Dinosaurs are the most exciting creatures that have ever existed. Their name derives from the Greek words deinos, meaning "cool", and sauros, meaning "way cool".

Distinguishing Features

Dinosaurs lived many millions of years ago and are almost certainly now dead. They may even be imaginary. It is therefore quite difficult to tell what they looked like.

Fortunately, scientists have successfully extracted dinosaur DNA from mosquitoes preserved in amber and used it to recreate the dinosaurs on a remote and secure island somewhere. From this research, we now know what a typical dinosaur looked like:

A typical dinosaur

Dinosaurs came in two varieties: the saurischians (lizard-hipped) and the ornithischians (bird-hipped). In both cases their original dinosaur hips had worn out under their own weight. While the medical expertise of the dinosaurs was undoubtedly impressive, one has to feel sorry for all the lizards and birds that were forced to make their way in life without hips.

Dinosaurs varied greatly in both shape and size. The standard unit of measurement for dinosaurs is the double-decker bus (ddb). The largest dinosaur ever found, Humongosaurus, was over 200 ddb, whereas the smallest, Nanosaurus, was a trendy 10-9 ddb. Both were very cool.

A Selection of Dinosaurs

Two dinosaurs locked in combat

Two dinosaurs locked in combat.

About a thousand dinosaur species are known, and thousands more are believed to have existed. We have space to describe five of them. The number in brackets at the end of each description indicates their coolness rating out of ten.

Tyrannosaurus rex was a large, bipedal, carnivorous saurischian that enjoyed jazz and fine cigars. It is often unfairly portrayed as a vicious predator because of its powerful jaw, sharp teeth and anti-social claws. In fact, Tyrannosaurus was a member of Greenpeace and regularly cried during romantic comedies. While it did like to munch on the odd snack-sized dinosaur, it always checked that they were free range first. (10)

Stegosaurus was a herbivorous ornithischian that lived during the Late Jurassic period, when the grass was mossier and young stegosaurs gave their elders some respect. It is notable for the set of large plates along its back that made it look like a modish kitchen accessory. They may have been used for defence, but more likely they were there to make Stegosaurus cooler than the other dinosaurs. It is often said that Stegosaurus had a brain the size of the walnut. This is grossly unfair because Late Jurassic walnuts had brains the size of a stegosaurus. (10)

Diplodocus was a long saurivorous herbischian that had great difficulty finding enough double-decker buses to compare itself against. Its long neck made it a very effective member of the dinosaur paparazzi, although its lumbering body often gave celebrity dinosaurs ample time to escape. They didn't usually make it past the end of the tail and were swiftly rounded up. Without Diplodocus we would be completely unaware that Barosaurus and Allosaurus were secret lovers, or that Iguanodon liked to go shopping in tracksuit bottoms. (10)

Velociraptor was a medium-sized gorivorous vronkischian with a taste for over-confident humans. It could run very fast and always did well at the Dinosaur Olympics, although it was sometimes disqualified for eating the other athletes. Its formidable talons made it a handy cook, and its Carcass la Swamp won rave reviews in all the Sunday supplements. (10)

Triceratops was a binglybong blobian that looked a bit freaky. It had three sharp things that pointed out of the head and a strange mouth that looked quite odd. It also had a sort of frilly thing. (10)

Dinosaur Controversies

A dinosaur wearing a hat

Did dinosaurs wear hats?

If you want to pick a fight with a palaeontologist, simply ask them about one of the following topics and then mock their inferior answer.

Were dinosaurs warm-blooded? Or to put it another way: how did dinosaurs keep so cool? Basically, they had good agents. They chose only quirky character-driven roles in independent movies, they jealously protected their image with frequent litigation, and they wore sunglasses at all times.

Did dinosaurs like cheese? Without exception the dinosaurs were big fans of cheese, so much so that potential prey often escaped if they released a well-timed cheese countermeasure. A good piquant semisoft cheese usually worked wonders, with Epoisse and Munster being particular favourites.

Did dinosaurs have religious beliefs? Most dinosaurs believed that a giant bearded dinosaur (Omnisaurus) created the heavens and the earth approximately 6,000 years before the Mesozoic era. The trilobite fossils they found in the earth were just Omnisaurus's way of testing their faith.

Were dinosaurs gay? Only the pink ones.

Did dinosaurs cheat at poker? A fossilised dinosaur found with five aces near its sleeve bone seemed to provide conclusive evidence of poker-cheating, but some researchers believe that the find may have been contaminated by more recent aces.


A dinosaur and an asteroid

Dinosaur technology was not sufficiently advanced to prevent catastrophe.

The fossil record of the dinosaurs ends approximately 65 million years ago. This is known as the KT boundary because they were the only two letters of the alphabet that had been invented at the time.

It is possible that the dinosaurs simply decided that lying down in warm oozy sediment when they were feeling unwell was not such a good idea. However the relative scarcity of dinosaurs in modern times suggests that extinction also occurred.

There are many competing explanations for the extinction of the dinosaurs, but from what we know of their lifestyle it is clear that they would have chosen the coolest way to go. Namely, to be smacked in the face with a gigantic asteroid.

There was only one dinosaur that could have saved them, the Brucewillisaurus, but sadly it died out earlier in the Cretaceous after taking on one too many dodgy comedy roles.

The funeral of the dinosaurs was arranged 64.9 million years ago by the birds and the crocodiles. The mammals sent their apologies but were too busy flourishing to attend. All those present agreed that the dinosaurs were simply too cool to live.