Jurassic Dinosaurs: All You Need to Know About Them

A Dinosaur Playing on the Beach with a Sunset Background

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The term ‘Jurassic period’ will not sound novel to dinosaur lovers. When the film series, The Jurassic Park, was released back in the early 1990s, it gave us a fictional representation of the happenings and creatures that ruled the world during this period. The period that lasted for about 56 million years is over 199 million years old today. Quite a long time, you’d agree!!

So, it means we will be traveling millions of years back to explore the ever-dynamic Jurassic world and, of course, some of the fantastic creatures that walked the face of the earth during this period.

With that, we are ready to meet some Jurassic dinosaurs. Shall we?

Interesting Facts About Jurassic Period

Jurassic Dinosaurs in the Forest

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Of the three Mesozoic Era, the Jurassic period was the second. The other two were the Triassic, which was the first; and the Cretaceous, which was the last period.

The Mesozoic Era was the time dinosaurs ruled, dominated and roamed the earth. Their first emergence was during the Triassic period, which is about 245 million years ago. At the time, all continents were part of a single landmass – the supercontinent Pangea.

They were everywhere; the skies, land and in the water. Controlling the skies were winged reptiles known as Pterosaurs, and giant predatory reptiles swam in the oceans.

However, when the Triassic Period was ending, there was a mass extinction of species. This was probably caused by widespread volcanic activity. The hot and dry climatic condition wasn’t very subtle on these creatures. More so, much of the land were covered in large deserts. Meaning, some of these ancient reptiles probably died of starvation.

Herbivorous Dinosaurs in the Lake and Pterosaurs in the Sky

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Fast forward to the Jurassic period, the Earth’s appearance changed dramatically, with the massive supercontinent Pangea splitting up into two landmasses: Laurasia in the north and Gondwana (or Gondwanaland) in the south.

The climatic conditions became favorable, warm, humid, tropical breezes, and the survivors of the late Triassic mass extinction seized their chance, quickly becoming the dominant land animals of the period.

Before we consider some of these fearsome Jurassic dinosaurs, below are a few facts to know about Jurassic world.

  1. The Jurassic periodis a period in the geologic time scale.
  2. It’s named after the Jura Mountains range on the France / Switzerland border.
  3. Rocks in this region were formed during the Jurassic period.
  4. It lasted 56 million years and was the second-longest period of the Mesozoic Era.
  5. The Triassic-Jurassic extinction event killed off the dinosaurs’ main competitors, allowing the fearsome reptiles to seize the land.

1.Allosaurus

A Roaring Allosaurus on the Glass

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Allosaurus was a large, bipedal Theropod that existed during the late Jurassic period, over 159 million years ago. The late Jurassic dinosaur, which grew to about 28 to 39 ft (5-12 m) in length, roamed through North America. Its fossil was recovered in the Morrison Formation (a layer of rocks formed in the Jurassic period), located in the western United States. This creature was named after the famous fossil collector Othniel Charles Marsh. Allosaurus was an apex predator that would have preyed on many Sauropods and Stegosauria, such as the Stegosaurus.

2.Apatosaurus

Several Apatosaurus with Small Dinosaurs

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Some 152 million years ago, in the late Jurassic period, Apatosaurus lived in North America. Like Allosaurus, it was discovered in the Morrison Formation by Othniel Charles Marsh.

Apatosaurus was a Sauropod with an estimated length of 82 ft (25 m). There seemed to be some discrepancies with this late Jurassic dinosaur as the same who discovered it also discovered another dinosaur, Brontosaurus. It was formerly believed that discovered dinosaur is the same as Apatosaurus, and hence, the Brontosaurus was referred to as Apatosaurus.

However, research carried out in the 21st century now informs us that the dinosaurs are, in fact, different. Brontosaurus is therefore once again considered to be another type of dinosaur.

3.Archaeopteryx

Archaeopteryx on the Tree with a Beautiful Background

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Archaeopteryx was a bit different from the regular Jurassic dinosaurs. It possessed both dinosaur characteristics such as teeth, clawed wings and a tail and bird characteristics such as a wishbone and flight feathers. Scientists and paleontologists are still unsure if this reptile was capable of actual, flapping flight or whether it was just a sophisticated glider.

Archaeopteryx skeleton was discovered in Bavaria, southern Germany. It was a Theropod, but unlike some members of the Theropod, Archaeopteryx was a small dinosaur with an estimated length of just about 5 m.

This Jurassic dinosaur is a very popular animal, not only because its existence provided evidence for Charles Darwin and Thomas Henry Huxley’s theory of evolution, but also that birds evolved from dinosaurs.

