Fossil discoveries of extinct reptiles have astonished scientists all around the globe. These 10 major findings have contributed drastically towards the development of dinosaur science also known as paleontology.
1. Mosasaurus (1764)
Mosasaur means River Lizard. The bone fossils of this dinosaur were the first to be recognized as pertaining to those of an extinct species. These were marine predators and are closely associated with snakes and monitor lizards.
2. Megalosaurus (1676)
This was the first dinosaur to be named, even before the term Dinosaur was coined for the group of reptiles. Its name connotes Great Reptile. It lived 120,000,000 years ago in Europe. The interesting fact about the Megalosaurus is that its complete skeleton has never been located.
3. Hadrosaurus (1858)
Hadrosaurus, the Duck Billed dinosaur was the first ever complete dinosaur fossil excavated in North America. Hardosaurus had the maximum number of teeth among dinosaurs. A herbivore, it was considered to be a good swimmer.
4. Iquanodon (1820)
This was the second dinosaur to be formally named. Iguanadon signifies iguana toothed. This beast was characterized by its hard and conical spike like thumbs. An ornithopod, its intelligence was mid way among dinosaurs. Comparatively a fast reptile, it could travel at the speed of 15-20 km/hr. Evidence through fossils suggests that Iguanadons lived in herds.
5. Coelophysis (1947)
This gigantic lizard lived in the Late Trissaic period. Coelophysis stands for hollow form, because its bones were hollow, like the bones of birds. It is argued that this specie displayed cannibalistic tendencies. An interesting fact about Coelophysis is that, it lost and then regained its teeth through its lifetime.
6. Archaeopteryx (1860-62)
Archaeopteryx implying ancient wing is the earliest bird known to mankind. The discovery of its fossil filled the missing link between dinosaurs and birds. It lived in the Jurassic period, about 150 million years ago. Scientists believe that this crow-sized aerial animal evolved from certain specie of small dinosaur.
7. Diplodocus (1877)
Diplodocus means double beamed. This was among the largest dinosaurs that existed on earth. Diplodocus was a sauropod, lizard hipped. The Carnegie Museum of National History, U.S.A. houses a giant, life size replica of this reptile. Palaeontologists argued that this dinosaur had a second brain; however this fact has not been substantiated with proof.
8. Brachylophosaurus (2000)
Brachylophosaurus connotes short-crested lizard. A relatively new discovery, it is also called the “Elvis” of dinosaurs. This is because of its head crest which resembled that of the famous rock and roll singer. In the year, 2003, a specimen was awarded the Guinness book of World Records for being the best preserved dinosaur remains. Another astonishing discovery, made by scientists was that, this specie suffered from cancer and proofs for this are present in the fossil remains.
9. Maiasaura (1975)
Its name stands for good mother lizard. They are believed to be fossilized to volcanic ash by a sudden natural disaster. It was one of the last surviving dinosaurs. Their remains are indicative that the mother did not abandon the eggs after laying them, but cared for its offspring, unlike other dinosaurs.
10. Sinosauropteryx (1877)
Sinosauropteryx means Chinese lizard wing. Sinosauropteryx’s discovery was the first to show existence of feathers in dinosaurs. Three complete fossils have been found consisting unlaid eggs and certain internal organs. Their bodies were covered with protofeathers which served as an insulation mechanism.