15 Cute Dinosaurs That’ll Fill Your Heart With Joy

Leave a comment / / Updated on: 24th September 2023

Using the word cute to describe dinosaurs might sound contradictory. 

That’s because everyone has come to associate this group of prehistoric animals with fierceness. 

Even the word dinosaur translates as “terrible lizard.”

But that does not mean every dinosaur that lived during the Mesozoic Era was a terrible beast. 

Dinosaurs came in all shapes and sizes, including some very cute ones that you’ll almost want to cuddle if they were still alive today

In this article, we list 15 of the cutest dinosaurs that will fill your heart with joy. 

Gage Beasley's Prehistoric Shirt Collection
Gage Beasley’s Prehistoric Shirt Collection
Gage Beasley's Prehistoric Plush Collection
Gage Beasley’s Prehistoric Plush Collection

How We Selected Dinosaurs for This List

Many of the dinosaurs on this list are not so well-known. 

That’s because most of the most popular dinosaurs are either lumbering, barrel-chested plant-eaters or armored beasts built like a tank. 

Some dinosaurs, like the T. rex, are menacing meat-eaters with a fearsome reputation that precedes them. 

3d Tyrannosaurus rex render on white background
Tyrannosaurus might be cute to some, but sadly, it does not make this list – digitalgenetics via Istock

But if you look beyond all of these, you’ll find some very cute ones as cuddly as a kitten. 

The dinosaurs on this list have been selected based on their diminutive size or other cute features like big adorable eyes, toothless jaws, or lush down feathers – basically anything that makes them less of the big bad giants that everyone is familiar with. 

Read on to find out which dinosaurs made the list. 

15. Juravenator

Juravenator dinosaur 3D illustration
Juravenator dinosaur 3D illustration – Warpaintcobra via Istock
Name MeaningJura hunter
EraMesozoic – Late Jurassic
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia, Theropoda
Length70 centimeters (2.3 feet)
Weight1 kilogram (2.2 pounds)

The Juravenator has everything to qualify as a cute, cuddly dinosaur. 

It was a compact-sized nimble dinosaur less than a meter long. 

Fossils of this dinosaur also show that it had patches of soft fluffy feathers on some parts of its body. 

So while it was most definitely a carnivore (as the name Jura hunter suggests), you’ll probably have a hard time resisting the urge to just hug and pet this cute dinosaur. 

Juravenator lived in Europe during the Jurassic period about 150 million years ago. 

14. Micropachycephalosaurus

Gage Beasley Prehistoric's Micropachycephalosaurus Color Concept
Gage Beasley Prehistoric’s Micropachycephalosaurus Color Concept
Name MeaningTiny thick-headed lizard
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia & Ceratopsia
Height100 centimeters (3.2 feet)
Length1 to 2 meters (3 to 6.5 feet) 
Weight2.3–4.5 kg (5–10 lbs)
LocationAsia (China)

Micropachycephalosaurus is more popular as the dinosaur with the longest name

But the bearer of that name was a cute, diminutive dinosaur that weighed less than five pounds. 

Micropachycephalosaurus was a smaller and more adorable version of the Pachycephalosaurus

The dinosaur’s name translates as “small-thick-headed lizard,” referring to one of the dinosaur’s most distinctive features, which is its thick skull. 

While many animals today demonstrate dominance by locking horns, this small Cretaceous Period dinosaur head-butted each other for dominance. 

It would be cute to watch two 3.3 feet tall dinosaurs head-butting each other for the right to become the dominant male in the herd with their tiny but thick noggins.

13. Chaoyangsaurus

Chaoyangsaurus youngi, a basal ceratopsian from the Late Jurassic of China
Chaoyangsaurus youngi, a basal ceratopsian from the Late Jurassic of China – Nobu Tamura – License
Name MeaningChaoyang lizard
EraMesozoic – Early Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria,‭ Ornithischia,‭ & Ceratopsia
Length1 meter (3.3 feet) 
Weight10 kilograms (22 pounds) 
LocationAsia (China)

Some of the biggest dinosaurs with the most menacing appearance had much humbler (and cuter) beginnings. 

