The Top Ten Most Popular Prehistoric Animals of 2010

At this time of year, there are a number of charts published. They cover a range of subjects, from the mundane such as the most popular type of burger served at a well-known international burger chain to the more interesting such as a list of the most searched for terms on the internet, favourite celebrities, most CDs sold, most successful movie of the year and so on. We at Everything Dinosaur, have for many years, kept a log of the extinct animals that students and children that we have met have asked about. We have recorded the number of emails about prehistoric animals that we have received. We have generated statistics about visits to our web pages and carried out our own research to build up a picture of what long dead creatures are still “hot” and which ones are not.

In the quite period between Christmas and New Year we compile all the material from our various research sources and then we publish a list of the top ten most popular prehistoric animals. There are only two criteria that an animal has to meet in order to be considered for our list. Firstly, the animal must be extinct, extant species are not allowed. Secondly, imagined animals and creatures are not allowed. For example, when the Harry Potter film “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” came out back in 2007, we encountered a lot of students on our teaching travels and school visits that wanted us to talk about this mythical creature. Unfortunately, the Phoenix as an imagined animal could not be included in our top ten most popular list.

Based on our research, in reverse order here are the numbers ten down to number six on our list of the most popular prehistoric animals compiled by Everything Dinosaur for 2010.

10). Liopleurodon (giant marine reptile)

This giant Jurassic sea monster makes an appearance in our top ten list for the first time. The popularity of Liopleurodon was down to a number of repeats of the “Walking with Dinosaurs” television series in which this giant marine reptile featured, plus its inclusion in the computer generated images of the “Dinosaurs Live” tour.

9). Sabre-Tooth Cat (Smilodon)

A perennial favourite and a regular in our top ten surveys. This prehistoric mammal was very popular especially with the younger children we surveyed. The “Ice Age” movies have helped maintain this fearsome carnivores popularity. The large amount of Sabre-Tooth Tiger merchandise and Sabre-Tooth Tiger toys has sustained this particular beast in our top ten.

8). Brachiosaurus (huge long-necked dinosaur)

The first dinosaur listed is a huge, but peaceful plant-eater. There have been a number of new models of Brachiosaurus launched this year, most notably by Safari Carnegie of the United States and Collecta. The introduction of these new hand-painted replicas and subsequent product sales propelled this goliath into our top ten.

7). Diplodocus (long-necked dinosaur)

Just in front, perhaps by neck, comes Diplodocus another very big dinosaur. Just like Brachiosaurus, Diplodocus was a Sauropod, but it was much more lightly built with a very long neck and tail. This peaceful, Jurassic plant-eater proved to be extremely popular amongst girl students that we met in 2010. We also received a number of emailed questions about this particular dinosaur. This helped swell the number of mentions Diplodocus got and hence it ended up in our top ten.

6). Pteranodon (flying reptile – Pterosaur)

Swooping into position number six on our top ten list comes Pteranodon. We get asked for lots of drawing materials for flying reptiles (Pterosaurs) and Pteranodon is the most popular. We had thought that the introduction of a model of a long-tailed Pterosaur – Rhamphorhynchus by Safari might affect the popularity of Pteranodon, but no, this huge Cretaceous flying reptile remains the most popular of its kind.

So this is the first part of our top ten list of the most popular prehistoric animals completed. It includes two dinosaurs and three non-dinosaurs (Pteranodon, Smilodon and Liopleurodon). The animals that make up this list lived millions of years apart, but they have all proved to be very popular with the children we met on our travels, museum work, school visits and such like over the last twelve months,

Let the countdown continue, from five down to the number one.

5). Stegosaurus (armoured dinosaur)

A real favourite amongst palaeontologists and researchers and one type of dinosaur animal that we love working on ourselves. Stegosaurus makes the top five and it proved to be the most popular prehistoric animal with all the girls that helped us with our survey. Stegosaurus is number one as far as they are concerned, but in our overall list it comes in at a credible number five.

4). Woolly Mammoth

Breaking up the dinosaur dominance of our top five, comes the Woolly Mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius) to give this particular creature its scientific name. Thanks to “Manny” of the “Ice Age” trilogy Woolly Mammoths have gone from strength to strength in terms of popularity in the last couple of years. The Chicago Field Museum’s touring exhibition will probably help to maintain this animal in our top ten list for some years to come.

3). Velociraptor (fearsome Dinosaur)

The villain from the “Jurassic Park” movies continues to ride high in our chart. The huge number of Velociraptor models, toys and products have helped maintain this little Theropod’s position in the top ten. It proved to be very popular with young boys, who seem to have a preference for the more blood thirsty dinosaurs.

2). Triceratops (three-horned face)

The horned dinosaur, otherwise known as three-horned face is this year’s runner-up on our chart of the most popular prehistoric animals. Popular with both boys and girls this dinosaur has benefitted from the number of press articles related to horned dinosaurs (Ceratopsians) we covered. Triceratops holds onto the runners-up position.

Before we reveal the number one, the most popular prehistoric animal of 2010 according to our own research, it would be appropriate to mention at this point a few of the animals that did not quite make our list this year. Spinosaurus, Ankylosaurus and Apatosaurus are dinosaurs that just miss out. A special mention to the flying reptile Rhamphorhynchus and to the marine reptile Ichthyosaurus that nearly made it to.

However, the most popular prehistoric animal of the last year, based on our surveys, school work, dinosaur questions and so forth is…

1). Tyrannosaurus rex (King of the Tyrant Lizards)

No surprises, the most popular prehistoric animal is T. rex. Perhaps one of the most famous of all the creatures ever to exist on the planet, this large, meat-eater, known from just a handful of articulated specimens and numerous fragmentary finds continues to dominate. The “King of the Tyrant Lizards” is our number one, by quite a considerable margin. Doubts may have been raised about T. rex being the biggest land carnivore of all time, but it remains firmly established at the top of our annual survey.