Most people can rattle off at least five dinosaurs they know. People who have seen all the Jurassic Park movies a few times are usually good for at least a dozen, and beyond that, most of us over the age of 9 don’t know a lot about prehistoric life on earth. (Most people, not all. Chill Paleontologist nerds, we love you.) As if a giant lizard who could eat you isn’t weird enough, they get weirder, and more wonderful. Curious about these weird dinos? Here are 25 Most Bizarre Dinosaurs Ever.
Discovered in 1991 in Argentina, Amargasaurus was a sauropod (walked on four legs, long neck, long tail). However, this dino was smaller than the more well known sauropods such as Brachiosarus, maxing out at around 35 feet long. What makes Amargasaurus so awesome is that it was punk rock dinosaur, complete with Mohawk. Okay, technically they’re two rows of spines that grew out of it’s neck, back and tail, but it looks like a Mohawk. We’re still wondering why in the 26 years since it’s discovery it hasn’t been in a movie yet.
Dilong was a very small Tyrannasauroid, maxing out at about 6 feet long from nose to tail. It was about two feet high and had feathers on it’s tail. It’s name means “Emperor Dragon,” and if they had survived the early Cretaceous period, we’d have them on leashes and sell t-shirts for them at the nearest pet super store.
Dimorphodon was not technically a dinosaur. However, some researchers argue that, this type of pterosaur could have stood upright and so they could have been included in the dinosaur family. Nevertheless, the Dimorphodon was too bizarre for us not to include on this list. The Dimorphodon is perhaps the weirdest pterosaur (extinct flying reptiles), at least at first glance. Probably because it looks like someone stuck a T-rex skull on a pterosaur body as a joke and someone took it too seriously. But alas, no, that’s just how this strange creature looked. Dimorphodon was around 2 feet long and probably weighed around 2 pounds, so tiny but fierce. They were pretty amazingly build for flight, too. It’s long tail had a flap of skin at the end that scientist believed was used to help stabilize it during flight.
Guanlong lived in what is now China during the late Jurassic period. It was a 10 foot long, 3 foot high carnivore (possibly scavenger) that looked in body somewhat like a tyrannosaur, but had longer (and possibly useful) arms. The weird and awesome thing about Guanlong is that it had a large crest on it’s face between it’s nostrils and ending back above it’s eyes. Since this was too weak to use for combat, paleontologists assume it was used for displays, such as mating, and likely changed colors. Ohh, ahhh.
Kosmoceratops lived during the late Cretaceous period and had a total of 15 fancy horns upon his head. It’s a pretty recent discovery; it was found in Utah in 2006 and only two have been found so far. As the photo implies, it was, in fact, a relative of the less fancy Triceratops. Kosmoceratops is the luxury edition Ceratopsia.
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Oryctodromeus was a burrowing dinosaur – it dug its own holes to live in. Fossils of three Oryctodromeus were found at the bottom of a six and a half foot burrow, which means that not only did they dig, they lived in the little homes they dug; they didn’t just dig for food.
Gigantoraptor was not actually a raptor. It was also…funny looking. We shouldn’t judge, really because during the Late Cretaceous we would’ve been pretty funny looking, but honestly, it was more like a chicken with a parrot beak that weighed as much as a hippo and was two car lengths long. It had hollow bones like a bird, and paleontologists assume that it moved liked a giant chicken.
Stygimoloch means “Demon from the river Styx,” which is really mean and unfair because seriously, not everything with horns is evil. Look at how popular Unicorns are! Nevertheless, this little guy was 7-10 feet long and has only been found in Wyoming and Montana, and even then, only their skulls. So they’re kinda guessing at the rest.
Psittacosaurus looks like what you might imagine would happen if you mixed a parrot, a dinosaur, and a porcupine together. There have been over 400 individual specimens discovered (keep in mind we’ve only ever dug up 50ish T-Rex specimens), and this allows paleontologists to study things like…the fact that they got leggy with age. They walked on 4 legs, but around age 6 they went through a major growth spurt and walked on two legs thereafter. They also swallowed pebbles, and the youngin’s would crowd together for protection.
Rhinorex looks a little like an Elephant Seal. Found in Utah in 1992, he’s one of only two dinosaurs found in that particular area thus far (the other being part of a tyrannosaur). This dino was member of the Hadrosaur family that grew to about 30 feet long.
