Millions of years ago, more than 700 different kinds of dinosaurs lived on this planet for about 165 million years; some were big, others were small. Scientists believe they lived everywhere, on every continent, and even flew in the skies.
Some dinosaurs were carnivores, which means they were meat eaters, while others were herbivores or just ate plants. Some of the largest dinosaurs never ate meat. Take the Brachiosaurus, which weighed as much as 17 elephants and stood two and a half times taller than a giraffe. Another was the Apatosaurus, which weighed about 45 tons, almost the same as two fire trucks, and was 75 feet long, or as tall as about 13 refrigerators stacked on top of each other.
Imagine standing next to either of these giant creatures. What would it feel like? Would it be scary? Maybe you would feel the same way an ant feels when a person walks by.
Although dinosaurs are extinct, people are still fascinated by them. Here are 8 fun or interesting facts you may not know:
- Not all dinosaurs were mean like the T-Rex, or Tyrannosaurus Rex, which was the size of a school bus. It was the most ferocious dinosaur of all and had the strongest bite of any animal on Earth. Ever.
- Some animals today come from the dinosaur family. Can you guess which ones? Think: lizards, turtles, snakes and crocodiles.
- Dinosaurs became extinct around 66 million years ago. Scientists believe an asteroid hit the Earth, which made lots of dust and dirt rise into the air and block the sun. Then the Earth became very cold, too cold for the dinosaurs to survive.
- The word dinosaur came from Richard Owen, a British paleontologist, who is a scientist that studies the history of life on Earth through fossils. He came up with this name in 1842 after seeing a lot of dinosaur fossils. ‘Dino’ comes from the Greek word ‘deinos’, which means terrible. ‘Saurus’ comes from the Greek word ‘sauros’, which means lizard. So, the word dinosaur means terrible lizard.
- Most scientists agree that modern birds evolved from dinosaurs.
- Many people think that all dinosaurs were huge. This is NOT true. The smallest dinosaurs were about the size of a chicken, but on average, they were about the size of a small car.
- When dinosaur bones were first found hundreds of years ago by the Chinese, they thought they were the bones of giant dragons.
- Dinosaurs are often named according to where they were found, or something unusual about them. Sometimes their name reflects the type of dinosaur they are thought to be. For example, the name of one type of dinosaur is Ovirapto, which means “egg thief”. Likewise, Albertosaurus means “lizard from Alberta” in Greek.
In chapter 6 of The Adventure of Mo, Mo and Finchy visit a museum where the skeleton of a dinosaur named Elvis is on display. He’s a seventy-seven million year old brachylophosaurus. This type of dinosaur once lived in the US and Canada.
Dinosaurs spark everyone’s imagination. People even create jokes about them. Here are some from Reader’s Digest that will make you smile:
- Why does the brontosaurus have a long neck?
Its feet smell.
- What’s the best thing to do if you see a T-Rex?
Hope he doesn’t see you!
- What do you call a dinosaur who is a noisy sleeper?
- Why do museums exhibit old dinosaur bones?
Because they can’t afford new ones!
If you could be a dinosaur, what type would you like to be? Would you be tall, short or have a long neck and tail? Would you eat plants or meat? Would you be mean or friendly?