When we think of dinosaurs, colossal creatures like the Tyrannosaurus rex and Brachiosaurus often come to mind. However, not all dinosaurs were gigantic; some were quite small. This article dives into the world of the smallest dinosaurs that ever lived. So, if you’ve ever wondered “what is the smallest dinosaur?” or “what was the smallest dinosaur?”, read on!
The World’s Smallest Dinosaur
The title for the world’s smallest dinosaur goes to the Bee Hummingbird. Yes, you read that right! The Bee Hummingbird, a bird species found in Cuba and the Isla de la Juventud, is considered by many paleontologists to be a direct descendant of the dinosaur lineage, hence qualifying as the smallest dinosaur.
This tiny creature measures only 5 cm in length and weighs about 2 grams. It’s an example of how diverse and adaptable dinosaurs became, evolving from massive, fearsome beasts to small, agile birds.
Small Dinosaurs: Not Just Birds
While birds are technically dinosaurs, let’s look at some non-avian dinosaurs known for their small size. Here are seven tiny dinosaurs that made a big impact.
The Microraptor was a four-winged dinosaur that lived during the early Cretaceous period. It was about the size of a modern-day raven, measuring up to 90 cm long, including its long, feathered tail. Despite its small size, it was a capable predator with sharp teeth and claws.
Often referred to as ‘Compy,’ the Compsognathus was about the size of a turkey and weighed around 3 kilograms. It lived during the late Jurassic period and is one of the smallest dinosaurs known from a full skeleton.
Belonging to the family Alvarezsauridae, Parvicursor is one of the smallest non-avian dinosaurs. Its name literally means “small runner,” and it measured just about 40 cm in length. This tiny dinosaur lived during the late Cretaceous period.
The Albertonykus was a small dinosaur from the Alvarezsauridae family, similar in size to a large chicken. It had short, strong arms with a single functional finger used for digging into termite mounds or rotting wood to find insects.
Scansoriopteryx, meaning “climbing wing,” was a small dinosaur that likely spent much of its time in trees. It was approximately the size of a pigeon and had unique, elongated third fingers, which it probably used for climbing or grasping prey.
This bizarre little dinosaur, Epidexipteryx, was only about 25 cm long excluding the tail. It had four long tail feathers and teeth only in the front of its upper jaw. Despite its bird-like features, it likely could not fly.
The Leaellynasaura was a small herbivorous dinosaur that lived in the early Cretaceous period. It was about 1 meter long and had a particularly long tail, which could have been used for balance or communication.
Why Were Some Dinosaurs So Small?
Dinosaurs’ sizes ranged from the massive Argentinosaurus, measuring up to 35 meters long, to the tiny Bee Hummingbird. This diversity in size can be attributed to several factors, including environmental conditions, availability of food sources, and evolutionary advantages. Smaller dinosaurs may have needed less food and could have moved or reacted more quickly than their larger counterparts, aiding in their survival.
So there you have it! The world of dinosaurs is not just about the giants; it’s also about the small, the agile, and the downright tiny. From the smallest dinosaur in the world, the Bee Hummingbird, to non-avian dinosaurs like the Microraptor and Compsognathus, these creatures show us that size doesn’t always matter when it comes to making a significant impact on our planet’s history.