I am an unashamed dinosaur nut. I had three different Time Life series on them as a child and if I had them today I would still read them. Dinosaurs are amazing and I don't think I'll ever get tired of reading about them.
In case you didn't know, Texas has been the home of plenty of the thunder lizards. Seriously, we have some of the best in the whole world on our list. Some of the great ones that once roamed what would eventually become the streets of Houston include...
Iguanodon Standing 30 feet high, the Iguanodon is one of the most prolific of the herbivore dinosaurs. They're found more in Europe than in America, but several good fossils have shown up in Central Texas. Footprints suggest that it walked on all fours, but could rear up and use the distinctive thumbspike for defense.
Panoplosaurus Similar to the anklyosaurus but lacking the club tail, the panoplosaurus was an armored herbivore of the Late Cretaceous period. Well muscled forelegs suggest that the beast may have been able to charge like a rhino and crush attackers with its spikes and bony armor like a cannonball.
Deinonychus Think a velociraptor, but nearly twice the size. Deinonychus sported the same pack hunting ability and the fearsome toe-claw of its more famous cousin, and regularly hunted the larger Tenontosaurus. Contrary to Jurassic Park, these dinosaurs were almost certainly feathered, though looking ridiculous didn't make them any less dangerous.
Technosaurus Are you a Red Raider? Texas Tech has its own Triassic dinosaur named in its honor. Unfortunately, only tiny fragments of skeletons have been found, leaving much of what it looked and acted like up to speculation. Paleontologists currently link it to silesaurus, a thin, dog-like dinosaur built for great speed.
Dimetrodon The Dimetrodon is not actually a dinosaur, though you'll find them in any good collection of prehistoric animals because look at them! Extinct some 40 million years before the first true dinosaurs walked the Earth, Dimetrodon is actually more closely related to mammals than reptiles or dinosaurs. The sail was once believed to be used in maintaining body temperature, but the latest studies suggest that sexual selection was the true purpose.
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Quetzalcoaltus Might as well get the two non-dinosaurs out of the way together. The largest of the pterosaurs was named for the flying feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl. With a 33-foot wingspan it dwarfs nearly every other flying creature ever to live in size, and ruled the skies over Houston in the Late Cretaceous period. It is believed to have fed on small terrestrial animals like storks, not fish like pelicans.
Chasmosaurus Like a triceratops, but way more pimp. That's the Chasmosaurus. Unlike the triceratops, Chas'frill was much too fragile and fresh to serve much as a defensive shield. No one is certain what exactly it was good for, so we are forced to assume that the species merely wandered around Houston looking so fabulous none would dare oppose it.
Tyrannosaurus This one doesn't need any introduction, right? The tyrant lizard king was as big and bad as Texas itself, ruling the Cretaceous period as an apex predator. It was capable of the strongest bite of any land carnivore ever discovered. One of the most popular and well-studied dinosaurs of all-time, the mighty T-Rex is still unfolding its mysteries, although we still have not discovered how it learned to play the guitar in the 1970's with such small arms.
Alamosaurus We end our list with two of the largest animals that ever walked the Earth, and both of the made their home in Texas. The first is the Alamosaurus, which has the distinction of being one of the last dinosaurs to fade from the fossil record and this one of the last survivors. Its bones are found literally all over Texas, and recent findings show that in addition to being more than 50 feet long it had armor. No wonder it lasted to the end.
Sauroposeidon The state dinosaur of Texas takes the top spot, and it needs all the room it can get. Its name means "earthquake god lizard", and when its vertebrae were first discovered they were so impossibly huge that they were thought to be petrified tree trunks. Its head stood 56 feet in the air, with a total length of more than 100 feet. In an era when most sauropods were starting to become smaller and more fuel efficient, Sauroposeidon was the dinosaur equivalent of a Hummer limousine. There could be no greater representative of Houston and Texas herself than the mighty Sauroposeidon.
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