This movie requires Flash Player 8. Download Flash Player 8

© 2015ApologeticsPress
(800) 234-8558
syndication   |  About AP   |  Sign up for E-mail Newsletter    |    Privacy Policy    |    Contact Us
Issue Features
Discovery Magazine 9/1/1998

What's A Dinosaur?

The top picture shows Megalosaurus in the days of Richard Owen. The parts in red show all the bones they had at this time. The bottom picture shows a modern version of Megalosaurus.



When you think of a dinosaur, what comes to mind? Do you think of the deadly T. rex, or the huge plant-eating brontosaurs? All of us seem to know what one looks like, but what is a dinosaur? This is a question that has been very confusing.

It all started in the early 1800s when people discovered the fossil remains of animals that looked like giant lizards. Richard Owen, a British scientist, decided to call these creatures "dinosaurs." This is a name made up from two Greek words: deinos (DIE-noss), for "terribly great," and sauros (SAW-ross), for "lizard." Often we read that deinos means "terrible," as in "fearsome" or "horrible," but Owen used the word to mean "extremely big."

As it turns out, some of the dinosaurs were not that big, and they were not lizards either. In the early days, people knew that these strange creatures had to be a type of reptile. The fossils sure looked as though they belonged to giant lizards. But as more bones turned up, scientists realized that the dinosaurs were different. Unlike lizards, dinosaurs walked with their legs right below the body, which kept their bellies off the ground.

Today, some scientists use ideas about evolution to define the word "dinosaur." They say that the group of animals known as the Dinosauria includes any animal descended from the common ancestor of Triceratopsand birds. But this is a bad definition, because it is not true that birds are the modern versions of two-legged dinosaurs. No one knows how scales can turn into true feathers, or how delicate arms can turn into powerful wings. Dinosaurs do not live today because they are extinct.


Copyright © 1998 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

*Please keep in mind that Discovery articles are written for 3rd-6th graders.

This document may be copied, on the condition that it will not be republished in print unless otherwise stated below, and will not be used for any commercial purpose, as long as the following stipulations are observed: (1) Apologetics Press must be designated as the original publisher; (2) the specific Apologetics Press Web site URL must be noted; (3) any references, footnotes, or endnotes that accompany the article must be included with any written reproduction of the article; (4) textual alterations of any kind are strictly forbidden; (5) Some illustrations (e.g., photographs, charts, graphics, etc.) are not the intellectual property of Apologetics Press and as such cannot be reproduced from our site without consent from the person or organization that maintains those intellectual rights; (6) serialization of written material (e.g., running an article in several parts) is permitted, as long as the whole of the material is made available, without editing, in a reasonable length of time; (7) articles, in whole or in part, may not be offered for sale or included in items offered for sale; and (8) articles may be reproduced in electronic form for posting on Web sites pending they are not edited or altered from their original written content and that credit is given to Apologetics Press, including the web location from which the articles were taken. Further, documents may not be copied without source statements (title, author, journal title), and the address of the publisher and owner of rights, as listed below.

For catalog, samples, or further information, contact:

Apologetics Press
230 Landmark Drive
Montgomery, Alabama 36117
Phone (334) 272-8558

Web Store

Separation of Church & State? - DVD

Is "separation of church and state" constitutional? Bottom
 Line: The Founders believed that the general doctrines of the Christian religion are the basis of the American way of life. To the extent our nation expels God, the Bible, and Christian principl

Featured Audio


Click the following link to visit our Multimedia section.

Featured Audio