If you’re a dinosaur fanatic, you’ll know all about the greats of the Jurassic world, including the infamous T-rex, stegosaurus, brachiosaurus and allosaurus. But there are loads of dinosaurs that get a lot less press, but are just as cool. Here are our favourite five lesser-known dinosaurs that we think every budding palaeontologist should know about.
We tend to think of dinosaurs as creatures who lived in leafy jungles or on vast sunny plains, but this isn’t always the case. Cryolophosaurus was a crested beast that lived in the chilly Antarctic region in the early Jurassic period (194-188 million years ago). While there was no ice at the poles during this time, the climate was certainly cooler – think northern Sweden and Norway. Cryolophosaurus was characterised by its crested head, was about the same height as an adult human, and was a pretty efficient predator.
A dinosaur with a super-cool name, dreadnoughtus was one of the largest and heaviest beasts of all time, weighing in at a whopping 59 tonnes – that’s more than 12 African elephants! Discovered in 2014 this giant lived in the Patagonia region in the Late Cretaceous period, 100-66 million years ago. It fed on plants, having few if any natural predators.
At the other end of the scale is the compsognathus, a dinosaur that was roughly the size of a turkey, weighing around 3kg. They’re thought to have been small, lithe and light, feeding on small animals such as lizards. The discovery of a fossil of a related species suggests the compsognathus may have had protofeathers, a precursor to the feathers we see on birds today.
When you think of the velociraptors in Jurassic Park, you imagine a keen hunter that’s slightly larger than an adult human. The inspiration for these dinosaurs was really the deinonychus, as real velociraptors were actually small – closer to the size of a turkey. Deinonychus, on the other hand, was about three metres in length and stood roughly the same height as an adult human. It was a consummate killer, with enormous razor-sharp claws that are thought to have been covered in feathers. These were used to disembowel its prey.
We’ve all heard of triceratops, but have you heard of kosmoceratops? This relative of the three-horned dinosaur we all know and love was discovered in Utah in 2010. It lived in the Late Cretacious period and had an odd horn arrangement on its head: two horns on its forehead pointed left and right, while a crest rose at the back of its head with yet more horns and spikes. Its skull is thought to have been up to two metres long.
If you love dinosaurs of all kinds and are wondering what to do in Newbury this month, don’t miss Dinosaur World Live, which is currently touring the UK. One of the most exciting Newbury attractions around, the show brings to life some of the most impressive pre-historic creatures that ever lived. Get your tickets today and enjoy one of the best things to do in Newbury this April!