The 9 Different Ways Dinosaurs Could Kill You

01
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What Would It Feel Like to Be Killed by a Dinosaur?

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What if time travel became a reality, and you were able to zap yourself back to the Mesozoic Era and meet a real, live dinosaur? Sure, it would be a life-changing experience just to glimpse these creatures in all their lumbering, slow-witted majesty, but it would equally likely be a life-ending experience, as you were snapped in half like a twig, flicked into a tree trunk, or pulverized into Jurassic dust by a well-placed hind foot. What, this doesn't sound like fun anymore? 

 

02
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Eating You

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Okay, let's get past the obvious one first: a big, meat-eating dinosaur (like Tyrannosaurus Rex or Allosaurus) could bisect a full-grown human being with one bite, or even conceivably swallow a person whole (and you're free to speculate about whether being slowly suffocated and scalded by stomach acid is preferable to a quick, painful separation of your torso from your hips). And let's not discount the damage that can be inflicted by smaller dinosaurs: if you happen to be sprawled out unconscious after a Jurassic Humvee accident, or if your legs are broken and you can't move any faster than an elderly Ankylosaurus, expect a pack of hungry, feathered dinosaurs to chow down on you as mercilessly as a team of overworked middle managers at a salad bar.

03
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Stomping on You

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The biggest dinosaurs of the Mesosoic Era—sauropods and titanosaurs like Diplodocus and Argentinosaurus—weighed anywhere from 25 to 100 tons and left deep footprints measuring between three and five feet in diameter. You can do the math yourself: that means an unlucky time traveler, in the wrong place at the wrong time, would literally be squished into paste by a load-bearing weight of a half-dozen to 25 tons. Considering that a herd of stampeding Apatosaurus probably did as much damage to the small animals of their ecosystem as flash floods and earthquakes; one of these gigantic dinosaurs would no more notice a human being stuck to the bottom of its foot than a human being would notice a recently flattened earthworm.

 

04
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Flicking You With its Tail

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There's a great scene in King Kong: Skull Island when a soldier takes careful aim at a freaky dinosaur/crocodile thingy, waits for the exact right moment to pull the trigger, and is then unceremoniously swatted out of the frame by a flick of the monster's massive tail. That's pretty much how things worked in the Mesozoic Era: unless you had a precise sense of how long a given dinosaur's tail was, and its exact speed and radius of movement, you could be rendered defunct by something as simple as a ninety-degree change in posture. Sauropods like Diplodocus may have been able to crack their long, whiplike tails at the speed of sound, while more compact dinosaurs like Stegosaurus and Ankylosaurus sported heavy clubs and spiked "thagomizers" at the end of their tails that were an order of magnitude bigger than medieval maces.

 

05
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Breathing on You

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One of the more controversial theories in paleontology is the "septic bite:" the idea that the chunks of rotting flesh wedged between the teeth of meat-eating dinosaurs actively bred harmful bacteria. A non-fatal bite inflicted by such a dinosaur, on another dinosaur, could result in a painful, suppurating, and ultimately fatal wound—and if we're talking about a time-traveling human (who presumably would not harbor any natural immunity to Mesozoic germs), it's conceivable that even the wispiest remnant of Baryonyx breath could cause you to keel over from disease within the week, bleeding from every pore (at which point your corpse would be quickly scavenged by the small, feathered dinosaurs mentioned in slide #2).

06
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Drowning You

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One of the scariest phenomena in the natural world is the "crocodile roll:" when a croc bites you on the leg, that in itself won't necessarily kill you, but you're unlikely to survive when it rolls over, plunges you into the water, and holds on tight while you struggle for air. And wouldn't you know it, some of the meat-eating dinosaurs of the Cretaceous period evolved very crocodile-like lifestyles. There is now evidence that Spinosaurus, in particular, led a semi-aquatic lifestyle, lurking beneath the surface of rivers and waiting for tasty prey to venture too close to the edge. And the fact that Spinosaurus was also the biggest dinosaur that ever lived (outweighing T. Rex by one or two tons) makes it extremely unlikely that you'd escape death by drowning--that is, if you weren't killed outright by that first bite.

 

07
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Goring You

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Of all the death-by-dinosaur options on this list, goring is by far the least likely--not because the horns of ceratopsian dinosaurs like Triceratops weren't sufficiently sharp, but because all the evidence points to these structures being sexually selected characteristics rather than weapons that evolved for the purpose of inter-species combat. Even still, if you found yourself downwind of a raging Pentaceratops herd, you might wind up impaled multiple times before you had a chance to be trodden underfoot (and we'll leave it to you to decide which is the better option). You might even wind up pinned to this dinosaur's frill like some kind of Cretaceous hood ornament, until a chance collision with another herd member sent you hurtling down a nearby ravine.

 

08
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Lacerating You

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Do you know what those single, sharp, curved claws on the hind feet of Velociraptor and Deinonychus were used for? Well, let's put it this way: not for hanging upside down from the branches of trees. As far as paleontologists can tell, raptors wielded their hind claws the same way saber-toothed tigers wielded their giant canines: ambushing their prey, inflicting deep puncture wounds, and then milling around at a safe distance as their soon-to-be dinner staggered around in a daze and bled to death. Even worse, it's likely that raptors hunted in packs, meaning you might time-travel all the way back to the Cretaceous period only to wind up playing the starring role in a prehistoric reenactment of Julius Caesar.

 

09
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Head-Butting You

Nobu Tamura

If there's one place you don't want to be, it's in the middle of a herd (or pack) of dinosaurs during mating season. Like modern rams and antelopes, male hadrosaurs (duck-billed dinosaurs) and ceratopsians (horned, frilled dinosaurs) probably dueled one another for the right to mate with available females—and while a three-ton Triceratops charging at full speed probably couldn't inflict much damage on another three-ton Triceratops, the impact would likely send you straight through the trunk of a cycad. Even worse, the dinosaurs known as pachycephalosaurs were built for high-speed head-butting, with three-inch-thick skulls protected by spongy tissues; the average Stegoceras could probably drive its noggin clear through your belly with a single well-placed charge.

 

10
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Suffocating You

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You know that one paratrooper in World War II movies who always winds up hanging himself on a tree branch? Well, imagine how you'd feel if you were the single member of your time-traveling expedition who happened to materialize right beneath the tail of a cramped-up Bruhathkayosaurus—and you were instantly smothered by a 300-pound load of steaming hot dinosaur poop. If nothing else, it would make for an entertaining insurance claim on the part of your spouse, and you'd be an enduring internet meme for, oh, the next century or so. If you want your children to remember you more fondly, you may choose to consider some of the other varieties of death-by-dinosaur on this list, which may be equally unpleasant in their own way but at least won't cause readers of your obituary to laugh out loud.