PURRASSIC PERIOD

It cannot be denied that most kids love dinosaurs, and they seem to know them all, including how to pronounce their names, what they looked like, what they ate, the list goes on. 

Experts believe that having such an ‘extremely intense interest’ can help kids become more observant, increase their attention span, and promote efficient information processing skills. It seems these interests tend to promote ‘fact collecting’ behaviour, so knowing every dinosaur by name and which era they come from may be setting your child up to become an amazing little learner.

Fun Fact:  The word dinosaur comes from the Greek language and means ‘terrible lizard’.

Pterodactylus

  • wasn’t actually a dinosaur, but a kind of Pterosaur (Pterosaurs are flying reptiles)
  • lived during the Jurassic period
  • had a wingspan of just over 1 metre
  • had a long beak filled with around 90 short, sharp teeth
  • was a carnivore (meat eater) – it is likely it ate fish and other small animals
  • had really long fourth fingers (which held out its wings)
  • Most Pterodactylus fossils have been found in Germany, France, England and Tanzania
  • The word ‘pterodactyl’ is often used to refer to all Pterosaurs, however, it should only really be used to refer to Pterodactyloids, and more specifically to Pterodactylus
  • ‘Pterodactylus’ means ‘winged-finger’

Brachiosaurus

  • is a type of dinosaur known as a Sauropod
  • are famous for reaching incredible sizes
  • ‘Brachiosaurus’ comes from Greek words meaning ‘arm’ and ‘lizard’
  • lived in North America
  • had a long neck, a small head, and a relatively short tail compared to other Sauropods
  • it walked on all four legs
  • estimated to have weighed between 30,000 and 45,000 kgs
  • is believed to have been around 26 metres long
  • was a herbivore (plant eater) that feed on foliage high above the ground
  • is estimated that it ate between 200 and 400 kgs of plants every day!

Tyrannosaurus Rex

  • Tyrannosaurus Rex is often abbreviated to T-Rex
  • lived in western North America
  • walked on two legs, balancing its huge head with a long, heavy tail
  • that tail sometimes contained over 40 vertebrae
  • measured up to 13 metres in length and could weigh up to 7,000 kgs
  • Its skull measured up to 1.5 metres long
  • had the largest tooth of any carnivorous dinosaur - around 30 cm long when including the root
  • during four of its teenage years, T-Rex put on around 600 kgs a year
  • had small powerful arms that featured two clawed fingers
  • lived in the Cretaceous period
  • scientists estimate that T-Rex could run at a maximum speed of around 40 kph
  • is possibly the most well-known dinosaur due to its huge size and ferocious nature
  • ‘Tyrannosaurus’ comes from the Greek words meaning ‘tyrant lizard’
  • ‘Rex’ means ‘king’ in Latin.

Stegosaurus

  • is the most famous dinosaur from a group of dinosaurs known as Stegosauria
  • was a herbivore (plant eater)
  • featured rows of unique bones that developed into plates and spines along its back and tail
  • ‘Stegosaurus’ comes from the Greek words ‘stegos’ meaning ‘roof’ and ‘sauros’ meaning ‘lizard’
  • lived in the Jurassic period
  • lived in western North America and Europe (fossils have been found in Portugal)
  • on average, a fully-grown Stegosaurus was around 9 metres long, 4 metres high, and weighed nearly 5,000 kgs
  • despite its large body, the size of its brain was only around the size of a dog’s brain
  • it’s estimated they ran at a maximum speed of around 7 kph
  • the 17 plates found along the back of the Stegosaurus arose from the skin (they were not attached to the skeleton)
  • the largest plates were around 60 cm tall and 60 cm wide
  • it also had tail spikes that reached from around 60 cm to 90 cm in length

Triceratops

  • ‘Triceratops’ comes from the Greek language, with ‘tri’ meaning ‘three’ and ‘keratops’ meaning ‘horned face’
  • lived in the Cretaceous period
  • is one of the most easily recognisable dinosaurs due to its large body, unique frill and three horns
  • it needed its three horns to try and protect itself from the Tyrannosaurus Rex
  • were about 8 metres long, 3 metres high, and weighed anywhere between 6,000 to 12,000 kgs
  • the skull of a Triceratops could grow over 2 metres in length
  • was a herbivore (plant eater)
  • had anywhere between 400 and 800 teeth, although only a small percentage of these were in use at any one time as they were constantly replaced throughout its lifetime

Velociraptor

  • ‘Velociraptor’ means ‘swift seizer’
  • lived in the Cretaceous period
  • was around the size of a turkey
  • could grow up to 2 metres in length, 0.5 metres in height and weigh up to 15 kg
  • is thought to have killed its prey with the sickle-shaped claws on its rear feet
  • it may have been able to run up to 60 kph

