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17 Exciting North American Dinosaurs To Be Inspired By

3D art of dinosaurs of America and a Spinosaurus in a smokey black background

Source by: Engin Akyurt

Today, we’re going to introduce 17 North American dinosaurs that are exciting to get to know. And even if you’re already familiar with some of them, you’ll be excited to discover that they’re just in your own backyard.

Awesome, right? In fact, if you live in that state, you can visit their cool dinosaur fossils at the dinosaur exhibits they’re displayed in.

We’ll also give you the lowdown on these dinosaurs of America from history, to scientific names, habitats, their unique dinosaur characteristics, and loads more!

So, are you in? Let’s get started.

North American Dinosaurs Brief Historical Background

skulls of T. rexes at a white museum

Source by: Kevin Rein Bantang

We’re not simply giving another boring list. But we’re sharing helpful facts too so you can get to know them better.

One insightful way to understand dinosaurs is to look at the context of their habitat. Did you know North America used to be two continents instead of one?

During the Mesozoic Era’s early part, North America was part of one big continent called Pangaea before being separated. It was split into two continents by the Western Interior Seaway millions of years ago during the Cretaceous period up to the early Paleocene. The continent on the west was called Laramidia and Appalachia for the east.

3D art of dinosaurs in the United States in a black background

Source by: Darren Halstead

Another great way to understand animals is to check out the time they lived in. Can you guess when during the Mesozoic Era were dinosaurs most plenty? Here are some speedy facts:

  • Dinosaur abundance and diversity were most seen during the Late Cretaceous.
  • Much of the dinosaur fossils discovered are from the Late Jurassic.
  • The Middle Jurassic is known for fragments of dinosaur fossils like teeth, eggshells, and footprints.

You now have a better background about these awesome creatures. So check out the next section where you’ll find our awesome list of dinos whose remains have been discovered in North America.

Cool Duck-Billed Dinosaurs in the USA

collage of duck-billed dinos from North America

Source by: Only Dinosaurs

Hadrosaurs are famous for the peculiar shape of their snouts which give their characteristic duck-bill appearance. Take a look at these odd creatures from the Mesozoic Era.

#1. Edmontosaurus

a brown edmontosaurus in the forest

Source by: The Canadian Encyclopedia

Scientific Name: Edmontosaurus regalis, “lizard from Edmonton”, Edmontosaurus annectens
Habitat: forests and wetlands; Horseshoe Canyon Formation, Alberta, Canada (E. regalis) and Hell Creek Formation, North Dakota, USA (E. annectens)
Prehistoric Timeline: Late Cretaceous, 73-66 million years ago
Diet: plants
Dino Size & Weight: 39 feet long, 8,818 lbs

The Edmontosaurus is one of the biggest hadrosaurid species. This hadrosaur lived with others in groups and is believed to have been widespread all over western North America.

#2. Eotrachodon orientalis

a quick infoamation about eotrachodon

Source by: Dinosaur Pictures

Scientific Name: Eotrachodon orientalis, “dawn Trachodon from the east”
Habitat: Mooreville Chalk Formation, Alabama
Prehistoric Timeline: Late Cretaceous, 86-83 million years ago
Diet: plants
Dino Size & Weight: 25 feet long

It’s one of the most ancient hadrosaurids as of 2016 according to the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. The Eotrachodon’s discovery was important because it helped show how duck-billed dinos came to be in eastern North America and their migration to the west.

#3. Hadrosaurus

a picture of a brown Hadrosaurus on the ground

Source by: Twitter

Scientific Name: Hadrosaurus foulkii, “bulky lizard”
Habitat: swamps and forests; New Jersey, USA
Prehistoric Timeline: Late Cretaceous, 80-78 million years ago
Diet: plants
Dino Size & Weight: 26 feet long, 8,818 lbs

The Hadrosaurus lived in prehistoric New Jersey and is its official state dinosaur. It was first collected in the state’s Woodbury Formation in 1858. This hadrosaur is known for its bulky built and complex teeth.

#4. Maiasaura

lifelike model of a big mother dinosaur on gravel

Source by: Roland zh

Scientific Name: Maiasaura peeblesorum, “good mother reptile” and for James and John Peebles
Habitat: semi-arid environment; Two Medicine Formation, Montana USA & Canada
Prehistoric Timeline: Late Cretaceous, 76 million years ago
Diet: plants
Dino Size & Weight: 30 feet long

Maiasaura was a loving hadrosaur mother because it raised its young themselves. Its name was inspired by the discovery of eggshells and hatchlings found in 1978 which also gave the place it was found the nickname “Egg Mountain”.

#5. Saurolophus

a quick infoamation about saurolophus

Source by: DeviantArt

Scientific Name: Saurolophus osborni, “lizard crest”
Habitat: swamps and forests; New Jersey, USA
Prehistoric Timeline: Late Cretaceous, 70-86 million years ago
Diet: plants
Dino Size & Weight: 27 feet long, 6,613 lbs

Just like the Parasaurolophus, the Saurolophus’ stand-out feature is the cranial crest it sports. But it’s shaped more like a spike that points upwards compared to the Parasaurolophus’ mohawk-like crest.

