Dinosaurs are typically pictured as big, green scaly monsters that have sharp, long teeth to tear apart their victim’s flesh. They are portrayed with razor sharp claws and make a terrible, deep roar that will scare the pants off anyone or anything. This stereotypical portrayal of a dinosaur is the dinosaur of our imaginations. It is not an accurate portrayal of what a dinosaur really was like. Yes, dinosaurs were tenacious carnivores, but they were also docile and slow giants. Dinosaurs came in many sizes and lived all over the world. They had feathers and may have been brightly colored. Read through the top ten myths about dinosaurs listed below to learn the real truth behind dinosaurs.
10. All Dinosaurs Only Had Scales
When dinosaurs were first discovered, they were thought to be related to crocodiles, alligators, and lizards. Naturally then they were thought to have scales. It wasn’t until the 1970’s though that palentologists began to wonder if dinosaurs were releated to birds. In 1997, a small carnivorous dinosaur called Sinosauropteryx, was discovered to have a soft, fuzzy covering-and not scales. Since then, feathers have been discovered on ornithopods, fanged heterodontosaurs, and many families of carnivorous dinosaurs, including the Tyrannosauridae. In fact, a cousin of the Tyrannosaurus Rex called the Yutyrannus had tufts of fluff. A feathery covering may have helped smaller dinosaurs regulate their body temperatures. Even plant-eaters may have had some feathers. Some dinosaurs also had spots of bright colors or stripes. So it's very probable the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex had feathers, not leathery scales.
9. Dinosaurs Were Terrible Parents
It was once a common belief that dinosaurs would lay their eggs and leave them to survive on their own. That changed when a dinosaur skeleton was found sitting on top of eggs in the Gobi Desert of Southern Mongolia and Northern China. It was thought that the dinosaur was trying to steal eggs. More dinosaurs were soon found in the region sitting on top of eggs. Paleantologists realized the dinosaur, the Oviraptor, wasn’t trying to steal the eggs-it was guarding them. Paleantologist, Jack Horner, discovered a fossil of a juvenile Maiasaura, which means "good mother." This discovery proved dinosaurs were socialable, built nests, and cared for their young.
8. All Dinosaurs Were Huge
Some dinosaurs were very big, but some movies have made them even bigger. The Trynasaurus Rex was about 12 meters long and weighed around 10,000 pounds. The T-Rex has been portrayed as big as a house The Velociraptor was about the size of a golden retriever. Jurrasic Park made the dinosaur bigger to make it scarier. Smaller dinosaurs like the Hesperonychus was the size of a cat and the Tianyulong was the size of a rabbit. However, in movies, the bigger the dinosaur, the scarier the movie.
7. Dinosaurs Had Mighty Roars
No one knows for sure the exact noises a dinosaur made, but there are some clues. For example, the Lambeosaurus had a crest on its head that filled with air when it breathed. When air was pushed out of the crest, the dinosaur made a sound like a horn. Dinosaurs probably made closed-mouth vocalizations, which sound more like a pigeon’s coo or an ostritches mumble. Paleontoligists have found some dinosaur larynx fragments. However, this doesn’t prove if a dinosaur could make sounds, since a larynx has other purposes as well. The creators of Jurassic Park combined the sounds of elephant cries, a gargling alligator, and tigers to make an inaccurate dinosaur roar sound.
6. Mammals Came After Dinosaurs
200 million years ago, a scaly looking rat called the cynodont, lived among the dinosaurs. Mammals began to evolve around 165 million years ago. Mammals had diversified into marsupial and placental lines around that time. Scientists haven’t found a mammal bigger than a badger during that time peroid. Mammals really began to quickly diversify after the non-bird dinosaurs went extinct. Mammals evolved to become bigger in size and spread around the world.
5. Dinosaurs Instantly Died After an Asteroid Hit
It is possible that the dinosaurs were starting to die out before a giant asteroid hit the earth due to frequent volcanic eruptions and rising sea levels. A 180-kilometer wide asteroid did hit the earth on Mexico’s Yucatan Penninsula. Dinosaurs were not quickly wiped out from it though. Scientists believe the dinosaurs could have been wiped out by the aftermath of the asteroid which included tsunamis, clouds of dust, and acid rains. It may have taken a few hundred thousand years for the last of the dinosaurs to die out from starvation.
4. Humans Lived Alongside Dinosaurs
The Flintstones cartoon depicts humans living alongside dinosaurs, but none of that is actually true. The belief that humans lived alongside dinosaurs is known as the Flintstone Fallacy. Dinosaurs died out sixty-five million years ago, and the earliest fossils of human ancestors date back only six million years. It’s a fun idea to think about early humans having a dino pet, but that never actually happened.
3. Flying Reptiles Were Dinosaurs
Pterosaurs, a flying reptile came just after dinosaurs. The largest flying reptile was about as big as a small plane. Many were terrifying. Some had graceful wings and long necks. Others looked like bats. Still others were only 10 inches long. Like dinosaurs, flying reptiles came in a variety of sizes. Flying reptiles also died out at the same time as dinosaurs. Flying reptiles are closely related to dinosaurs, but are not true dinosaurs.
2. Dinosaurs Were the First Reptiles to Take Over the World
True reptiles evolved from amphibians more than 300 million years ago during the late Carboniferous period. Dinosaurs came during the early Triassic period about 250 million years ago. During that time, the earth was invaded by prehistoric reptiles like the therapsids, pelycosaurs and archosaurs. These reptiles were able to move further away from water-where their early amphibeaus relatives lived-because they walked on four legs and had scaly skin. Scientists think the elevated oxygen levels during the Carboniferous period may have quickened the pace of evolution.
1. Dinosaurs Do Not Have Descendants
Fossil evidence shows that modern birds evolved from dinosaurs. Some evolutionary biologists even believe that birds are actually dinosaurs. Birds are sometimes known as avian dinosaurs. Ostriches, chickens, pigeons, and sparrows are more related to dinosaurs than modern reptiles. The next time you look out a window and see a modern bird, you actually may be looking at a modern dinosaur.
How Many Types of Dinosaurs are There?
Dinosaurs are classified into two orders, Saurischia and Ornithischia, which are further divided into suborders, infraorders, and families.
About the Author
Susanna is a writer from Wisconsin. She loves to spend time in the outdoors, read, do craft projects, and play with her kids.
Your MLA Citation
Your APA Citation
Your Chicago Citation
Your Harvard CitationRemember to italicize the title of this article in your Harvard citation.