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Kids: Dino

Here you can learn all kinds of stuff about Dinosaurs! What exactly are dinosaurs, when did they live and how did they become extinct? You can also learn something about some famous dinosaurs.



What are dinosaurs exactly?

Dinosaur literally means "terrible lizard". Dinosaurs are giant reptiles. The dinosaurs no longer live. Long before humans lived on earth, they went extinct. In our time there are still reptiles such as snakes, crocodiles and turtles. These are much smaller than most of the dinosaurs. Because most dinosaurs were very large, they needed large quantities of food every day. There were both benign herbivores and dangerous carnivores. 

There were more than a hundred different kinds of dinosaurs. The largest were bigger than a two-story house. Not every dinosaur was so great. Some dinosaurs were not much bigger than a chicken. Dinosaurs lived on land, but there were also giant reptiles flying around in the air, the pterosaurs. There were also large reptiles that lived in the sea, like the plesiosaurs. At the time of the dinosaurs there were already lots of different kinds of plants, insects and small mammals.





Velociraptor claw (replica) © Photo: Olof Moleman

When did they live?

The first dinosaurs lived in the era that we call the "Triassic". It started about 250 million years ago. In the eras that followed (Jurassic and Cretaceous) dinosaurs were the largest and strongest animals on earth. They lived all over the earth. At the end of the Cretaceous period (65 million years ago), they went extinct.



Scelidosaurus in the forest. © Drawing by: Casper Pranger

 

Extinction

About 65 million years ago, all dinosaurs suddenly died out. Many other species of animals and plants disappeared. Most likely a meteorite hit the earth. A meteorite is a large rock that travels through space. A huge crater was found in Mexico where the meteorite might have hit the earth, the meteor is estimated to have been at least 10 kilometers in diametre. Because of the impact a lot of dust was released into the air blocking out the suns light for several years. Plants cannot grow without light and eventually the dinosaurs (and other large reptiles) died out. 

Some reptiles, which are related to the dinosaurs did survive the impact. An example of these are the crocodiles and turtles. Birds too, are descended from dinosaurs.

 

Various dinosaur species

Tyrannosaurus

Tyrannosaurus, also known as the T-Rex, is the best known predatory dinosaur. You might know it from the movie "Jurassic Park." It walked on its hind legs and was 56 feet long. Its head was 6 feet long with teeth measuring 6 inches. It appeared during the Cretaceous period.

Skeleton of a T-rex

 

Iguanodon

The Iguanodon was a dinosaur that was found in Belgium. It was a herbivore that lived in large herds. To defend itself, it had a large pointy claw on each front paw.

Reconstruction of an Iguanodon (Photo Marcus Ringer)


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