Wouldn’t it be super cool if we could be face to face with the terrifying tyrannosaurus rex, mighty marine reptiles, awesome pterodactyls and more stunning prehistoric creatures?
Imagine if we could have 10 of these pre historic creatures in the zoo, which 10 dinosaurs would you love to meet?
Read below for our top 10 dinosaurs to see in a Zoo!
Diplodocus is one of the best known sauropods (long-necked herbivorous dinosaurs) and its name means ‘double beam’. They are called this because of the two rows of bones on the underside of their tails. They balanced their enormous necks by holding their tails in the air which was only possible because of that bone structure!
Their tails may have been used as whips to defend themselves and the sound of this would have sounded like a cannon boom. They could also have used this to scare off rivals and to communicate.
These dinosaurs lived during the Cretaceous period, 75 million years ago! Wow, that’s a long time!
This period was the third and final period of the Mesozoic Era. Until this Era the continents which exist today were fused into one super continent called Pangaea. Although it had already begun to separate throughout the previous periods, the Cretaceous period saw it split across the planet’s surface. This caused Earth’s climate to slowly cool and the continents and oceans familiar to us today first started to form.
Many dinosaurs adapted to these changes well. However, the period ended in the mass extinction of the dinosaurs after an asteroid hit the planet.
The most noticeable and famous feature of a Triceratops is its horns which could reach 1 meter in length, like Brutus and Beatrice in Dinosaur World Live!
Their name means ‘three horn face’ for the three protruding horns on its head which make this one of the most recognisable dinosaurs. These horns may have been used in defence against other dinos such as Tyrannosaurus-Rex.
The bony frill around the back of its large head is thought to have provided protection for their necks against predators. This frill may have also been used to attract a mate. Most similar species of dinosaur lived in herds for protection. However, evidence suggests that Triceratops didn’t, most of their fossils have been found on their own which suggests that they lived alone too.
Tyrannosaurus means ‘tyrant lizard’ and Rex means ‘king’, so the T-Rex is known as king of the tyrant lizards. Its legs were very strong to carry its huge weight and its head was enormous! Their thick skull alone could be 5 ft (1.5 meters) long which means that they needed very strong neck muscles to hold it up. This could be why Tyrannosaurus-Rex had such small arms though. Neck and arm muscles fight for space in the shoulder area but because their necks had to be so thick and powerful, they took up most of the shoulder space which resulted in less room for the arms to develop.
They had the most powerful bite of any land animal to have ever lived. Additionally, the largest tooth of any carnivorous dinosaur discovered to date belonged to a Tyrannosaurus-Rex, it was about 30 cm long. The strong bite and huge sharp teeth coupled together mean that this dinosaur could have easily crushed the bones of other dinosaurs.
Coelophysis was one on the first dinosaurs to exist! Wow, that’s old!
They are thought to have hunted larger prey in packs, walking and running on their just their hind legs. Their name means ‘hollow form’ because of the hollow bones which made up their structure. This would have made them lighter and faster when hunting.
They would have been small compared to other animals from that period and relied on their speed and agility to catch prey and escape their large predators. Their sharp teeth and claws would have helped them to keep a tight hold on their prey which would have consisted of insects and small reptiles such a lizards and young crocodiles but also carrion. Often Coelophysis skeletons are discovered in groups, supporting the theories which suggest that they lived or hunted in packs.
This one is a surprise, as it’s not really a dinosaur! These very primitive organisms went extinct 40 million years before the first dinosaurs even existed and were in fact a synapsid, which is a type of reptile.
Dimetrodon means ‘two measures tooth’ as they had two sets of teeth. The first set were used for capturing prey while the other set were used to strip meat from the bones of their prey.
They must have been a very successful animal for millions of years as they were so widespread. The huge sail fin on their backs may have been used to intimidate other animals and to help with attracting a mate. However, it’s most likely to have warmed itself up by catching heat from the sun during the morning. Just the thing after a long cold night!
Oviraptors had no teeth and their upper and lower jaws were shaped like a beak. This was ideal for cracking into eggs and shell fish, two of their favourite dinners! They are known as one of the most bird-like dinosaurs because they had beaks and long, powerful legs like an ostrich or an emu has. It is also possible that they had feathers but there isn’t enough evidence yet to know. Their name means ‘egg thief’ and they are only known from a single specimen found near to a protoceratops nest (probably due to its eating habits). This means that there is still a lot to learn about the species.
Deinosuchus inhabited the rivers of Laramidia. Laramidia was an island continent which existed where the western coast of modern North America is today. The name Deinosuchus means ‘terrible crocodile’ and is in the species Crocodilia. This shows how little modern crocodiles have needed to change to survive over the last eighty million years. It’s thought that they may have lived up to the age of 50. They would have grown by roughly one foot each year until they were about 35 years of age. It’s estimated that the largest of them could have grown up to 12 feet long. Although, 10 ft would have been a more common size for the species.
Scelidosaurus have only been discovered in the Dorset area of Southern England. It was first discovered in 1859. It’s believed to be an ancestor of ankylosaurus and stegosaurus and is one of the earliest armoured dinosaurs we know of. They had spikes and bony plates (scutes) on their backs for protection plus a horny beak which was perfectly designed for plucking leaves off plants. Those parts of skin which weren’t armoured, were covered in small bumpy scales similar to pebbles. Their rear legs were longer than their front legs, so this dinosaur would have travelled on all fours.
Parasaurolophus means ‘Crested Lizard’ and it got this name from the large crest on their heads which on males could be as tall as 1.8 meters (6ft), the same size as a tall adult human! It is thought that the crest was used to make trumpeting noises to communicate with others of their species. Younger ones would have made higher frequency noises that wouldn’t have travelled very far. However, fully grown adults produced low-frequency noises which would have travelled over much greater distances.
Want to find things to do with kids in Swindon with dinosaurs? Find out more about Dinosaur World Live, as we bring the past to life! Playing at Wyvern Theatre from Mon 8 – Tue 9 April, book your tickets today for an amazing family day out in Swindon!