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Any of various extinct reptiles of the orders Saurischia and Ornithischia that flourished during the Mesozoic Era. Dinosaurs were carnivorous or herbivorous, dwelled mostly on land, and varied from the size of a small dog to the largest land animals that ever lived. One group of dinosaurs evolved into birds. See more at ornithischian, saurischian. See Note at bird.
Reptiles, now extinct, that were the dominant life form on Earth for many millions of years. The name dinosaur comes from the Greek words for “monstrous lizard.” Dinosaurs became extinct suddenly, about sixty-five million years ago. Scientists now believe that their extinction was caused by the impact of a large asteroid on the Earth.
Note: Some dinosaurs were very large and had small brains — factors that may in part have led to their extinction. The term is often used to refer to something or someone that is antiquated and unable to adapt to change: “The old cavalry generals couldn't adjust to the use of tanks — they became dinosaurs.”
Note: Commonly known dinosaurs include Tyrannosaurus rex, Brontosaurus, Stegosaurus, and Triceratops.
Note: Some scientists believe that modern birds are the descendants of dinosaurs.