We love dinosaurs. As kids, we learned facts about them in science class, marveled at their skeletons in museums, and played out epic dino battles with our plastic toys. But how much of what we were taught about them is actually true? You might be shocked to know that a majority of what we learned about dinosaurs in our youth was actually not true at all.
The truth is that the more we learn about these prehistoric animals that roamed the Earth for 150 million years, the more their story is being rewritten. A lot of the things we were taught about dinosaurs or saw in movies are just flat-out wrong. Did you know that dinosaurs were around for a couple hundred thousand years after that meteor impact you read about that supposedly wiped them out? How about that dinosaurs were not the first reptiles to rule the Earth? Or that dinosaurs had feathers? There are even some scientists that believe dinosaurs are still among us right now. You might have even eaten one of these ancient, scary animals for dinner last night with a side of mashed potatoes.
Intrigued? We were too. Read on and find out which dinosaur myths you believed all your life are not true at all.
Velociraptors Were Terrifying And Larger Than Humans
Most of us never heard of a velociraptor before Jurassic Park, so those movies gave us the idea that they were scaly, human-sized predators that were incredibly smart... smart enough to open doors! The truth is that although they were vicious little things, they weren't much bigger than a large dog and were likely covered in feathers.
They looked more like a big, angry chicken than a giant, smooth lizard.
Dinosaurs Lived In A Tropical, Endless Summer
Every painting and museum display you see of dinosaurs shows them in a lush, tropical setting. And although many dinosaurs lived in such a setting, late Cretaceous sites in the High Arctic lived in cool habitats that were dark for long stretches of the year.
So, yes, you might have actually seen at T. rex tromping through the snow.
Anything Prehistoric And Reptilian Was A Dinosaur
A lot of people assume that any animal that is extinct and reptilian is a dinosaur, but that's just not true. Dinosaurs were just one lineage within a group called archosaurs, which also includes pterosaurs and crocodiles. They all split from each other some 245 million years ago.
Although they lived alongside dinosaurs, the long-necked, swimming plesiosaurs (pictured), flying pterosaurs and other giant reptiles were not dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs Were All Giant Animals
Dinosaurs came in all sizes, but the big ones captured our imagination most. Among the smallest dinosaurs were bird-sized forms such as the feathery Anchiornis and the tiny theropod Scansoriopteryx. Dinosaurs really existed like the ones the little girl fed in The Lost World: Jurassic Park.