Types of Dinosaurs: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

Learn about dinosaurs, a special kind of reptile that has been extinct for millions of years. This lesson will tell you about dinosaurs and discuss classifications of dinosaurs according to what they eat.

What Are Dinosaurs?

About 265 million years ago, our planet was very different than it is today. One of the biggest differences is that dinosaurs ruled the land. A dinosaur (whose name means 'terrible lizard') was a type of reptile that went extinct 65 million years ago. You may be familiar with some modern-day reptiles, such as crocodiles, snakes and alligators. However, dinosaurs were generally much, much larger than these small creatures.

There were many different types of dinosaurs. How do we know this? Scientists are able to study and learn about the different species by examining dinosaur fossils, which are the remains of dinosaurs preserved by minerals. While scientists have complex ways of classifying dinosaurs, most people separate them into three groups: carnivores, herbivores and omnivores. Let's learn more about these three types of dinosaurs.


Some dinosaurs were carnivores, or meat eaters. One of the most famous carnivorous dinosaurs was Tyrannosaurus rex, or T-rex. The word Tyrannosaurus means 'tyrant lizard,' while rex means 'king.' And that's exactly what Tyrannosaurus rex was. The average T-rex was 42 feet long and as much as 20 feet tall, and it could weigh up to 7 tons. The largest carnivorous dinosaur tooth ever found belong to a T-rex and measures 12 inches.

Tyrannosaurus rex was a carnivore.

This enormous dinosaur lived in what we now know as western North America and walked on two legs. T-rex had small arms, but they were very strong and had sharp claws. Today, T-rex is featured in many movies, including the infamous Jurassic Park.

Another popular carnivore was Velociraptor. Its name means 'swift thief' because of its ability to run 40 miles per hour in short bursts when hunting for prey. Velociraptor is frequently misrepresented in museums and movies: It is much smaller than commonly portrayed--it's about the size of a turkey, about 1-2 feet tall. Additionally, in recent years, scientists have discovered that Velociraptor, as well as many other dinosaurs, are actually covered in feathers.

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