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What Are the Most Popular Dinosaurs? | Dino Guide

Posted on 2021-12-17

Even though dinosaurs roamed the earth millions of years ago, humans are fascinated by them. From having a strong presence in fictional television shows and cinematic movies such as "Jurassic Park," video games and documentaries, there is no denying that dinosaurs are loved by many. 

Masters of the planet for approximately 165 million years, the cause of their extinction is still up for debate. Some say that an asteroid collided with earth, while others believe that widespread volcanic activity is the reason for the dinosaurs' mass extinction. We may never know how their time came to an end, but we do know that we will never forget them. What are the most well-known dinosaurs? Learn more about some of the many different dinosaur species.

Plant-Eating Dinosaurs

Herbivorous dinosaurs were plant-eating giants. They most likely survived on a diet of trees such as conifers, redwoods, yews, cycads, cypress and pines. It is also possible that they may have eaten flowering plants as well. 

Dinosaurs with an herbivore diet had a different physical makeup than their meat-eating cousins. Their teeth weren't designed to rip and tear but to chew and grind. These plant eaters were some of the most successful surviving dinosaurs, evolving quickly during the Mesozoic and Cretaceous periods. Here's a look at some of the most common plant-eating dinosaurs.

Triceratops

Having existed over 68 million years ago during the Cretaceous period, the triceratops is well-known and easily recognized. It had three horns on its head along with a massive frill which served as a shield covering for the rest of its armored body. Their famous features most likely helped them find mates and provided a form of self-defense against meat-eating predators. Some scientists believe that they also were covered in hair. 

The majority of triceratops remains uncovered by paleontologists have been found in North America. It had the broadest skull of all land animals, making up for approximately one-third of its overall body length. It measured up to 30 feet long and about 10 feet tall. They are estimated to have reached a weight of up to 12 tons by adulthood. 

Stegosaurus

The name stegosaurus literally translates into "roof lizard," and it is not hard to understand why. A popular dinosaur, it is identified by its distinctive, spikey plates that line the top of its body from the neck down the tail. These plates might have provided protection and assistance for chasing off any menacing predators. 

Some believe that the plates on the stegosaurus were brightly colored and could also move. The stegosaurus grew to be about 30 feet long and once roamed the lands of North America during the Jurassic period. However, fossil remains have also been found in Europe and China. These dinosaurs are thought to have been very peaceful plant eaters.

Ankylosaurus

These dinosaurs lived about 74 to 67 million years ago and are considered to be among the last remaining species of dinosaurs before extinction. Once fully grown, an adult ankylosaurus could grow over 30 feet in length and weigh as much as four tons. 

They were herbivores with astonishingly small teeth. They had an armored body covered in scales and a tail that possessed a massive club at the end. These defenses were necessary for keeping the ankylosaurus safe from harm. They may have seemed like docile creatures, but they knew how to defend themselves well. If ever caught in a battle, the ankylosaurus could swing around its mighty tail and impose enough impact to break the bones of its predators. 

Parasaurolophus

The parasaurolophus was a dinosaur with the incredible ability to walk on either two or four legs. They roamed the earth approximately 75 million years ago, with fossil remains found in Canada and the United States. 

In addition to being known for the dual capability to walk on two or four legs, they are also commonly recognized for their oddly shaped heads. Parasaurolophus had a crest on their heads that curved backward from the skull. It is thought that this crest helped to signify the difference between males and females. It also might have enhanced their hearing abilities and regulated their body temperatures. 

Meat-Eating Dinosaurs

Carnivores were the fiercest creatures among the dinosaurs. These meat-eating dinosaurs had long, serrated, razor-sharp teeth that were made to rip and tear through their prey. Meat eaters lived on a diet that came from the flesh of lizards, insects, eggs, early mammals and even other dinosaurs. 

While many dinosaurs were carnivores, not every meat-eating species ate the same way. Paleontologists believe that there were some dinosaurs who would hunt their prey before attacking, killing and then eating them on the spot. Other dinosaurs are thought to have been more like scavengers, meaning they would feed on the carcasses of dead animals that had either been killed by another dinosaur or that died of natural causes, such as old age. 

What are the most common meat-eating dinosaurs? Find out more about this fearless group of dinosaur species. 

