Where do dinosaurs get their names from?

Dinosaur names are made up by combining different words together to describe what the dinosaur looked like or how it may have behaved. However, because these root words may be in Greek or Latin, we sometimes don't easily recognize what those words are. We may need to do a bit of detective work to figure out what the names mean.

For example, the word "dinosaur" comes from two Greek words: deinos, meaning "terrible," and sauros, meaning "lizard." Put the two words together, and you get "terrible lizard" - a pretty good description of many dinosaurs, especially to the first people who found their toothy fossils!

This website explains how some dinosaurs, like Tyrannosaurus Rex, Velociraptor, and Maiasaura, got their names. Click on the menu to the left to explore these names!

T. rex fossil skull
See all those sharp teeth? A terrible lizard indeed!

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Created by Carrie Johns
Copyright April 28, 2018
Revised April 29, 2018