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Dinosaurs and Paleontology: A Resource Guide

After ruling the planet for about 175 million years, dinosaurs became extinct about 65.5 million years ago. This guide provides selected resources to get you started in your research.


Norman Ross of the division of Paleontology, National Museum, preparing the skeleton of a baby dinosaur for exhibition 1921. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Dinosaurs first appeared about 225 million years ago and continually evolved to inhabit diverse environments and geographic areas; indeed, dinosaur fossils have been found on every continent. For more than 100 million years dinosaurs were the dominant terrestrial animals. Then, about 65 million years ago, the majority of non-avian dinosaurs and other species became extinct within a geologically brief period of time.

The term Dinosauria was coined just over 150 years ago by the British anatomist and vertebrate paleontologist Richard Owen, referring to the three large fossil "terrible lizards" that had been discovered in Europe. Later in the 19th century, many discoveries of dinosaur fossils were made in the western United States, and that period has been called the Golden Age of Dinosaur Studies.

Because of the great number of new discoveries about dinosaurs in recent years, the present time has been referred to as the Second Golden Age of Dinosaur Studies. Certain questions stimulate both scientific and public interest: What factors made dinosaurs such highly successful animals for more than 100 million years? Were dinosaurs "warm-blooded"? What were the social and nesting behaviors of dinosaurs? What is the relationship between birds and dinosaurs? What caused dinosaurs to become extinct?

This resource guide lists Library of Congress sources for those who want to read about the discoveries and controversies related to dinosaurs. It is not meant to be a comprehensive bibliography, but a tool to get you started in your research.

About the Science Section

Part of the Science & Business Reading Room at the Library of Congress, the Science Section is the starting point for conducting research at the Library of Congress in the subject areas of science, medicine and engineering. Here, reference specialists in specific subject areas of science and engineering  assist patrons in formulating search strategies and gaining access to the information and materials contained in the Library's rich collections of science, medicine, and engineering materials.