Most of us know the basics – namely, that the dinosaurs roamed the Earth millions of years ago but eventually went extinct. You’ve probably read about them in textbooks. Maybe your grade school teacher did a unit about them. You may have even visited a museum with a massive skeleton on display. But when was the last time you learned something new about dinosaurs? Unless you’re a paleontologist, chances are high that you haven’t had the chance to study dinosaurs recently. We created this article to help jump-start your learning journey. So if you want to discover 10 fascinating facts about dinosaurs, read on!
#1 The Longest Dinosaur Measured Over 40 Meters Long.
The longest dinosaur was the Argentinosaurus. These creatures measured over 40 meters long – that’s the length of four fire engines lined up! Argentinosaurus remains found in Argentina, South America indicate that these massive creatures lived during the Late Cretaceous period, around 90 million years ago.
#2 The Tallest Dinosaur Had a Giraffe-Like Stance.
The tallest dinosaurs were the Brachiosauridae group of sauropods. These dinosaurs had front legs that were longer than their back legs, which gave them a giraffe-like stance. Also like giraffes, these dinosaurs also had long necks that helped them eat from the tallest trees. The Brachiosaurus is the most well-known dinosaur in this group and was 13 meters tall. Sauroposeidon was even taller; at 18.5 meters tall, Sauroposeidon is considered the tallest dinosaur that ever lived.
#3 The Smallest Dinosaur Was About the Size of a Chicken – or a Bee Hummingbird.
For many years, it was thought that the smallest fully-grown dinosaur was the Lesothosaurus, which grew to about the size of a chicken. Then in 2021 scientists re-analyzed two amber-encased fossils found in modern-day Myanmar and discovered two species of Oculudentavis. Much is still being learned about the minuscule dinosaurs, including whether the fossils found are examples of full-grown dinosaurs or babies. Currently, scientists believe that the two Oculudentavis fossils represent a type of reptile that had bird-like features, including a large eye opening and a narrow, almost beak-like snout.
#4 The Heaviest Dinosaur Weighed the Same Amount as 17 African Elephants.
The heaviest dinosaur was the Argentinosaurus. These massive creatures weighed 77 tons. That’s the equivalent of 17 African elephants! The enormous Argentinosaurus is also the longest dinosaur and is considered the largest land animal that ever lived.
#5 The Fastest Dinosaur Could Reach Speeds of 60 kph.
The fastest dinosaurs were ostrich-like ornithomimids called Dromiceiomimus. It’s thought that these creatures could run at speeds of up to 60 kilometers per hour (roughly 37 miles per hour). For context, the cheetah – considered the fastest land animal ever – can reach a top speed of 70 miles per hour.
#6 The Smartest Dinosaur Had a Brain Size Similar To That of Today’s Birds and Mammals.
The Troodon is considered one of the smartest dinosaurs that ever lived. It was a skilled hunter, and at about 2 meters long, it had a brain size similar to that of mammals and birds living today. It also had stereoscopic vision and grasping hands.
#7 The Fiercest Dinosaur Was Not the Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Many people consider the T. rex to have been the fiercest dinosaur of all time, but that just isn’t true. Due to its cunning, determination, and vicious armaments, the title of fiercest dinosaur belongs to the Utahraptor. Measuring around 7 meters long, the Utahraptor was powerful, agile, and intelligent, making it a truly fearsome predator.
#8 Dinosaur Fossils Have Been Found on All 7 Continents.
Dinosaur fossils have been found on all 7 continents, including Antarctica. The largest number of fossils – and the greatest variety of species – have been found in the deserts and badlands of North America, China, and Argentina. Despite its green and rainy climate, the UK is also a rich source of dinosaur fossils; more have been found there than in 190-odd other countries.
#9 We Don’t Know How Many Types of Dinosaurs Once Existed.
Because scientists have yet to discover fossils of many kinds of dinosaurs that no doubt existed, the fossil record is incomplete. This is why we don’t know exactly how many types of dinosaurs once existed. Estimates vary, but approximately 300 genera and 700 species of extinct non-avian dinosaurs have been discovered and named so far.
#10 Dinosaurs Had a Single Distinguishing Characteristic.
What makes a dinosaur, well, a dinosaur? It turns out that all non-avian dinosaurs shared a common characteristic that scientists say distinguishes them from other reptiles: a hole in the hip socket. This is what allowed dinosaurs to walk upright on either two or four legs. Pterosaurs (flying reptiles) and plesiosaurs (ocean-dwelling reptiles) did not have this feature and are therefore not considered dinosaurs.
Want to learn even more amazing facts about dinosaurs? Check out this video!