Early Dinosaurs

What were the First Dinosaurs?

The dinosaurs appeared roughly 230 million years ago, during the Triassic Period, and evolved from reptiles. Plateosaurus was a relative of the much larger sauropods and one of the first large plant-eating dinosaurs. It grew to be about 9 meters long. Plateosaurus most likely walked on all fours most of the time, occasionally rearing up to eat from treetops.

Several dinosaur fossils have been unearthed in the last 200 years, but they only provide a partial picture. What we do recognize is that the first true dinosaurs appeared sometime during the middle Triassic period. They are thought to have evolved from a single lineage of archosaurs, whose living descendants are birds and crocodiles (alligators and caimans).

Anchisaurus

Anchisaurus was originally discovered in 1818, many decades before the Dinosaurs were officially recognized. At that time, scientists believed that the skeleton was that of an early Human. This dog sized animal probably hoped along slowly similar to a Kangaroo, as it foraged around looking for plant life.

  • What is this dinosaur’s name? Anchisaurus
  • How do I pronounce it? Ann-kee-sore-uss
  • What does its name mean? Close Reptile
  • How long was this dinosaur? 8.00 feet, 2.50 meters
  • How heavy was this dinosaur? 77.00 pounds
  • What class was this dinosaur assigned to? Prosauropoda
  • What did this dinosaur eat? Plants
  • How many years ago did this dinosaur live? 195 Years Ago
  • In what period did this dinosaur live? Early Jurassic
  • Where did this dinosaur live? North America

Coelophysis

In 1940 thousands of Coelophysis‘ bones were discovered in a small area. These animals probably all died together, perhaps in a flash flood, or other natural disaster.
Coelophysis” light weight body and long neck made it an excellent hunter. This predator was a quick and agile creature, able to dart from side to side as it chased its prey, or escaped from its enemies. Coelophysis shares many features with early birds, including hollow bones, and beak like mouth.

  • What is this dinosaur’s name? Coelophysis
  • How do I pronounce it? See-low-fye-siss
  • What does its name mean? Hollow Shape
  • How long was this dinosaur? 10.00 feet, 3.00 meters
  • How heavy was this dinosaur? 77.00 pounds
  • What class was this dinosaur assigned to? Theropoda
  • What did this dinosaur eat? Small Animals
  • In what period did this dinosaur live? Late Triassic
  • Where did this dinosaur live? North America
  • How many years ago did this dinosaur live? 220,000,000 Years Ago

Eoraptor

Eoraptor is one of the earliest known dinosaurs. This creature was discovered in 1991 by a group of students doing research in Argentina, and was named by Paul Sereno. Eoraptor was a lightweight predator with hollow bones, much like modern day birds. Its teeth were suited for eating small animals such as lizards, and worms. All though smaller, his small predator dinosaur was constructed much like later predator dinosaurs, with small forelegs, and large hind legs allowing it to walk and run bipedally.

  • What is this dinosaur’s name? Eoraptor
  • How do I pronounce it? Ee-owe-rap-tore
  • What does its name mean? Dawn Hunter (Early Hunter)
  • How long was this dinosaur? 3 feet, 1 meters
  • How heavy was this dinosaur? 21 pounds
  • What class was this dinosaur assigned to? Theropoda
  • What did this dinosaur eat? Smaller Animals
  • How many years ago did this dinosaur live? 228,000,000 Years Ago
  • In what period did this dinosaur live? Middle To Late Triassic
  • Where did this dinosaur live? South America

Herrerasaurus

Herrerasaurus is one of the best known early dinosaurs. This ferocious predator was named after the farmer who discovered it, Victorino Herrera, in Argentina. It is believed that Herrerasaurus was one of the earliest dinosaurs. Its body shape suggests that this dinosaur was a very fast hunter, and that it could turn quickly from side to side.

