Dinosaurs, a type of Archosaur reptile, were the dominant land animals of the Mesozoic era. Over 500 different genera of dinosaurs have been found. Fossils of dinosaurs have been found on every continent, and there are still frequent new discoveries.
Dinosaurs appeared in the Upper Triassic, about 231 million years ago. By the early Jurassic they were the top land vertebrates, and dominated most environments on land. They continued until the sudden K/T extinction event 66 million years ago. Birds are the descendants of theropod dinosaurs; all the terrestrial dinosaurs are extinct.
Dinosaurs had adaptations which helped make them successful. The first known dinosaurs were small predators that walked on two legs. All their descendents had an upright posture, with the legs underneath the body. This transformed their whole life-style. There were other features. Most of the smaller dinosaurs had feathers, and were probably warm-blooded. This would make them active, with a higher metabolism than modern reptiles. Social interaction, with living in herds and co-operation seems very likely for some types.
The first dinosaur fossils were found in the early 19th century. They are major attractions at museums around the world. Dinosaurs also became part of popular culture. There have been many best-selling books and movies. New discoveries are widely covered in the media.