Woolly Mammoth

  • closely related to Asian elephants
  • originally lived in Africa, then migrated to southern Europe, Siberia and northern Canada, before finally settling on the Arctic plains
  • had about a 10 cm layer of fat under its skin to prevent it from freezing in the extremely cold environment
  • was covered in a thick coat of brown hair to keep it warm and even had fur-lined ears
  • Some of the hairs on woolly mammoths could reach up to 1 metre long
  • was a herbivore (plant eater)
  • its large, curved tusks may have been used for fighting, but may have also been used as a digging tool for foraging food (shrubs, grasses, roots and other small plants) from under the snow
  • grew up to 4 metres tall and weighed up to 6,000 kgs
  • was a herbivore (plant eater) – grazed on grasses
  • looked a lot like a Mastodon but fatty humps on their backs that provided them with the additional nutrients necessary in their more northerly, ice-covered habitats

Pachycephalosaurus

  • had a skull 30 times thicker than a human’s skull
  • weighed as much as a brown bear
  • walked on two legs
  • lived during the Cretaceous period
  • was about 4.5 metres long and probably weighed over 400 kgs
  • is known for its five-fingered claws, long powerful legs and three toed clawed feet
  • most known for its it thick domed skull – the wall of its skull could be as much as 25 cms thick
  • the thick skull plate was surrounded by bony knobs
  • was a herbivore (plant eater) but may have eaten insects as well

Spinosaurus

  • lived in North Africa
  • ‘Spinosaurus’ means ‘spine lizard’
  • was larger than the Tyrannosaurus Rex
  • was around 15 metres long and weighed anywhere between 7,000 to 20,000 kgs
  • featured distinctive spines which grew over 1.5 metres long
  • had a long, thin skull
  • usually walked on two legs, but may have occasionally crouched on all four
  • was a carnivore (meat eater)
  • lived on land and in water (like a crocodile)
  • was the only true aquatic swimming dinosaur

Carnotaurus

  • ‘Carnotaurus’ means ‘meat eating bull’ - the name refers to the horns found above its eyes, which are similar to bull horns
  • lived during the Cretaceous period
  • lived in South America
  • is estimated to have been around 8 metres in length and weighed somewhere between 1,500 and 2,500 kgs
  • its eyes faced forward (which is unusual for a dinosaur)
  • had very small arms and fingers that did not move

Archaeopteryx

  • is the earliest known bird
  • lived during the Jurassic period
  • seems to be part-bird and part-dinosaur
  • it had teeth, three claws on each wing, a flat breastbone, belly ribs, and a long, bony tail
  • it had feathers, a lightly-built body with hollow bones, a wishbone, and reduced fingers.
  • was about the size of a crow or raven, with a wingspan of about 50 cms and was about 30 cms long from beak to tail
  • it may have been able to fly, but not very far and not very well
  • was a carnivore (meat eater) and may have eaten insects and other small animals
  • Archaeopteryx means ‘ancient wing’

Brontosaurus (Apatosaurus)

  • when bones of the giant dinosaur were first discovered in 1877 it was named ‘Apatosaurus’ meaning ‘deceptive lizard’
  • later, a larger set of bones were found and it was thought to be a new species which was named ‘Brontosaurus’ meaning ‘thunder lizard’
  • later, it was found that the second set of bones were just an adult version of the Apatosaurus, but by then the name Brontosaurus had caught on
  • lived in the Jurassic period
  • is one of the largest animals to have ever walked on Earth, averaging around 23 metres in length and weighing over 23,000 kgs
  • it only took around 10 years for them to grew to full size
  • it had a long whip-like tail that counter-balanced its long neck
  • was a herbivore (plant eater)

Cryolophosaurus

  • is informally known as ‘Elvisaurus’ because of its single, ear-to-ear crest across its forehead
  • is the largest meat-eating dinosaur yet identified from Jurassic Antarctica
  • weighed a little more than a polar bear
  • was two car lengths long
  • ran as fast as an African elephant
  • lived in Antarctica
  • was a carnivore (meat eater)

Elasmosaurus

  • ‘Elasmosaurus’ means ‘thin plated lizard’
  • lived during the Cretaceous period
  • were slow swimmers
  • were 14 metres long (longer than a Tyrannosaurus Rex)
  • weighed around 2,000 kgs
  • had the longest neck of any plesiosaur - about half the length of its entire body - supported by 71 vertebrae
  • it didn’t have gills (like a fish), but did have big lungs, so it may be that a single gulp of air would allow it to remain underwater for 10 to 20 minutes