DINOSAURS

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by CBBC

What is a dinosaur?
Dinosaurs were huge reptiles which lived millions of years ago.

                                      They evolved around 230 million years ago and lived in
                                     the Mesozoic period - which means the "age of reptiles".

                                               Special scientists called palaeontologists
                                               (like Ross from Friends) study fossils and
                                              old bones to find out more about dinosaurs
                                                             and how they lived.

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What types of dinosaur were there?
There were more than 700 different types of dinosaur.

                                   They are often classified as either meat-eaters (carnivores)
                             like Tyrannosaurus Rex, or plant-eaters (herbivores) like Triceratops.

                                              Dinosaurs all looked different. Some walked
                                                 on two legs and others walked on four.

                                            Some were very fast like Velociraptor but some
                                               were slow and lumbering, like Ankylosaurus.

                                               Some had horns and spikes, or bumpy skin.
                                                 But no one actually knows what colour
                                                         or pattern dinosaurs were.

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What's in a name?

The word dinosaur means "terrible lizard" in Greek.

                                  Lots of dinosaurs were named after Greek words which suited
                                    their personality or appearance. Some interesting ones are:

                                                 --Velociraptor meaning "speedy robber"
                                    
         --Triceratops meaning "three-horned head"
                                                       --Oviraptor meaning "egg-thief"
             
                                     (although it didn't actually steal eggs)
   
                                       --Microdontosaurus meaning "tiny-toothed lizard"
                                               --Maiasaurus meaning "good mother lizard"


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Could Jurassic Park really happen?

In Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park films, scientists
bring dinosaurs back from the dead by
using dinosaur DNA to recreate them.

                                     But where could we get dinosaur DNA from?

                                Dinosaurs are loosely related to birds and scientists
                                 have claimed it might be possible to alter bird DNA                                   to create a "Jurassic chicken" in 50-100 years' time.


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Why did they become extinct?
Dinosaurs died out around 65 million years ago.
There are several theories about why this happened.

                                       The most accepted theory is that a giant asteroid
                                         crashed into earth around this time and caused
                                                 catastrophic changes to the climate.

                                         It was probably freezing cold and the dinosaurs
                                         could not adapt to the new weather conditions.

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