Do you have a child who loves dinosaurs and do you want to encourage your child to learn more about this mysterious creature? You’ve come to the right place! At Dinosaur Heroes we are parents of dinosaur-obsessed kids, and dedicate our time to finding the best and most interesting facts, stories, and toys to further our children’s interests.
But first, let’s start with names. Do you know that there are over 700 species of dinosaurs scientists have uncovered so far? Scientists divide dinosaurs into different types depending on whether they are more lizard-like (Saurischia) or bird-like (Ornithischia). Here, we will look at some of the most popular dinosaur names for kids to learn across both.
Popular Dinosaur Names for Kids
- Tyrannosaurus Rex (“T-Rex”)
Perhaps the most well known of all dinosaur species is the T-Rex, the star of many movies such as Jurassic Park, and museums around the world. T-Rex has a giant skull as big as 1.5m (5 ft) with a powerful bite that cannot be matched by other dinosaurs.
T-rex is the largest carnivore in its environment, which means it is a predator that hunts, scavages and eats other dinosaurs. Although the T-rex’s arms are very comically small compared to its overall size, they are very strong and can lift things up to 199kg (439 lbs).
Because of its size, T-rex cannot run very fast. However, it has a good binocular vision, great hearing at low frequency and an enhanced sense of smell, which means you’d never want to have a T-rex lock eyes with you anywhere!
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- Velociraptor (“Raptor”)
You may have seen a Raptor in the opening scene of Jurassic Park, another terrifying carnivore with long claws (also known as “The Terrible Claw”) on its second toe on both feet. In real life however, it is no bigger than a turkey but was scaled up by Steven Speilberg (the movie director) for effect!
Raptors are feathered birds that cannot fly.
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- Spinosaurus (“Spine Lizard”)
Spinosaurus lived in North Africa about 99 million years ago. Its most distinctive feature is long spiky backbones (“vertabrae”) that extends upwards, forming a sail-like structure up to 1.6 metres (5 ft long) on its back.
Its teeth are straight and shape like cones, which is why most scientists believe it enjoys eating fish. It can live both on land and in water, much like modern crocodiles do. It is longer and heavier than a T-rex, and is the largest known carnivorous dinosaur. It is incredibly heavy too, weighing about 3 grown African elephants!
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Allosaurus is a typical large theropod (which means “Wild Beasts” in Greek). It has a massive skull on a short neck, a long, slightly sloping tail, and short forelimbs. Does this description remind you of any other dinosaurs? Yes, the T-Rex! T-Rex is also a theropod. However, Allosaurus – which means “Different Lizard” – is smaller, faster and they probably hunt together in packs.
Question: Who do you think will win in a fight, a T-Rex of Allosaurus?
Answer: Allosaurus is strong and tough, and can dodge attacks from T-Rex quickly, but one bite by the T-Rex will kill an Allosaurus, making T-Rex the likely champion in a fight.
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- Diplodocus (“Dippy”)
Diplodocus is a herbivorous dinosaur (meaning it eats vegetables instead of meat), with a long neck that helps it reach high and low vegetation and a very long whip-like tail. It is one of the longest dinosaurs known, about half the length of a football field.
The most famous Diplodocus skeleton is one called “Dippy” who lives at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, USA. There are many cast copies of Dippy, donated to many museums around the world by the wealthy business man Andrew Carnegie. He even gifted one to the British Natural History Museum for King Edward VII who’s a big fan of Dippy.
Given its huge size, it is unlikely that an adult Diplodocus would be targeted by any predator enemies.
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- Brachiosaurus (“Giraffe Dinosaur”)
Brachiosaurus is a giraffe-like dinosaur that lived in North America. Like other Sauropods, such as a Diplodocus, Brachiosaurus has a very long neck and four legs. The main difference is that a Brachiosaurus has forelimbs (arms) that are longer than its back legs, allowing its neck to extend upwards and stand much taller than a Diplodocus.
