The Most Important Dinosaurs by Continent

Which Dinosaurs Lived on Which Continents During the Mesozoic Era?

North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Antarctica and Australia--or, rather, the landmasses that corresponded to these continents during the Mesozoic Era--were all home to an impressive assortment of dinosaurs between 230 and 65 million years ago. Here's a guide to the 10 most important dinosaurs that lived on each of these continents.

1
The 10 Most Important Dinosaurs of North America

allosaurus
Allosaurus (Wikimedia Commons).

An astonishing variety of dinosaurs lived in North America during the Mesozoic Era, including members of virtually all the major dinosaur families, as well as a near-uncountable diversity of ceratopsians (horned, frilled dinosaurs) Here's a slideshow of the 10 most important dinosaurs of North America, ranging from Allosaurus to Tyrannosaurus Rex; you can also access a list of the most important dinosaurs and prehistoric mammals discovered in each U.S. state.

2
The 10 Most Important Dinosaurs of South America

gigantosaurus
Giganotosaurus (Wikimedia Commons).

As far as paleontologists can tell, the very first dinosaurs originated in South America during the late Triassic period--and while South American dinosaurs weren't quite as diverse as those on other continents, many of them were noteworthy in their own right, and gave rise to the mighty breeds that inhabited the planet's other land masses. Here's a slideshow of the 10 most important dinosaurs of South America, ranging from Argentinosaurus to Irritator.

3
The 10 Most Important Dinosaurs of Europe

compsognathus
Compsognathus. North American Museum of Ancient Life

Western Europe was the birthplace of modern paleontology; the very first dinosaurs were identified here almost 200 years ago, with reverberations that have persisted down to the present day. Here's a slideshow of the 10 most important dinosaurs of Europe, ranging from Archaeopteryx to Plateosaurus; you can also visit slideshows of the 10 most important dinosaurs and prehistoric mammals of England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Russia.

4
The 10 Most Important Dinosaurs of Asia

dilophosaurus
Dilophosaurus. Royal Tyrrell Museum

Over the past few decades, more dinosaurs have been discovered in central and eastern Asia than in any other continent, some of which have shaken the world of paleontology to its very foundations. (The feathered dinosaurs of the Solnhofen and Dashanpu formations are a story unto themselves, shaking up our ideas of the evolution of birds and theropods.)  Here's a slideshow of the 10 most important dinosaurs of Asia, ranging from Dilong to Velociraptor.

5
The 10 Most Important Dinosaurs of Africa

suchomimus
Suchomimus. Luis Rey

Compared to Eurasia and North and South America, Africa isn't particularly well-known for its dinosaurs--but the dinosaurs that lived on this continent during the Mesozoic Era were some of the fiercest on the planet, including both huge meat-eaters like Spinosaurus and even more imposing sauropods and titanosaurs, some of which exceeded 100 feet in length. Here's a slideshow of the 10 most important dinosaurs of Africa, ranging from Aardonyx to Vulcanodon.

6
The 10 Most Important Dinosaurs of Australia and Antarctica

muttaburrasaurus
Muttaburrasaurus. Australian Museum

Although Australia and Antarctica weren't in the mainstream of dinosaur evolution, these remote continents hosted their fair share of theropods, sauropods and ornithopods during the Mesozoic Era. (Hundreds of millions of years ago, of course, they were much closer to the world's temperate zones than they are today, and thus capable of supporting a large variety of terrestrial life.) Here's a slideshow of the 10 most important dinosaurs of Australia and Antarctica, ranging from Antarctopelta to Rhoetosaurus.