Almost, if not all dinosaurs, would have been scary to look at or meet. Even the smallest ones, cute as they may look, came armed for either attack or defense with a scary amount of armour or weapons. . From teeth to spikes, claws to clubs, poison to pack hunting they had something to swing, thrust or bite into you. However some were certainly more scary than others. We go through the top ten most scary dinosaurs for you here and explain why they were the scariest dinosaurs to walk the planet.
Now what people find scary can be different to different people. People can be scared of dogs, the dark and even the number 13!
So we have listed these scary dinosaurs that we would would not want to meet on a dark night, or even a sunny day for that matter!
This frightening dinosaur list is in a top ten order, but they are all pretty scary dinosaurs so if you disagree, or if we missed your scariest dinosaurs just leave a comment at the bottom 🙂
Table 1: Scary Dinosaurs and reasons for their fright factor
|Lots of Teeth?
|Would it Eat you?
(poison in Jurassic Park version)
|beak and some back teeth
|4 pikes at 3ft long on its tail.
|30 ft long
|Not at all
|Bad temper, small brain
|beak and some Back teeth
|2 arms full of 3 ft long claws, strong hind legs
|No. (we think) fast, feathered and big!
|50 plus sharp teeth
|Family history! Strong back legs
|9 ft long
|yes it would
|Fast, perfect size for attacking people.
|long 2 meter beak sharp.
|flight, strong wings
|30 ft long
|not likely, but might attack
|flight, eyesight jumping!
|50 plus teeth
|2 horns on its head.
|24 feet long
|oh yes it would.
|fast, powerful legs,
|yes, tiny ones
|POSSIBLE poison and flight.
|4 feet long
|yes, but probably not attack
|Hunt in packs, see in the dark and flight
|4 plus 5 inch teeth.
|Long claws on arms, surprise!
|52 feet long
|yes, though not first choice
|swimming, and land attacks.
|50 plus teeth (12 inches)
|Biggest bite force on land. Clever.
|44 feet long
|yes, it would.
|60 plus 3 inch teeth
|fast, longer arms with claws
|32 feet long
|axe swing, fast, pack hunter (maybe)
10: Dilophosaurus “The Double Crested Lizard“
Dilophosaurus was actually bigger and a little different looking than you may realize from the Jurassic Park movies, so we will cover both here in terms of their dinosaur fright factor!
Jurassic Park World Dilophosaurus:
“Oh you’re not so bad, i thought you were one of your big brothers” was said when we first saw the Dilophosaurus in Jurassic Park. it was about the size of a large dog, though taller being about 5 ft tall. and it looked more curious than scary as dinosaurs go when it first turned up.
However, that soon changed and the frill around its neck, and a high pitched growl was certainly a shock. Spitting thick black poison at Dennis Nedry before attacking him with those 60 plus sharp teeth and claws that it had on its long arms was also scary.
Although it was small this one clearly hunted in packs (or was very fast to get into the car!) which means those 60 plus teeth could become 120, or 180 teeth if there was more than one Jurassic park dilophosaurus attacking! If one was frightening, then 2 or 3 would be very scary.
The Real Dilophosaurus:
The Real Dilophosaurus was, in our opinion, an even more scary dinosaur. The Dilophosaurus in the movies may have had a frill to shake, spit venom like a cobra and have those big claws and plenty of teeth. However it was still the size of a dog and you stood a chance at least to hit it away.
The Real Dilophosaurus had no neck frill, no poison that we know of but was much, MUCH bigger. it could be 20ft long and weigh up to 1000 lbs. its head, still filled with over 60 razor sharp teeth, was 2ft long and its arms had scary claws on the end, that were bigger.
Its long legs could run at up to 25 miles an hour which is fast for a dinosaur and much faster than any person can run.
The most scary thing though, we were a perfect size to be prey for it, we might have been a little too big for the Jurassic Park version, but for the real one we would have looked like an easy dinner! their bite was thought to be not so strong and if so they would have hunted smaller prey…. smaller like people smaller!
