Top Ten Terrestrial Dinosaurs

Top Ten Terrestrial Dinosaurs


  1. Spinosaurus
           Spinosaurus (meaning “spine lizard”) is a genus of theropod dinosaur which lived in what is now North Africa, from the lower Albian to lower Cenomanian stages of the Cretaceous period, about 112 to 97 million years ago. This genus was first known from Egyptian remains discovered in 1912 and described by German paleontologist Ernst Stromer in 1915. The original remains were destroyed in WWII, but additional material has come to light in recent years. It is unclear whether one or two species are represented in the fossils reported in the scientific literature. The best known species is S. aegyptiacus from Egypt, although a potential second species S. maroccanus has been recovered from Morocco. Spinosaurus may be the largest of all known carnivorous dinosaurs, even larger than Tyrannosaurus and Giganotosaurus. Estimates published in 2005 and 2007 suggest that it was 12.6 to 18 m (41 to 59 ft) in length and 7 to 20.9 tonnes (7.7 to 23.0 short tons) in weight. The skull of Spinosaurus was long and narrow like that of a modern crocodilian. Spinosaurus is thought to have eaten fish; evidence suggests that it lived both on land and in water like a modern crocodilian. The distinctive spines of Spinosaurus, which were long extensions of the vertebrae, grew to at least 1.65 m (5.4 ft) long and were likely to have had skin connecting them, forming a sail-like structure, although some authors have suggested that the spines were covered in fat and formed a hump. Multiple functions have been put forward for this structure, including thermoregulation and display.
  2. Giganotosaurus
            Giganotosaurus is a genus of carcharodontosaurid dinosaur that lived around 97 million years ago during the early Cenomanian stage of the Late Cretaceous Period. It is one of the largest known terrestrial carnivores, slightly larger than Tyrannosaurus, but smaller than Spinosaurus. Its fossils have been found in Argentina. The name means “giant southern lizard,” derived from the Ancient Greek gigas, meaning “giant,” and notos meaning “south wind” and -saurus meaning “lizard.”
    Links: Top Ten Skulls,,
  3. Tyrannosaurus Rex
    Tyrannosaurus RexTyrannosaurus Rex1
            Tyrannosaurus, meaning “tyrant lizard,” is a genus of coelurosaurian theropod dinosaur. The species Tyrannosaurus rex (rex meaning “king” in Latin), commonly abbreviated to T. rex, is a fixture in popular culture. It lived throughout what is now western North America, at the time an island continent termed Laramidia, with a much wider range than other tyrannosaurids. Fossils are found in a variety of rock formations dating to the Maastrichtian age of the upper Cretaceous Period, 67 to 65.5 million years ago. It was among the last non-avian dinosaurs to exist before the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. Like other tyrannosaurids, Tyrannosaurus was a bipedal carnivore with a massive skull balanced by a long, heavy tail. Relative to the large and powerful hindlimbs, Tyrannosaurus forelimbs were small, though unusually powerful for their size, and bore two clawed digits. Although other theropods rivaled or exceeded Tyrannosaurus rex in size, it was the largest known tyrannosaurid and one of the largest known land predators, measuring up to 12.3 m (40 ft.) in length, up to 4 m (13 ft.) tall at the hips, and up to 6.8 metric tons (7.5 short tons) in weight. By far the largest carnivore in its environment, Tyrannosaurus rex may have been an apex predator, preying upon hadrosaurs and ceratopsians, although some experts have suggested it was primarily a scavenger. The debate over Tyrannosaurus as apex predator or scavenger is among the longest running in paleontology. More than 30 specimens of Tyrannosaurus rex have been identified, some of which are nearly complete skeletons. Soft tissue and proteins have been reported in at least one of these specimens. The abundance of fossil material has allowed significant research into many aspects of its biology, including life history and biomechanics. The feeding habits, physiology and potential speed of Tyrannosaurus rex are a few subjects of debate. Its taxonomy is also controversial, with some scientists considering Tarbosaurus bataar from Asia to represent a second species of Tyrannosaurus and others maintaining Tarbosaurus as a separate genus. Several other genera of North American tyrannosaurids have also been synonymized with Tyrannosaurus.
    Links: Top Ten Skulls,,
  4. Utahraptor

    Although the velacirapto gets the majority of the attention, the Utahraptor was truly king of the raptors. The Utahraptor, meaning “Utah’s predator,” was a genus of theropod dinosaurs, which included the largest known members of the family Dromaeosauridae. Fossil specimens date to the upper Barremian stage of the early Cretaceous period (in rock strata dated to 126 ± 2.5 million years ago). It contains a single species, Utahraptor ostrommaysorum. The largest described U. ostrommaysorum specimens are estimated to have reached up to 7 m (23 ft) long and somewhat less than 500 kg (1,100 lb) in weight, comparable to a grizzly bear in size. Some undescribed specimens in the BYU collections may have reached up to 11 m (36 ft) long, though these await more detailed study.
  5. Sauroposeidon

