6 dinosaur myths from your childhood debunked by science

You thought you knew T. Rex, but think again.

Originally Published: 
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Piecing together the lives of prehistoric animals is no easy task.

And as we dig further into the past, our ideas about life back then change and reshape.

Sometimes, recent discoveries can be enough to turn our preconceived notions on their heads.

Here are 6 dino myths, debunked by recent science:
6. Myth: An asteroid wiped out all the dinosaurs at once

Though a devastating blow did kill off many of the prehistoric beasts, new research suggests they may have been in decline far before the impact.

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A cooling climate and the declining diversity weakened populations of herbivorous dinosaurs almost 10 million years before asteroids hit.

5. Myth: Dinosaurs all breathed the same way

For a long time, paleontologists believed that dinosaurs probably breathed like birds through air sacs outside their lungs.

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But a well-preserved Heterodontosaurus fossil — a distant relative of Triceratops and Stegosaurus — revealed that this family of dinosaurs breathed by expanding their chest and belly.

4. Myth: Dinosaurs couldn’t survive in cold climates

A decade-long excavation found baby dinosaur fossils above the Arctic Circle, showing that some species may have lived there year-round.

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Though the arctic was warmer during the Cretaceous period, dinos living at high latitudes would have had to endure at least several months of cold and darkness every winter.

3. Myths: Dinos were all giant, reptilian beasts

Slowly but surely, more accurate pictures of what dinosaurs looked like are coming into focus. Some were smaller than you’d think, and many likely had feathers.


In 2020, researchers described a small, bird-like dinosaur called Ubirajara jubatus that lived about 110 million years ago in the early Cretaceous period.

Reconstructions suggest it had a number of “proto-feathers” sticking out of the base of its neck — earning it the name “lord of the spear.”

2. Myth: T. Rex was a fast runner

Actually, it was quite the opposite. A study from 2021 showed the prehistoric beast was quite a slow walker.

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A 3D reconstruction took into account how much the beast’s tail would sway as it walked, rather than just the length of its legs.

Rick Stikkelorum, Arthur Ulmann & Pasha van Bijlert

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T. Rex likely trodded at a speed of 2.86 miles per hour, making its movement comparable to that of an elephant.

1. Myth: Dinosaurs are all extinct today

Sure, we’re never going to come across a live Triceratops in the wild, but there are many descendants of dinosaurs alive today.

Brookfield Zoo via Giphy

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Modern-day birds evolved directly from dinosaurs. And recently-discovered feathered dinosaur specimens suggest that they evolved to have wings and feathers long before they could fly.

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Thanks to new scientific discoveries, we’re constantly learning more about how dinosaurs left their mark on the world today.

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