9: The Stegosaurus: “The Roof Lizard”
Now you might question, and fairly so, why we would put a dinosaur that doesn’t hunt meat for food in our scary dinosaur list. Just bear with us and we can explain why the stegosaurus was a scary dinosaur.
Stegosaurus did not have the best of eyesight, in fact it has been found with camptosaurus quite often, which did have much better eyesight and scientists think that they may have worked together to spot and protect against predators like Allosaurus.
This poor eyesight would have meant that it would make mistakes, maybe mistaking an animal walking on two legs (you) near it as a different kind of two legged dinosaur and thinking it was a threat or an egg stealer for example.
If that did happen, those 4 sharp 3 ft long spikes on its tail were not for decoration. They were a club, a pointy, sharp scary club. There has been evidence of these clubs being used on an Allosaurus leg, breaking it and cutting it. In case you didn’t know an allosaurus would have been much tougher than you.
Add to this two points, one fact and one guess.
- The fact is that stegosaurus was not smart, it was as far from clever as a dinosaur could be. its first thought would not to be to check if you were friend or foe, predator or herbivore it would be to hit you with the tail. that tail with 4,3 feet long spikes. Now that is a scary thought!
- Secondly if it had the short temper of other large animals today like an Elephant or a Rhino as well as being 2 or 3 times bigger, with better weapons, It would have been a very scary sight seeing it running towards you. So even though it was a herbivore it deserves a place on our scariest dinosaur list.
8: Therizinosaurus “The Scythe Lizard”
We have done it again, the Therizinosaurus was not a meat eating dinosaur. It was, that we known of so far, a herbivore. However this dinosaur may not have attacked you for food but it would be enough to give you terrible nightmares if you ever saw it for real.
It was like a huge Ostrich or Rhea bird. These modern birds are known to have big claws on there feet and a fairly flat beak on its long thin neck. they are also strong, and fast and difficult even for big cats like lions and cheetahs to attack.
So lets now scale that size up to a Therizinosaurus size. It could be 30 feet long, and weigh more than 7000 lbs. thats 7 dilophosaurus! it had a curved beak like a parrot or hawk. That’s a scary dinosaur!. Also it had 3 feet long, sharp claws on each of its arms. That’s claws as long your legs.
Seeing this, even if you know it is not a meat eater, would be very very scary indeed. You can see just how scary this dinosaur was in the ew Jurassic World Dominion movie.
7: Moros Intrepidus “The Harbinger of Doom”
Having Doom in your name is never a good start, and this name means, sort of, Doom is coming. It was a relative of the Tyrannosaurus Rex which is why it is named this. The Doom that was coming was the T-Rex.
However this great great great great grandfather to the T-rex was certainly a scary dinosaur all on its own even without the family connections.
The real Moros intrepidus was none of these things. as you would expect from a relative of a T-Rex it was built for catching, killing and eating meat. However it was smaller, lighter and faster. In fact standing up it was about your size about 5 feet tall, and 3 meters long. ( 9 feet) it would have weighed as much as a person and, scarily, could have looked you in the eyes.
If it did look you in the eyes you would have been looking straight into a mouth filled with teeth. Teeth that were used to eating other dinosaurs about the same size as you.
Now that makes a scary dinosaur.
6: Quetzalcoatlus “Feathered Serpent God”
It could be 4 metres tall with a wing span over over 30 feet long, that 10 metres. When it stood up and walked on the floor it would have been taller, and with a 2 metre long pointed beak, much scarier than a full grown giraffe. It ate small dinosaurs by grabbing or spearing them with that long beak and then swallowing them like a stork or gull.
We might be little large for it to eat, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t try. There are scarier looking pterosaurs ( check out the picture of this one called the Dimorphodon which looks like someone stuck a Velociraptor head to a bat!) however they were smaller and although painful, probably manageable if you came face to face with one. Well not face to face…. but you get the idea. .
Coming face to face, though at 4 metres that would be difficult with a Quetzalcoatlus would be very scary indeed. So even though it was not a dinosaur, we think it deserves a place on our scary dinosaur list.
