Dinosaurs Named for their Body Parts

From the number of horns on their head to special foot features, many dinosaurs were born with pretty interesting characteristics that have gone into the naming of their species. In this article, you will learn about different dinosaurs whose physical attributes have played a role in what they are called.


You’ve probably heard a lot about the triceratops, who had three horns growing from its head, but what about the  Pentaceratops? Living during the late Cretaceous period (about 75 to 65 million years ago), the Pentaceratops was named for the five horns that came out of the face of the creature. Fossils of the specimen were found in New Mexico. The large plant-eater was equipped with a rather large head frill that was described as bony and scalloped. A horn was positioned on its snout, while two larger horns came out from above its eyes. The other two horns were pointy and situated on the cheek bones. The dinosaur was named by paleontologist Henry F. Osborn in 1923.


Not only did the Saltopus (“leaping foot”) have a small, light body, but when he walked or moved on his two legs, he could reach great speeds as a runner. Living during the late Triassic period, the Saltopus was thriving about 225 to 222 million years ago at a time when the Earth was much warmer than today. The species is a very early example of what dinosaurs looked like and during this period, not many of these lizards had evolved yet.

Despite its small size (it weighed almost the same as a small cat), it was a carnivore and ate a diet that primarily consisted of insects. Some scientists believe that it could have also ate any carcasses that it came across. The German paleontologist Friedrick von Huene named the dinosaur in 1910.


The swift feet of the Velocipes (“speedy foot”) led to the naming of this meat-eating theropod that lived around the late Triassic period (about 228 to 223 million years ago). After a partial leg bone was discovered in Germany in 1932, paleontologist Friedrick von Huene named the creature. Sometimes, the genus of these creatures is debated since the fossil material that researchers have to work with is insufficient.


The Deinocheirus (whose named translates into ‘terrible hand’) was a bird-like dinosaur that lived during the late Cretaceous period, which was about 70 million years ago. The creature was bipedal and large ”“ equipped with large eyes and long legs. With features that resemble an ostrich, the theropod is considered one of the fastest dinosaurs in the books ”“ most likely reaching speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. After studying an incomplete fossil that was found in Mongolia, researchers learned that the specimen had two huge arm bones ”“ measuring 8 feet long. The hands had long claws measuring 10 inches. The dinosaur received its name in 1970.