4 fun facts about prehistoric animalsApril 28, 2022 | Last Updated May 13, 2022
Dinosaurs were reptiles that lived between 230 million and 65 million years ago. If humans weren’t around then, how do we know they really existed?
We have the answer to this and many more facts about these awesome, gigantic (and sometimes small) creatures that once ruled the Earth!
There are over 700 named dinosaurs
From the longest Seismosaurus (about as long as five school buses), to the smallest Compsognathus (just larger than a chicken) and from the tallest Sauroposeidon (about as tall as a building with six floors), to the heaviest Brachiosaurus (about as heavy as 17 African elephants), there are 700 named species of dinosaur.
Paleontologists (say "pay-LEE-on-TALL-o-jist") believe that there are hundreds more types of dinosaurs still to be discovered!
There are dinosaur bones all over the world
A paleontologist is a scientist who studies the plants and animals that lived millions of years ago.
They dig up bones, which are found preserved in rock (called fossils), to get information about these living things from long ago. Once they collect the bones of a dinosaur skeleton, they can start to imagine what that dinosaur looked like. Then the bones are often made into molds and cast in fiberglass and then put together and shown in museums.
The largest dinosaur skeleton cast to be shown in a museum is a type of Titanosaur that is mounted in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. It’s the biggest museum in the world and the whole skeleton still couldn’t fit inside one room. Its head and part of its neck poke through a door into the next room!
Earth used to be one big land mass
There used to be just one giant piece of land called Pangaea (say “pan-GEE-ah”). This was about 250 million years ago when there were no polar ice caps and the land was very dry and hot.
It was at this time that scientists believe that dinosaurs evolved and came to be. Eventually, over millions of years, after a series of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, Pangaea broke into different continents separated by oceans. This caused many different species of dinosaurs to evolve on different lands.
Are birds related to dinosaurs?
It is believed that birds are the only animals that survived the major events that appear to have caused the extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago. A large meteorite, asteroid or comet hit the Earth, which then caused massive volcanic eruptions.
This caused Earth’s temperature to drop, because the volcanic clouds that covered the earth did not let the sun shine through. It then became much too cold for dinosaurs to survive on Earth.