“Dinosaur” is a Sino-Vietnamese word meaning “big dragon”. The Dinosaur taxon was formally defined in 1842 by the paleontologist Sir Richard Owen as “a particular tribe or subdivision of the Saurian reptile”, a group of animals accepted in Britain and the world at that time. The name is derived from the ancient Greek δεινός (deinos), meaning “strong, terrifying or terrifyingly large”, and σαῦρος (sauros), meaning “lizard or reptile”. Although the name is often interpreted to refer to dinosaurs’ teeth, claws or other frightening features, it was purely meant to evoke their size and majesty, Owen said.
Many other types of prehistoric animals such as dinosaurs, spears, fish lizards, snake-headed lizards and Dimetrodon, although commonly thought of as dinosaurs, are in fact not. The dragon, a member of the Ornithodira branch, was a distant relative of the dinosaurs. The other groups mentioned above, as well as dinosaurs and dragonflies, are members of the group Sauropsida (branch of reptiles and birds), except Dimetrodon, which is a monarch.
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