Meet The 5 Cutest Dinosaurs In The World That You’ve Never Heard Of

Written by Drew Wood
Published: June 28, 2023
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Truth be told, it takes a lot of imagination to see dinosaurs, any dinosaurs, as cute. Not to be too morbid . . . but they’re all dead. And skeletons typically don’t meet our ideas of “cute” things. So as we’re using our imagination to see dinosaurs as “cute” we might compare them to living animals today, like lizards or turtles or other reptiles, or even to mammals. And typically, no matter how hideous the adult creature might be, its babies can be adorable. Even with adults, if you take any random animal and color it pretty colors and maybe give it a little cutie mark, then that can make even a monstrous T-Rex look cute, too. It all means potentially any dinosaur can be cringy or cute. So in this article, we’re going to introduce you to some dinosaurs you may not have heard of yet that we think are potentially the 5 of the cutest dinosaurs in the world.

Boy plays with dinosaur toys on a table outside

With imagination and a nice paint job, any dinosaur can be cute.

©Alexandra Morosanu/Shutterstock.com

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1. Nothronychus

The nothronychus was about 15 feet long and weight almost 2,000 pounds, almost as much as a small car. They lived in the tropics of North America about 90 million years ago in the Late Cretaceous Period. They loved their salads, grazing on leaves and grasses in their environment. What makes these guys cute? First, they had long claws like sloths (and in fact their name means “slothful claw.”) Researchers say the nothronychus was covered in shaggy feathers, had a long snout, and a big round pot-belly. The overall effect? A great big loveable prehistoric Big Bird.

Nothronychus

The name nothronychus means “slothful claw.”

©PaleoNeolitic / CC BY 4.0 – License

2. Micropachycephalosaurus

We’ll tell you right up front, the micropachycephalosaurus makes any list of the world’s cutest dinosaurs because it was so teeny tiny! These little travel-sized sweetie peeties were little chicken-like creatures of 2.5 feet long, 2 feet tall, and weighing just 5-10 pounds, the same as a bag of sugar or two. They have the most ridiculously long name, but that just adds to their charm, just like you might name your Guinea pig “Mr. Billington Beaureguard Otis Eddington-Middlestone IV,” just for the fun of it. The micropachycephalosaurus lived in what is now China in the Late Cretaceous, where they ate fresh salad and tumbled all over one another every day in playful lizardly joy. And we know this of course simply because they were “fun-sized.”

Micropachycephalosaurus hongtuyanensis

We wish we could tell you a child drew this micropachycephalosaurus but we actually think a scientist with, um, limited artistic skills might have done it . . .

©IJReid, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License

3. Mei long

The mei long was a dinosaur about 21 inches long that has been described as a “duck-sized pigeon with high-rise pants on.” It was a feathered theropod that lived in Cretaceous China. Paleontologists think it was a carnivore that ate insects, lizards, and other small living things. The name of the creature means “soundly sleeping dragon” in Chinese, as the skeleton of one was found curled up in a comfy-looking ball.

Mei long dinosaur fossil

This mei long dinosaur fossil was found curled up in a comfy-looking sleeping position.

©Bruce McAdam, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License

4. Minmi paravertebra

The minmi was named after Minmi Crossing in Australia. It lived during the Early Cretaceous Period about 100 million years ago and weighed about 500 pounds, which is as much as a modern grizzly bear. That’s where the similarity ends, though, because the Minimi was herbivorous and had a pretty small brain. This leads scientists to believe it may have had a slow, peaceful, slightly dazed and confused disposition. Fortunately, it had thick armored skin to protect it from predators, because otherwise, it was likely out of ideas to protect itself.

Minmi is a genus of small herbivorous ankylosaurian dinosaurs that lived during the Early Cretaceous Period

The minmi was a type of small herbivorous dinosaur that lived during the Early Cretaceous Period.

©YuRi Photolife/Shutterstock.com

5. Psittacosaurus

Finally, we want to introduce you to psittacorsaurus, a strange hybrid-looking animal that is sure to please people who can decide if they like birds or dogs better. This little critter was about the size of a labrador retriever and lived in the Early Cretaceous in Asia about 125 million years ago. They are thought to have been sociable, inquisitive animals maybe a little like the modern meerkat in disposition. They had some bird-like characteristics, such as a parrrot-like muzzle and quills on their backs and tails that may have been early precursors to feathers. Researchers say they were “mostly” herbivorous, but we can forgive them for the occasion slip. After all, who hasn’t cheated on their diet, especially when there are so many delicious options!

Psittacosaurus standing on all four feet on a white background

Psittacosaurus had quills running down its back and tail that many scientists believe were an early precursor to feathers.

©YuRi Photolife/Shutterstock.com

There You Have It

There you have it, 5 of the cutest dinosaurs in the world that we bet you’ve never heard of. The world is full of much that is dark and tragic, but also overflowing with cuteness and joy when you know what to look for. Often, what we notice when we explore the world, either in the past or the present, is what we find in ourselves. So look for what is fun, friendly, beautiful, memorable, and yes cute in your world today!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © YuRi Photolife/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Drew Wood is a writer at A-Z Animals focusing on mammals, geography, and world cultures. Drew has worked in research and writing for over 20 years and holds a Masters in Foreign Affairs (1992) and a Doctorate in Religion (2009). A resident of Nebraska, Drew enjoys Brazilian jiu-jitsu, movies, and being an emotional support human to four dogs.

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