As children, many of us are bang into dinosaurs, it’s almost a default setting of human children. We’re fascinated by them in the same way that we’re fascinated by a fire breathing dragon or Jabba the Hutt. They kind of merge together in our infantile mind as being too amazing to be true. Sometimes I like to remind myself that these things actually walked the same earth that we do, all be it a bit of a while back now.
They were the shepherds of the planet about 230 million years ago and reigned for around 135 million years until something big and rather nasty happened, whatever it was, and wiped them away. To put that in perspective a bit, humans have been around for about 160,000 years (although estimates vary of course). So they existed for more than 800 times longer than we have, and at the rate we’re going, it doesn’t look like we’ll be around for much longer.
There’s been over 1000 types of dinosaur dug out of the ground, which is a fair number, but probably only a very limited representation of the total. A lot of people think that you die, your flesh decays and then over time you fossilize.
Fossilization is actually a relatively rare occurrence, the body of the deceased has to be covered over with something air tight (mud, ice etc) quite soon after dying otherwise the whole kit and caboodle will just break down or be eaten by scavengers. The entombed remains then have to be put under immense pressure for long, long periods, so not every beast gets the privilege of eternal life in a museum. There’s probably a rich tapestry of stony skeletons under the oceans and in other hard to dig places that we may never get to see.
But what every budding paleontologist wants to know is which one was the biggest and which is the smallest? Of course we want to know that. The picture at the top shows some of the longest ones (click on it to see the names). So here’s a run down of the champs:
HEAVIEST & LONGEST
He’s the longest guy in the picture above, clocking up around 58 metres of length and an estimated 122 tonnes in weight. Woah. Big boy. This is what he looked like….. or at least something like this:
(I should also make a note that there are other dinosaur remains in existence that may have been part of bigger creatures, and Amphicoelias is not the definitive answer, but it’s the one that Wikipedia has gone for and I trust them as far as I can thrown them, and that’s quite far because they’re cloud based and clouds are light.)
SMALLEST & LIGHTEST
Epidexipteryx hui was the shortest dinosaur at just 25cm and Anchiornis huxleyi was lightest at a mere 110g… what I like best about this diagram is the fact that the nice blue man is giving us a wave.
An artist made this picture of a Epidexipteryx hui:
And this is what Anchiornis huxleyi looked like according to another artist (don’t tell the artist but I prefer the picture above tbh… don’t want to hurt his feelings though so keep that quiet if you will):
I’d like to end this post by mentioning the fact that the blue whale is still the biggest and heaviest beast that has ever lived, as far as we know…. maybe the fossil record will chuck up an even bigger mega-beast one day.