Do you like dinosaurs? Are you curious? Do you want to know if herbivorous dinosaurs were harmless animals or dangerous creatures?
We're pretty passionate about those topics too.
In this article you will find out:
As you've probably already realized, herbivorous dinosaurs could be very dangerous and have many formidable and useful assets for their defense. They could compete with many predators and make them think twice before attacking.
You'll soon know all about it! You'll know exactly which herbivore to watch out for!
Let's find out all this together, starting now.
Before getting to the heart of the matter, let's start by reviewing the fundamentals in order to understand what we are going to talk about.
So let's start by remembering everything there is to know about these prehistoric creatures.
As its name suggests a herbivorous dinosaur is a dinosaur with a herbivorous diet, a dinosaur that feeds on plants. They are to be differentiated from carnivorous dinosaurs, which feed on meat, and omnivorous dinosaurs, which feed on both meat and plants.
Herbivorous dinosaurs lived throughout the reign of the dinosaurs, during the Mesozoic era which began 250 million years ago and ended 66 million years ago with the extinction of the dinosaurs in a succession of cataclysms.
For millions of years, they were the most common category of animals on the planet. They had the advantage of an abundant food source and relatively easy access to drinking water.
Their main predators were the different species of carnivorous theropod dinosaurs that inhabited the earth at that time.
You can find some of them in our ranking of the 10 scariest dinosaurs of the Mesozoic era.
As we have just seen, herbivorous dinosaurs represent the main group of animals living during the Mesozoic era. But it's all pretty vague...
So we're going to go into a little more detail.
Herbivorous dinosaurs were very varied in size, shape, and nature. Some were giant creatures, others were tiny animals.
Some of them were part of the saurischians family and could be bipeds, like the theropods, or quadrupeds, like the sauropods.
Others belonged to the ornithischians family, a family which to our knowledge included only herbivores.
If you are interested in learning more about the topic we have written an article about the different species of dinosaurs.
The diplodocus is undoubtedly one of the most famous herbivorous dinosaurs. It is a gigantic four-legged, long-necked animal of the sauropod family. It can be seen in many works of fiction and popular culture. A truly impressive animal that can measure up to 35m ( 38Yard) long.
Although a bit less famous than the diplodocus, you have probably heard about the Stegosaurus, a large four-legged herbivore notably present in the Jurassic Park saga as well as in numerous works about dinosaurs. It was easily recognizable by the large plates on its back and the spikes on the end of his tail, an anti-predator weapon.
This one too is an iconic dinosaur that you probably know if you're interested in dinosaurs. It's one of the most famous herbivorous dinosaurs. It's a sort of a mix between the appearance of a rhinoceros and a dinosaur. Its horns were a formidable defense.
Ankylosaurus is a four-legged armored dinosaur with thorn armor on its back. Physically it doesn't look weak. It was a bit of a cross between a porcupine and a turtle. Curious mix but probably very effective in protecting itself from predators.
Here is a little delicate question, indeed it is difficult to say with certainty which was the largest of the dinosaurs, we will give you an answer but it should not be forgotten that this answer is likely to change with time. We are not immune to a new fossil discovery that will totally change the facts as we know them today.
At the present time and according to our information, the longest and largest dinosaur would, therefore, be the Argentinosaurus, which is none other than the largest land animal that has ever existed according to our current knowledge.
its length has been estimated at about 40m ( 130feet), and its estimated weight is 100 tons.
We can now see more clearly who the herbivorous dinosaurs were and the major place they had among the living beings of the time. It is now time to find out if they had defenses to protect themselves from predators and what those defenses were.
Here is a list of defensive characteristics that some herbivorous dinosaurs may have had:
Some dinosaurs had spines or horns. One example is the Stegosaurus, which had thorns on the end of its tail and could use them as a defense to stab potential attackers with tail movements. Another example could be the Triceratops which had 3 horns on the head that could be used to impale a predator a bit too reckless.
Like modern turtles, some dinosaurs had a protective shell or armor to protect themselves from the claws and fangs of hungry predators. We can name in particular the ankylosaurus which had armor on its back.
The mace is a formidable weapon. Some dinosaurs had a dense bone that could be used to bludgeon a predator. Once again, the Ankylosaurus had it at the end of its tail and could break the legs of a greedy theropod.
This one can surprise us by its originality, but in fact, some dinosaurs possessed a formidable whip that could scare away even the bravest predators. It was a relatively common weapon among the large sauropods, the diplodocus to name the best known of them, its tail was so muscular, long and fine that it could whip to blood any predator approaching a little too close.
Here are some more mundane features but not to be taken lightly. Indeed, here are two formidable means of defense. The imposing size and weight of a dinosaur could make any predator think twice before attacking. Sauropods could probably crush approaching predators with their massive weight. For smaller herbivores that could not compete in size or weight, there was the option of running, and what better way to escape from an opponent than a high-speed race. Some small herbivores had a very fast running speed that allowed them to flee and hide as soon as the danger was felt.
This question does not really have a precise answer. First of all, it depends on which. If a Stegosaurus will be extremely dangerous to a velociraptor it'll be a bit less dangerous to a Tyrannosaurus Rex. We can say that many herbivores were very dangerous.
But if we really had to choose a champion, we think the medal would go to a giant sauropod like the Diplodocus or Argentinosaurus. Whatever the size of the predator it must have been extremely complicated to kill an adult Diplodocus, and extremely risky. Even the largest predators were unlikely to attack them and would probably prefer to attack the young, isolated members of the herd.
As you can see, herbivorous dinosaurs were not the kind of animals we should underestimate. They were powerful animals that could be very dangerous.
With all this information you are now able to recognize a badass dinosaur.
You may even have found your favorite herbivorous dinosaur.
That's why we suggest you take a look at our dinosaur plush collection, and maybe you will find your new pet among them.
Discover them right now by clicking on the image below!