Enjoying this list? Also be sure to check out 25 Giant Facts You Might Not Know About Dinosaurs.
Styracosaurus, like Kosmoceratops, is another many horned fancy lizard. In fact, the horns between different individual Styracosaurus may have varied. They had a large impressive horn on their nose, much like a rhino, but larger in some cases, and could have possible run faster than an elephant.
Euoplocephalus was basically an armored tank in dino-form, complete with a giant club on its tail. It was covered in bony plates with spikes and even had little horn like protrusions over its eyes. Euoplocephalus has been found all over North America, and paleontologists believe they may have lived in herds. As for all that heavy duty body armor? They were herbivores. Like the Dali lama wearing kevlar…
Terror Bird makes it a little more obvious to those still in denial how we got from ferocious dinos to chickens. While some would argue it’s not “technically” a dinosaur as we know it, we’re counting it because it was *awesome*. Its scientific name is Phorusrhacids, and it was flightless, having arms about a useful as a T-Rex’s. It WAS, however, a ten foot tall running machine with a giant beak. You aunt’s grumpy cockatoo could take your finger if it wanted. Imagine if that cockatoo were ten feet tall and given strong dino legs.
Deinocheirus is the opposite of the T-Rex. It’s got a lot of arm and looks a little unbalanced. In 1965, the arm and shoulder bones of one were unearthed, and that was it, until 2014. Could you just imagine having these weird giant prehistoric arm bones and nothing to go with them? Eee. But then an entire body was found in Mongolia, and it was discovered that in addition to gangly upper limbs, Deinocheirus had a hump and a relatively tiny beak. Also he was about 36 feet long and weighed around 7ish tons. He’s beautiful in his own way.
Archaeopteryx has been the topic of much debate among scientists. Was it a bird or dinosaur? The answer? Erm…. While some still consider Archaeopteryx to be the “link” between dinos and modern avians, the most recent fossil finds in China have led paleontologists to firmly classify it as dino. This tiny, beautifully feathered dino bird is considered to very likely have had some sort of flying/gliding ability, but it’s not clear if it was a true flyer or a glider. They maxed out at around 2.2 pounds, and scientists have debated if their feathers were black, colored, or white with black tips.
Baryonyx belongs to the same class of dinosaur as Spinosarus, and it had the disturbingly long face to prove it. It had a huge claw on its first finger that it definitely used to fight, and its hands could definitely grab stuff… Because what alligators needed was to have two feet, have hands, and be around 25 foot long. It’s assumed that it lived near water and mostly hunted fish.
Chilesaurus was, as the name may imply, discovered in Chile. It was a theropod (standing on two legs), but unlike other known theropods, it was an herbivore, not a carnivore. Not only that, but it’s feet were similar to a sauropods – broad, and made to bear a lot of weight. It’s a mix of traits that are pretty unexpected in a dinosaur, but not impossible- it looked like a velociraptor cousin, but ate like a stegosaurus. It makes it an anomaly, but also exciting from an evolutionary perspective.
Cryolophosaurus had her own built in crown, which is kind of fancy. Don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t a princess, and if they do, eat them. A theropod (bipedal, generally ate meat) dino, Cryolophosaurus was found in Antarctica and was actually pretty long for the Early Jurassic Period at 20 feet long.
The Linhenykus didn’t have any sort of hand on it’s little nubby arms. It just had one finger with a stabby claw…Except its arms weren’t long enough to really stab anything. There is a tiny bone in the hand next to the first claw, but it isn’t big enough to be a digit on it’s own, much less support a claw. So it’s a one fingered, tiny dino. It was so small a fully grown one could’ve stood in the palm of the hand.
Yutyrannus was a ferocious Tyrannosaur, reaching around 30 feet in length that was covered in tiny, fuzzy, soft little feathers. There are actually fossilized imprints of the tiny feathers. Cuddly, giant doom. Aw!
This dino looked like an angry parrot that had been mostly plucked. Or cross-bred with a porcupine. It had tiny jaws, a beak, AND fangs. It was also tiny, its skull being less than three inches. Paleontologists assure us that it was a herbivore and probably used the beak to pick fruit. If they were still around, little old ladies would keep them as pets.