Fearsome Theropod Dinosaurs of North America

collage of carnivorous dinos from North America

Source by: Only Dinosaurs

Carnivorous and ferocious best describe this fearsome group of other dinosaurs that lived in North America. Check and see who made the list!

#1. Acrocanthosaurus

graphic art of a big black dinosaur with yellow stripes beside a body of water

Source by: DiBgd

Scientific Name: Acrocanthosaurus atokensis
Habitat: coastal territories of the prehistoric Glen Rose Formation, Texas, USA
Time Period: Early Cretaceous period, 125-100 million years ago
Diet: ankylosaurs, sauropods, and ornithopods
Dinosaur Size & Weight: 38 feet long, 13,668.70 lbs

The Acrocanthosaurus is famous for the very tall neural spines on its back which you’ll see on its vertebrae. Scientists suggest that these unique spines helped support the dinosaur’s back, neck, and hip muscles.

It’s one of the world’s biggest carnivorous dinosaurs and was a bipedal apex predator that lived in North America. Much of its fossil remains were discovered in Texas, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and farther toward the east like Maryland. This shows that Acrocanthosaurus may have lived across a wide range of habitats.

#2. Albertosaurus

realistic model of a brown Albertosaurus in a forest

Source by: Neil Conway

Scientific Name: Albertosaurus sarcophagus, “Alberta lizard”
Habitat: semi-tropical habitat around the Horseshoe Canyon Formation, Alberta, Canada
Prehistoric Timeline: Late Cretaceous period, 71 million years ago
Diet: ornithomimids, hadrosaurs, and ceratopsians
Dino Size & Weight: 26-33 feet long, 5,511-8,818 lbs

Did you know there are over 30 Albertosaurus discoveries that have been made since 1884? That makes it one of paleontology’s most well-vouched tyrannosaurs that lived in North America.

It’s a cousin of the Tyrannosaurus rex, though much smaller in size. It used its long tail to help balance its weighty head and body.

#3. Allosaurus

lifelike model of a big green Allosaurus in a forest

Source by: Christian-wittmann

Scientific Name: Allosaurus fragilis, “different lizard”
Habitat:  semi-arid habitat; Morrison Formation, Colorado, USA
Prehistoric Timeline: Late Jurassic, 155-145 million years ago
Diet: stegosaurus, long-necked dinos
Dino Size & Weight: 32 feet long, 5,070 lbs

The discovery of Utah’s state fossil, the Allosaurus, is worth the mention because of the concave-shaped vertebrae it sports. This gave the Allosaurus a unique hourglass-like figure which helped keep its bones light. Evidence shows this gave its body hollow spaces which may have held airs sacs for breathing.

#4. Coelophysis

lifelike model of a brown feathered green Coelophysis in a brown forest

Source by: GermanOle

Scientific Name: Coelophysis bauri, “hollow form”
Habitat: floodplains of prehistoric Arizona and New Mexico
Prehistoric Timeline: Late Triassic to Late Jurassic, 225-196 million years ago
Diet: stegosaurus, sauropods
Dino Size & Weight: 9.8 feet long, 5,070 lbs

The Coelophysis was first found in 1881 at New Mexico’s Chinle Formation. The fossil of this theropod that lived in North America was unearthed by a fossil collector who worked for Edward Drinker Cope.

#5. Tyrannosaurus rex

lifelike model of a brown Tyrannosaurus rex

Source by: Elly Enn

Scientific Name: Tyrannosaurus rex, “tyrant lizard king”
Habitat: coastal semitropical plains
Prehistoric Timeline: Late Cretaceous, 68-66 million years ago
Diet: duck-billed, armored, and long-necked dinos
Dino Size & Weight: 40.7 feet long, 30,864 lbs

The T. rex was an apex predator capable of eating over 220 lbs of meat out of its prey. The most complete T. rex specimen was found in August 1990 in South Dakota.

The tyrant lizard king that lived in North America has a contemporary apex predator in South America — the Carnotaurus.

Extraordinary Sauropod Dinosaurs of America

collage of long neck dinos from North America

Source by: Only Dinosaurs

If fierce theropods give off a thrilling rush, long neck dinos serve up inspiration and wonder with their necks and tails that never seem to end. See for yourself through the three extraordinary creatures below.

#1. Apatosaurus

close-up photo of a huge brown Apatosaurus with green trees at the back

Source by: Elekes Andor

Scientific Name: Apatosaurus ajax, “deceptive lizard”
Habitat: semiarid environment; Morrison Formation, Colorado, USA
Prehistoric Timeline: Late Jurassic, 152-151 million years ago
Diet: plants
Dino Size & Weight: 75 feet long, 44,800 lbs

Apatosaurus is considered one of the most massive land animals in the world. This huge creature that lived in North America used its long neck to eat from high-growing trees.

