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Dinosaur Bytes

FAQs About Dinosaurs
What is a Dinosaur?
What's in a Name?
Mesozoic Era Time Line
       (printable page)

Dinosaur Dig

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a fossil?
The remains (bones, teeth, skull) or traces (footprints, burrows) of something that lived in prehistoric times. This means that fossils could be 10,000 years old or as much as 3½ billion years old.

What is a paleontologist?
A paleontologist is a scientist who studies fossils to learn about prehistoric plants and animals.

What is probably the best known and most frightening species of meat-eating dinosaur?
It is Tyrannosaurus rex (ty-RAN-o-sawr-us).

How many different species of dinosaurs have been found so far?
Over 300.

What is the tallest dinosaur ever found?
The tallest known dinosaur is Ultrasaurus (UHL-truh-sawr-us), which could have looked in the windows on the sixth floor of a building-with all four feet on the ground.

What is the longest dinosaur ever found?
The longest known dinosaur is Seismosaurus (syz-mo-SAWR-us), a sauropod discovered in New Mexico. This dinosaur was more than 140-ft. long and may have weighed 80 to 100 tons. In The Lost World exhibition, the largest fleshed-out dinosaur is the impressive Mamenchisaurus (mah-MEN-chi-SAW-rus), which is nearly 70-ft. long.

What is the smallest dinosaur ever found?
The smallest known dinosaur is the Compsognathus (komp-SOG-nath-us). It was the size of a chicken.

How long ago did dinosaurs roam on the Earth?
Dinosaurs ruled the terrestrial world for more than 180 million years, and then they became extinct. The last of these prehistoric reptiles died out 65 million years ago.

Where have scientists found dinosaur fossils?
Dinosaur remains have been found on every continent, including Antarctica.

What are the closest living relatives of dinosaurs today?
The birds we enjoy everyday are very closely related to dinosaurs. In fact, many paleontologists now consider birds to be simply advanced feathered dinosaurs.

What color were dinosaurs?
Scientists really do not know. Dinosaurs could have been as colorful as a peacock or as drab as an elephant or rhino.

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