This was another small dinosaur – the size of a pigeon – that had some, uh, interesting features. No beak, but long arms with creepy long fingers and wicked little claws, and GIANT TAIL FEATHERS. However, it didn’t fly, but the four giant tail feathers likely helped it balance on branches as it could have easily hopped among trees. If we thought the big dinos were weird and terrifying, the dino-bird links just get weirder. We like to imagine they made a horrific noise.
Longisquama was a little gal. Only about six inches long, she weighed a few ounces and mostly ate bugs, while *possibly* gliding across the tree tops. She also grew giant feathers out of her back. No, really. This isn’t from a fantasy novel, this is what this tiny beautiful dino-lizard looked like. While she’s tentatively classified as a diapsid reptile, some paleontologists are pushing to have Longisquama firmly classified as an early dinosaur or archosaur (reptiles that pre-dated dinos). Right now, classification is kind of up in the air, until more fossils are found, or the classifications shift. And yet some argue that it’s not even an early dinosaur, but a very early bird, which would upend the ENTIRE idea that dinos became our modern birds. We just have to wait and see what the paleontologists find.
(sometimes we remember cool things like this that wouldn’t have killed us and get really sad about extinction all over again….)
Troodon is a genus of carnivorous dinosaur that had differently shaped teeth including serrated, and the largest brain (relative to body size) of any of the dinosaurs discovered thus far. It also had very large eyes, which leads paleontologists to believe that it could see quite well in the dark. It’s arguable that Troodon could have developed human level intelligence. Maybe Jurassic Park made the wrong dinos the scary smart “villains”…
Therizinosaurus kind of looks like that Big Yellow Bird and a T-Rex had a love child. It was a two-footed, feather covered dinosaur that had the longest claws of any known animal yet was vegan (probably vegan). Add to that a weight of possibly more than 5 tons and a ten foot length, and it looks more like a sympathetic monster from a children’s book than what we think of as a “dinosaur.”
Love dinosaurs? So do we! Check out 25 Great Dinosaur Mysteries We All Want Solved.
Photo Credits: 25. Nobu Tamura (http://spinops.blogspot.com), Amargasaurus BW, CC BY 3.0, 24. shutterstock, 23. commons.wikimedia.org – Public Domain, 22. Durbed, Guanlong wucaii by durbed, CC BY-SA 3.0, 21. Nobu Tamura email:email@example.com http://spinops.blogspot.com/http://paleoexhibit.blogspot.com/, Kosmoceratops NT small, CC BY-SA 4.0, 20. FunkMonk (Michael B. H.), Oryctodromeus, CC BY-SA 3.0, 19. Nobu Tamura (http://spinops.blogspot.com), Gigantoraptor BW, CC BY-SA 3.0, 18. User:Haplochromis, Stygimoloch spinifer, CC BY-SA 3.0, 17. Nobu Tamura (http://spinops.blogspot.com), Psittacosaurus mongoliensis whole BW, CC BY 3.0, 16. Debivort at the English language Wikipedia, Hadrosaur-tree-v4, CC BY-SA 3.0, 15. shutterstock, 14. Nobu Tamura (http://spinops.blogspot.com), Euoplocephalus BW, CC BY 3.0 13. Andrew Everett via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 12. FunkMonk (Michael B. H.), Hypothetical Deinocheirus, CC BY-SA 3.0, 11. NobuTamura http://paleoexhibit.blogspot.com/ http://spinops.blogspot.com/, Archaeopteryx NT, CC BY-SA 3.0, 10. DinosIgea, Paleontológica baryonyx, CC BY-SA 4.0, 9. Nobu Tamura email:firstname.lastname@example.org http://spinops.blogspot.com/, Chilesaurus NT small, CC BY-SA 4.0, 8. D. Gordon E. Robertson, Cryolophosaurus ellioti, cast of head, ROM, CC BY-SA 4.0, 7. Kabacchi, Patagonykus, CC BY 2.0, 6. Edin, Janine and Jim via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 5. Todd Marshall, Pegomastax africana reconstruction, CC BY 3.0, 4. commons.wikimedia.org – Public Domain, 3. Nobu Tamura (http://spinops.blogspot.com), Longisquama BW, CC BY-SA 3.0, 2. Reid,iain james, Hand drawn Troodon, CC BY-SA 3.0, 1. Alina Zienowicz (Ala z), e-mail, Terizinozaur (Therizinosaurus) – JuraPark Baltow, CC BY-SA 3.0