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Types of Dinosaurs

Want to know the difference between Therizinosaurus and Velociraptor? Here are descriptions of the major genera of dinosaurs (as well as flying and swimming reptiles) that lived tens of millions of years ago, including their habitats, their favorite foods, and what set them apart from others of their kind.
  1. Carnivorous Dinosaurs A to Z (259)
  2. Herbivorous Dinosaurs A to Z (400)
  3. Marine Reptiles A to Z (103)
  4. Prehistoric Reptiles A to Z (185)
  5. Pterosaurs A to Z (53)

Ankylosaurs: The Armored Dinosaurs
Ankylosaurs were among the last dinosaurs standing 65 million years ago, and with good reason: these otherwise gentle herbivores were the Cretaceous equivalent of Sherman tanks, complete with armor plating, sharp spikes and heavy clubs. Here's a look at how paleontologists classify ankylosaurs, as well as profiles of genuses ranging from...

Before the Dinosaurs: Pelycosaurs, Archosaurs, and Therapsids
Dinosaurs weren’t the first four-legged creatures to prosper on land. The Carboniferous and Permian periods witnessed a large variety of "primitive" terrestrial reptiles--many of which had surprisingly advanced features.

Ceratopsians: The Horned, Frilled Dinosaurs
Probably the oddest-looking dinosaurs that ever lived, ceratopsians--"horned faces"--included such familiar herbivores as Triceratops and Pentaceratops. Here's a look at how paleontologists define ceratopsians, along with links to a dozen representative genuses.

Crocodiles: The Ancient Cousins of the Dinosaurs
Toward the end of the Triassic period 200 million years ago, the archosaurs started to branch off into three major groups: the dinosaurs, the pterosaurs, and the crocodiles. Here's an overview of the crocodiles that lived alongside dinosaurs, as well as profiles of genuses ranging from Bernissartia to Stomatosuchus.

Hadrosaurs: The Duck-Billed Dinosaurs
Among the last--and most common--dinosaurs to roam the earth, hadrosaurs were large, low-slung plant eaters with tough beaks on their snouts to dig out vegetation. Here’s a look at how paleontologists classify these duck-billed herbivores, as well as a list of the most notable genuses, ranging from Anatotitan to Telmatosaurus.

Dinosaurs A to Z
An A-Z list of every dinosaur that ever lived, including herbivorous and carnivorous dinosaurs, avian and aquatic reptiles, and the primitive reptiles that preceded the dinosaurs. This list is constantly being updated, so check back again if you don't see your favorite!

Ichthyosaurs: The "Fish Lizards"
Although they weren't technically dinosaurs, ichthyosaurs ("fish lizards") ruled the Triassic and Jurassic oceans in much the same way tyrannosaurs ruled the continents. Here's a look at how paleontologists classify these sleek predators, along with profiles of genuses ranging from Californosaurus to Utatsusaurus.

Mosasaurs - The Marine Reptiles of the Late Cretaceous
The marine reptiles known as mosasaurs were sleek, vicious, and fast, which made them the terrors of the late Cretaceous seas. Here's everything you need to know about these dangerous aquatic predators.

Ornithomimids - The "Bird Mimic" Dinosaurs
Despite what you might guess from their name, ornithomimid ("bird mimic") dinosaurs didn't resemble flying birds, but landbound varieties like ostriches and emus. Here's what we know about ornithomimids, along with a list of the most notable genuses.

Ornithopods - The Small, Herbivorous Dinosaurs
Ornithopods--small- to medium-sized, mostly bipedal herbivores--were among the most common dinosaurs, roaming the plains and woodlands of the Mesozoic Era in vast herds. Here's what we currently know about these gentle plant-eaters, along with a list of notable genuses.

Pachycephalosaurs: The Bone-Headed Dinosaurs
Twenty million years before the dinosaurs went extinct, a strange new breed evolved: medium-sized, two-legged herbivores with unusually thick skulls. Here's a look at current thinking about pachycephalosaurs ("thick-headed lizards"), as well as links to profiles of genuses ranging from Colepiocephale (Greek for "knucklehead") to Wannanosaurus.

Plesiosaurs and Pliosaurs: The "Sea Serpents"
During the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, the earth's oceans, lakes and rivers were filled by large, agile reptiles, called plesiosaurs and pliosaurs, that looked uncannily like sea serpents. Here's an overview of the evolution, behavior and characteristics of these fearsome creatures, along with a list of genuses ranging from Aristonectes to...

