Common Misconceptions About Dinosaurs


Dinosaur Doesn’t Mean “Terrible Lizard”

Back in 1842, Sir Richard Owen created the term dinosaur. It came from the Greek words “deinos” and “sauros”. The “sauros” part does mean lizard, but “deinos” doesn’t mean terrible. Deinos means “fearfully great” or “wondrous”. The word dinosaur really means “fearfully great lizard”. Terrible is probably some kind of slang shorthand that developed over time.

Dinosaurs Had Feathers

This is probably a little more well-known lately, no thanks to Jurassic Park and the other movies in the franchise of course. The dinosaurs with feathers were mostly the theropods, or the two-legged Velociraptor/Tyrannosaurus type dinosaurs. While the raptor types were fully covered in feathers, the Tyrannosaurs are not so cut and dry. Tyrannosaurs may have had some feathers and some scales, or maybe outgrew their feathers as they aged. The evidence is still being debated. Triceratops even had some quill like structures, which were not feathers, but interesting.

Fossil Fuels are Not from Dinosaurs

I saw one of those great ‘Where these stars are now” memes on Twitter, and it was hilarious. The before shot was of The Land Before Time baby dinosaur cast, and the now shot was a giant oil rig. I really, really love it, but it isn’t true. Oil doesn’t come from dinosaurs, it comes from plankton that existed in the oceans millions of years ago. While it’s theoretically possible that a dinosaur slid into the ocean, then somehow fell into the deepest parts of the ocean, joining the oil making process, the bottom line is oil is not made of dead dinosaurs. Kind of ironic that fossil fuels are totally organic, isn’t it?

Dinosaurs Didn’t All Live together

Dinosaurs roamed the Earth for over 160 million years. That’s a LONG time considering humans have only existed for mere thousands. While some dinosaurs did live to a ripe old age, we’re only talking maybe a hundred years, not thousands, and definitely not millions. A Stegosaurus never saw Tyrannosaurus Rex. A Brontosaurus never saw a Triceratops. The only time these dinosaurs will ever meet is in a Jurassic Park type scenario, and that’s not going to be anytime soon.

Dinosaur Fossils Aren’t Bones

When you look at all those amazing pictures of dinosaurs skeletons, or visit them in museums, you aren’t looking at actual dinosaur bones. These fossils are molds of dinosaur bones. Think of it like filling a mold with clay, then firing it in a kiln, and out pops a hardened ceramic object. The actual organic bone material broke down long ago.


Animals Mistaken For Dinosaurs

There were lots of animals living with the dinosaurs. There were even other reptiles as well. Ancient types of alligators and crocodiles existed, with turtles joining dinosaurs during the Jurassic. Marine reptiles filled the oceans, and flying reptiles filled the skies. All of these were reptiles, but none of them were dinosaurs. Lizards? Not dinosaurs. There is only one type of dinosaur alive today. See the graphic below and guess which one.