Many children are captivated by dinosaurs and it’s easy to see why – they are creatures that bridge fantasy and reality! Nobody has seen one alive but we have found fossils, which have helped us to understand what dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures were like.
Dinosaurs were reptiles that lived on Earth 252 to 66 million years ago in a period of time called the Mesozoic Era, or the ‘Age of Dinosaurs’. But, dinosaurs weren’t the only living creatures during that time. There were also other types of reptiles, as well as fish, birds, insects, small mammals and plants.
The word ‘dinosaur’ comes from two Greek words that mean ‘terrible lizard’, although the dinosaurs weren’t actually lizards. Dinosaurs lived on the land, but the Spinosaurus could swim and it lived between land and water.
But about 65 million years ago, something happened that killed all the dinosaurs and most of the other living creatures on Earth.
We’re not exactly sure what happened but scientists have found evidence of a large meteor that smashed into the Earth. A meteor crash would have caused earthquakes, fires, pollution, climate change and darkness. Most of the plants and animals wouldn’t have been able to survive this disaster, so they died out or became ‘extinct’. Because so many types of creature died out at the same time, we call this as a mass extinction event.
And here’s a great They Might Be Giants song that makes me want to become a palaeontologist!