As scientists began to collect and study more of these mysterious bones, they began to realise that they belonged to creatures that lived in the ancient history of Earth, long before mankind first appeared. Long burial had resulted in their bones becoming petrified (turned to stone).
In 1842 the anatomist Professor Richard Owen (who later persuaded the Government to found the Natural History Museum in London, and became its first Director) coined the name Dinosauria, from the Greek words deinos meaning “fearfully great” and sauros meaning “lizard”. Owen did this to emphasise the existence of a very unique type of land-living reptile, which turned out to be markedly different from the many unusual types of fossil creature known then.
Today, a branch of science called palaeontology specialises in analysing fossils to uncover the mysteries of life that existed on our planet many millions of years ago.