  • What is this dinosaur’s name? Herrerasaurus
  • How do I pronounce it? He-ray-raar-sore-uss
  • What does its name mean? Herreras”s Reptile
  • How long was this dinosaur? 10 feet, 3 meters
  • How heavy was this dinosaur? 154.00 pounds
  • What class was this dinosaur assigned to? Theropoda
  • What did this dinosaur eat? Smaller Animals
  • How many years ago did this dinosaur live? 220,000,000 Years Ago
  • In what period did this dinosaur live? Middle to Late Triassic
  • Where did this dinosaur live? North America, South America

Lufengosaurus

Lufengosaurus was discovered in China by Young Chung Chien, in 1943. This strange Dinosaur had large powerful hind legs, and smaller arm like front legs. Lufengosaurus” strong back legs could be used by Lufengosaurus to stand straight up, allowing the animal to reach higher plants, such as the tops of trees. It could then use its arm-like front legs to put the food into its mouth.

  • What is this dinosaur’s name? Lufengosaurus
  • How do I pronounce it? Lau-fung-owe-sore-uss
  • What does its name mean? Reptile of Lu-feng (Location of discovery)
  • How long was this dinosaur? 20 feet, 6  meters
  • How heavy was this dinosaur? 1100.00 pounds
  • What class was this dinosaur assigned to? Prosauropoda
  • What did this dinosaur eat? Plants
  • How many years ago did this dinosaur live? 200,000,000 Years Ago
  • In what period did this dinosaur live? Early Jurassic
  • Where did this dinosaur live? Asia
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Massospondylus

Many fossils of Massospondylus have been found in Africa and Arizona, making Massospondylus one of the most well known Dinosaurs. This Prosauropod which lived around 200 million years ago was long the subject of debate among Scientists. Massospondylus” small head, and long sharp teeth suggested that this animal may have actually been a meat eater. However more recent evidence seems to support that Massospondylus was in fact a plant eater like other Prosauropods.

  • What is this dinosaur’s name? Massospondylus
  • How do I pronounce it? Mass-owe-spon-die-luss
  • What does its name mean? Massive Backbone or Vertebrae
  • How long was this dinosaur? 16.50 feet, 5 meters
  • How heavy was this dinosaur? 770.00 pounds
  • What class was this dinosaur assigned to? Prosauropoda
  • What did this dinosaur eat? Plants
  • How many years ago did this dinosaur live? 200,000,000 Years Ago
  • In what period did this dinosaur live? Early Jurassic
  • Where did this dinosaur live? Africa, North America

Melanorosaurus

Little is known about the early plant eating dinosaurs called Prosauropods. Melanorosaurus is one of the first Prosauropods to be discovered. Estimates of its size vary greatly from 20 feet in length, to 40 feet. Melanorosaurus probably used its massive size, and long neck to eat high growing vegetation. Notice how Melanorosaurus” legs extend straight down from its body. This is one feature that helps distinguish dinosaurs from other reptiles, whose legs usually stick out to the side.

  • What is this dinosaur’s name? Melanorosaurus
  • How do I pronounce it? Mell-ann-ore-oh-uss
  • What does its name mean? Black Mountain Reptile
  • How long was this dinosaur? 33.00 feet, 11.00 meters
  • How heavy was this dinosaur? 2000.00 pounds
  • What class was this dinosaur assigned to? Prosauropoda
  • What did this dinosaur eat? Plants, such as the tops of trees.
  • How many years ago did this dinosaur live? 205,000,000 Years Ago
  • In what period did this dinosaur live? Late Triassic, Early Jurassic
  • Where did this dinosaur live? Africa

Mussaurus

Very little is known about Mussaurus, because few adult bones have been found. While there are few adult specimens, many baby Mussaurusus have been found in the fossil record. This is why Mussaurus was named “Mouse Dinosaur”. For many years Scientists thought that the baby dinosaurs were full grown. Mussaurus was a member of the Prosauropoda group. It probably spent its days moving slowly from place to place in search of plants to eat.