4.Brachiosaurus

Brachiosaurus on the Ground

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Characterized with a very long neck that looks like that of Giraffes and an enormous body supported by four tree-trunk-like legs, Brachiosaurus is a particular sauropod. With an estimated length of 18-21 m (59-69 ft.), Brachiosaurus was a large herbivore that fed on leaves on very tall trees.

It was recovered in Colorado, USA, in 1900. Initially, Brachiosaurus was thought to be the largest dinosaurs to have ever lived. However, this was dismissed after more enormous dinosaurs were discovered.

5.Camarasaurus

Camarasaurus

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Camarasaurus means ‘chambered lizard’ and refers to the hollowed-out bones that it (and other sauropods) possessed. The hollowed chamber contained air sacs that helped the enormous dinosaurs to breathe. This Jurassic world dinosaur is the most commonly found sauropod of the Late Jurassic in North America. It had an estimated length of 18 m (59 ft.).

6.Camptosaurus

Two Camptosaurus Skeletons

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Camptsosaurus was a member of the Ornithopod. One characteristic feature of this group was their sophisticated chewing mechanism for eating plant matters. They are generally ornithischian dinosaurs. This late Jurassic dinosaur was discovered in North America and has grown to about 11.5 to 23 ft (5 -7 m).

Over the years, many specimens have been found in the Morrison Foundation in the Western USA. It does seem that this creature was common during the Late Jurassic world, particularly in the region.

7.Brontosaurus

A Brontosaurus in the Forest

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Brontosaurus was a Sauropod that existed in the Late Jurassic world over 153 million years ago. It was found in Morrison Formation, North America, by US paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh. Brontosaurus —meaning ‘thunder lizard’— was a Sauropod with an estimated length: 22 m (72 ft.).

Scientists believe that brontosaurus (and other sauropods) may have been able to crack its huge tail like a whip. This may have served as an impediment to predators.

8.Ceratosaurus

Ceratosaurus

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This predatory dinosaur had a horn on its nose and prominent ridges over its eyes. It is another of the many dinosaurs found in the Morrison Formation in the western United States.

Ceratosaurus was a Theropod with an estimated length of 20 ft (6 m). Judging by the clusters of fossilized footprints, Ceratosaurus may have hunted in packs. It would have preyed on stegosaurus and infant sauropods such as Apatosaurus and Brachiosaurus.

9.Compsognathus

Compsognathus on the Ground

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Arguably the smallest Theropod, Compsognathus was a turkey-sized, meat-eating dinosaur. Well, it made up for its small size in speed. The remains of this fast-moving predator have been found, Germany and France, preserved with their lizard prey still inside their bodies. Fascinating!

It had an estimated length of 6 m (2 ft). Yes, it was that small! For many years Compsognathus was the smallest-known dinosaur. However, smaller dinosaurs, such as Microraptor, have been discovered.

10.Dilophosaurus

Roaring Dilophosaurus

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Dilophosaurus was an early Jurassic dinosaur of the member Theropod. It was discovered in Arizona, USA and is estimated to have had a length of 19 5 ft (6 m). This distinctive dinosaur had a pair of thin, bony crests on its head. (The dinosaur’s scientific name means ‘lizard with two crests.’) The crests, which narrow into sharp points at the rear, may have been used as a display by males.  

11.Drinker

Drinker with Some Related Information

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This member of Neornithischain, Drinker, was named after the renowned US paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope. It had a length of 2 m (6 ft) and was discovered in Wyoming, USA and was officially named in 1990. This Late Jurassic dinosaur had wide feet, which suggests it may have lived in swampy habitats.

12.Vulcanodon

Vulcanodon

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Vulcanodon — which means ‘Vulcan tooth’— was an early Jurassic dinosaur of the group Sauropod. The volcanic rock in which it was found and the nine sharp teeth found with the specimen earned this dinosaur its name.

Vulcanodon, with an estimated length of 5 m (21 ft.), is believed to have inhabited Southern Africa, and the remains were found in Zimbabwe.

However, further research revealed that the fossil was found in sandstone beneath the volcanic rock and that the teeth, in fact, belonged to another dinosaur.

13.Diplodocus

Several Diplodocus During the Lake

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With an estimated length of about 27 m (89 ft.) Diplodocus was one of the more common giant dinosaurs to be found in the Morrison Formation in the western USA and also one of the most common dinosaurs of the Late Jurassic period.

Diplodocus had its hind legs longer than the front legs, and its body sloped downwards from the hips to the shoulders, more like a “head down” position.

It is thought that Diplodocus was able to rear up on its hind legs, using its huge tail as a brace. This would have enabled the huge lizard to reach foliage that would otherwise have been out of reach.