Tyrannosaurus Rex

When someone hears the word 'dinosaur,' they might automatically think of the tyrannosaurus rex. Having roamed the earth 66-68 million years ago, it was one of the last dinosaur species to have appeared on the planet. Also fondly referred to as the T. rex, it is often considered to be the undisputed king of the dinosaurs. "Tyrannosaurus" translates into the literal phrase "tyrant lizard king" and with very good reason. 

Fossil remains have proven the T. rex to have grown to approximately 40 feet long with a head of about five feet that possessed a mouthful of teeth designed for ripping and tearing the meat of its prey. It is estimated that they weighed upwards of about 7.5 tons. 

T. rex might have had humorously small arms compared to the rest of its body, but they were still strong. The sharp claws could also deliver serious injuries to its prey.  

Velociraptor

Velociraptor fossils have been found in several places including Northern China and the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. Named for being a "swift or speedy thief", the velociraptor was notably smaller in size than other dinosaurs. However, these feathered dinosaurs were not to be underestimated. 

Even though they were much smaller, they were also a lot smarter than most dinosaurs, making them excellent hunters and scavengers. They had the ability to run on two back legs and could reach incredible speeds of up to 40 mph, making it difficult for their prey to outrun them. The combination of intelligence, speed and agility, as well as their penetrating teeth and sickle-shaped claws made the velociraptor one of the most treacherous meat-eating dinosaurs around. 

Spinosaurus

Having once roamed the areas of North Africa about 100 million years ago during the Cretaceous period, the spinosaurus is argued to be the largest carnivorous dinosaur to have ever walked the earth. While it is still unclear just how big the spinosaurus could actually grow to be, it is estimated that they averaged around 59 feet long and weighed more than 10 tons. 

While it had the ability to walk on two legs, the way the weight was distributed across its body made it nearly impossible to do so on dry land. Because it had a long trunk and neck, its weight was oddly shifted forward. Although spinosaurus had to walk on four legs to effectively move across land, they were excellent swimmers. This is why these meat eaters mostly lived on a diet of fish and sharks within river systems, though there is evidence that they occasionally also ate land animals. 

Allosaurus

Since the allosaurus is one of the earliest dinosaur species to have been discovered, there are a lot of fossils that have been able to give great insight into what they were like. They lived approximately 150 million years ago during the Jurassic period, and their remains have been found around the world including the United States, Portugal, Siberia and Tanzania. 

The allosaurus had a short neck and a narrow, elongated skull. It had small horns above the eyes as well as ridges that ran from the nasal bones to the horns. While it strongly resembles a tyrannosaurus rex, this species of meat-eating dinosaur had some advantages. Where the T-rex had small arms with limited functions, the arms of the allosaurus were longer, giving them the ability to use them much more efficiently. 

They could also run much faster, with the ability to reach speeds of 21 mph or more thanks to their unique body structure. Allosaurus had vertebrae that were concave on both sides and had shallow cavities which reduced their bones' strength but made them much lighter. It also had tail spikes which came in handy when battling other dinosaurs. The allosaurus most likely hunted as well as scavenged for food. 

Long-Necked Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs with long necks are known as sauropods. They are classified by their massive size, long necks, lengthy tails and four pillar-like legs. They are known as the largest of all dinosaurs and land animals that have ever lived. 

These dinosaurs were herbivores, meaning they only had a plant-based diet. Their extremely long necks enabled them to take foliage from the tallest trees. Since they were plant eaters, many long-necks had spoon or pencil-shaped teeth. These teeth along with stones that they would swallow would help them to grind and properly break down the plants they would consume without any issues. Read on to continue exploring some of the many different kinds of long-necked dinosaurs.

Brachiosaurus

The brachiosaurus is perhaps one of the most popular dinosaurs. Fossils of these gentle giants have been found in Algeria, Portugal, Tanzania and the United States including Utah, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Colorado. They lived roughly 150 million years ago right at the end of the Jurassic period and into the middle of the Cretaceous period. 

Their size was impressive. An adult brachiosaurus averaged about 82 feet in length and peaked at approximately 12 feet high, with a 30-foot neck. Weight varied for them but generally ranged between 30 and 62 tons. Its extremely long neck resembled that of today's giraffe, though it had a slight S-curve to it. The upper and lower sections were also slightly bent, and the center section was relatively straight. 

Diplodocus

Another docile plant eater, the diplodocus is the longest dinosaur to have been discovered thus far. They lived in areas of North America near the end of the Jurassic period. A full-grown diplodocus had the potential to weigh up to 16 tons and measured out to be 98 feet in length. Its extensive neck measured at around 21 feet and its tail around 45 feet. 