Prosauropods - The Ancient Cousins of the Sauropods
Prosauropods ("before the sauropods") were small, herbivorous dinosaurs closely related to the giant sauropods of the late Jurassic period. Here's everything you need to know about this obscure family of dinosaurs.

Pterosaurs: The Flying Reptiles
Though they weren't technically dinosaurs, pterosaurs ("winged lizards") ruled the skies of the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods at the same time as their terrestrial cousins dominated the land. Here's a look at pterosaur evolution, behavior and physiology, along with a list of genuses ranging from Anurognathus to Zhejiangopterus.

Raptors: The Bird-Like Carnivores of the Late Cretaceous
Among the most feared predators of prehistoric times, raptors (also known as dromaeosaurs) were closely related to modern birds. Here's a look at how paleontologists classify raptors, as well as profiles of the most well-known genuses ranging from Achillobator to Utahraptor.

Sauropods: The Biggest Dinosaurs that Ever Lived
The sauropods were the true giants of the dinosaur family; some of them attained lengths of 100 feet and weights of 100 tons. Here's a brief overview of what makes a sauropod a sauropod, as well as an alphabetical list of sauropods ranging from Apatosaurus to Vulcanodon.

Stegosaurs - The Plated, Spiked Dinosaurs
Stegosaurus may be the most famous example, but at least a dozen other genuses of stegosaur lived during the Jurassic and early Cretaceous periods. Here's everything you need to know about these plated, spiked, four-footed plant-eaters.

The 10 Biggest Dinosaurs
Want to know how much Argentinosaurus weighed, or the wingspan of Quetzalcoatlus? Check this list of the 10 biggest dinosaurs (and aquatic and avian reptiles) to find out.

The 10 Deadliest Dinosaurs
Not all dinosaurs were equally dangerous--some were built for exceptional mayhem, sporting huge teeth, sharp claws, and (occasionally) even the ability to outwit their prey. Here's a list of the 10 fiercest, deadliest, and just plain most dangerous dinosaurs, pterosaurs, and aquatic reptiles. If you see one of these guys on the street--run!

The 10 Smartest Dinosaurs
Pound for pound, dinosaurs were some of the dumbest creatures ever to roam the planet. However, not all raptors, tyrannosaurs, stegosaurs and hadrosaurs were equally stupid; some may even (just barely) have attained a mammalian level of intelligence. Here's a list of the 10 smartest dinosaurs, based on an analysis of their anatomy and behavioral...

The 10 Weirdest Dinosaurs
Not all dinosaurs (or archosaurs, or pterosaurs) sported the same plain-vanilla body plans. Some of these creatures stood out even by the bizarre standards of the Mesozoic Era, with strange adaptations that puzzle paleontologists to the present day. Here’s a list of the 10 weirdest reptiles ever to walk (or crawl, or fly) the earth millions of years ago.

The 12 Main Dinosaur Groups
As much as our views about dinosaurs have changed over the past 100 years, one thing has remained constant: the major groups to which these ancient reptiles are assigned. Here are the 12 most important dinosaur families, ranging from ankylosaurs to tyrannosaurs, complete with links to additional information.

The Big Theropods - Allosaurs, Carnosaurs, Abelisaurs, and Ceratosaurs
We know all about tyrannosaurs and raptors, but those two families comprised only a small percentage of the bipedal, carnivorous dinosaurs known as theropods. Here's a look at the larger theropods of the Mesozoic Era, including allosaurs and abelisaurs, as well as profiles of representative theropod genuses.

The Five Most Misunderstood Dinosaurs
Some dinosaurs just don't get a fair break--either from paleontologists or the general public. Here's a list of five lizards whose reputations need a major makeover.

The 10 Smallest Dinosaurs
Not all dinosaurs were as big as houses--some were as small as wiener dogs, or even tinier. Here's a list of the 10 most diminutive dinosaurs (plus a couple of marine reptiles and pterosaurs for good measure).

Therizinosaurs - The Weirdest Dinosaurs
The strange creatures known as therizinosaurs seemed to be assembled out of the bits and pieces of other dinosaurs, including sauropods, ornithopods and theropods. Here's everything you need to know about these bizarre, Big Bird-like dinosaurs.

Tyrannosaurs: The Most Dangerous Dinosaurs
Tyrannosaurs (technically known as "tyrannosaurids") were the killing machines of the Cretaceous period: these huge, powerful beasts were all legs, trunk and teeth, and they preyed relentlessly on smaller, herbivorous dinosaurs. Here’s a look at how paleontologists classify tyrannosaurs, as well as profiles of the most notable genuses, ranging...