A prime example of this is the Chaoyangsaurus

With a maximum length of about one meter and weight of about six kilograms, no one would have thought that this small, pet-sized dinosaur was a relative of bigger horned dinosaurs like the Triceratops

Chaoyangsaurus was a primitive ceratopsian dinosaur that lived during the Jurassic. 

Relatives of this dinosaur would eventually grow into massive sizes with intimidating horns by the Late Cretaceous Period. 

Chaoyangsaurus lived on a diet of leafy vegetation, nuts, and seeds.

12. Nothronychus

Life restoration of the therizinosaurid Nothronychus mckinleyi
Life restoration of the therizinosaurid Nothronychus mckinleyi – PaleoNeolitic – License
Name MeaningSlothful claw
EraMesozoic – Early Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia & Theropoda
Height3–3.6 meters (9.8–11.8 feet)
Length4.5–6 meters (14.7–20 feet) 
Weight800–1,000 kilograms (1,800–2,200 pounds)
LocationNorth America (USA and Canada)

Nothronychus had a build similar to that of another animal that many people would consider cute—the sloth. 

The dinosaur’s name, which means “slothful claws,” is a reference to its sloth-like hip. 

Nothronychus was characterized by a large pot-bellied abdomen, a long neck, and stocky hindlimbs. 

The cute, almost-comical appearance of this dinosaur takes all the attention away from its extremely long hands with sharply-pointed claws that would have been menacing on any other dinosaur. 

Nothronychus would have been more cute than dangerous too. 

It was a gentle herbivore that browsed a variety of plants in its ecosystem. 

11. Limusaurus

Limusaurus inextricabilis, an herbivorous ceratosaur from the Late Jurassic of China
Limusaurus inextricabilis, an herbivorous ceratosaur from the Late Jurassic of China – Nobu Tamura – License
Name MeaningMud Lizard
EraMesozoic – Late Jurassic
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia & Theropoda
Length1.7 meters (5 feet 7 inches)
Weight15 kilograms (33 pounds)
LocationChina (Asia)

Theropod dinosaurs have a fearsome reputation as the carnivorous beast of the Mesozoic Era. 

But a few of them, like the Limusaurus, were outliers—and that makes them cute and cuddly instead of dangerous predators. 

Limusaurus is a 161 million years old theropod with toothless jaws. 

This means this dinosaur lived on a vegetarian diet instead of hunting prey across the Late Jurassic landscape. 

What’s even more interesting is the fact that baby Limusaurus had teeth while adults didn’t. 

So while most animals get less cute as they grow older, Limusaurus adults would have been less frightening than their babies. 

Toothlessness as adults also meant their diet would have had to change from omnivorous to herbivorous at some point as they aged. 

10. Microraptor

Microraptor was a flying dinosaur reptile and lived in China and Mongolia in the Cretaceous Periods.
Microraptor was a flying dinosaur reptile and lived in China and Mongolia in the Cretaceous Periods – CoreyFord via Istock
Name MeaningSmall thief
EraMesozoic – Early Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia, Theropoda
Height0.4 meters (1.3 feet) at the hip
Length0.8-1 meter (2.6-3.3 feet) 
Weight1 kilogram (2.2 pounds)
LocationChina (Asia)

Microraptor was a small, feathered dinosaur with a fascinating appearance. 

It comes from a family of dinosaurs known as the dromaeosaurids or, more commonly, raptors. 

Members of this family were known for their agile nature, and they had feathers too. 

Unlike modern birds that tend to have feathers on their arms alone, the Microraptor had feathers on both its forelimbs and its hindlimbs. 

It is also one of the few dinosaurs whose likely color is known. 

Experts have determined that it had shiny black feathers similar to a raven’s. 

Despite having two pairs of feathers, Microraptor was incapable of powered flight, but it could glide from tree to tree, similar to one of the cutest animals today—the flying squirrel. 

9. Parasaurolophus

Parasaurolophus from the Cretaceous era 3D illustration
Parasaurolophus from the Cretaceous era 3D illustration – Warpaintcobra via Istock
Name MeaningNear crested lizard
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria,‭ ‬Ornithischia‭ & Ornithopoda
Height4.9 meters (16 feet)
Length11.45 meters (37.6 feet)
Weight2.7 tons (5,952 lbs)
LocationNorth America

Unlike many of the other dinosaurs on this list, the Parasaurolophus isn’t here because of its small size. 

