The Truth About Dinosaurs
Dinosaurs are a diverse group of animals and first appeared about 231.4 million years ago. Using fossil evidence, paleontologists have identified over 500 distinct genera and more than 1,000 different species of non-avian dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs are represented on every continent by both extant species and fossil remains. Some are herbivorous, others carnivorous.
Although the word dinosaur means “terrible lizard”, the name is somewhat misleading, as dinosaurs are not lizards. Instead, they represent a separate group of reptiles which, like many extinct forms, did not exhibit characteristics traditionally seen as reptilian, such as a sprawling limb posture or ectothermy.
Since the first dinosaur fossils were recognized in the early 19th century, mounted fossil dinosaur skeletons have been major attractions at museums around the world, and dinosaurs have become an enduring part of world culture.
The large sizes of some groups, as well as their seemingly monstrous and fantastic nature, have ensured dinosaurs’ regular appearance in best-selling books and films, such as Jurassic Park. Persistent public enthusiasm for the animals has resulted in significant funding for dinosaur science, and new discoveries are regularly covered by the media.
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