What is a Dinosaur?

guests behind t.rex exhibit in dinosaur hall

What is a Dinosaur?

Dinosaurs were a specialized group of land reptiles that lived during the Mesozoic Era, also called the "Age of Dinosaurs". The Mesozoic was the period of time between 252 million and 66 million years ago. Sea reptiles, like mosasaurs and plesiosaurs, as well as flying reptiles, like pterosaurs, also lived at this time, but are not considered dinosaurs since they did not walk on land!

We learn about dinosaurs and other ancient animals by studying the fossils they left behind. Though most of these animals are now extinct, one group of dinosaurs continues to thrive today—birds!

How were dinosaurs different from other reptiles?

Click the interactive below to learn which features all dinosaurs share. Then, see if you can spot some of these features during your next visit to the Natural History Museum's Dinosaur Hall!

Invite your students to use this interactive from our website or use the "embed" feature to add it directly to your classroom learning platform! Currently compatible with Blackboard, Moodle, Schoology, and Google Classroom.