The Most Famous Dinosaurs

Paleontologists have named nearly a thousand dinosaur genera, but only a handful of them are instantly recognizable by little kids and seasoned adults alike. Here's everything you need to know about the 10 most famous dinosaurs that ever roamed the earth, including when they were discovered, what they looked like, and how they behaved.

01
of 10

Tyrannosaurus Rex

Digital illustration of T-Rex.
SCIEPRO / Getty Images

The undisputed king of the dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus Rex is immensely popular thanks to a fawning press, countless starring roles in movies and TV shows, and a really cool name (Greek for "tyrant lizard king"). 

02
of 10

Triceratops

Side view of a triceratops model.
Dave King / Getty Images

Probably the most instantly recognizable of all dinosaurs, Triceratops combined a gentle, plant-eating disposition with fearsome horns that kept hungry tyrannosaurs and raptors at bay. 

03
of 10

Velociraptor

Velociraptor dinosaur roaring against white background.
Stocktrek Images / Getty Images

More than any other dinosaur, Velociraptor can trace its popularity to two blockbuster movies: Jurassic Park and Jurassic World, in which this feathered raptor was portrayed by the much bigger Deinonychus. 

04
of 10

Stegosaurus

Digital illustration of stegosaurus dinosaur.
LEONELLO CALVETTI / Getty Images

No one knows why Stegosaurus had such distinctive plates along its back--but that hasn't kept this tiny-brained dinosaur from holding a tight grip on the popular imagination. 

05
of 10

Spinosaurus

Digital illustration of spinosaurus dinosaur.
Sciepro / Getty Images

An up-and-comer on the dinosaur popularity charts, Spinosaurus was distinguished by its huge size (a couple of tons heavier than T. Rex!) as well as the mysterious sail on its back. 

06
of 10

Archaeopteryx

Digital illustration of archaeopteryx dinosaur.
LEONELLO CALVETTI / Getty Images

Was it a bird, a dinosaur or was something in between? Whatever the case, the exquisitely preserved fossils of Archaeopteryx are among the most famous of such artifacts in the world. 

07
of 10

Brachiosaurus

Digital illustration of brachiosaurus.

ROGER HARRIS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images

Like Velociraptor (see above), Brachiosaurus owes much of its current popularity to its featured cameo in Jurassic Park, munching placidly on tall trees and sneezing on Ariana Richards--but this huge dinosaur was extremely interesting in its own right 

08
of 10

Allosaurus

Digital illustration of allosaurus dinosaur.
ROGER HARRIS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images

Smaller than Tyrannosaurus Rex, but faster and more vicious, Allosaurus was the all-purpose predator of the late Jurassic period--and may even have hunted its prey (including sauropods and stegosaurs) in packs. 

09
of 10

Apatosaurus

Digital illustratino of apatosaurus dinosaur.
SCIEPRO / Getty Images

Apatosaurus owes its popularity to the fact that it used to be known as Brontosaurus--a name that epitomized dinosaurs for a whole generation of kids--but beyond that, it's one of the best-attested sauropods of the late Jurassic period 

10
of 10

Dilophosaurus

Digital illustration of dilophosaurus dinosaur

Corey Ford / Stocktrek Images / Getty Images

Despite what you saw in Jurassic Park, Dilophosaurus didn't spit poison, it didn't have a neck frill, and it wasn't the size of a labrador retriever. Despite all that, though, this dinosaur remains pretty popular!