Instead, this dinosaur is renowned for its distinctive crest.

The hollow crest extends from the dinosaur’s snout and curves all the way to the back of its skull. 

It gives this dinosaur the appearance of an animal you’d expect to see in a futuristic alien movie. 

Parasaurolophus was a gentle herbivore, and its unique headgear adds a touch of whimsy to its appearance.

Various theories have been proposed to explain the function of this unique crest. 

The most prevalent idea is that it was a resonating chamber that could produce low-frequency sounds for communicating with other members of its species. 

Just how cool is that?

8. Protoceratops

Protoceratops 3D illustration
Protoceratops 3D illustration – Warpaintcobra via Istock
Name MeaningFirst horned face
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia & Ceratopsia
Height50–60 centimeters (19.7–23.6 inches)
Length2–2.5 meters (6.6–8.2 feet)
Weight62–104 kg (137–229 lbs)

Protoceratops was one of the cutest frilled dinosaurs that roamed the Late Cretaceous landscape. 

Like other ceratopsians, it had frills around its neck but lacked the menacing nasal and brow horns present in its relatives. 

This appearance would have evoked a sense of innocence instead of the menacing appearance that its relatives are known for. 

Protoceratops measured about six feet from head to tail and weighed less than 400 pounds. 

That’s big compared to many dinosaurs. 

But side-by-side with multi-ton giants in the same family, like the Triceratops and Styracosaurus, it’s easy to see why this dinosaur qualifies as an animal you’d want to pet instead of run away from. 

7. Compsognathus

Compsognathus dinosaur walking in white background- 3D render
Compsognathus – Elenarts108 via Istock
Name MeaningElegant Jaw
EraMesozoic – Late Jurassic
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia & Theropoda
Height20 centimeters (7.9 inches) 
Length89 centimeters (35 inches)
Weight10.32–0.58 kilograms (0.71–1.3 pounds)
LocationGermany, France (Europe)

With an estimated length of about three feet and a 12-pound weight, Compsognathus is one of the smallest dinosaurs ever discovered. 

In fact, for many years after its initial discovery, this dinosaur held the title of the smallest dinosaur to have ever lived.

Although it has now been displaced by slightly smaller species like the Microraptor and Mahakala, it remains one of the smallest and cutest dinosaurs to have ever lived. 

Compsognathus was a feisty little dinosaur. 

The small predator was quick on its feet and could run as fast as 40 miles per hour—impressive for such a small dinosaur!

The speed of this dinosaur would have helped it snatch up lizards and other small vertebrates that formed the bulk of its diet. 

6. Minmi

Ilustration of a Minmi paravertebra
Ilustration of a Minmi paravertebra – Mariana Ruiz – License
Name MeaningNamed after Minmi Crossing in Australia
EraMesozoic – Middle Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornitischia & Ankylosauria
Height1 meter (3.3 feet)
Length3 meters (9.8 feet)
Weight300 kilograms (660 pounds)

The Minmi was one of the smallest ankylosaurid dinosaurs. 

Unlike most of its relatives that are known for their massive armored bodies, this compact-sized herbivore had a low-slung body and a pleasantly plump appearance. 

It looked like a delightful blend of a turtle and an armadillo, with its small head and long legs jutting out under a mosaic of intricate bony plates and tiny spikes decorating its back.

Minmi also lacked the massive clubbed tail that other members of the ankylosaurid family are known for, giving it a less-intimidating appearance. 

All of these features, combined with its plant-eating habits, paint a picture of a gentle and amiable creature. 

You can almost imagine this armored dinosaur waddling around ancient landscapes of the Early Cretaceous, nibbling on ferns and other soft plant material with its dainty beak.

5. Oviraptor

Life restoration of the Late Cretaceous oviraptorid Oviraptor
Life restoration of the Late Cretaceous oviraptorid Oviraptor – PaleoNeolitic – License
Name MeaningEgg thief
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia, Theropoda
DietUncertain (omnivorous or herbivorous)
Height1.2 meters (4 feet)
Length1.5-2 meters (5-6.5 feet)
Weight20–30 kilograms (44–66 pounds)
LocationMongolia and China (Asia)

The Oviraptor’s name is one of the most notable cases of mistaken identity in history.