5: Carnotaurus “The Meat Eating Bull”
Calling it a meat eating bull is certainly scary, even a meat eating cow would be pretty worrying. However, the Carnotaurus is a scary dinosaur for a number of reasons, and not just the name. We have it at fifth place on our scariest dinosaurs list as although smaller than a lot of other dinosaurs it has some very scary features.
It could be 25 feet long and weigh up to 2 tons, it had over 60 teeth in a short head. All of these teeth are sharp of course. the short head, though not that scary at first , means instead of sorting out its prey in one big old bit like a T-Rex it was going to have to bite a few times, and may ( sorry for this) bite some pieces off,
Which on the bright side means a bit more time to be alive, and on the down side a bit more time to know what is happening! ( ick!)
It is thought not only would it be biting a lot but also it was a fast runner, so even jumping on a push bike or electric scooter probably would not be quite fast enough to get away from this speedy and scary dinosaur. Did we mention the horns….
As we always say though you don’t have to be the fastest when running away from a dinosaur, you just have to NOT be the slowest.
4: Sinornithosaurus “Chinese Bird Lizard”
Now we have to explain this one, yes we could have chosen Utahraptor, Giganotosaurus, Carcharodontosaurus or event ceratosaurus here as another therapod predator but we went another way based on some unproved, disputed findings about the Sinornithosaurus. If they ever can be proved it would make this a very scary dinosaur, despite its small size,
Nothing outward about the Sinornithosaurus ( let us help you here – Sign – orn – ith – oh – Saur – Rus) screams scary. It was tiny for a dinosaur at only 4 feet long and weighed about 3 kg. (6 lbs) it had thin sharp teeth and was covered with feathers. It may had had the beginning of flight and could almost certainly glide in the forest from tree to tree.
So nothing too scary yet, you wouldn’t want to meet one on a dark night, but there are much scarier dinosaurs than Sinornithosaurus?
Well studies have POSSIBLY shown a few more scary details about this dinosaur. In 2009 when examining the teeth and the jaw scientists MAY have found grooves that would allow poison to go onto the teeth, and in the jaw a space that MAY have held a poison sac.
It was also suggested on Planet Dinosaur that they may have hunted together, and that their eyes were well suited to both daytime and nighttime hunting. Meaning you were not safe in the day or at night.
So we have this dinosaur at number for on our scariest dinosaur list as if any of that is true then there was a flying, poisonous dinosaur that hunted with others and could see in both the daytime and night time. its a good job Sinornithosaurus was only 3-4 feet long!
3: Spinosaurus “the Spine Lizard”
So we went off into the unproven with the Sinornithosaurus, now we can come back to what we know for sure, and very recently have discovered. Spinosaurus is our 3rd most scary dinosaur on this list, Though when we get this close to the top they are all incredibly scary dinosaurs.
Spinosaurus was bigger, longer, heavier, had more teeth than a Tyrannosaurs Rex. it also is the only current dinosaur classified as being able to swim well. So it could hunt both on land and in the water.
Current thinking is it actually would have spent more time by rivers, lakes and inland seas if it could due to its swimming ability.
Spinosaurus could be over 50ft long with its jaws and head making 6 feet of that length. It would have been 20ft tall to its sail on its back. and it weight as much as 3 large elephants or 44,000 pounds. Its teeth could be 5 inches long and pointed.
Which means more suitable for spearing rather than tearing. Which leads scientists to think it would have eaten land and water animals, but was suited for fishing and grabbing prey in the water.
It also had long claw filled arms that unlike other dinosaurs like Carnotaurus and T-Rex actually could be used while hunting.
However, if seeing you, a 5ft tall creature on land or in the water, you would have been a great size for lunch, and on land or in the water you wouldn’t have been able to get away. it had you beat for speed on both! That’s why we have it as the third most scary dinosaur ever.
2 Tyrannosaurus Rex “Tyrant King Lizard”
Shocked to see everyones favourite ruthless killer at number 2? So are we a little. Tyrannosaurus shows what evolution can do given enough time. It is almost the perfect killing machine.