  • What is this dinosaur’s name?
  • Mussaurus
  • How do I pronounce it?
  • Moo-sore-uss
  • What does its name mean?
  • Mouse Reptile
  • How long was this dinosaur?
  • 10.00 feet
  • 3.00 meters
  • How heavy was this dinosaur?
  • 330.00 pounds
  • What class was this dinosaur assigned to?
  • Prosauropoda
  • What did this dinosaur eat?
  • Plants
  • How many years ago did this dinosaur live?
  • 220,000,000 Years Ago
  • In what period did this dinosaur live?
  • Late Triassic
  • Where did this dinosaur live? South America

Pisanosaurus

Pisanosaurus is a small but very important Dinosaur. Many paleontologists believe that Pisanosaurus was the first member of the group Ornithischia, or one of the two main groups of Dinosaurs. This suggests that Pisanosaurus may have been the direct ancestor of many different Dinosaurs spanning 150 million years. Pisanosaurus was a small plant eating dinosaur. Its agile body allowed it to run quickly from predators.

  • What is this dinosaur’s name?
  • Pisanosaurus
  • How do I pronounce it?
  • Peez-ahn-owe-sore-uss
  • What does its name mean?
  • Pisano”s Lizard
  • How long was this dinosaur?
  • 3.00 feet
  • 1.00 meters
  • How heavy was this dinosaur?
  • 6.50 pounds
  • What class was this dinosaur assigned to?
  • Ornithischia
  • What did this dinosaur eat?
  • Plants
  • How many years ago did this dinosaur live?
  • 220000000
  • Where did this dinosaur live? Argentina, South America

Plateosaurus

Plateosaurus is one of the earliest discovered Dinosaurs. Discovered in France, in 1837, this animal was actually named before Dinosaurs were recognized as a group. Plateosaurus massive hind legs supported its body, while its shorter front legs were used to aid in walking, and eating. Plateosaurus probably spent much of its time standing like a modern day Kangaroo.

  • What is this dinosaur’s name?
  • Plateosaurus
  • How do I pronounce it?
  • Plat-ee-owe-sore-uss
  • What does its name mean?
  • Flat Reptile
  • How long was this dinosaur?
  • 25.00 feet
  • 8.00 meters
  • How heavy was this dinosaur?
  • 2000.00 pounds
  • What class was this dinosaur assigned to?
  • Prosauropoda
  • What did this dinosaur eat?
  • Plants
  • How many years ago did this dinosaur live?
  • 220,000,000 Years Ago
  • In what period did this dinosaur live?
  • Late Triassic
  • Where did this dinosaur live? Europe

Riojasaurus

The Dinosaur Riojasaurus lived around 220 million years ago. For its time Riojasaurus was truly a massive beast. Riojasaurus was probably not directly related to the later Sauropod giants which were even larger, and which lived during the Jurassic Period. Riojasaurus used its flattened teeth to cut and grind plants, effectively turning its food into a wet pulp.

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  • What is this dinosaur’s name?
  • Riojasaurus
  • How do I pronounce it?
  • Ree-oh-ha-sore-uss
  • What does its name mean?
  • Reptile of Rioja (Location of discovery)
  • How long was this dinosaur?
  • 33.00 feet
  • 11.00 meters
  • How heavy was this dinosaur?
  • 2000.00 pounds
  • What class was this dinosaur assigned to?
  • Prosauropoda
  • What did this dinosaur eat?
  • Plants especially high growing plants.
  • How many years ago did this dinosaur live?
  • 220000000
  • Where did this dinosaur live? South America

Segisaurus

Only a few bones of this early dinosaur have been discovered. From what has been discovered, it is believed that Segisaurus was a meat eating Theropod. Segisaurus was probably a fast sprinter, able to dart from side to side as it hunted its prey.

  • What is this dinosaur’s name?
  • Segisaurus
  • How do I pronounce it?
  • Say-ee-sore-uss
  • What does its name mean?
  • Reptile of Segi (Location of Discovery)
  • How long was this dinosaur?
  • 3.00 feet
  • 1.00 meters
  • How heavy was this dinosaur?
  • 11.00 pounds
  • What class was this dinosaur assigned to?
  • Theropoda
  • What did this dinosaur eat?
  • Smaller Animals
  • How many years ago did this dinosaur live?
  • 200,000,000 Years Ago
  • In what period did this dinosaur live?
  • Early Jurassic
  • Where did this dinosaur live? North America

Sellosaurus

Sellosaurus was discovered in the early 1900s. This large Prosauropoda was for many years confused with another Dinosaur named Efraasia. Recent research has proved that the two animals were in fact separate Dinosaurs. Sellosaurus spent its life moving slowly from one place to another in search of food.

