world map of where dinosaurs lived –

What is a dinosaur?

Dinosaurs belong to a group of animals known as archosaurs.

Today this group is represented by birds and crocodiles (some scientists also include turtles in this group). In the past it was much more diverse as it also included all extinct dinosaurs, pterosaurs and many bizarre-looking ancestors of the crocodiles.  

‘There are a number of different features that define a dinosaur, but perhaps the clearest things are to do with modifications to their hips and to their legs,’ explains Paul.

‘In particular, they make a much stronger connection between the hips and their backbone, and they do that by converting some of their vertebrae into a special modified structure called the sacrum that creates these additional connections to their hips.’

Reptiles have up to two vertebrae fused together into a sacrum, but to be a dinosaur an animal needs at least three. Some modern birds have up to 12 sacra. 

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Which country has most dinosaurs?

Dinosaur fossils have been found on every continent of Earth, including Antarctica but most of the dinosaur fossils and the greatest variety of species have been found high in the deserts and badlands of North America, China and Argentina.

Did China create dinosaurs?

With the conclusion of the 1991 field season the China-Canada Dinosaur Project ended six years into their eight-year mandate. The CCDP produced an enormous amount of fossils, with over fifteen tonnes of fossil material collected in Canada and another sixty tonnes in China.

The search for the first dinosaur

If the dinosaurs found in the Ischigualasto Formation are already recognisably dinosaurs, it suggests that their origins are even more ancient.

The closest relatives to dinosaurs have only been identified within the last two decades. They are known as the silesaurids – medium-sized quadrupedal animals that looked like tall, leggy lizards that sit just outside of Dinosauria. 

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