    Sauroposeidon, meaning “earthquake god lizard,” after the Greek god Poseidon, is a genus of sauropod dinosaur known from several incomplete specimens including a bone bed and fossilized trackways that have been found in the US states of Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Texas. The fossils were found in rocks dating from near the end of the Early Cretaceous (Aptian-early Albian), a time when sauropod diversity in North America had greatly diminished. It was the last known North American sauropod prior to an absence of the group on the continent of roughly 40 million years that ended with the appearance of Alamosaurus during the Maastrichtian. Paleoecological analysis indicates that Sauroposeidon lived on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, in a river delta. Extrapolations based on its more completely known relative Brachiosaurus indicate that the head of Sauroposeidon could reach 17 m (56 ft) in height with its neck extended, making it the tallest known dinosaur. With an estimated length of up to 34 m (112 ft) and a mass of 50–60 t (55–66 short tons), it also ranks among the longest and heaviest.
    Links: Top Ten Largest Animals,
  6. Quetzalcoatlus
    File:Life restoration of a group of giant azhdarchids, Quetzalcoatlus northropi, foraging on a Cretaceous fern prairie.pngFile:Quetzscale1.png
           Quetzalcoatlus was a pterodactyloid pterosaur known from the Late Cretaceous of North America (Maastrichtian stage, about 68–66 million years ago), and one of the largest known flying animals of all time. It was a member of the Azhdarchidae, a family of advanced toothless pterosaurs with unusually long, stiffened necks. Its name comes from the Mesoamerican feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl.
    Links: Top Ten Flying Animals, Top Ten Largest Animals,
  7. Ticinnosuchus
           Ticinosuchus is an extinct genus of rauisuchian archosaur from the Middle Triassic of Switzerland. Ticinosuchus was about 3 m (10 ft) long, and its whole body, even the belly, was covered in thick, armoured scutes. The structure of the hips shows that its legs were placed under the body almost vertically. Coupled with the development of a calcaneus and a specialized ankle joint, this would have made Ticinosuchus a fast runner, unlike most earlier reptiles.
  8. Velociraptor
            Velociraptor is a genus of dromaeosaurid theropod dinosaur that lived approximately 75 to 71 million years ago during the later part of the Cretaceous Period. Two species are currently recognized, although others have been assigned in the past. The type species is V. mongoliensis; fossils of this species have been discovered in Mongolia. A second species, V. osmolskae, was named in 2008 for skull material from Inner Mongolia, China. Smaller than other dromaeosaurids like Deinonychus and Achillobator, Velociraptor nevertheless shared many of the same anatomical features. It was a bipedal, feathered carnivore with a long tail and an enlarged sickle-shaped claw on each hindfoot, which is thought to have been used to kill its prey. Velociraptor can be distinguished from other dromaeosaurids by its long and low skull, with an upturned snout. Velociraptor is one of the dinosaur genera most familiar to the general public due to its prominent role in the Jurassic Park motion picture series. In the films it was shown with anatomical inaccuracies, including being much larger than it was in reality and without feathers. It is also well known to paleontologists, with over a dozen described fossil skeletons—the most of any dromaeosaurid. One particularly famous specimen preserves a Velociraptor locked in combat with a Protoceratops.
  9. Triceratops
    Triceratops is a genus of herbivorous ceratopsid dinosaur that lived during the late Maastrichtian stage of the Late Cretaceous Period, around 68 to 65.5 million years ago (Mya) in what is now North America. It was one of the last non-avian dinosaur genera to appear before the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. Bearing a large bony frill and three horns on its large four-legged body, and conjuring similarities with the modern rhinoceros, Triceratops is one of the most recognizable of all dinosaurs and the best known ceratopsid. It shared the landscape with and was preyed upon by the fearsome Tyrannosaurus. Specimens representing life stages from hatchling to adult have been found. The function of the frills and three distinctive facial horns has long inspired debate. Traditionally these have been viewed as defensive weapons against predators. More recent theories, noting the presence of blood vessels in the skull bones of ceratopsids, find it more probable that these features were primarily used in identification, courtship and dominance displays, much like the antlers and horns of modern reindeer, mountain goats, or rhinoceros beetles. The theory finds additional support if Torosaurus represents the mature form of Triceratops, as this would mean the frill also developed holes (fenestrae) as individuals reached maturity, rendering the structure more useful for display than defense.
    Links: Top Ten Horns/Antlers, Top Ten Skeletons, Top Ten Skulls,,
  10. Pachycephalosaurus

