What is a Dinosaur?

The mighty T-Rex. The ferocious Velociraptor. The lumbering Brontosaurus. Nowadays, all of these magnificent beasts are extinct, and only remembered through fossils and excavated remains! However....millions of years ago, all these creatures and more roamed the earth, during the age of the DINOSAURS! Everyone has heard of dinosaurs before, but what exactly are these creatures? Are they animals? Are they fantasy monsters like unicorns and werewolves? Were they really as big as they say?!? And are they all really extinct? Well, the exact origin of dinosaurs is often debated, but research has led us to a few accepted conclusions. These creatures first appeared between 243 and 233 million years ago, during the Triassic period. Dinosaurs are a unique and diverse group of animals, classified as reptiles, however some are surprised to learn that they aren't all actually extinct! It's true defenders, every time you hear the songbirds chirping or see a hawk flying overhead, you're actually interacting with real life DINOSAURS! Fossil records have demonstrated that birds evolved from a group of dinosaurs known as theropods, and were the only group of dinosaurs that survived the mass extinction of dinosaurs 66 million years ago. So technically, Dinosaurs are split into 2 main groups - avian dinosaurs, aka birds, and non-avian dinosaurs. Through living birds, and fossil remains, dinosaurs have been found on every continent, and they were a diverse group as well. What else are some facts we know about dinosaurs?

  • Like their living avian brothers, evidence shows that egg laying and nest building were traits shared by all dinosaurs.
  • Many prehistoric dinosaurs were large, including some of the largest land animals of all time, however it is a misconception that all non-avian dinosaurs were gigantic - it is just easier to find larger remains because large sturdy bones can usually last until they are fossilized.
  • Dinosaurs are part of a group called "archosaurs", and while we know this group also includes birds, crocodilians like alligators and crocodiles are included as well.
  • If you ever want to impress your friends, try and get them to guess the world's SMALLEST dinosaur! After they guess all the extinct creatures, let them know it's actually the Bee Hummingbird, also the world's smallest bird.

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