The question “Where did dinosaurs live?” is one that is frequently asked. Dinosaurs lived all across the globe, according to a simple explanation.
North America, South America, Australia, Europe, Asia, Africa, and even Antarctica were among the locations where they lived. On the ground, in the air, and in the water, they dwelled. Dinosaurs may be found in almost every inhabitable corner of the globe.
Nonetheless, not all dinosaurs existed at the same moment or in the same location. We’ll take a look at some of the main dinosaurs from each of the seven continents today. That should give you an idea of what dinosaurs had to compete with each other, not only answering the question where did dinosaurs live.
What Are Dinosaurs?
Ischigualasto Provincial Park in northwestern Argentina has the most ancient unambiguous dinosaur fossils, dating from around 231 million years ago. The genuses Herrerasaurus,
Eodromaeus and Eoraptor According to Steve Brusatte, a paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, scientists are still divided on whether Nyasasaurus, a genus discovered in Tanzania and dated to about 240 million years ago, is an early dinosaur or a dinosauromorph.
The dinosaurs’ odd anatomy set them apart from other animal groups from the moment they originally appeared. Archosaurs, which include crocodilians, pterosaurs, dinosaurs, and birds, are a clade (a group of animals with a common ancestor) that includes dinosaurs.
Around the end-Permian extinction, around 252 million years ago, the archosaurs arose. Some archosaurs, such as dinosauromorphs, evolved an upright stance over time, with their legs underneath their bodies rather than out to the side.
For cold-blooded animals that don’t have to move fast, sprawled out is just fine. Brusatte said in “The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World(opens in new tab)” (William Morrow, 2018) that tucking your limbs under your body gives you a whole new set of options.
Brusatte wrote that as archosaur evolution proceeded, dinosauromorphs acquired long tails, enormous leg muscles, and extra hip bones that allowed them to move quickly and efficiently.
Dinosaraptorans arose from the line of dinosauromorphs. The anatomy of dinosaurs provided significant advantages, including arms that could move in and out, neck vertebrae that might tolerate stronger muscles than before, and a joint where the thigh bone meets the pelvis, according to Brusatte.
Dinosaurs became successful because of their unique anatomy. As a result, upright posture allowed dinosaurs like iguanodonts to grab branches and carnivorous dinosaurs to scratch and devour prey, according to Gregory Erickson, a paleobiologist at Florida State University.
Ultimately, he claims, having free arms allowed birds to “glide and fly.”
Moreover, according to Erickson’s study on dinosaur growth rates, dinosaurs were most likely warm-blooded. “When you become a warm blooded animal, you can be active 24/7,” he told Live Science.
At first, dinosaurs were not as diverse as the crocodile-like archosaurs that lived alongside them, according to Brusatte. In reality, “the crocs dominated the Triassic, and then the end-Triassic extinction struck, and the dinosaurs survived and took over,” according to dinosaurs.
The English paleontologist Richard Owen named the clade Dinosauria (which means “terrible lizard” in Greek) in 1842, and the first known species were the meat-eating theropod Megalosaurus, long-necked sauropodomorph Cetiosaurus, and ornithiscian Iguanodon.
It turns out that each of these dinosaurs belongs to one of three major dinosaur groups.
Although the continents’ lakes and beaches were dotted with little islands a hundred million years ago, they may have been arranged differently now.
The fossils of the dwarf titanosaur Magyarosaurus, the primitive ornithopod Telmatosaurus, and the huge pterosaur Hatzegopteryx have been discovered on Hatzeg Island (located in modern-day Romania).
The reptile body plans clearly have been affected by millions of years of island confinement.
With one major exception: grass had not yet evolved 100 million years ago, so these ecosystems were instead covered with ferns and other prehistoric plants, similar to the vast, windswept plains of the Cretaceous period.
Herds of plant-eating dinosaurs (including ceratopsians, hadrosaurs, and ornithopods) roamed these flatlands, while hungry raptors and tyrannosaurs kept these dimwitted herbivores on their toes.