    Pachycephalosaurus, “thick headed lizard,” is a genus of pachycephalosaurid dinosaur that lived during the Late Cretaceous Period (Maastrichtian stage) of what is now North America. It was an herbivorous or omnivorous creature which is only known from a single skull and a few extremely thick skull roofs. This dinosaur is monotypic, meaning the type species, P. wyomingensis, is the only known species. Pachycephalosaurus was one of the last non-avian dinosaurs before the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. Another dinosaur, Tylosteus of western North America, has been synonymized with Pachycephalosaurus. Like other pachycephalosaurids, Pachycephalosaurus was a bipedal omnivore with an extremely thick skull roof. It possessed long hindlimbs and small forelimbs. The thick skull domes of Pachycephalosaurus and related genera gave rise to the hypothesis that pachycephalosaurs used their skulls in intraspecific combat.
  11. Deinonychus
    File:DeinonychusGris.jpgFile:Deinonychus im NHM Wien.JPGFile:Deinonychus patte arrière gauche.jpg
    Deinonychus, “terrible claw,” is a genus of carnivorous dromaeosaurid dinosaurs. There is one described species, Deinonychus antirrhopus. These dinosaurs, which could grow up to 3.4 m (11 ft) long, lived during the early Cretaceous Period, about 115–108 million years ago (from the mid-Aptian to early Albian stages). Fossils have been recovered from the US states of Montana, Wyoming, and Oklahoma, in rocks of the Cloverly Formation and Antlers Formation, though teeth that may belong to Deinonychus have been found much farther east in Maryland. “Terrible claw” refers to the unusually large, sickle-shaped talon on the second toe of each hind foot. In life, archosaurs have a horny sheath over this bone, which extends the length. Ostrom looked at crocodile and bird claws and reconstructed the claw as over 120 mm (4.7 in) long. The species name antirrhopus means “counter balance,” which refers to Ostrom’s idea about the function of the tail. As in other dromaeosaurids, the tail vertebrae have a series of ossified tendons and super-elongated bone processes. These features seemed to make the tail into a stiff counterbalance, but a fossil of the very closely related Velociraptor mongoliensis has an articulated tail skeleton that is curved laterally in a long S–shape. This suggests that, in life, the tail could bend to the sides with a high degree of flexibility.
    Links: Top Ten Skulls,
  12. Stegasauraus
    File:Stegosaurus Senckenberg.jpg
    Stegosaurus, meaning “roof lizard” or “covered lizard” in reference to its bony plates, is a genus of armored stegosaurid dinosaur. They lived during the Late Jurassic period (Kimmeridgian to early Tithonian), some 155 to 150 million years ago in what is now western North America. In 2006, a specimen of Stegosaurus was announced from Portugal, showing that they were present in Europe as well. Due to its distinctive tail spikes and plates, Stegosaurus is one of the most recognizable dinosaurs. At least three species have been identified in the upper Morrison Formation and are known from the remains of about 80 individuals. A large, heavily built, herbivorous quadruped, Stegosaurus had a distinctive and unusual posture, with a heavily rounded back, short forelimbs, head held low to the ground and a stiffened tail held high in the air. The spikes were most likely used for defense, while the plates have also been proposed as a defensive mechanism, as well as having display and thermoregulatory functions. Stegosaurus had a relatively low brain-to-body mass ratio. It had a short neck and small head, meaning it most likely ate low-lying bushes and shrubs. It was the largest of all the stegosaurians (bigger than genera such as Kentrosaurus and Huayangosaurus) and, although roughly bus-sized, it nonetheless shared many anatomical features (including the tail spines and plates) with the other stegosaurian genera.
    Links: Top Ten Skeletons,
  13. Ankylosaurus
    File:Ankylosaurus estimated size 01.png
           Ankylosaurus, meanings “fused lizard,” is a genus of ankylosaurid dinosaur, containing one species, A. magniventris. Fossils of Ankylosaurus are found in geologic formations dating to the very end of the Cretaceous Period (between about 66.5–65.5 Ma ago) in western North America. Although a complete skeleton has not been discovered and several other dinosaurs are represented by more extensive fossil material, Ankylosaurus is often considered the archetypal armored dinosaur. Other ankylosaurids shared its well-known features—the heavily-armored body and massive bony tail club—but Ankylosaurus was the largest known member of the family.
  14. Dilophosaurus
    File:Dilophosaurus skull.jpg
    Dilophosaurus is a genus of theropod dinosaur from the Sinemurian stage of the Early Jurassic Period, about 193 million years ago. The first specimens were described in 1954, but it was not until over a decade later that the genus received its current name. Dilophosaurus has appeared several times in popular culture, such as in the 1993 film Jurassic Park.
  15. Sinornithosaurus
    Sinornithosaurus, meaning ‘Chinese bird-lizard,’ is a genus of feathered dromaeosaurid dinosaur from the early Cretaceous Period (early Aptian) of the Yixian Formation in what is now China. It was the fifth non–avian feathered dinosaur genus discovered by 1999. The original specimen was collected from the Sihetun locality of western Liaoning. It was found in the Jianshangou beds of the Yixian Formation, dated to 124.5 million years ago. Additional specimens have been found in the younger Dawangzhangzi bed, dating to around 122 million years ago. Xu Xing described Sinornithosaurus and performed a phylogenetic analysis which demonstrated that it is basal, or primitive, among the dromaeosaurs. He has also demonstrated that features of the skull and shoulder are very similar to Archaeopteryx and other Avialae. Together these two facts demonstrate that the earliest dromaeosaurs were more like birds than the later dromaeosaurs were. This goes against one argument made by critics of the theory that birds evolved from dinosaurs, namely that the most birdlike dinosaurs are predated by the earliest birds. Sinornithosaurus was among the smallest dromaeosaurids, with a length of about 90 cm (3.0 ft).
    Links: Top Ten Fossils,
  16. Parasaurolophus

