Dinosaurs are long gone.
The last of them died off 66 million years before the first humans came on the scene.
Yet, like ghosts from the past, they continue to lurk around, captivating our imaginations and divulging secrets of the ancient past.
These magnificent creatures dominated the planet for over 165 million years, leaving behind a legacy that we’re only fortunate to understand through the discovery of their fossilized remains.
Dead dinosaurs that were fortunate enough to be preserved in the right conditions are a reliable source of evidence about prehistoric life on Earth.
So far, paleontologists and dinosaur enthusiasts have uncovered numerous astonishing dinosaur fossils in various locations across the planet.
These remains shed some light on an ancient world and the magnificent beasts that once lived in it.
At least 700 individual dinosaurs have been identified so far from several thousand fossil discoveries.
Although many of these fossil finds are regular textbook discoveries, in some cases, dinosaur fossils have been discovered in the most bizarre ways, in pristine preservation conditions, or the most unusual places.
In this post, we’ll list 10 of these incredible dinosaur fossil discoveries and explain what makes them so special.
How We Came Up With This List
Considering the vast number of extraordinary dinosaur discoveries so far, compiling a list of the top 10 most remarkable dinosaur fossils is no small task.
The majority of dinosaur fossils discoveries are regular, and many of them don’t even provide a lot of information.
But occasionally, some striking specimens show up either preserved in the most pristine conditions with feathers and skins preserved or depicting the dinosaur in ways we have only speculated about in the past.
The fossil discoveries in this article have been included because of their rarity, significance to science, or simply because of the bizarreness of the circumstances that led to their discovery.
There have even been fossils discovered with some traces of DNA. Remarkable finds like this are the ones we have included on this list.
We prioritized fossils that showed distinctive attributes not found in other specimens discovered so far.
These may include rare anatomical structures, exceptional preservation, or unusual adaptations that provide some insights into the diversity and complexity of dinosaur life.
Some dinosaur fossils have also managed to achieve an iconic status with the general public because of how they were found and the circumstances surrounding their discovery.
We have included them on this list as well.
Overall, the goal is to rank some of the most exceptional dinosaur discoveries based on how captivating they are and their overall contribution to our knowledge of the world of giant beasts that existed several million years ago.
10 Best Dinosaur Fossils Ever Found
10. Horned Titanosaur Embryo
They grew to lengths of over 37 meters, and adults weighed as much as 30 tonnes.
But what did these titans look like when they were little babies?
One rare titanosaur juvenile fossil now gives us an idea.
Scientists found the titanosaur embryo preserved inside an egg in 2001.
The find shows a 1.2-inch-long baby dinosaur, a stark contrast to the humongous, long-necked behemoth that it would have become if it survived into adulthood.
One of the key discoveries from studying this 80 million-year-old embryo is that juvenile titanosaurs looked remarkably different from their parents.
The embryo had a rhinoceros-like horn on its nose.
Scientists think they needed this horn to break out of their shells and to defend against predators in the early years of their life.
Young titanosaurs also had binocular vision, which would have been important for finding food and detecting danger since the titanosaurs were practically on their own after birth.
Since no adult titanosaur has been found with any of these features, it’s apparent that their appearance changed quickly as they grew older.
9. Coprolites (Fossilized Dinosaur Feces)
Although the most remarkable fossils are well-preserved dinosaurs with intact bones, another kind of fossil finds that have proven to be quite important.
This is a type of trace fossil formed by fossilized dinosaur poop—and they’re more common than you think!
In the 18th and early 19th centuries, numerous coprolites were found but were misidentified as the fossilized cones of fir trees or bezoar stones.
That changed in the 1820s when paleontologist Mary Anning noticed something unusual about the stone-like objects in the pelvis of some of the dinosaurs she discovered near her home in Lyme Regis.
The final clue she needed was the discovery of fossilized bones and fish scales in these “stones” whenever they were broken open.
She presented her finding to William Buckland, who had long suspected that some of the deposits he found were actually preserved dinosaur droppings.
Buckland published his theory in 1829, and coprolites became recognized as an official trace fossil type by paleontologists.
8. Herd of Opalized Iguanodons
Dinosaur fossils can be preserved in different forms. Rock imprints are more common, but on rare occasions, bits and pieces of dinosaur skeleton can be preserved in opalized rocks.
