There is not a large number of friendly dinosaurs portrayed in the many dinosaur movies through the years. For example dinosaurs in the six Jurassic Park Movies are mostly shown to be huge toothed terrors whose main aim is to terrorize as many people as possible, however unlike most other dinosaur movies they do also show a gentler and friendlier side to dinosaurs.
In reality away from the movies dinosaurs did live in a world where tooth and claw were important, but there are examples of attentive parents, group and pack living and a much more friendly way of life.
Although dinosaurs were wild animals not all were violent carnivores like T-Rex or Allosaurus. Smaller herbivorous dinosaurs like Microceratus and Psittacosaurus would have been small enough with a larger brain to have been more social and friendly, and small carnivores like Compsognathus may have been tamable too.
We take a look at some of the friendliest dinosaurs that would have lived 66 – 230 million years ago, and as you may expect you are unlikely to find dinosaurs like T Rex or Allosaurus on this list of friendliest dinosaurs ever to live.
Were Herbivore Dinosaurs More Friendly.
While generally speaking a herbivore would be more friendly than a carnivore dinosaur it is not a universally found truth. ( try hugging a modern day rhino or Water Buffalo for example!) Though small carnivores may be more friendly, if you look at medium sized carnivorous dinosaurs, and up to large carnivorous dinosaurs ones you are less like to be seen as a friend and more as a meal or a snack.
Smaller herbivores and even medium sized ones, once they realised you were not a threat are likely to be much more tolerant of you than large herbivores they may even see you as a protector and be willing to be more friendly with you.
Top 10 Friendliest Dinosaurs
Friendliest Dinosaurs: Stegosaurus
if you have just finished watching Jurassic Park the Lost World it may come as a surprise to find the heavily armored and spikely tailed Stegosaurus on a list of Friendliest dinosaurs. However there are a few reasons it can be considered friendly, and some of these actually have fossil evidence and research to back them up.
Stegosaurus was a large herbivore thought to live in small groups and not huge herds, according to Professor Paul Barrett of the London Natural history museum,, like some other dinosaurs. To develop this relationship takes time and it is likely, as with modern animals today that these small groups were families with Juveniles and young that would stay together for protection.
This is quite remarkable considering one of the markers of animal intelligence is parental instincts and its is pretty commonly accepted that stegosaurus were, to put it politely, not the smartest of all the dinosaur species. they had a brain roughly the size of a walnut, which while comparable to a modern day dog ( which is pretty smart) had to control a body 30 feet long and 4 tons in weight ( very unlike a modern-day dog!)
So if they did live in small groups of family members it shows some of that small brain was used to recognise others and to develop relationships.
However, if the documentary Dinosaur Planet is to be believed, their friendships didn’t stop with family (you can see what they had to say about this below). Fossils of Stegosaurus have been found close to fossils of another herbivore dinosaur, the Camptosaurus.
They suggested that these to dinosaurs were friendly and worked together for mutual protection.
Stegosaurus was huge, well armored and stronger but was likely to have poor eyesight and smell, and frankly with a walnut sized brain, less awareness of its surroundings. ( you need a bigger brain to process heightened senses)
Camptosaurus had better eyesight, and a much bigger brain, senses and being smaller was more skittish and aware of predators ( usefully for it it was also faster). we take a longer look at this friend of stegosaurus below.
These two dinosaurs possibly looked out for each other, which is what friends do right? You have my back, and i will have yours, and in the case of the Stegosaurus that back is even more useful to a friend if its covered in 2 feet tall plates !
Friendliest Dinosaurs: Camptosaurus
Camptosaurus is a dinosaur that appears to be one much more suited to a friendliest dinosaur list that the heavy and large stegosaurus above. So as we mentioned it was certainly a friend to the stegosaurus with its better eye sight and larger brain it would keep a watch out for predators. It was also smaller, you can see statistics in the mini table below each friendly dinosaur
Camptosaurus was a beaked bi pedal dinosaur that would have been about 6 metres long (24 feet) and over 6 feet tall. It could weigh over 500 kg so was by no means small and cute, just smaller next to its friend the stegosaurus. It was smarter so if it didn’t run away when it saw you, its likely that with some food and time you could also make friends with it! though i would stay away from those powerful legs, they could give quite a kick.
Friendliest Dinosaurs: Compsognathus
This dinosaur as first seen in the mainstream media in the Jurassic park the Lost world, although they were as far from friendly as can be in that first scene, when they attacked a little girl, and for that matter the second scene as well when they attack one of Ingens men.
However, even though were like the top predators of the environment ( there were no other dinosaurs on the small lagoon islands they lived on) they were unlikely to be particularly aggressive especially if they are on their own.
Their size alone means on their own they wouldn’t be a threat to most animals, and are considered to be one of the smallest of all dinosaurs at about 3 feet long and only 1.3 or so lbs in weight. We are fairly sure with some meaty snacks you could make friends with it fairly easily, Just be careful if its in a pack!
