Millions of years ago, dinosaurs roamed far and wide across a continent that looked very different from the ones we see today. Around 200-250 million years ago, when dinosaurs first evolved, the seven continents we know today didn’t exist; instead there was one massive supercontinent, which scientists call Pangea. This meant that dinosaurs were able to move around unhindered by great oceans.
Over the course of millions of years, Pangea broke up, and the continents slowly drifted apart, until they took up the positions they have now. So it’s no surprise that even with seas and oceans separating the continents today, dinosaur bones have been found all over the world. Here are some of the dinosaurs that have been discovered in Europe.
Iguanodon was first discovered in England in 1822 by a naturalist named Gideon Mantell. He found some fossilised teeth, which he initially thought belonged to a prehistoric crocodile, before recognising that they in fact belonged to a dinosaur, which he named Iguanodon. Iguanodon was a large ornithopod, a type of plant-eating dinosaur that walked on four legs. It lived 110-140 million years ago, and weighed about 400kg.
Also discovered in England, Megalosaurus is classified as a large theropod – a meat-eating dinosaur that walked on two legs. It lived 155-170 million years ago, and measured an impressive nine metres. It was one of the first dinosaurs to be discovered, but is still poorly understood today because the fossil record for that time period isn’t especially good.
Plateosaurus was a prosauropod, a type of plant-eating dinosaur that was a smaller ancestor of sauropods such as Brachiosaurus and Diplodocus. Prosauropods had shorter necks and walked on two legs, and Plateosaurus lived an incredible 210 million years ago. Many fossils of this animal have been found in Germany and Switzerland, suggesting it lived in large herds. It had five-fingered hands and a large thumb claw, which it may have used for collecting food or defending itself.
Compsognathus was discovered in Germany in the 19th century, and was a small theropod – a type of dinosaur that ate meat and moved around on two legs. It lived 140-145 million years ago and was only the size of a chicken, weighing just 3kg. Its body was built for speed, enabling it to hunt the small animals that made up its diet.
Europasaurus was discovered in Germany, and is classified as a sauropod – a gigantic plant-eating dinosaur that walked on four legs and was characterised by its long neck, small head, and long tail. It measured about 6.2m long (which is quite small compared to other sauropods like Brachiosaurus, which was about 30m long) and lived between 151-154 million years ago.
Discover more dinosaurs
If you’re looking for dinosaur-related places to visit in Huddersfield this summer, be sure to book tickets to Dinosaur World Live, which is playing at the Lawrence Batley Theatre in July. Introducing kids to the fiercest creatures on the planet, this exciting show is one of the best things to do in Huddersfield, with its stunning puppetry and lots of action. Book your tickets today and join in the fun.