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15 Dinosaurs You've Probably Never Heard Of

You've heard of Stegosaurus, but what about Therizinosaurus?

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1. Kentrosaurus

By Wikipek [CC BY http://3.0 (creativecommons.org)] / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Are you a Stegosaurus fan? Then you might want to have a look at its equally stubby yet spinier cousin, Kentrosaurus. The 15-foot-in-length Kentrosaurus was believed to bow its forelimbs for better traction while swinging its massive tail spikes (otherwise known as “thagomizers,” which is an awesome word to say) to fend off predators. Attackers on the receiving end of those thagomizers must have been in rough shape, Kentrosaurus could whip its tail at a speed of 40 meters-per-second—more than enough force to rip through skin or shatter bones.

2. Psittacosaurus

commons.wikimedia.org / Via Wikimedia Commons

Psittacosaurus (it's pronounced sih-tack-oh-sore-us and means “Parrot Lizard”) was only 2-feet tall and 4-feet in length. Surprisingly this guy is in the same family as Triceratops and used its bird-like beak to crack open seeds and nuts for food. But instead of chewing it would swallow stones to help grind and digest whatever he was nibbling on for dinner.

3. Stygimoloch

upload.wikimedia.org / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Look at the dome on this guy! 127 to 65 million years ago, Stygimoloch was roaming around what is now Wyoming and Montana. It may sound like it was up to no good (get this, its name literally means “horned demon from the river of death”), but this human-sized dinosaur was a fairly harmless plant-eater—that is until it became mating season. Male species would use their thick skulls and pointy horns to battle via head-butting each other in order to win the right to mate with single Stygimoloch ladies who were ready to mingle.

4. Citipati

View this video on YouTube

YouTube / Via youtu.be

Is there another name more fun to say than Citipati? This feathered and toothless dinosaur (which was as big as a modern Emu) lived in central Asia about 75 million years ago and was the best dino-mom around. Citipati fossils show them sitting on top of groups of its own eggs in brooding/nesting positions similar to modern birds. Check out some recreations of its calls above, which make it sound like its coughing up a pretty massive dino-loogie.

5. Yinlong

By Nobu Tamura (spinops.blogspot.com (Own work) [GFDL (gnu.org) or CC BY http://3.0 (creativecommons.org)] / Via commons.wikimedia.org

This dinosaur is known because of a single, nearly complete fossil discovered in western China close to where the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was made, so it was dubbed “Yinlong,” or roughly “hiding dragon” in Chinese. The 4-foot long dinosaur is also the earliest known relative of later bigger dinosaurs like Triceratops, and dates back to a whopping 159 million years ago.

6. Therizinosaurus

By Emőke Dénes (kindly granted by the author) [CC BY-SA http://2.5 (creativecommons.org)] / Via commons.wikimedia.org

If any dinosaur needed a manicure, it'd be Therizinosaurus whose massive claws measured up to 27.5 inches long. But it ain't no Freddy Kruger meat-eater--Therizinosaurus was an herbivore, and its talons were thought to pull down and snip tree branches for food.

7. Gigantoraptor

View this video on YouTube

Discovery / Via youtu.be

At 16-feet tall and weighing 3,000 pounds, Gigantoraptor was like the world's biggest technicolor chicken. It is the largest feathered dinosaur ever discovered (over 35 times bigger than the next largest species), though its colorful plummage was largely for display purposes as you can see in the video from Discovery above.

8. Animantarx

upload.wikimedia.org / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Animantarx would be the fullback if we were playing dinosaur football. Its name translates to "living fortress," most likely because penetrating its solid armored back and spikes would be nearly impossible. A full skeleton of Animantarx was discovered in the Utah desert using a geiger counter because the fossil had become radioactive because of the minerals present in the soil around it.

9. Dreadnoughtus

View this video on YouTube

Wall Street Journal/YouTube / Via youtu.be

Longer than a high school basketball court; heavier than a Boeing 737, a tank, or seven bull elephants combined; the operative word for Dreadnoughtus (meaning "fearing nothing") is big, really big, in every way possible. Though it isn't thought to be the most massive dinosaur ever known (mostly because bone fragments of other dinosaurs suggest they could be even bigger), Dreadnoughts is the most massive land animal whose size is scientifically calculable. Again, it's really big. A nearly 70% complete 75 million to 77 million year-old skeleton was discovered in southern Patagonia in Argentina in 2005, and, at 65 tons, the bones of the specimen indicated that it was still growing when it died.

10. Achillobator

By Durbed, line drawing by Pilsator [CC BY-SA http://3.0 (creativecommons.org)] / Via upload.wikimedia.org

Imagine a more flamboyant cousin of Velociraptor or Deinonychus and you'll get Achillobator. Initially the collected fossils of this potentially-feathered dino led paleontologists to believe it was really an amalgam of different dinosaurs, but its unique, downward facing pubis bone authenticated its existence as a single, unique dinosaur.

11. Sinosauropteryx

By Nobu Tamura (spinops.blogspot.com (Own work) [CC BY-SA http://3.0 (creativecommons.org) or GFDL (gnu.org)] / Via commons.wikimedia.org

This little turkey-sized dinosaur is the the first to ever have its color scientifically verified. Though it belongs to the same suborder as predators like Velociraptor and Tyrannosaurus, this little carnivore stuck out like a sore thumb by sporting orange-ish feathers and a striped tail. Using electron micrography, a group of paleontologists discovered phaeomelanosomes in the dinosaur's fossilized feathers. These phaeomelanosomes are the same things that create and store red pigments in human and animal hair today, meaning Sinosauropteryx has the scientific distinction of being the first (and maybe only?) dino-ginger.

12. Linhenykus

By NobuTamura email:http://nobu.tamura@yahoo.com palaeocritti (Own work) [CC BY-SA http://3.0 (creativecommons.org) or GFDL (gnu.org)] / Via commons.wikimedia.org

This highly unconventional 2-foot-tall dinosaur had two single digit claws that it potentially used to dig for bugs to eat. Poor guy, if only I could give it a hug. Like the human tailbone and appendix, Linhenykus' nub hands are vestigial structures that randomly appeared during the course of the dinosaur's evolution.

13. Kosmoceratops

By Nobu Tamura (spinops.blogspot.com (Own work) [CC BY-SA http://3.0 (creativecommons.org) or GFDL (gnu.org)] / Via commons.wikimedia.org

No, unfortunately this is not a dinosaur named after a Seinfeld character. Instead, the Kosmoceratops is kind of like a Triceratops with a gnarly toupee. That toupee, though, was used by these dinos to attract mates. With no less than 15 horns on its head (the most out of any dinosaur) I guess you could say Kosmoceratops is the horniest dinosaur to ever walk the earth.

14. Deinocheirus

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University of Alberta / Via youtu.be

And now ladies and gentlemen, the weirdest looking dinosaur ever. This sorta-crocodile-sorta-ostrich-like dinosaur looks like something out of a cartoon, but it was real and was actually as big if not bigger than the mighty T. rex. Its arms were 8-feet long, and it also used its beak and huge tongue to vacuum up plants from the bottoms of lakes and ponds.

15. Rhinorex

Julius Csotonyi / Via news.ncsu.edu

I like to call this guy the Nose-a-saurus, mostly because Rhinorex actually means "king nose." Yet paleontologists are still baffled as to why this 8,500-pound dino's nose is so big in the first place. It didn't have a good sense of smell, so that's out, but some say it may be for simply recognizing members of its own species or for breaking trees and large plants for food.

Contact Sean Hutchinson at seanbhutchinson@gmail.com.

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