Way back in 1841, Richard Owen first classified a group of related fossils as “Dinosauria,” which translates to “terrible lizard” in ancient Greek. But dinosaurs aren’t terrible, they’re wonderful! And since 1841, these planet-ruling, long-extinct creatures have been exciting our imaginations, changing what we know about Earth’s history, and giving pop culture its most popular and beloved monsters.
And so, in celebration of the 252 millionth anniversary of the first dinosaur taking its inaugural step, give or take a few million years, we give you best of the best in the prehistoric popularity contest. Lucky for you, it’s just in time for International Dinosaur Month!
The Heaviest Dinosaur
The heaviest dinosaur ever discovered is the Brachiosaurus weighing in at a whopping 80 tons. It was the equivalent to 17 African Elephants. Brachiosaurus was the equivalent to 17 African Elephants measuring 16m tall and 26m long. The excavation of Brachiosaurus in Tanzania, Africa, during the early part of the century involved hundreds of local workers who carried the enormous bones by hand for many miles to the seaport. They were then shipped to Germany and mounted inside of the Humboldt Museum in East Berlin. This museum was custom designed to fit the skeleton of Brachiosaurus. That skeleton is still on display, and it is still the most impressive dinosaur mounted in the world. It is as staggering to visitors today as when it was unveiled many decades ago.
The Smallest Dinosaur
The smallest fully-grown fossil dinosaur is the little bird-hipped plant-eater lesothosaurus, which was only the size of a chicken. Smaller fossilized examples have been found but these are of baby dinosaurs.
The Smallest Dinosaur Egg
Current evidence suggests all dinosaurs laid eggs of a wide variety of shapes and sizes—from 1 inch (3 centimeters) to 21 inches (53 centimeters), round or elliptical. Dinosaur eggs were perforated with tiny holes, which allowed life-giving oxygen to enter. The smallest dinosaur egg so far found is only a little over 1 inch long (3 centimeters.) Scientists have yet to solve the mystery of which species of dinosaur laid the tiny egg. Once the egg has been fossilized it will become hard like rock, but it will retain a structure of its own.
The Most Brainy Dinosaur
The First Dinosaur to be Discovered in North America
The first discovery of dinosaur remains in North America was made in 1854 by Ferdinand Vandiveer Hayden during his exploration of the upper Missouri River. He discovered a small collection of teeth which were later described by Joseph Leidy in 1856 as belonging to Trachodon, Troodon, and Deinodon.
A short two years later, Leidy had the honor of describing the first reasonably complete dinosaur skeleton the world would know, Hadrosaurus foulkii. Named after its discoverer William Parker Foulke, this specimen was recovered during quarrying of a sand pit in Haddonfield, New Jersey. This specimen, is now on display at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.
The Tallest Dinosaur
The tallest dinosaurs were the Brachiosaurid group of sauropods. Their front legs were longer than the rear legs giving them a giraffe-like stance. This combined with their extremely long necks, which were held vertically, meaning they could leaf through even the tallest trees. Brachiosaurus – the most well known of the group – was 13 meters tall. Sauroposeidon was massive and probably grew to 18.5 meters tall making it the tallest dinosaur.
The Fastest Running Dinosaur
The speediest dinosaurs were the ostrich mimic ornithomimids, such as Dromiceiomimus, which could probably run at speeds of up to 60 kilometers per hour.
The Oldest Dinosaur
In January 2013, Science Today published the discovery of a new dinosaur species that lived around the same time as Eoraptor in the late Triassic, some 230 million years ago. Dubbed Eodromaeus, it was discovered in the Ischigualasto Formation, a geological basin in northwestern Argentina that is riddled with some of the oldest dinosaur remains known.
The Eodromaeus has been a hot debate among Paleontologists & has taken the top spot in the oldest Dino category previously held by the Eoraptor, meaning “dawn thief,” whom had held the title at 228 million years.
The Longest Dinosaur Name
The dinosaur with the longest name was Micropachycephalosaurus meaning “tiny thick-headed lizard”. Its fossils have been found in China, and it was named in 1978 by the Chinese paleontologist Dong.
Even eons later, the world is still just as into dinosaurs as it was 251,000,000 years ago. In fact, there are countless ways to get the kids (and/or yourself) even more in touch with these beloved prehistoric pals, this side of the Stone Age.
All month long, we invite you to celebrate your love of dinosaurs with us. Make this month’s celebration one of prehistoric proportions with a HTHT fan-favorite Paleontology Party that is sure to WOW all of your fellow Dino-lovers.
Looking for even more ways to celebrate? Check out these other great ideas & resources:
- Archeologists in training can hone their skills by digging for Dino bones online.
- If this dinosaur expert doesn’t have all the kids’ questions (“Why are dinosaurs so big?”) answered, this video from National Geographic surely will.
- If a natural history museum is within reach, pack a lunch, and make a family day of it! Larger-than-life skeletons will put the ancient beasts’ grandeur in full perspective. While you’re there, take the time to get to know the species of dinosaurs & study their bones. You can show off your new Dino-knowledge with all your friends at your Dino party!
- Dress as a dinosaur for Halloween. Million-year-old reptiles always get more candy!
- Have a Dinosaur Movie Marathon. You know what we’re thinking… JURASSIC PARK!!!! But for the younger audience, there are plenty of other incredible dinosaur movies out there. Check out the ‘Dinosaur’ category on Netflix & find a movie that will entertain your friends of all ages. Prepare some dinosaur snacks, like sandwiches cut into to Dino shapes and Dino shaped cookies too. Try icing cakes to look scaly or even check out this Dino egg cake recipe. Now all you need is some friends, Dino movies and of course POPCORN!
And don’t forget to join the Mesozoic Madness conversation on Twitter @HTHTWNC & Share your favorite highlights with us on Facebook!