    Parasaurolophus, meaning “near crested lizard,” is a genus of ornithopod dinosaur that lived in what is now North America during the Late Cretaceous Period, about 76.5–73 million years ago. It was a herbivore that walked both as a biped and a quadruped. Three species are recognized: P. walkeri (the type species), P. tubicen, and the short-crested P. cyrtocristatus. Remains are known from Alberta (Canada), and New Mexico and Utah (USA). The genus was first described in 1922 by William Parks from a skull and partial skeleton in Alberta. Parasaurolophus was a hadrosaurid, part of a diverse family of Cretaceous dinosaurs known for their range of bizarre head adornments. This genus is known for its large, elaborate cranial crest, which at its largest forms a long curved tube projecting upwards and back from the skull. Charonosaurus from China, which may have been its closest relative, had a similar skull and potentially a similar crest. The crest has been much discussed by scientists; the consensus is that major functions included visual recognition of both species and sex, acoustic resonance, and thermoregulation. It is one of the rarer hadrosaurids, known from only a handful of good specimens.
  17. Archaeopteryx
    File:Archaeopteryx lithographica, replica of London specimen, Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Karlsruhe, Germany - 20100925.jpg
    Archaeopteryx, sometimes referred to by its German name Urvogel (“original bird” or “first bird”), is a genus of early bird that is transitional between feathered dinosaurs and modern birds. The name derives from the ancient archaīos, meaning “ancient,” and ptéryx, meaning “feather” or “wing.” Since the late 19th century, it has been generally accepted by paleontologists as being the oldest known bird. Archaeopteryx lived in the Late Jurassic period around 150 million years ago, in what is now southern Germany during a time when Europe was an archipelago of islands in a shallow warm tropical sea, much closer to the equator than it is now. Similar in shape to a European Magpie, with the largest individuals possibly attaining the size of a raven, Archaeopteryx could grow to about 0.5 m (1 ft 8 in) in length. Despite its small size, broad wings, and inferred ability to fly or glide, Archaeopteryx has more in common with other small Mesozoic dinosaurs than it does with modern birds. In particular, it shares the following features with the deinonychosaurs: jaws with sharp teeth, three fingers with claws, a long bony tail, hyperextensible second toes (“killing claw”), feathers (which also suggest homeothermy), and various skeletal features. Most of these eleven fossils found include impressions of feathers. Because these feathers are of an advanced form (flight feathers), these fossils are evidence that the evolution of feathers began before the Late Jurassic. The type specimen of Archaeopteryx was discovered just two years after Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species. Archaeopteryx seemed to confirm Darwin’s theories and has since become a key piece of evidence for the origin of birds, the transitional fossils debate, and confirmation of evolution.
    Links: Top 100 Birds,
  18. Minmi

    Minmi, named after Minmi Crossing, Australia (where it was found), is a genus of small ankylosaurian dinosaur that lived during the early Cretaceous Period, about 119 to 113 million years ago. The type species, M. paravertebra, was described by Ralph Molnar in 1980. Two good specimens of Minmi have been described, including a mostly complete skeleton, and additional fragments may pertain to this genus.
  19. Oryctodromeus Cubicularis

    Oryctodromeus, meaning “digging runner,” was a genus of small ornithopod dinosaur. Fossils are known from the middle Cretaceous Blackleaf Formation of southwestern Montana and the Wayan Formation of southeastern Idaho, both of the Cenomanian stage, roughly 95 million years ago. A member of the small, presumably fast-running herbivorous family Hypsilophodontidae, Oryctodromeus is the first dinosaur published that shows evidence of burrowing behavior.
  20. Links: Animals, Reptiles, Top Ten Aquatic Dinosaurs, Top Ten Extinct Animals (Non-Dinosaur)

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