This is formed when silica-infused water seeps into rock hollows and solidifies in the shape of their container.
Tiny animal shells are commonly preserved in this type of deposit, but scientists in Australia recently uncovered opalized remains of what appears to be a herd of dinosaurs.
The fossils were recovered by opal miner Robert Foster in a mine near Lightning Ridge in the 1980s but have only been recently studied.
Scientists have now found that the opalized rock contains bones from multiple individuals of a new dinosaur species.
At least four shoulder blades (scapulae) from different-sized Iguanodon individuals have been identified in this deposit.
The largest of them may have grown to a length of up to 16.4 feet.
The deposit includes 60 opalized bones from an adult Iguanodon and several other bones from at least three other animals.
The dinosaur species was named Fostoria dhimbangunmal in honor of the opal miner that discovered them.
7. Theropod Dinosaur (Tyrannosaurus rex) Embryos
Embryo fossils are always interesting finds for paleontologists because they provide a glimpse into aspects of dinosaur life that we know very little about—how they reproduced.
For instance, while Tyrannosaurus rex is one of the best-known dinosaurs, we have very little knowledge of this dinosaur’s reproductive and juvenile life.
But the recent discovery of tyrannosaur eggs with well-preserved embryos may begin to answer some of the questions about the elusive life of the tyrant lizards.
One of the facts learned so far is that the top predator of the Cretaceous Period once had a mouse-sized skull.
Tyrannosaur babies were quite small compared to their adult size-about one-tenth the size of adults.
They also had a different diet.
As juveniles, their blade-like teeth were only capable of killing insects and small lizards.
Since Tyrannosaurus lived for more than two decades, their prey options would have continued to change as they grew rapidly to become the apex predator in their habitat.
6. Montana Dueling Dinosaurs: Triceratops vs. Tyrannosaurus rex
What happens when one of the most ferocious carnivores faces off against one of the most heavily fortified dinosaurs?
We don’t have to stretch our imaginations too far as one instance of a Triceratops vs. T. rex showdown preserved perfectly in ancient rocks.
The dueling dinosaur fossil was recovered from the famous Hell Creek Formation in Montana in 2006.
The discovery tells the story of an epic battle that left both adolescent dinosaurs with numerous injuries that possibly led to their death.
The fight was so epic that a Tyrannosaurus tooth was found embedded within the Triceratops’ body.
In addition to preserving details of an epic battle, the specimen is one of the most complete fossils of both dinosaurs, with skin impressions, stomach content, and internal organs in good condition.
Unfortunately, scientists were unable to study this fossil for years because of the controversies surrounding its discovery.
This has now been settled, and the dueling dinosaur is now in possession of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences after an epic legal battle.
5. Ichthyosaur Having Babies
Ichthyosaurs are actually not dinosaurs.
However, this fossil find is so remarkable that it deserves a spot on this list because it contained some bewildering scientific revelation.
In 2011, while searching for a prehistoric predatory fish in South Majishan, China, scientists collected rocks that preserved the remains of an Ichthyosaurus.
They didn’t even know what it was until a year later when someone was studying the rocks.
The accidental find turned out to be one of the most impressive fossils ever found.
It was the fossil of an ichthyosaur that died while giving birth to her three children.
One of the children was already born; the second was already in the birth canal, while the third one was still inside the mother.
All three were preserved in relatively good condition.
The ichthyosaur fossil was a groundbreaking discovery because it challenges the widely held theory that these ancient reptiles laid eggs.
The discovery of live-bearing marine reptiles shows that some of these ancient reptiles were viviparous, raising the possibility that some land dinosaurs of the Mesozoic might have given birth to live young as well instead of laying eggs.
4. Iguanodon Bog-Pickled Brain
Scientists estimate that only about 0.01% of animal species that have ever lived eventually get preserved in rocks.
And even when they do, the bone, shells, and other hard body parts are more likely to be preserved.
The skin, internal organs, and other soft tissues either decay naturally or get eaten by scavengers even before the animal is preserved.
But one Iguanodon beat the odds when scientists discovered what seems like parts of its brain preserved as a fossil.