Brachiosaurus probably fed on coniferous trees like modern day pine trees and fir trees, and is likely to be vegetarian. That doesn’t mean it’s small however. It is one of the biggest dinosaurs known and weighs about 6 African elephants!
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- Dilophosaurus (“Two crested lizard”)
Dilophosaurus is another dinosaur that lived in North America about 190 million years ago. Its most distinctive and special features are the two arched crests that grows on its skull. Although the exact shape of these delicate crests are unknown, they are usually shown as two fan-like neck frills in movies.
In reality, its crests was probably more likely to be small and on top of its head. Disappointingly, it probably also does not spit venom like in the Jurassic Park. Nevertheless, Dilophosaurus is fast-moving and a meat eater.
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- Pterosaur (“Flying Dinosaur”)
Because it can fly and its front limb stretch out on the sides, it are not actually classified as a dinosaur. Instead it is a distant dinosaur cousin. Unlike modern birds, Pterosaur can walk very well on four limbs by folding its wing forwards and walking on its three fingered “hands”. With a little push, it takes off from the land and can fly up to 12,000 feet for up to 7 to 10 days! Isn’t that impressive!
Pterosaur, like birds, have hollow bones to help them fly. Unfortunately, because of this, Pterosaur fossils are very rare because light bones don’t preserve well, and are very sought after by rich collectors! In addition, instead of feathers like modern birds, it has smooth and fluffy coats of hair, how odd!
Buy a 3 pack Pterosaur models
Reference: Information from Wikipedia and National History Museum. Images from Jurrasic Park Fandom and Jurassic World Evolution Wiki
How to Learn Dinosaur Names
Of course, you can pick up a dinosaur book or go through the Dinosaur Wikipedia and learn all 700 dinosaur names by heart. But that would be boring and tedious. What we are looking for, are ideas to help kids learn dinosaur names and their attributes in a fun and engaging way.
6 fun ways to learn dinosaur names easily
- Learn a Dinosaur Alphabet song
Each letter corresponds to a specific dinosaur. In this YouTube video for example, A is for Annie the Ankylosaurus, B is for Bertie the Brontosaurus and so on and so forth. That means you will learn 26 names of dinosaurs from just one song!
- Rhyme with dinosaur names
Similar to song lyrics, rhymes are pleasant to our ears and are easily recalled. That’s why we teach children nursery rhymes from a young age. Pick up a book that converts dinosaur names into nursery rhymes and watch your child learn. (Editor’s note: My son loves the Ten Little Dinosaurs series. It’s his favourite bedtime rhyme and he never fails to squeal in delight when mommy dinosaur comes to rescue her last dinosaur baby!)
- Watch a movie
Although there are plenty of dinosaur-related movies, some do not place an emphasis on dinosaur names. If your child is old enough, the classic Jurassic Park is a great introductory film for kids who like dinosaurs. However, it is well known within the palaeontology community that there are some factual inaccuracies about the dinosaurs featured in Jurassic Park. If that bothers you and you’d rather your child learn from the most palaeontologically-accurate movies, then the documentary series and movie Walking with Dinosaurs might be a better choice for you.
- Visit museums
If you are lucky enough to have a dinosaur fossil museum or park near you, physical immersion is still one of the best way to learn. See Dippy the Diplodocus in the Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, USA, see a Tyrannosaurus rex in action in the Natural History Museum, UK, or visit Universal Orlando Resort to watch baby Velociraptor hatch before your eyes. It is a great way to ignite a child’s interest in the prehistoric world.
- Associate names to sounds the dinosaurs make
Listening improves memory. Here, we give children an additional sensory input – the roaring sounds of each dinosaur – to help them learn the names of each dinosaur better. Watch an example video here, or grab a dinosaur sound book that roars.
- Play a game with dinosaur names
Make up a game or download our Dinosaur Themed Word Search to start learning today!
Please remember that because dinosaurs lived millions and millions of years ago, what we think we know about them is derived only from fossils we find. Therefore, our understanding of these animals will change as we uncover new evidence, making Paleontology (which means the study of ancient life) an incredibly exciting field of study.