  • What is this dinosaur’s name? Sellosaurus
  • How do I pronounce it? Sell-owe-sore-uss
  • What does its name mean? Saddle Reptile
  • How long was this dinosaur? 23.00 feet, 7.00 meters
  • How heavy was this dinosaur? 1300 pounds
  • What class was this dinosaur assigned to? Prosauropoda
  • What did this dinosaur eat? Plants
  • How many years ago did this dinosaur live? 200,000,000 Years Ago
  • In what period did this dinosaur live? Late Triassic
  • Where did this dinosaur live? Europe

Staurikosaurus

Staurikosaurus is one of the earliest known dinosaurs. This ancient predator was discovered in what is now modern day Brazil. Like other Theropods, Staurikosaurus had evolved to walk and run on its hind legs (bipedally). This man size animal probably hunted smaller animals, as well as young animals, and possibly eggs.

  • What is this dinosaur’s name? Staurikosaurus
  • How do I pronounce it? Store-ick-owe-sore-uss
  • What does its name mean? Southern Cross Reptile
  • How long was this dinosaur? 6.50 feet
  • 2.00 meters
  • How heavy was this dinosaur? 33 pounds
  • What class was this dinosaur assigned to? Theropoda
  • What did this dinosaur eat? Smaller Animals
  • How many years ago did this dinosaur live? 220,000,000 Years Ago
  • In what period did this dinosaur live? Late Triassic
  • Where did this dinosaur live? South America

Thecondontosaurus

Thecondontosaurus was a small plant eating prosauropoda. (Some scientists to do not classify it as a prosauropoda) Discovered and named in 1844, this dinosaur was one of the first to be found be early pelentologists, in modern day England. Thecondontosaurus usually walked on all four legs, but could probably stand on its rear legs when it needed to reach higher vegetation.
This early dinosaur had five digits on its front feet, and only four on its hind feet.

  • What is this dinosaur’s name? Thecondontosaurus
  • How do I pronounce it? Thee-coe-dont-owe-sore-uss
  • What does its name mean? Socket-toothed Reptile
  • How long was this dinosaur? 7.50 feet, 2.20 meters
  • How heavy was this dinosaur? 22.00 pounds
  • What class was this dinosaur assigned to? Prosauropoda
  • What did this dinosaur eat? Plants
    How many years ago did this dinosaur live? 205,000,000 Years Ago
  • In what period did this dinosaur live? Early Jurassic
  • Where did this dinosaur live? Europe

Yunnanosaurus

Yunnanosaurus was a typical Prosauropod. A Prosauropod is an early medium-sized Dinosaur with a small head, long neck, leaf-shaped teeth, that spent its days looking for plants to eat.
The Prosauropods are usually smaller than the Sauropods which came many millions of years latter. Some scientists however believe that Yunnanosaurus might have actually been an early Sauropod because of the unique shape of its teeth. Yunnanosaurus was discovered and named in China by paleontologist Young Chung Chien (C.C. Young) in 1942, in the province of Yunnan.

  • What is this dinosaur’s name? Yunnanosaurus
  • How do I pronounce it? Uou-nan-o-sore-uss
  • What does its name mean? Reptile of Yunnan (Location of Discover)
  • How long was this dinosaur? 23 feet, 7 meters
  • How heavy was this dinosaur? 1300 pounds
  • What class was this dinosaur assigned to? Prosauropoda
  • What did this dinosaur eat? Plants
  • How many years ago did this dinosaur live? 206,000,000 Years Ago
  • In what period did this dinosaur live? Early Jurassic
  • Where did this dinosaur live? Asia

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