#2. Brachiosaurus

a brown Brachiosaurus model standing beside a Triceratops skeleton at a green park

Source by: DinoTeam

Scientific Name: Brachiosaurus altithorax, “arm lizard with a deep chest”
Habitat: semiarid environment; Morrison Formation, Colorado, USA
Prehistoric Timeline: Late Jurassic, 154-150 million years ago
Diet: plants
Dino Size & Weight: 69 feet long, 116,000 lbs

The Brachiosaurus had a deep chest compared to others of its kind. What makes this long-necked creature that lived in North America unique are its forelimbs that were longer than its hindlimbs, its trunk that had a steep incline, and a tail that was shorter than others.

Giraffatitan was initially identified as a Brachiosaurus when it was found. But scientists eventually assigned the Giraffatitan a genus of its own in 2009.

#3. Diplodocus

a long green Diplodocus model standing beside gray stones at a park

Source by: Wilson44691

Scientific Name: Diplodocus carnegii, “double beam”
Habitat: semiarid environment; Morrison Formation, Colorado, USA
Prehistoric Timeline: Late Jurassic, 154-152 million years ago
Diet: plants
Dino Size & Weight: 85 feet long, 29,600 lbs

The Diplodocus lived in western North America and is one of the most well-understood creatures by science. A study in 2011 by paleontologists has shown that it was a cathemeral animal. It was active during the day through brief intervals.

Horned & Armored Dinosaurs in the United States

collage of horned and armored dinosaurs from North America

Source by: Only Dinosaurs

#1 Triceratops

a long Triceratops skeleton in a museum

Source by: K. Mitch Hodge

Scientific Name: Triceratops horridus, “three-horned face”
Habitat: floodplains with forested areas; Hell Creek Formation, USA
Prehistoric Timeline: Late Cretaceous, 68 million years ago
Diet: plants
Dino Size & Weight: 29 feet long, 49,383 lbs

One of the most easily-recognized prehistoric animals worldwide is the Triceratops with its distinguishing horns and frills. Scientists propose that the dinosaur used these for courtship to impress other Triceratops rather than for battle.

#2 Pachyrhinosaurus

illustration of two brown dinosaurs with horns on top of their frills

Source by: James havens

Scientific Name: Pachyrhinosaurus canadensis, “thick-nosed lizard”
Habitat: mountainous region with floodplains and ponds; St. Mary River Formation, USA
Prehistoric Timeline: Late Cretaceous, 73-68 million years ago
Diet: plants
Dino Size & Weight: 26 feet long, 7,936 lbs

What makes the Pachyrhinosaurus different from the more famous Triceratops are the flat bosses on its nose and eyes. This dinosaur that lived in North America had horns that grew upwards from the top of its frill rather than on top of its eyes.

#3. Ankylosaurus

realistic Ankylosaurus model displayed in a forest background beside a Triceratops

Source by: James havens

Scientific Name: Ankylosaurus magniventris, “fused lizard with a great belly”
Habitat: mountainous region with floodplains and ponds; St. Mary River Formation, USA
Prehistoric Timeline: Late Cretaceous, 68-66 million years ago
Diet: plants
Dino Size & Weight: 26 feet long, 17,637 lbs

The Ankylosaurus is known for its bony oval plates and knobs which gave it its characteristic armored appearance. Science says its body’s bones were fused, making the Ankylosaurus strong not just in appearance but in its endurance too.

#4. Stegosaurus

two stegosaurus are walking on the ground

Source by: Macmillan Dictionary

Scientific Name: Stegosaurus stenops, “roof lizard”
Habitat: semiarid environment with floodplains and forests; Morrison Formation, USA
Prehistoric Timeline: Late Jurassic, 155-145 million years ago
Diet: plants
Dino Size & Weight: 29 feet long, 15,432 lbs

Can you guess what Stegosaurus used its spiky tail and the plates on its back for? Paleontologists suggest that the Stegosaurus used the spikes on its tail to defend itself against foes while its plates were used for species identification and temperature regulation.

FAQs About the Dinosaurs That Lived in North America

T. rex fossil under a blue ceiling

Source by: David Guerrero

Did you enjoy what you just learned? We’re giving you more to add to your vault of dino knowledge by answering frequently asked questions (FAQs) about dinosaurs that lived in North America.

You can add these to your treasure trove of fun dinosaur costume ideas too! Take a look below.

What dinosaurs would have lived in North America?

A dinosaur fossil found at a dig site would be a good identifying element of what kindslived in North America. Fossils of the T. rex, Allosaurus, Parasaurolophus, Utahraptor, and the ones mentioned above are good examples.

Did dinosaurs only live in North America?

No, they didn’t only live in North America. They also lived in South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia too.

Where are dinosaurs found in America?

States that have been a dig site or where a dinosaur fossil has been surprisingly discovered are Montana, South Dakota, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming among many others.

What dinosaurs lived in New York?

Only the Grallator is attributed by paleontology to have most likely lived in New York. Supporting evidence of this was the discovery of dinosaur footprints near Blauvelt, New York.

two crocodiles and two dinosaurs on the ground with the background of forest fire

Source by: Science

We hope you learned a lot from this article and that the knowledge you gained will make great sources of inspiration! Whether you’re looking for cool dinosaur puppets or realistic animatronic dinosaurs, the dinos that lived in North America are great go-to choices.

So, see you at our next blog post!

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