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The biggest dinosaurs were gigantic, slow-moving, tiny-headed, cow-like plant-eaters (sauropods) from the late Jurassic and the Cretaceous period. They had very long necks which were useful for reaching wide (and tall) swatches of vegetation. The lengthy neck was counterbalanced by a massive tail. These sauropods are the largest land animals ever discovered:
But blue whales are BIGGER THAN ANY of the dinosaurs were!
The biggest carnivorous (meat-eating) dinosaurs were theropods from the Cretaceous period:
- Giganotosaurus carolinii - found in Patagonia, Argentina. 47 feet long (14 m), 8 tons in weight, and 12 feet tall (4 m).
- Tyrannosaurus rex - found in North America - 40-50 feet long (12-15 m), 6 tons in weight.
- Spinosaurus - found in Africa - 40-50 feet long (12-15 m).
- Carcharodontosaurus saharicus - (meaning shark-toothed lizard) found in in Morocco, Africa, by Paul Sereno. It was probably about 45 feet long and had 5 inch long teeth. Its skull (5 feet 4 inches) is larger than T. rex's, but it had a tiny brain cavity (half the size of T. rex's).
Other Categories of Biggest Dinosaurs, and Other Mesozoic Reptiles:
Biggest Ankylosaur (heavily-armored plant-eating dinosaurs): Ankylosaurus, 25-35 feet (7.5-10.7 m) long
Biggest Ceratopsian (horned, plant-eating dinosaurs): Triceratops, 30 feet long (9 m) long
Biggest Duckbill (plant-eating dinosaurs with toothless bills): Shantungosaurus, 38-48 ft (12-15 m) long
Biggest Ichthyosaur (swimming reptiles - not dinosaurs): Shonisaurus, 49 feet (15 m) long
Biggest Pachycephalosaur (thick-skulled plant-eating dinosaurs): Pachycephalosaurus, 15 feet long (4.6 m) long
Biggest Plesiosaur (swimming reptiles - not dinosaurs): Liopleurodon, 39-49 feet (12-15 m) long
Biggest Pterosaur (flying reptiles - related to dinosaurs): Quetzalcoatlus, 36 feet wide (10.96 m) wingspan
Biggest Stegosaur (plant-eating dinosaurs with plates and spikes): Stegosaurus, 26-30 feet (8-9 m) long
The tallest dinosaurs were brachiosaurid sauropods; they had front legs that were longer than their back legs and had a giraffe-like stance. They were gigantic, slow moving, tiny-headed, cow-like plant-eaters from the late Jurassic and the Cretaceous period. They had very long necks which were held upright and were useful for reaching wide (and tall) swatches of vegetation. The lengthy neck was counterbalanced by a massive tail. These sauropods are among the largest land animals ever discovered:
- Sauroposeidon(Wedel, Cifelli & Sanders vide Franklin, 2000), a newly-found brachiosaurid from Oklahoma, +60 tons, 60 feet tall.
- Ultrasauros (Jensen vide Olshevsky, 1991) - 100+ feet long (30 m), +80 tons
- Brachiosaurus (Riggs, 1903) - about 85 feet long (26 m), 40 feet tall, and weighed 70-80 tons.
Small fossils are found less easily than large fossils. Also, when small animals die, they are likely to be eaten, perhaps whole, by larger animals. The smallest dinosaurs yet discovered are:
Mussaurus (meaning "mouse lizard") is the smallest complete dinosaur skeleton found, but it is from a hatchling (a baby). It was only 16 inches long (37 cm).
- A new, crow-sized theropod, Microraptor was recently found in China. It is about 16 inches (40 cm long) and may be an adult.
- Compsognathus, a theropod (meat-eater) 2 feet (60 cm) long, from 145 million years ago. It was the size of a chicken and weighed about 6.5 pounds (3 kg).
- Saltopus - a 2 feet (60 cm) long insectivore (insect-eater) from about 200 million years ago.
- Lesothosaurus - a 3 feet (90 cm) long, fast running, plant-eater from Africa, 200 million years ago.
- Wannanosaurus - a 39 inches (1 m) pachycephalosaur, a plant-eater from China, 83-73 million years ago.
LARGEST FOSSIL BONES FOUND
The largest fossil bones found are from the giant sauropods and include the 8 feet (2.45 m) long shoulder blade of the Ultrasauros, Brachiosaurus thigh bones over 6 feet (1.8 m) long, and neck vertebrae of Seismosaurus that are over 6 feet (1.8 m) long.
The fastest dinosaurs probably weren't any faster than modern-day land animals. Dinosaur speeds are deduced from fossilized trackway finds, and from looking at the dinosaurs' morphology (shape and structure). The speediest dinosaurs were bird-like bipedal carnivores (theropods) with long, slim hind-limbs and light bodies (hollow bones and a streamlined body):
- Dromiceiomimus,(means "emu mimic"), an ornithomimid, had long legs, small head, toothless beak, weighed about 220 pounds (100 kg), and was 11.5 feet (3.5 m) long).
- Gallimimus and Ornithomimus (means "bird mimic") -were ostrich-like oviraptors with toothless beaks, long legs, and hollow bones. They could probably run as fast as an ostrich, , which can run up to 43 mph (70 kph).
- Coelophysis (means "hollow form") - from the late Triassic period, had very sharp, serrated teeth and hunted in packs.
- Velociraptor (means "speedy thief") - from the Cretaceous period, had very sharp teeth, and had retractable claws on its feet.
FIRST DINOSAURS IN SPACE
The first dinosaurs in space were Maiasaura and Coelophysis.
- A Maiasaura bone fragment and piece of eggshell from Maiasaura flew with astronaut Loren Acton on an 8 day mission (Spacelab 2) in 1985.
