Dinosaurs left the Earth long ago, and they took many answers about their everyday lives and aesthetics with them. There are a number of theories on how they happened to go extinct, but none are confirmed. The meteor or asteroid theory is common, and there are suggestions that toxic plants could have done them in as well. Regardless of what took them away before humans could view them up close, they remain infinitely fascinating.
Dinosaur fossils are constantly being uncovered, and a few are so strange that it leaves researchers wondering if some new discoveries are actually a hoax. Odd designs and questionable features are present throughout a large variety of dinosaurs. Feathers that provided warmth instead of aiding with flight are common, and some had arms and spines that hindered them. Long necks seem to be a great feature when you need to reach the top of trees, but there were dinosaurs who couldn’t bend their necks upward! All dinosaurs are bizarre in some way, but here are some that are captivatingly strange.
The necks of these dinosaurs accounted for half of their total body length, so it’s no surprise that alongside the Sauroposeidon, they had longer necks than any creature to ever exist. It’s estimated that they weighed over 60,000 pounds, supplemented by a plant-based diet. Their teeth were shaped like spatulas, which allowed them to consume leaves in large quantities. However, despite their incredibly long necks, these dinosaurs actually preferred low-hanging vegetation. Their necks did not have great flexibility, and their horizontal posture forced them to choose lower plants. Their total body length measured around 115 feet in length, while the more famous brontosaurus was only 72 feet long.
Renderings of this dinosaur make it seem like a mix between a condor and a lazily assembled movie monster. Despite its aggressive appearance with massive arms, this dinosaur was an herbivore. Its full name, suzhousaurus megatherioides, translates to “giant sloth-like reptile from Suzhou,” which is located in China. This dinosaur measured around seven yards from its head to tail and has the longest upper arm bone from any theropod. Unlike the miniature arms of the tyrannosaurus rex, this dinosaur probably had no issues with its reach! The suzhousaurus lived in warm climates on semi-arid plains, and its closest relative was uncovered in other hot areas like New Mexico and Utah. This offers the thought that dinosaurs traveled great distances.
This small dinosaur was only five feet tall and around 11 pounds! There is evidence that these dinosaurs were feathered, but these feathers would have more closely resembled hair rather than typical bird feathers. However, they did not descend from any flying animal, which might mean that their aesthetic developed out of insulation necessities. The findings on the dilong’s look contributed to the idea that the tyrannosaurus rex could have also sported feathers. It was also the most primitive of the known tyrannosaurs, which comprises an entire group of dinosaurs. The dilong’s teeth were D shaped and in cross-section, which gave them bites that resembled cookie cutters when devouring prey.
There was a period of five decades where the only fossils that paleontologists had of this dinosaur were its arms. It led to many questions on what the rest of the dino looked like, and set off expeditions to find other remains. No one understood what type of dinosaur it was, or how it lived. It was given a name regardless, which is deinocheirus mirificus, Greek for “terrible hand, which is unusual.” It was 36 feet long, and over 13,000 pounds! Despite its size and incredible arms, this dinosaur consumed soft plants due to its lack of teeth. It used stones as a mill to grind up its meals, and also ate fish when they were available, as it didn’t discriminate much on food.
There’s a question surrounding the practicality of this dinosaur’s large sail over its back. Only a few dinosaurs, like the more famous Spinosaurus, had this feature, and there is no definitive answer. Scientists believe that it could have come into play for intimidating predators, or even attracting a mate. The sail hindered this dinosaur’s ability to run, and its narrow feet and shorter tail did not aid this strange design feature. Its weak front legs did not take the burden off either, and this dinosaur might have suffered from regular back pain given its unfortunate design. It enjoyed consuming tough plants, and was prey for quite a few larger dinosaurs like the sarcosuchus.
This dinosaur looks like the inspiration for some of our current runway fashion. Although feathered theropods were initially believed to be smaller, this large dinosaur offered contradictory evidence. Its name, yutyrannus huali, is a Latin-Mandarin mix that translates to “beautiful feathered tyrant.” It’s interesting to think of any tyrant being easy on the eyes, but like all dinosaurs, this one was definitely a sight to behold. Similarly to many other feathered dinosaurs, its feathers resembled the fuzziness of a baby bird rather than the sophisticated look of adult plumage, and it definitely did not fly. It weighed over 30,000 pounds, so flying would have been quite a feat.
This aquatic bird theropod was so odd that researchers had trouble placing it in more traditional classifications of dinosaurs. They questioned if the fossils were actually real at all! They believed that it could have just been different skeletons that were glued together, but extensive scanning revealed that the odd creature was no joke. This dinosaur had sharp claws on its feet and walked on two legs while on land. When swimming it used forelimbs that were similar to flippers and utilized its long neck for foraging for food and ambushing prey. It kind of looks like a swan-kangaroo attempting to break the world record for longest toenails.
The linhenykus’ arms seem like a cruel joke. Each “hand” only offered one claw, and with arms that barely came out from its body, these claws don’t seem like they’d offer much help in battle. Researchers believe that they used these claws to dig into insect nests, devouring ants and termites. It is the most popular answer for their strange appearance, and it would make sense as bugs wouldn’t be able to compete well against this predator. This dinosaur could probably fit in the palm of a human’s hand, so choosing any other animal to feast on would probably not have ended in their favor.
The oviraptor boasted a strange crest atop its head, but the crest's true size and shape are not currently known. The only recognized oviraptor fossil was crushed, so we’ll have to wait for more to truly understand the extent of its odd appearance. Years ago the oviraptor fossil was found next to what was thought to be another dinosaur’s egg nest. This gave the dinosaurs the title of “egg thief,” branding them as heartless baby eaters. However, years of research have concluded that this was all a lie, and the eggs actually belonged to the oviraptor. She was only a mother looking after her children! Hopefully, the spirits of the dinosaurs can forgive us for making such an error.
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The hook-shaped nose of this dinosaur still raises questions about its function. Researcher Terry Gates believes that it could have been a defining feature for attracting mates, or for smashing plants. The relatives of this dinosaur did not have great senses of smell, so it’s possible that the large size of its nose did not give it an advantage. The rhinorex was around 30 feet long and weighed 8,500 pounds. Although it has a rugged name, the dinosaur was an herbivore, and probably much gentler than a rhinoceros. Its name actually comes from Greek and Latin, and translates to “nose king.”