One of the more distinguishing features of this dinosaur was the location of its nostrils, which were located at the top of its head. Some scientists suggest that this physical feature was meant to allow them to breathe while underwater, feeding on submerged water plants. 

Their small, peg-like teeth were located in the front of the mouth, which meant that they were not able to chew and grind their food like their other plant-eating relatives. Instead, they swallowed rocks and relied on bacteria to break down the food within their stomachs. Interestingly, it is understood that the diplodocus replaced their teeth on an average of every 35 days. Scientists believe this is an indicator that they had the tendency to eat rough or abrasive foods that required new teeth regularly. 

Brontosaurus

These dinosaurs lived 150 million years ago during the mid-to-late Jurassic period. The name translates into "thunder lizard", which makes sense as they grew to colossal sizes. They stood about 15 feet high at the hips and were approximately 90 feet long. Not only that, but they also weighed approximately 33 tons once they reached adulthood. 

The long neck and tail worked as counterweights to one another. This means they worked in conjunction to help the brontosaurus move around without falling over. It is commonly believed that this species of dinosaur may have used its tail as a weapon, being able to whip it back and forth with great force.

Camarasaurus

The name of this dinosaur means "chamber reptile" and it gets the name honestly. The vertebrae of the camarasaurus contain cavities and hollows that most likely held air-filled sacs or chambers. These hollow spaces actually helped to lighten this dinosaur species' neck, which is what made it possible for them to move them around. 

They roamed the earth in the late Jurassic period, and although they were one of the smaller long-necked species, they were still quite enormous. Camarasaurus is estimated to have gotten up to 65 feet long and up to 25 feet tall. These dinosaurs often came to weigh up to approximately 20 tons by adulthood. 

They had very small, square-shaped heads and short round snouts. An interesting characteristic is that their front legs were slightly shorter than their hind legs, and their necks and tails were notably shorter compared to their other long-necked relatives. The spoon-shaped teeth allowed them to eat a wide range of vegetation. 

Flying Dinosaurs

Pterosaurs, also known as flying dinosaurs, were the very first animals — aside from insects — to have developed the ability to fly by flapping their wings. Other species until then could only leap and glide with their wings. 

This group of dinosaurs survived across the span of 150 million years, which means they thrived through the entire dinosaur age. During their existence, the pterosaurs evolved into several different species with unique traits such as slender jaws, elaborate head crests and specially developed teeth. Although pterosaurs were carnivores, they mostly survived on a diet of fish and other small animals. 

Pterodactyl

The ever-popular pterodactyl was the largest species to have ever flown. A type of flying reptile, the pterodactyl traveled the areas of Europe and Africa during the late Jurassic period. They are generally recognized by the massive wings that have stretched webbing between the fingers. They also had a crest spanning from the top toward the back of the head. 

The pterodactyl was about the same size as large birds found today, like hawks and eagles. However, they were still considerably smaller than other dinosaurs during their existence. Their wingspan could reach anywhere from 20 inches to 3.3 feet. There was a group of late Cretaceous period pterodactyls had wings spans of up to 35 feet, making them the largest known flying animals to have ever existed. 

Archaeopteryx

This species of flying dinosaur lived 150 million years ago in what is now Germany. It is believed that this dinosaur was not very big, compared to the size of today's average raven. Estimated to have weighed just over two pounds, the archaeopteryx had an unusually broad tail and wingspan for its body size. While it is unproven that this flying dinosaur had any kind of feathers on its hear or upper neck, there are indications that its wings and tail did have flight feathers. 

The diet of the archaeopteryx isn't well known, but scientists believe it likely fed on small amphibians, mammals, insects and reptiles. The archaeopteryx likely used its jaws to catch smaller prey and its claws to catch and kill slightly larger sources of food. 

Pteranodon

Pteranodon fossils were found in North America. These flying creatures lived more than 90 million years ago during the late Cretaceous period. Having a close physical resemblance to today's pelicans, they had a wingspan of up to 23 feet or more and had no teeth. 

These dinosaurs had a crest at the back of the skull which is thought to have functioned as a counterbalance to the oversized jaws so that it could properly redirect itself during flight. Even more interestingly, the body got to be about the size of a small turkey, with hind legs that were large compared to its torso. Their bones were hollow, allowing them to be lightweight enough to fly, although they most likely did more soaring than flapping. 

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