SOME PARASAUROLOPHUS INTERESTING FACTS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW
You' re a fan of dinosaurs or prehistoric animals? Then you've probably heard of the Parasaurolophus, this famous dinosaur with a crest on its head but do you know everything there is to know about this giant from the past?
In this article, you will learn some Parasaurolophus facts that may surprise you.
The Parasaurolophus is an Upper Cretaceous dinosaur belonging to the order Ornithischiens, suborder Ornithopodes and family Hadrosauridae.
The genus was first described in 1922 by William Parks from a skull and partial fossil skeleton discovered in Alberta. It was a vegetivorous that walked both as a biped and quadruped.
The parasaurolophus became extinct at the same time as the dinosaur extinction.
But First, What Does Parasaurolophus mean?
The name Parasaurolophus means "near crested lizard" in reference to the dinosaur Saurolophus, to which it is quite close. The dinosaur Parasaurolophus is a genus of ornithopod that lived in what is now North America during the Upper Cretaceous period, about 76.5 to 73 million years ago. Three species of this dinosaur are recognized: P. walkeri (the standard specie), P. tubicen and P. cyrtocristatus. Fossils have been discovered in Alberta (Canada), New Mexico, and Utah (USA).
General Characteristics and Size of the Parasaurolophus
What was the Parasaurolophus Height and Weight?
Although far from the imposing size of the sauropods, the parasaurolophus was nonetheless a really big herbivore.
The Parasaurologist was on average 33 feet long ( 10 meters ), about 10 feet high (3 meters ), but it could reach up to 16 feet ( 5 meters ) tall by standing on its hind legs. It weighed about 5 tons and had rough skin. However, it should be noted that these data may vary depending on the species concerned.
To provide a bit of background; the measurements described above refer to the species P. walkeri, whereas if we are talking about the species P. tubicen, the data provided according to the fossil results indicate that it was a larger dinosaur than the previous one.
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The particular physique of the Parasaurolophus
Its "mouth" is shaped like a duck's beak. It could walk on either two or four legs, although its long and powerful hind legs and its front legs a little shorter in comparison. On the other hand, its tail had an elongated and somewhat flattened shape that some scientists have speculated it could have been used for swimming.
An Elaborate Cranial Crest
The most striking feature of this hadrosaurus was undoubtedly its excessively long and backward-facing bony crest. This crest was hollow on the inside, much like the Lambeosaurus.
This bony crest reached a length of up to three feet (1 meter ) and was slightly curved downwards, originated from the nose, and ran along with its entire head until it extended outwards in a downwardly curved form. The use of this ridge is not entirely clear, but different theories have been put forward.
One of the earliest theories was that of Alfred Sherwood Romer, in which he suggested that the ridge served as a "breathing tube" and also as an air reservoir when submerged in water. This theory is based on the fact that this dinosaur had amphibious characteristics, that is, it supported life on land and in the water.
Later, Othenio Abel proposed that this ridge was used as a weapon when a specimen of Parasaurolophus faced other species or a predator. On the other hand, it was also said that it used the ridge to make its way through the foliage.
However, these theories were rejected by the scientific community because they lacked physical evidence to validate them. For example, the ridge could not be used as an inner tube because the accumulated air would not be sufficient for a dinosaur of this size, and the position and shape of the ridge would not have been used as a "weapon" or to remove foliage.
Researcher James Hopson claims it was a sexual differentiator, stating that the small crested parasaurolophus was a female, while Thomas Williamson suggests that the small crest indicated that this dinosaur was at puberty. That is, the younger they are, the smaller they are and the older they are, regardless of sex.
Another of the most valid hypotheses is that this ridge was used as a visual differentiator, in fact, from several studies it was determined that the Parasaurolophus was a daytime animal with good eyesight. This suggests that it was important to distinguish and identify other dinosaurs of your species.
On the other hand, it is also believed that this ridge was used by this singular dinosaur to make sounds as if it were a crumhorn (a popular musical instrument from the Renaissance). Finally, it is thought that the crest served as a thermoregulator, allowing the brain to cool down easily.
What does the Parasaurolophus sound like?
Most likely the Parasaurolophus had a very peculiar cry, its crest being hollow, with distinct tubes leading from each nostril to the end of the crest before reversing direction and down the crest and into the skull. Its bony ridge must have allowed it to make sounds like a wind instrument. Here is a recreation of what the parasaurolophus sounds might have been like:
The Parasaurolophus Diet
Regarding its diet, parasaurolophus was a herbivore, the fossil content found in its stomach is proving it, it was feeding on plant parts such as leaves, seeds, and needles of conifers.
This food was easily crushed by a number of small columnar teeth, which changed once they deteriorated. With the help of its beak and thanks to its large size and narrow rather slender beak, it could feed on foliage up to 13ft (4m) high. Its chewing jugular teeth allowed it to crush plants, unlike many other dinosaurs that were content to swallow them.
Because of its herbivorous nature, it is assumed that its habitat was mainly rich in vegetation.
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Where Did Parasaurolophus live?
- Distribution Parasaurolophus: Most of the fossils of Parasaurolophus have been discovered in the United States and southwestern Canada. So we can assume it lived in North America.
- Habitat: Although it has long been thought that it could swim with its tail, or even use its crest as a snorkel, it’s very unlikely, first, its crest was closed and it seems that it did not live near rivers or lakes because of the location the fossils were found and the land plants in its stomach.
What About the Behavior of Parasaurolophus?
It was a fairly quiet herbivorous dinosaur, usually walking on all fours and standing on two legs to reach the fruits and plants that were on top. In addition, it is sometimes speculated that it had the ability to swim aided by its large hind legs and crushed tail. But at this time, there is no evidence to confirm that.
It had very keen senses, in fact, it is known that it had small cavities, very similar to those of crocodiles, which served as ears, adding to its sharp eyesight. It was very easy for it to detect any threat and run away in a hurry, running only on its two hind legs and balancing with his tail.
What was the Parasaurolophus Speed?
Ordinarily, the parasaurolophus was a fairly slow-moving dinosaur, moving quietly on all fours while seeking food.
Nevertheless, in case of danger or if pursued by a predator it could stand up on its hind legs and run balanced with its tail. Its top speed is estimated at about 25mph.
Its main predators being the Gorgosaurus, a predator of the same family as Tyrannosaurus, although smaller.
Some Anecdotes about Parasaurolophus
- The "duck's beak mouth" is not a characteristic peculiar to the parasaurolophus, many dinosaur specimens from the hadrosaurus family had a similar mouth.
- The dinosaur Charonosaurus found in China may have been its closest relative. It had a similar skull and potentially a similar crest. Visual recognition of the two species and the sex of the individuals by shouting using acoustic resonance in the crest and thermoregulation have been proposed as functional explanations for the crest.
- In 2015, the first nest with 5 eggs of this dinosaur was found in a place called "dragon's tomb" in Mongolia. However, these embryos were not developed enough to draw conclusions about the development of this dinosaur.
- One of the most important discoveries about Parasaurolophus has not been made by a paleontologist, in 2013 in the South Utah Natural Park, a 17-year-old young boy found by chance the most complete fossilized remains of what would be a baby Parasaurolophus.
You are now an expert and know almost everything there is to know about Parasaurolophus. Feel free to browse through our site and read our other articles on dinosaurs.
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