14.Tianchisaurus

Tianchisaurus on the Ground

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Tianchisaurus was a middle Jurassic dinosaur. It was an Ankylosaurian discovered in China. The most famous Ankylosaurian is the Ankylosaurus, which lived in the Late Cretaceous Period. It is estimated to have had a length of 3 m (10 ft).

Tianchisaurus has been discovered very many times, but the first remains to be received was given the species name Jurassosaurus nedegoapeferima. Relax, the second part of the name is just a combination of the first letters of the surnames of the stars of the Jurassic Park film (namely: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, Ariana Richards, and Joseph Mazzello.)

15.Huayangosaurus

Huayangosaurus

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Huayangosaurus is another middle Jurassic dinosaur and a Stegosaurian. Huayangosaurus lived in what is now China during the Middle Jurassic, some 165 million years ago. And like all stegosaurians, it is a quadrupedal ornithischian (bird-hipped) and plant-eating dinosaur. More so, it had two rows of spike-like plates running along its back and a spiked tail. That’s particular to all Stegosaurians.

With an approximated length of 13 ft (4 m), Huayangosaurus is the smallest-known stegosaurian.

16.Lesothosaurus

Lesothosaurus

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Lesothosaurus, only about 1 m (3.3 ft.) in length, was a small, slender dinosaur that roamed the early Jurassic world. It had long legs, which suggest that it was a swift runner. Lesothaurus was an Ornithischian and was found in Lesotho, Southern Africa.

Considering its light body weight, Lesothosaurus would have eaten plants with a chopping motion rather than with the chewing motion used by later ornithischians.

17.Stegosaurus

Stegosaurus

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Every Jurassic world fan loves Stegosaurus. It is one of the best-known Jurassic dinosaurs. It was a heavily-built herbivore. Its forelegs were shorter than its hind legs, giving its body a downwards tilt.

It was a Late Jurassic dinosaur that lived some 155 million years ago. It was discovered in Morrison Formation, western US and had an approximated length of 30 ft (9 m).

The unique feature of the Stegosaurus is the two rows of large plates that run along its back. These may have been used as a defense against predators or as a means of heat regulation. Some also believed it’s for display purposes.

18.Ozraptor

Ozraptor on the Ground with Several Herbivorous Dinosaurs

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So far, information about this middle Jurassic dinosaur, Ozraptor, comes from a single fossil. The fossil, part of a leg bone, was discovered by a group of schoolboys in 1966. Initially, it was thought to be from a prehistoric turtle. Only in the 1990s was the specimen identified as being part of a dinosaur. Ozraptor is one of the earliest-known Australian dinosaurs and also, Theropod. So far, it is believed Ozraptor may have had a length of 3 m (10 ft).

19.Megalosauru

Megalosaurus on the Mountain

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Megalosaurus walked on its hind legs, using its tail as a balance. It was a fearsome predator, and its likely prey would have included sauropods and stegosaurians. It was discovered in England and possibly France

It was a middle Jurassic dinosaur and was one of the three species used by English paleontologist Richard Owen to present a ‘new type of animal to the world – the dinosaurs. In fact, it was the first dinosaur to be named. It had an estimated length of 30 ft (9 m).

20.Sarcosaurus

Sarcosaurus

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Finally, on the list of Jurassic world dinosaurs is the fearsome predator, Sarcosaurus. It was a member of the Theropod. It roamed England during the Early Jurassic period some 194 million years ago. Its name means ‘flesh lizard.’ It’s estimated to have had a length of 5-6 m (12-20 ft.)

Not so much has been found on this early Jurassic dinosaur. All that we know comes from a pelvis, a vertebra and a partial femur.

Was the Tyrannosaurus Rex in the Jurassic period?

Roaring T-Rex with Several People

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No! The T. Rex was not a Jurassic dinosaur. It belongs to the third period of the Mesozoic Era, the Cretaceous period. Other dinosaurs in that period include, Triceratops, Alamosaurus, Albertaceratops, Albertosaurus.

Conclusion

The world is indeed filled with fantastic creatures. And when you consider some of the animals that have walked past the surface of the Earth, it becomes more intriguing and incredible.

Apparently, The Jurassic world was nothing short of wonders. You can be sure that’s not all about the fierce-looking reptiles of the Jurassic period. Scientists and paleontologists are still researching into their world, and, of course, more wonders will be discovered.

So, what’s your favorite Jurassic Dinosaur? The unique Stegosaurus, the long-necked Brachiosaurus, or the small Lesothaurus? Whichever it is, you can have right in your park or shopping mall. No! Not the real dinosaurs, but the animatronic products.

Make sure to check out animatronic dinosaurs and pick your favorite.

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