Friendliest Dinosaurs: Pendraig milnerae
Pendraig although discovered in 1952 was not fully classified until 2021 and was an old early dinosaur from the Triassic Period (215 to 201 million years ago) of the UK, Wales in Particular. Now while not too much is known about it at the moment, apart from it would have been a theropod and a carnivore in the same family as the much later T-Rex and would have been about 75 cm long (2.5 feet) and a coelophysoid.
While its pack hinting and living behaviour is not known it was likely similar to compsognathus above, and even its environment was similar being made up of small islands with a lack of larger predators. this would make it more curious rather than wary of new animals and it may be easy to make friends with. However, it is a relation, distant one admittedly, of T-Rex so maybe watch those fingers a little.
Friendliest Dinosaurs: Maiasaura
Maiasaura name literally means good mother dinosaur and fossil evidence suggests it really was. there are fossils of nests, eggs, juveniles and parents all close together. While it was a little bigger than most of the dinosaurs on this list we still think it would be one of the friendliest.
it was up to 30 feet long and when younger would walk on its hind legs later moving to all four as it became an adult. It was also no lightweight growing up to 9500 Lbs, They lived in herds so were used to the company of others and this with their parental instincts may have made them friendly as long as you were no threat to their young of course.
Friendliest Dinosaurs: Oviraptor
This hard done by egg thief was, by the actual evidence uncovered, anything but. It was like the Maiasaura a good mother and a good parent and the original fossil which was found with Eggs, was evidence of this. Not as first thought evidence of its egg stealing habits!
It was about 5.2 feet tall (1.6 metres) and would have weighed around 70 lbs ( 33 kg) making it large but not so large as to be a concern about the size of a large dog, though the sharp beak means some caution would be needed!
Friendliest Dinosaurs: Psittacosaurus
Psittacosaurus was a early cretaceous Dinosaur from Asia, living about 126 to 101 million years ago. It was small and only about 6 feet in length ( 2 metres) and about 40 lbs in weight. it also have a relatively large brain for its size and would have had been quite social.
Psittacosaurus was certainly a cute looking dinosaur with its colorful face and possibly striped or spotted limbs and its quilled / feathered tail. Unlike its bigger relatives ( it was a ceratopsian like triceratops) it had no horns to speak of and only the beginnings of a frill. While we are not sure quite how friendly it would be, or if it would be the friendliest its size and large brain would make it a social animal at least and we would have it as the second most friendly dinosaur.
Friendliest Dinosaurs: Microceratus
Microceratus was a very similar dinosaur to Psittacosaurus with a frilled tail, beaked mouth and small size, and and as the name suggests it was also a ceratopsian ( horned dinosaur). it has appeared in the Jurassic World dominion movie and while there it was wearing a mask ( a sign of the times no doubt.) we can assure you it was a cute looking dinosaur just like its cousin above.
It was also small only about 2 feet long with no horns, but it did have a small frill like its larger cousins. It was also featured being a feature on a BBQ in the Jurassic World Dominion movie as well, which speaks more of our friendliness than its! We think that this may be the best bet for the friendliest dinosaur.
Friendliest Dinosaurs: Panphagia
Although the largest of dinosaurs, the long necked Sauropods, were quite possibly some of the friendliest dinosaurs, they were simply too big. there were smaller ones but you have to go all the way back to 230 million years ago. to find a really small one. Which rather than a herbivore like its huge descendants, was an omnivore. Its name actually means Eats anything!
Panphagia was about 4 feet long, although not quite fully grown, and would have been quite light. Again very different from large more famous sauropods. So presuming the good nature of the larger long necked dinosaurs was inherited from these smaller versions we can hope it was also as friendly.
Friendliest Dinosaurs: Minmi
FOr any of you that have watched the Netflix series camp cretaceous you will have no doubt seen the baby, then the bigger ( much bigger) Bumpy the ankylosaurus. Now while a full size ankylosaurus was more likely to be as friendly as a modern day Rhinoceros ( not very friendly at all) there were smaller ankylosaurs around the world.
One of these is found is Australia and lived about 133 million years ago. While it was smaller than its 30 foot long cousin, it was still about 10 feet long and 660 lbs ( 300 kg) though, so if it did have the same temperament as the large ankylosaurs it would be quite dangerous.
It did not have the huge boney club on its tail, and actually had longer legs in relation to its body than other ankylosaurus. this has made palaeontologists suggest that it may have run away from predators rather than fight them, so if this is true maybe it was more friendly than aggressive. If we look at Camp cretaceous is was certainly the friendliest dinosaur in that show !
So while we may not ever know for sure which were the friendliest of dinosaurs, we can take educated guesses at which would have at least been more social and capable of recognition.
We need to look for intelligence, evidence of parental instincts, possible social groups of pack hunting, and for our own safety the size of the dinosaur! As while it maybe found that an T – Rex was a great parent super smart, and even hunt or live in small social groups, it is unlikely to be looking for a human sized friend as any other than a mid morning snack!
So dinosaurs like microceratus, or even carnivores just make them small) might be more suitable for the title of the friendliest dinosaur. As right now if you have a dog or a cat in your house you already have a carnivore friend.
Hi, I am 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