North America has produced more dinosaurs bones than any other location on Earth. Some of the largest creatures that ever lived on Earth walked across Canada, Mexico, and New York.
Tyrannosaurus Rex, Ankylosaurus, Coelophysis, Deinonychus, Diplodocus, Ornithomimus, Stegosaurus, and Triceratops were some of the most prominent species that called North America home.
Wetlands are low-lying, soggy plains that have been inundated with silt from adjacent hills and mountains.
The wetlands that covered most of modern Europe in the early Cretaceous epoch, producing numerous Iguanodon, Polacanthus, and tiny Hypsilophodon specimens, were the most significant paleontologically speaking.
These dinosaurs ate primitive plants called horsetails, rather than grass (which had yet to develop).
Although there are fewer dinosaurs found in South America than in North America, this continent does have the distinction of claiming some of the earliest dinosaur species.
Abelisaurus, Anabisetia, Argentinosaurus, Austroraptor, Carnotaurus, Eoraptor, Giganotosaurus, and Megaraptor are some of the dinosaurs that lived here.
A riparian forest is a lush environment with abundant food for its residents, yet it is vulnerable to periodic flooding. It includes lush trees and flora growing beside a river or marsh.
The Morrison Formation of late Jurassic North America, which is a rich fossil bed that has produced numerous sauropods, ornithopods, and theropods, including the huge Diplodocus and the ferocious Allosaurus, was home to the most well-known riparian forest of Mesozoic times.
While Germany and the United Kingdom developed modern paleontology, Europe did not have the greatest collection of dinosaur species.
So far, there haven’t been many dinosaur bones discovered in Europe, although the ones that have been found are quite fascinating. Archaeopteryx, Balaur, Baryonyx, Cetiosaurus, Compsognathus, and Europasaurus are among them.
The late Cretaceous swamp woodlands were matted with flowers and other late-evolving plants, which provided an important source of nourishment for massive numbers of duck-billed dinosaurs, making them remarkably similar to riparian woodlands.
As a result, smarter, more agile theropods like Troodon and Tyrannosaurus Rex preyed on these “cows of the Cretaceous.”
Dinosaurs liked to spend time near the water, just like modern humans do, but the Mesozoic Era’s shorelines were situated in some surprising locales.
For instance, in the Cretaceous period, a massive, north-south dino migratory path across the western border of the Western Interior Sea ran via Colorado and New Mexico (rather than California), as demonstrated by preserved footprints.
This well-used road was traveled by both carnivores and herbivores, most likely in search of scarce food.
Although Africa does not have as diverse a dinosaur fauna as the Americas, it does boast its own unique list.
Several of the most aggressive and dangerous dinosaurs lived on this continent, including some of the most vicious. Spinosaurus, Aardonyx, Ouranosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus, Heterodontosaurus, Suchomimus, Eocursor, and Afrovenator are among these dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs were no exception to the harsh ecological challenge posed by deserts. Protoceratops, Oviraptor, and Velociraptor were among the three most well-known Mesozoic Era desert dinosaurs: the Gobi of central Asia.
A violent sandstorm one unlucky day during the late Cretaceous period preserved the entwined fossils of a Protoceratops locked in combat with a Velociraptor. During the age of the dinosaurs, the world’s biggest desert, the Sahara, was a verdant jungle.
A great number of dinosaur fossils have been uncovered in Asia during the previous 20 years. Scientists now have a wealth of knowledge about dinosaur development as a result of these findings.
What was the environment like for dinosaurs in Asia? It may be found everywhere across the continent, but is especially prevalent in the center and eastern areas.
Dilong, Dilophosaurus, Mamenchisaurus, Microraptor, Oviraptor, Psittacosaurus, Shantungosaurus, and Velociraptor are some of the dinosaurs discovered here.
The Mesozoic wasn’t necessarily characterized by more calmer, warmer water in canals.