- A Coelophysis skull was brought into space by the space shuttle Endeavor on January 22, 1998. It traveled to the space station MIR.
The widest dinosaurs were:
- Ankylosaurids - from the late Cretaceous, these plated dinosaurs were slow-moving herbivores with a club-like tail. They were tremendously heavy. Ankylosaurus, Euoplocephalus, and Talarurus were Ankylosaurids.
The smartest dinosaur had the largest ratio of brain weight:body weight (encephalization quotient or EQ). They included the troodontids and dromaeosaurids (small, bipedal, big-eyed Theropods with sickle-like claws):
The earliest known dinosaurs are from the Triassic period, and are about 230 million years old. They were relatively small dinosaurs:
- Recent prosauropods from Madagascar are the oldest, about 230 million years old..
- Eoraptor - about 3 feet (1 m) long, a bipedal carnivore 230 million years old
- Herrerasaurus - It existed 230 million years ago in what is now Argentina. It was a bipedal meat-eater, 10 to 20 feet long (3-6 m) and may have hunted in groups.
- Staurikosaurus - a primitive Saurischian dinosaur from Brazil.
- Lesothosaurus - a primitive ornithischian from Africa
- Pisanosaurus (from Argentina)
- Saturnalia (a prosauropod from Brazil)
The most plated dinosaurs were:
- The Ankylosaurids - These herbivores were protected from carnivores with heavy armor. Ankylosaurus had thick, oval plates covering leathery skin, rows of spikes along its body, large horns that projected from the back of its head, and a club-like tail. They even had bony plates as protection for their eyes. They were about 25 feet long (8 m), 6 feet wide (2 m), 4 feet tall (1.2 m), and probably weighed about 5 tons. Edmontonia, smaller than Ankylosaurus, had thick body armor, bony plates and spikes to protect it from predators. Other ankylosaurs include Sauropelta and Hylaeosaurus.
BIGGEST AND MOST IMPRESSIVE SKULLS
The dinos with the biggest skulls were:
- Pentaceratops. A recently discovered Pentaceratops skull was 9.8 feet (3 m) long, making it the largest skull of a land animal ever found. This beats even Torosaurus, another Ceratopsian with a long frill and the second-largest skull yet found on a land animal.
- Triceratops a ceratopsian with a skull almost 10 feet long (3 m); it had three horns and a short bony frill.
Deinocheirus (meaning "terrible hand") had the biggest claw. It was a bipedal carnivore (meat-eater) from the late Cretaceous period. It is classified as a saurischian (lizard-hipped dinosaurs), a theropod, a coelurosaur, and an ornithomimid (bird mimic). Only the arms, hands, and claws of Deinocheirus have been found (in the Gobi desert of Mongolia in 1965). The arms are 8 feet (2.4 m) long and have three fingers with long, hook-like claws, 8-12 inches (20-30 cm) long. The hands alone were 2 feet (60 cm) long. Deinocheirus was probably one of the most deadly dinosaurs of the late Cretaceous period. It may have been larger that T. rex.
- Pachycephalosaurus - a dome-headed dinosaur, it had a skull 2 feet long (65 cm), with a bone dome 8 inches thick (20 cm), on an 26 foot long (8 m) body! These thick skulls may have been used for head-butting.
The plant-eating hadrosaurs (the duck-billed dinosaurs) had about 960 cheek teeth. Hadrosaurs were ornithischians from the late Cretaceous period. Maiasaura, Parasaurolophus, and Hadrosaurus were hadrosaurs.
The huge sauropods, long-necked plant-eaters with small heads, and long tails from the Jurassic period, are estimated to have had a life-span of about 100 years. Some sauropods are: Apatosaurus, Brachiosaurus, Diplodocus, Supersaurus, and Ultrasauros.
Sauroposeidon had the longest neck. Individual vertebrae (neck bones) are up to 4 feet (1.2 m) long.
Mamenchisaurus had the second longest neck. Its neck was up to 46 feet (14 m) long. Mamenchisaurus was a long-necked, long-tailed, quadrupedal, plant-eating sauropod from the late Jurassic period, about 156 to 145 million years ago. It was about 70 feet (21 m) long. Mamenchisaurus had the longest neck of any known dinosaur, about 46 feet (14 m). It had 19 vertebrae in its spine, more than any other known dinosaur. Mamenchisaurus was named by Chung Chien Young, a Chinese paleontologist, in 1954. Fossils have been found in China. Mamenchisaurus may be closely related to Diplodocus.
Diplodocus had the longest tail. It was up to 43 feet (13 m) long.
The most bird-like dinosaur yet found is:
- Unenlagia - A 90-million-year-old, flightless, 4-foot tall (1.2 m), 7.5-foot long (2.3 m) carnivore (the size of an ostrich, but shaped like Velociraptor).
The deadliest dinosaurs were speedy, bird-like predators armed with huge claws, sharp teeth, and wing-like arms that gave them more stability and mobility during a chase:
- Megaraptor -not a raptor, but a deadly predator with a 14-inch, sickle-shaped claw on each foot.
- Utahraptor, related to Velociraptor -a dromaeosaur, a small, fast, relatively intelligent carnivore with long, serrated teeth. It had a 15 inch (40 cm), sickle-shaped claw on the middle toe of each foot. This claw could probably slash its prey to death. It may have hunted in packs, killing even large sauropods. From the Cretaceous.
- Deinonychus (meaning killer claw) - 100 million years old, a bird-like dinosaur with sickle-like claws and sharp teeth.
The largest dinosaur eggs discovered are about a foot long and are probably from Sauropods (the biggest dinosaurs):
- Hypselosaurus, a 100 million-year-old egg from France, with a liquid capacity of almost 6 pints, the egg measures 1 foot long (30 cm) by 10 (25 cm) inches wide.
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