The First Reptiles
After the rise of the amphibians, but before the advent of pelycosaurs, archosaurs and therapsids, there were the ancestral reptiles--small, skittering, lizard-like creatures that lay at the root of reptilian evolution. Here's what we know about these trailblazing animals, along with a list of the most notable genera.

Titanosaurs - The Last of the Sauropods
By the end of the Cretaceous period, the only sauropods left standing were the titanosaurs--mysterious, armored plant-eaters whose partial skeletons have been found all over the world. Here's a look at how these strange creatures are classified, along with profiles of genuses ranging from Aegyptosaurus to Saltasaurus.

European Dinosaurs - The Top 10 Dinosaurs of Europe

Europe was the birthplace of modern paleontology; the very first dinosaurs were identified here almost 200 years ago, with reverberations that have persisted to the present day. Here are the 10 most important (and most influential) European dinosaurs, ranging from Archaeopteryx to Plateosaurus.

North American Dinosaurs - The Top 10 Dinosaurs of North America
A huge variety of dinosaurs lived in North America during the Mesozoic Era. Here's a list of the 10 most important (and most influential) North American dinosaurs, ranging from Allosaurus to Tyrannosaurus Rex.

10 Facts About Parasaurolophus - Parasaurolophus Facts
With its long, distinctive, backward-curving crest, Parasaurolophus was one of the most recognizable dinosaurs of the Cretaceous period. Here are 10 facts you may or may not have known about Parasaurolophus.

South American Dinosaurs - The Top 10 Dinosaurs of South America
As far as paleontologists can tell, the very first dinosaurs originated in South America--and while South American dinosaurs weren't quite as diverse as those on other continents, many of them were noteworthy in their own right. Here's a list of the 10 most important South American dinosaurs, ranging from Argentinosaurus to Irritator.

Asian Dinosaurs - The Top 10 Dinosaurs of Asia

Over the past few decades, more dinosaurs have been discovered in central and eastern Asia than on any other continent. Here's a list of the 10 most important (and most influential) Asian dinosaurs, ranging from Dilong to Velociraptor.

African Dinosaurs - The Top 10 Dinosaurs of Africa

Compared to Eurasia and North and South America, Africa isn't particularly well-known for its dinosaurs--but the species that lived on this continent during the Mesozoic Era were among the fiercest on the planet. Here's a list of the 10 most important African dinosaurs, ranging from Aardonyx to Vulcanodon.

10 Facts About Compsognathus
Once thought to be the world's smallest dinosaur, the chicken-sized Compsognathus was one of the earliest theropods. Here are 10 facts you may or may not have known about Compsognathus.

10 Facts About Deinonychus
Velociraptor gets all the press, but it was another raptor, Deinonychus, that really stole the show in Jurassic Park. Here are 10 facts you may or may not have known about Deinonychus.

Australian and Antarctic Dinosaurs - The Top 10 Dinosaurs of Australia and...
Although Australia and Antarctica weren't in the mainstream of dinosaur evolution during the Mesozoic Era, these remote continents hosted their fair share of theropods, sauropods and ornithopods. Here's a list of the 10 most important dinosaurs of Australia and Antarctica, ranging from Antarctopelta to Rhoetosaurus.

10 Facts About Oviraptor
Unfairly tagged as an "egg thief," Oviraptor was actually a law-abiding dinosaur of the late Cretaceous period. Here are 10 facts you may or may not have known about Oviraptor.

10 Facts About Baryonyx
The first fish-eating dinosaur ever discovered, Baryonyx remains a bit of a mystery. Here are 10 facts you may or may not have known about Baryonyx.

10 Facts About Coelophysis
One of the earliest true dinosaurs, the small, slender Coelophysis has had a disproportionate impact on paleontology. Here are 10 facts you may or may not have known about Coelophysis.

10 Facts About Ankylosaurus - Ankylosaurus Facts
Ankylosaurus was the prototypical armored dinosaur: low-slung, slow-moving, and covered with thick, knobby, impenetrable skin. Here are 10 facts you may or may not have known about Ankylosaurus.

Where Did Dinosaurs Live?
North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Antarctica and Australia were all home to an impressive assortment of dinosaurs during the Mesozoic Era. Here's a guide to the 10 most notable, and most important, dinosaurs that lived on each of these continents.

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