The name translates as “egg thief,” and for many years after its discovery, this dinosaur was labeled a nest raider that thrived on stealing the eggs of other dinosaurs. 

Not so cute, right? 

The story changed in the 1990s when scientists discovered oviraptorid nests with the dinosaur brooding over its egg-like modern-day birds. 

This means instead of being a greedy egg-eating dinosaur, Oviraptor was a cute, caring parent that cared for its young. 

The Oviraptor showcases a caring maternal side that no one would expect from creatures like dinosaurs.

4. Bambiraptor 

A reconstruction of Bambiraptor
A reconstruction of Bambiraptor – PaleoEquii – License
Name MeaningBambi Thief
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia & Theropoda
Height0.4 meters (1.3 feet)
Length1 meter (3.3 feet)
Weight2 kilograms (4.4 lbs)
LocationNorth America (USA)

The Bambiraptor is named after Bambi, one of Disney’s cutest characters which means it is expectedly a cute and cuddly dinosaur. 

While this bird-like dromaeosaurid dinosaur was probably not as adorable as a large-eyed baby deer, it was still cute in its ways. 

The Bambiraptor’s brain has been compared to that of modern birds. 

This suggests that it was not only agile, but it was probably more intelligent than several other dromaeosaurs too. 

3. Mei 

Illustration of the troodontid dinosaur Mei long – Matt Martyniuk – License
NameMei long
Name MeaningSleeping Dragon
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia & Theropoda
Height0.5 meters (1.6 feet)
Length53 centimeters (21 inches) long (for a juvenile)
Weight1 kilogram (2.2 pounds)
LocationChina (Asia)

Arguably, everything about this troodontid dinosaur—from its size, name, and how it was discovered—is adorable. 

The name “mei” translates as “sound asleep,” referring to the position the only fossil of this dinosaur was found in. 

The duck-sized dinosaur was found curled up in a ball, with its tail wrapped around its body and its head underneath its arm like it was having a peaceful nap. 

Mei lived in the forest understory of the Early Cretaceous Period. 

It was a small feathered dinosaur that survived on a diet of insects and small lizards. 

The only fossil of this dinosaur was most likely a sleeping hatchling buried by a sandstorm while it slept about 140 million years ago—the only part of its story that’s not so cute. 

2. Leaellynasaura

Leaellynasaura amicagraphica, a hypsilophodont from the Early Cretaceous of Australia – Nobu Tamura – License
Name MeaningLeaellyn’s lizard
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia & Ornithopoda
Height40 centimeters (1.3 feet)
Length90 centimeters (3 feet)
Weight3–10 kg (6.6–22 pounds) 

When Australian paleontologist couple Tom Rich and Patricia Vickers-Rich discovered the fossil of the Leaellynasaura in 1989, they decided to name it after the cutest thing they could think of—their 8-year-old daughter. 

The dinosaur’s name translates as “Leaellyn’s lizard,” named after Leaellyn Rich. 

The tiny ornithopod dinosaur measured just about 90 centimeters (3 feet) in length. 

The bulk of this dinosaur’s body was its extremely long tail which is longer than that of any of its relatives.

The tail was up to three times as long as the rest of its body. 

Leaellynasaura also had adorable large eyes. 

Although this further added to the overall adorableness of the dinosaur, it was also a necessary adaptation for seeing in its habitat, which was typically dark for most of the year. 

1. Aquilops 

Life reconstruction of Aquilops americanus
Life reconstruction of Aquilops americanus – Nobu Tamura – License
Name MeaningEagle Face
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia & Ceratopsia
Height0.3 meters (1 foot)
Length60 centimeters (23 inches)
Weight1.5kg (3.3 lbs)
LocationUSA (North America)

The Aquilops combines a cute “eagle face” with a less ferocious diet. 

Instead of using its curved, hooked beak to strip off meat from prey, this ceratopsian dinosaur was a herbivore. 

Aquilops was also very small, about the same size as a small case, which makes it unbelievably cute. 

It’s only a little over half a meter long and weighed up to 4,000 times less than some of the biggest ceratopsians like the Triceratops

Aquilops also lacked the trademark neck frill, facial horns, or head shield seen in most of its distant cousins.  


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