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To date, scientists have identified thousands of individual species of dinosaurs, which can be roughly attributed to 15 major families, ranging from Ankylosaurs (armored dinosaurs) to Ceratopsians (horned and fringed dinosaurs) and Ornithomimidae (bird-mimicking dinosaurs). Below is a FULL GUIDE with descriptions of these 15 main types of dinosaurs, accompanied by photos and/or illustrations and links to additional sources if you want more information.First of all, a dinosaur family is a group of dinosaurs that are characterized by important similarities. A distinction is made between genera, which are a sub-category of families. In order not to disturb the reader in conceptual biological considerations, which are even the subject of debate among scientists, we have devoted our research to families.
The Tyrannosaurs were clearly the killing machines of the late Cretaceous. These huge and powerful carnivores had powerful legs, huge teeth, and they relentlessly attacked smaller, herbivorous dinosaurs (not to mention other theropods). Of course, the most famous Tyrannosaurus was the Rex (T. rex), but lesser known genera (such as Albertosaurus and Daspletosaurus) were equally deadly. Technically, Tyrannosaurs were theropods, which placed them in the same larger group as Dinosaur Birds and Raptors.
One issue continues to agitate the scientific community. Indeed, it is still not known whether T. rex had feathers. Although Hollywood in blockbuster movies still refuses to acknowledge this, paleontologists agree that most dinosaurs would have had some sort of plumage. However, they still don't know if T. rex in particular had any. Moreover, no adult fossil of T. rex has ever shown feathers, although many feathers have been found on other Tyrannosaurs. One hypothesis is that it is possible that feathers may have grown along the spine from head to tail in infants and young T. rex, but that these feathers may have become less pronounced in adulthood.
To learn more about the king of dinosaurs, check out our article for 10 unknown facts
Along with the Titanosaurs, the Sauropods were the true giants of the dinosaur family, with some species reaching lengths of more than 30 meters and a weight of more than 100 tons. Most sauropods were characterized by their extremely long necks and tails and their thick, stocky bodies. They were the dominant herbivores of the Jurassic period, although an armored branch (known as the Titanosaurus) flourished during the Cretaceous. Among the best known sauropods are the dinosaurs of the genera Brachiosaurus, Apatosaurus and Diplodocus, for which you can read our article to find out all about the latter.
The most striking characteristic of the Sauropods was their size. Even dwarf sauropods like the Europasaurus (perhaps 5 to 6 meters long) were counted among the largest animals in their ecosystem. Their only real competitors in terms of size were the rorqual whales, such as the blue whale. But unlike whales, sauropods were mainly land animals.
Among the smaller sauropods are also the primitive Ohmdenosaurus (4 m long), the dwarf titanosaurus Magyarosaurus (5.3 m long) and the dwarf brachiosaurus Europasaurus, which is 6.2 m long as an adult. Its small size was probably the result of the island dwarfism of a herd of sauropods stranded on an island in present-day Germany.
Some sauropods were almost unbelievably massive: Argentinosaurus is probably the heaviest with 80 to 100 tons (90 to 110 tons), although Paralititan, Andesaurus, Antarctosaurus and Argyrosaurus are of comparable size. There is some evidence of an even more massive titanosaurus, Bruhathkayosaurus, which could have weighed between 175 and 220 tons (190 to 240 tons). The largest land animal alive today, the savannah elephant, weighs no more than 10 tons (11 short tons).Also noteworthy is the diplodocoid sauropod Brachytrachelopan, which was the shortest member of its group due to its exceptionally short neck. In contrast to other sauropods, whose necks were up to four times the length of their backs, the neck of the Brachytrachelopan was shorter than its spine.
Among the strangest dinosaurs that ever existed, ceratopsians - "horned faces" - include familiar dinosaurs such as the Triceratops and Pentaceratops, and are characterized by their enormous horned and fringed skulls, which were up to a third of their size. They also developed a collar at the neck.
One of the most common types of ceratopsians of the Cretaceous period, the Protoceratops, weighed only a few hundred kilos and the first Asian varieties were only the size of a domestic cat.