They were larger than they are now, and the fossil record (since dead creatures settle to the bottom of lagoons are readily preserved in silt) tends to overrepresent them. The most well-known ancient lagoons were found in Europe.
Many specimens of Archaeopteryx, Compsognathus, and other pterosaurs have been discovered in Solnhofen, Germany.
What Australia had in abundance was an excellent collection of therapods and sauropods, despite the fact that it did not have a large population of dinosaurs.
Cryolophosaurus, Leaellynasaura, Rhoetosaurus, Antarctopelta, Muttaburrasaurus, Australovenator, Diamantinasaurus and Ozraptor were among the dinosaurs discovered.
The North and South Poles were not nearly as chilly as they are now during the Mesozoic Era, but they were still in darkness for much of the year.
As a result, the little, big-eyed Leaellynasaura and the unusually tiny-brained Minmi, a cold-blooded ankylosaur that couldn’t run its metabolism with the same amount of light as its cousins in more temperate zones, were both discovered in Australia.
There were no dinosaurs trudging through the tons of snow, as far as I knew. Antarctica was much warmer at the time, and it wasn’t covered in snow like it is now.
As a consequence, it was able to house a diverse group of dinosaurs. Cryolophosaurus Ellioti, Antarctopelta Oliveroi, Glacialisaurus Hammeri, and Trinisaura Santamartaensis are among the specimens in this group.
Dinosaurs were a diverse group of creatures that lived on practically every corner of the planet, as can be seen clearly here. It must have been a magnificent sight to see billions of dinosaurs scattered across the globe.
Rivers and Lakes
Most dinosaurs, like marine reptiles, did not dwell in rivers and lakes; instead, they roamed the edges of these bodies, sometimes with amazing consequences.
As a result, according to their long, crocodile-like snouts, some of South America’s and Eurasia’s largest theropod dinosaurs, such as Baryonyx and Suchomimus, ate mostly fish. And Spinosaurus was, in fact, a semiaquatic or even fully aquatic dinosaur, according to compelling evidence.
Types of Dinosaurs
According to the Paleobiology Database, as of 2021, there were 1,545 scientifically described dinosaur species. Brusatte claims that about 50 previously unknown species are discovered each year, indicating that one new species is found every week.
The Ornithischia, Sauropodomorpha, and Theropoda groups contain all of these dinosaurs.
Beaked plant-eaters like Stegosaurus, duck-billed dinosaurs (sometimes referred to as hadrosaurs), and horned dinosaurs like Triceratops are among the ornithischia dinosaurs that exist. Some ornithischians walked on four limbs, while others used two.
Sauropodomorpha dinosaurs were slender-headed, columnar-limbed animals with lengthy necks and bellies. Sauropods (such as Diplodocus) and their smaller relatives (Chromogisaurus), as well as extra-large sauropods known as titanosauroids (like Dreadnoughtus and Argentinosaurus), are among the world’s largest land animals.
While some (such as Chilesaurus diegosuarezi) switched to a herbivorous or omnivorous diet, theropoda is a group of meat-eating dinosaurs. Tyrannosaurus rex and Velociraptor, as well as birds, are among theropods that arose from tiny theropods.
So, how do these groups interact? It’s a point of contention. Theropods and sauropodomorphs have saurischian or “reptile hip,” which is also seen in modern crocodiles and lizards, according to the book “Dinosaurs Rediscovered.” Meanwhile, ornithischian dinosaurs have a backwards-pointing pubis bone in the hip, earning them the name bird-hipped dinosaurs.
It was previously assumed that the reptile-hipped theropods and sauropodomorphs were more closely related to each other than ornithischians.
According to a research published in the journal Nature in 2017 (opens in new tab), ornithischians and theropods were more closely related than previously thought, based on studies of 74 dinosaur species.
Neither family tree, nor a third that is rarely considered, is statistically significant from the other, according to another 2017 study in the journal Nature(opens in new tab), indicating that all suggested family trees are equally plausible until further evidence emerges.