10 Dinosaur Species You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

When it comes to dinosaurs, there’s only a select few that seem to get almost all of the attention. While almost everyone has heard of the triceratops and his arch enemy the tyrannosaurus rex, there have been at least 700 confirmed species spanning some 150 million years of evolution, all of which belong to the same taxonomic group as their successors – birds. Thanks to advances in palaeontology, there are now around a dozen new species being discovered every year, including many in this list. Following are 10 of the lesser known but no less amazing beasts that once roamed the Earth:

#1. Cryolophosaurus

Unlike the common misconception that dinosaurs all lived in a luxuriant jungle world, some actually lived in times and places where it was actually rather cold. Cryolophosaurus, the frozen-crested lizard, actually lived in Antarctica during the early Jurassic between 188 and 194 million years ago. While there was no ice at the poles during this time, the region had a climate similar to the more southerly regions of the Arctic Circle today. Cryolophosaurus, characterized by its bizarre-looking crest, stood about as high as an adult human, and it was a highly prolific apex predator in its biome.

#2. Gigantoraptor

Only discovered in 2005, the gigantoraptor was a large herbivore, or perhaps an omnivore, that once roamed what is now Mongolia some 85 million years ago. So far, only one specimen has ever been found, but enough was discovered to draw up a fairly accurate representation of this enormous, bird-like dinosaur. Standing twice as high as an adult human, the dinosaur was likely feathered, had a long tail and vestigial wings. Little else is known about this mysterious creature, though its enormously long and agile legs indicated that it was able to outrun almost any predator with ease.

#3. Incisivosaurus

The incisor lizard, which lived around 123 million years ago in the early Cretaceous, was another dinosaur that clearly shows the close relation between dinosaurs and modern birds. It probably even looked like a very strange bird with its bulky beak, feathered body and small, vestigial wings. Discovered in China in 2002, incisivosaurus was one of the smaller dinosaurs of its time, and it grew little bigger than a turkey. It was named after its rodent-like teeth, which indicate that, unlike most other oviraptors, it was herbivorous or, possibly, omnivorous.

#4. Suzhousaurus

SuzhousaurusFunkMonk (Michael B. H.)

Another recent discovery, the first remains of suzhousaurus was found in China in 2007. A contemporary of incisivosaurus, it was much larger, sporting a weight and size similar to that of a car. The huge creature appears to have had a very odd profile, with a bulky body and a long neck combined with freakishly enormous claws on its forelimbs and a tiny head. Its full scientific name describes is as a giant sloth-like reptile from Suzhou, China. Like related species, suzhousaurus probably also had feathers and small, vestigial wings making it look rather like an oversized turkey.

#5. Giraffatitan

With a name that means ‘giant giraffe’, you can get an idea of what this odd creature looked like. It lived during the late Jurassic period, between 145 and 150 million years ago, and it was related to the brachiosaur. Giraffatitan, hence its name, has the distinction of being one of the largest terrestrial animals that ever lived whose size has been accurately measured. The immense creature was some 25 metres (82 feet) long and, with its enormously long neck, it could reach foliage as high as a five-story building. Like all of the large herbivorous dinosaurs, it also had a relatively tiny head and brain size.

#6. Stygimoloch

Discovered in Montana in 1983, stygimoloch was a pachycephalosaur, which means ‘bone-headed lizard’. That’s not the colloquial meaning of the word – stygimoloch literally had a heavily armoured horned and studded head, indicating that it probably engaged in head-butting rituals when competing for a mate. It lived in the Cretaceous period, making it a contemporary of the famed tyrannosaurus rex, which possibly hunted it. The dinosaur stood about half as high as human, making it one of the larger of its suborder. It sported two large rear-pointing horns, several smaller ones beneath those and numerous stud-like horns across its head.

As one of my readers recently pointed out, it’s likely that stygimoloch is not even a distinct taxon. According to this research, the stygimoloch fossils found so far may be juvenile versions of the better-known pachycephalosaurus.

#7. Dreadnoughtus

As its ominous-sounding name suggests, dreadnoughtus was an enormous beast and, weighing over 38 tonnes, it was one of the heaviest dinosaurs of all time whose weight has been measured with reasonable certainty. The animal, which lived around 75 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period, was only discovered in 2014, breaking the world record for the heaviest animal that ever walked the land. Its scapula (shoulder blade) alone is the size of a full-grown man. The enormous, long-necked titanosaur was discovered in Patagonia, and it took four summers to dig up the remains.

#8. Deinonychus

DeinonychusEmily Willoughby

Although deinonychus is not nearly as well-known as the closely related velociraptor, it was the main inspiration for the so-called velociraptors in the book and movies of Jurassic Park. Unlike the real velociraptor, which was about the size of a turkey, deinonychus was about 9 feet (3 m) long and stood a bit over half the height of an adult human. The alpha carnivore sported enormous, razor-sharp claws and was likely covered in feathers. In fact, its name means terrible claw, which seems fitting, since it likely used its claws to disembowel its prey.

#9. Linhenykus

Another dinosaur recently discovered in China, remains of linhenykus were found in 2011. This bizarre-looking creature was one of the smaller dinosaurs, standing only 2 feet (60 cm) in height. What made it particularly odd in appearance was its tiny forelimbs, which only had one claw on each hand. Linhenykus also had long and agile limbs and a long tail, giving it a similar appearance to other feathered, bird-like dinosaurs of the Late Cretaceous period. The dinosaur is also known as monodactylus, or single-claw, since it is the only known non-avian dinosaur to have a single claw on each forelimb.

#10. Kosmoceratops

Discovered in 2010 in Utah, kosmoceratops a lesser known relative of the much-loved triceratops. Also living in the Late Cretaceous, kosmoceratops sported a particularly odd horn configuration consisting of left- and right-pointing horns on its forehead, a horned crest at the back of its head and numerous more studs and spikes. This heavy metal enthusiast also sported a skull measuring 6 feet (2 metres) in length, and probably weighed as much as a van.

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