- Big -check
- Fast – check
- Scary – check
- Dangerous – check
- Clever – check
- Big teeth – Check
So why is it not number one, and we know T-rex is the number one scary dinosaur on plenty of other lists. Well thats why really. We think people love this dinosaur so let it slide up when actually despite being a very VERY scary dinosaur there is one more scary than it. However lets look at what did make the T-Rex scary before we go to the number one dinosaur. !
Tyrannosaurs rex was the apex predator of its time. it had a huge 5 ft long jaw with a bite force higher than another lang animal before or since. its teeth, 50 plus of them could be up to 12 inches long and were both sharp and strong. It could successfully take on fully grown Triceratops as prey
It was smart for a dinosaur with, for its size, a good sized brain about twice the size of other large carnivores which allowed it to have both good eyesight and excellent sense of smell. perfect for hunting.
All incredibly scary, and if that roar was anything like in the movies, well yes a change of underwear may be needed! if there was time. (sorry)
It may have been the most dangerous dinosaur to ever live, however we don’t think the scariest. Here is briefly why.
It was SO BIG.. just like the Spinosaurus. It was so big it almost becomes difficult to imagine something like that. When its difficult to imagine then it becomes less scary. It is certain if you were ever looking at one for real it would be terrifying, but thinking about it, not so easy.
We can ask you a question which was more scary in the Jurassic world movies the Indominus rex or the Indo Raptor. We think the indoraptor. Both were scary dinosaurs, of course,, but the smaller dinosaur was actually, we think, the scarier. With smaller ones you think you may have a chance.
Which leads us to our number one most scary dinosaur ever. See if you agree.
1: Allosaurus “The Different Lizard”
We had a good long think about this and decided to give the number one spot to a different dinosaur. Literally. Yes T-Rex was bigger, yes T-Rex was smarter, and yes for most people asked a T-Rex would probably be the scariest dinosaur they can imagine seeing,
But scratch the surface a little deeper and hear us out for our reasons why the Allosaurus is actually the scariest dinosaur ever.
Allosaurus was a large theropod carnivore ( read more here) that lived about 80 million years before Tyrannosaurus Rex during the Late Jurassic. It was a big scary dinosaur, but much smaller than the T-Rex at 32 feet long and 2200 lbs as a maximum.
It could stand up to about 4 metres or 12 feet high and had 60 teeth in its jaws. However studies have suggested that instead of relying on a bite like other large carnivores it might have used it head like an Axe. Swinging it into prey. It has been found that its bite was not as powerful as other meat eating dinosaurs, but its neck muscles were really very strong.
it was also a fast dinosaur that may have hunted with others to take down larger prey, with repeated bites or swings. So that the prey was weakened enough to eat. A slower way to kill, but safer for the Allosaurus.
It was also one of the most common carnivores of its time, the chances of seeing one are much higher than other predatory dinosaurs, scary or otherwise. This means is was successful at what it did, and what it did was hunt other dinosaurs.
It was named the Different Lizard, and we think different can be good!
Why is Allosaurus the most Scary dinosaur?
Although not as large as a T-Rex it was faster, more likely to view a person as food, if it hunted in packs it would be more likely to spot you, it was fast so you were not running away, it could open its mouth much wider than most other dinosaurs, it may have hit you repeatedly with those 60 teeth and could look you in the eye much easier than larger carnivores.
That thought alone is scary, but coupled with its success and its possible axe murderer head makes this the scariest dinosaur we know about.
As we said at the beginning nearly all dinosaurs were scary, their size, how different they look, their armour, spikes teeth and every thing else are so very different to what we consider to be animals in todays world.
However, two important things to remember are that 1 – they are not here now (if they are then its a bird) and two they just did what they did to survive. As scary as that might be, they were just following nature’s path. IF that doesn’t make you feel better, then take another look at point 1
If you want to check out our other dinosaur articles than feel free to click the big button below, and take a look. We have facts and questions, coloring and worksheets, and even videos on all your favourites.
Hi, I am Roy Ford a General Studies and English Teacher who has taught all over the world. What started as a fossil collection became a great way to teach, motivate and inspire students of all ages and all over the world about dinosaurs and from that and children’s love of dinosaurs came the site dinosaur facts for kids, a resource for all ages.