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Both definitions result in the same set of animals being defined as dinosaurs: "Dinosauria = Ornithischia Saurischia", encompassing ankylosaurians (armored herbivorous quadrupeds), stegosaurians (plated herbivorous quadrupeds), ceratopsians (herbivorous quadrupeds with horns and frills), ornithopods (bipedal or quadrupedal herbivores including "duck-bills"), theropods (mostly bipedal carnivores and birds), and sauropodomorphs (mostly large herbivorous quadrupeds with long necks and tails).Birds are now recognized as being the sole surviving lineage of theropod dinosaurs.Although known for large size, many Mesozoic dinosaurs were human-sized or smaller, and modern birds are generally small in size.Dinosaurs today inhabit every continent, and fossils show that they had achieved global distribution by at least the early Jurassic period.Nesbitt found a number of further potential synapomorphies, and discounted a number of synapomorphies previously suggested.

Persistent public enthusiasm for the animals has resulted in significant funding for dinosaur science, and new discoveries are regularly covered by the media.

Many dinosaurs were quite small: Xixianykus, for example, was only about 50 cm (20 in) long.

Since the first dinosaur fossils were recognized in the early 19th century, mounted fossil dinosaur skeletons have been major attractions at museums around the world, and dinosaurs have become an enduring part of world culture.

Dinosaurs were the dominant terrestrial vertebrates of the Mesozoic, especially the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.

Other groups of animals were restricted in size and niches; mammals, for example, rarely exceeded the size of a domestic cat, and were generally rodent-sized carnivores of small prey.

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