exactly the same. Therizinosaurs were especially characterized by their particularly clumsy appearance with feathers and long claws in their front hands.
Even stranger was that these dinosaurs seemed to have followed a herbivorous (or at least omnivorous) diet, in sharp contrast to their strictly carnivorous cousins.
The golden age of the sauropods came to an end at the end of the Jurassic Period, when these multi-ton dinosaurs traveled the continents of the earth at will.
By the beginning of the Cretaceous, sauropods such as Brachiosaurus and Apatosaurus had become extinct, to be replaced by the Titanosaurus. Like their predecessors, they were large plant eaters, characterized by (in most cases) resistant scales, large shells and other rudimentary defensive features to this day.
As with sauropods, the few found and incomplete remains of the Titanosaurus have been found all over the world.
Tyrannosaurus is the best-known breed par excellence, they were killing machines from the Cretaceous Period: these enormous carnivores, with their large losses, trunk, and teeth, were relentless in the battle against other dinosaurs, whether they were smaller, equal in size or even larger if they went in a herd. The most famous of all is the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
In the same way, other dinosaurs of the same breed but not as well known as Albertosaurus and Daspletosaurus were also lethal.