This is a rare phenomenon that only occurred as a stroke of luck.
The fossil was discovered in 2004 and was initially studied by Martin Brasier, a professor at Oxford University who identified it.
Experts believe that the iguanodon from which this fossil came died about 133 million years ago and got buried in the bottom sediments of a swamp or a bog.
In this highly acidic, low oxygen environment, the brain tissue got “pickled” and turned into a sediment cast of the skull cavity.
As a result of this one-in-a-million case of preservation, scientists now have a piece of an ancient creature that we don’t usually get to see.
Although it is impossible to make out the lobes of the brain and other complex features from this fossil, scientists can identify features such as blood vessels and collagen strands, providing an incredible look into the dinosaur’s brain.
3. Sleeping Nodosaur Fossil with Skin and Scales
Most dinosaur fossils found are in the form of dusty old bones or rock impressions.
Years of decay, natural erosion, and pressure from rock layers deposited for millions of years often leave only fragments or pieces of skeleton almost completely squashed flat for scientists to study.
Occasionally you may come across fossils with pieces of feathers or skin tissues preserved.
That’s why it was astounding when scientists found a dinosaur fossil that looked like it could wake up any minute.
The sleeping nodosaur fossil is considered one of the most intact dinosaur fossils ever found.
Scientists discovered the 110 million years old fossil at the Suncor Millenium Mine in Alberta, Canada.
The 18-foot-long (5.5 meters) herbivore, which weighed up to 2,800 pounds (1,270 kilograms) when it was alive, was found intact with skin, scales, and stomach content completely preserved.
Scientists think a combination of fortunate circumstances led to the pristine preservation condition of this fossil.
The dinosaur was probably swept into an ancient, inland seaway shortly after it died away from land predators that could have scavenged the carcass.
The armored skin of the nodosaur kept it from exploding before it was deposited on the seafloor and quickly sealed by deep ooze on the seabed.
2. Dinosaur Death Match: Velociraptor vs. Protoceratops Fossil
In a world ruled by savage beasts, epic fights and dangerous encounters between prey and predators would have been very common.
It’s difficult to tell how these epic encounters went down, but one dinosaur fossil site provides us a glimpse into one of such sights.
In 1971, scientists discovered a remarkable fossil site in Mongolia.
The scene shows the Velociraptor clawing at its prey’s heart while its hand was trapped in the biting jaw of the Protoceratops.
Since the discovery of this rare fossil, scientists have speculated various scenarios that could have led to their unique preservation together and relative completeness.
While prey-predator relationships must have been very common in the days of the dinosaurs, the fact that both dinosaurs were preserved together is quite a rarity.
This has raised various possibilities, such as a drowning scenario, rapid burial by a collapsing dune, or death in a sandstorm.
There’s also the possibility that they did not die simultaneously, but this has been disputed by scientists because of the position that these dinosaurs were found.
1. The Largest Tyrannosaurus Rex Ever Discovered
Tyrannosaurus rex was one of the largest carnivorous dinosaurs that we know of.
Everyone agrees that they were colossal monsters, but just how big did they get?
Fossils like that of Sue, the gigantic T-rex, show us how enormous these tyrant lizards got.
The specimen, discovered on a Cattle Ranch in South Dakota on August 12, 1990, is considered the best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever found.
But that’s not all.
Standing at over 13 feet tall at the hip and a length of over 40 feet, Sue is also the largest Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered.
Up to 90% of this giant creature’s frame was found preserved in rocks.
Before Sue, the best scientists ever got was 60% complete specimens.
Thus, this phenomenal find provided an incredible picture of one of Earth’s most notorious predators.
There’s no way to tell what gender this dinosaur was, but it has been nicknamed Sue after Susan Hendrikson, the marine archaeologist and paleontologist that discovered it.
As expected for such a landmark discovery, at least three parties engaged in a lengthy custody battle to determine its ownership.
Eventually, the Field Museum in Chicago won custody of this phenomenal fossil after a staggering $8.4 million auction.
Sue currently resides at the Museum on exhibit.
The discoveries on this list are some of the most jaw-dropping dinosaur fossils ever made.
Do you know any other remarkable dinosaur fossil that deserves a spot on this list?
If so, share with us in the comments!
Thank you for stopping by!