Among the most feared dinosaurs of the Mesozoic era, raptors (also called dromaeosaurus by paleontologists) were closely related to modern birds and belong to the family of dinosaurs vaguely called dinosaurs. Raptors are distinguished by their bipedal postures, three-toed hands, larger-than-average brains, and curved claws on each of their feet. Most of them are also covered with feathers. Among the most famous raptors are those of the genera Deinonychus, Velociraptor (which we ranked number 2 in our list of the most dangerous dinosaurs) and the giant Utahraptor.
Velociraptor vs Utahraptor
In terms of size, dromaeosaurs were small to medium-sized dinosaurs, ranging from about 0.7 meters long to over 6 meters (in the case of Utahraptor and Achillobator). Some were larger; undescribed specimens from Utahraptor were up to 11 m long. Large size seems to have evolved at least twice in dromaeosaurs. A third possible lineage of giant dromaeosaurs is represented by isolated teeth found on the Isle of Wight, England. These teeth belong to an animal the size of a Utahraptor, but their shape is closer to that of velociraptor teeth.Mahakala is both the most primitive dromaeosaurus ever described and the smallest. This evidence, along with the Microraptor and the Troodon Anchiornis, suggests that the common ancestor of dromaeosaurs, troodontidae and birds - the "ancestral paravian" - may have been very small, about 65 cm long and 600 to 700 grams in mass.Many other dromaeosaur fossils have been found with feathers covering their bodies, some with fully developed feathered wings. The Microraptor even shows traces of a second pair of wings on the hind legs. Both dromaeosaurids Rahonavis and Velociraptor were found with quill buttons, showing that these forms had feathers although no prints were found.It is therefore very likely that even large land dromaeosaurs had feathers, since even birds unable to fly today retain most of their plumage, and relatively large dromaeosaurs, such as Velociraptor, are known to have had feathers.
Tyrannosaurs and Raptors represent only a small percentage of the bipedal and carnivorous dinosaurs called Theropods, which also includes exotic families such as Ceratosaurus, Abelisaurus, Megalosaurs and Allosaurs, as well as the first dinosaurs of the Triassic period. The exact evolutionary relationships between these theropods are still debated, but there is no doubt that they were equally dangerous to herbivorous dinosaurs (or small mammals) that were unlucky enough to get in their way.
Allosaurus Adult and Juvenil
The golden age of the sauropods came at the end of the Jurassic period, when these ultra-heavy dinosaurs traveled to every continent on Earth. By the early Cretaceous, sauropods such as those of the genera Brachiosaurus and Apatosaurus had disappeared, to be replaced by the Titanosaurs - equally large plant-eating animals - characterized by (in most cases) robust, armored scales and other defensive features. As with the sauropods, remains have been unearthed all over the world, but we do not have a complete skeleton of Titanosaurs, which remains frustrating for paleontologists.
The Ankylosaurs were among the last dinosaurs that existed 65 million years ago, before the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction also known as K-T or Cretaceous-Tertiary, and for good reason: These herbivores, otherwise gentle and slow-minded, were the Cretaceous equivalent of Sherman tanks, with their armor, sharp points and heavy clubs. The Ankylosaurs (which were closely related to the Stegosaurs) seem to have developed their weaponry primarily to ward off predators, although it is possible that the males fought among themselves to dominate the herd.
Among the last - and most numerous - dinosaurs to have roamed the Earth, Hadrosaurs (commonly called duck-billed dinosaurs) were large, oddly shaped, low plant eaters with a hard beak on their snout to tear up vegetation. They sometimes also had distinctive head ridges. It is believed that most hadrosaurs lived in herds and were able to walk on two legs, and some genera (such as the Maiasaura and Hypacrosaurus from North America) were particularly good parents to their young and offspring.
Ornithomimidae (bird imitators) did not look like flying birds, but rather like small, wingless ground rats, like modern ostriches and emus. These two-legged dinosaurs were the fastest beasts of the Cretaceous. Indeed, species of certain genera (such as those of Dromiceiomimus) could reach top speeds of up to 80 km/hour. Curiously, Ornithomimidae were among the few theropods to have an omnivorous diet, feasting on meat and vegetation.
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