Most people are aware that 66 million years ago, the world experienced a mass extinction. This occurred at the end of the Cretaceous Period. People commonly consider this to be the extinction of the dinosaurs. So, what really happened to dinosaurs? Where did they go?
There is some lively discussion surrounding this question, but the answer is quite straightforward. An asteroid hit. This is firmly established, supported by all sorts of evidence, including a global layer of meteorite ash, and a 100-mile-wide crater.
However, there are those who insist that dinosaurs didn’t go extinct but just evolved and changed in many ways. If this theory sounds a little too crazy for you, read this list of 25 Odd And Bizarre Facts About Dinosaurs You Probably Didn’t Know. We promise to shed some light on the topic.
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More ancient than ... ancient!
Dinosaurs first appeared in the Mid-Triassic period and became the dominant terrestrial vertebrates in the Late Triassic or Early Jurassic period.
They dominated life on earth for 135 to 150 million years, until their demise at the end of the Cretaceous Period. (And we dare to say that we’re the most dominant species in Earth’s history for, what, a few thousand years of human civilization?)
Saltopus, the father of them all
The oldest known dinosaur is the Saltopus. It was a small carnivore and that likely lived over 245 million years ago.
It was probably under one meter in length when fully grown, even though we can’t be totally sure as only a fragmentary skeleton has been found.
Weird "Ichthyosaur" babies
Some may argue, however, and claim that Ichthyosaurs appeared around 250 million years ago; thus, 5 million years before the Saltopus.
Ichthyosaurs were large marine reptiles and resembled lizards … very big lizards that could swim. The crazy thing about them was that they were born tail-first.
Why? Well, if they had been born head-first, they would have drowned before they could reach the water’s surface to take their first breath.
Dinosaurs with high IQ
Even though dinosaurs were not known for being super bright, there were some exceptions to this rule. The smartest dinosaur was probably the Troodon. Its name, by the way, means “tooth that wounds.”
A Troodon had a brain the size of a big bird (which was huge for dinosaur standards). It also had grasping hands and stereoscopic vision.
Smallest dinosaur ever
The smallest fully-grown dinosaur fossil is the Lesothosaurus. This kind of dinosaur had the same size as a chicken.
For the record, smaller fossils than that of the Lesothosaurus have been found, but they belonged to baby dinosaurs.