Source by: lownote
A fancy crest on its head and docile looks make the Parasaurolophus stand out from the menacing dinosaurs known to mankind. On top of that, this dinosaur with a crest on its head is interesting in itself too.
For example. Did you know that the Parasaurolophus is “one of the last and best known crested duckbills” according to National Geographic?
Paleontologists have been fascinated by its fossils for years since they were discovered. They’ve poured themselves over in study after study and have come up with remarkable insights like the one we shared above.
You’re in for a treat because those are what we’ll be sharing in this article today. Parasaurolophus facts that will help you get to know this amazing dinosaur a little better. Check the facts out below.
The Basics: What is a Parasaurolophus?
Source by: Only Dinosaurs
The parasaurolophus was a duck-billed ornithopod from the Late Cretaceous period. It had a curious-looking curved tube on its head that’s been the fascination of scientists for years. It also had the amazing ability to walk on two feet or on all four, whichever was more needed.
Additionally, its name means “near-crested lizard”. Take a look at these Greek words to understand how its name came to be:
- para is Greek for “beside” or “near”
- saurois Greek for “lizard”
- lophosis Greek for “crest”
Imagining these details really piques the imagination, doesn’t it? Here are a few more facts about the parasaurolophus that will give you the basics on this dinosaur.
Parasaurolophus Fossil Discoveries
Source by: Dallas Krentzel
The parasaurolophus fossil was first discovered in North America in 1920. The first bones found were its skull and parts of its skeleton from neck to legs.
It was an astounding find for such a bizarre-looking creature. But a few things were missing from its skeleton. These were much of its tail and hind legs under the knee.
But finding a parasaurolophus fossil wasn’t limited to one location. There were exactly three places where fossils have been found. And they’re summarized as the following:
- Alberta, Canada: discovered by the University of Toronto at the Upper Cretaceous Dinosaur Park Formation
- New Mexico, USA: found by Charles Sternberg at the Kirtland Formation, San Juan County; John Ostrom at the same site or the Fruitland Formation
- Utah, USA: unearthed by David Weishampel and James Jensen at the Kaiparowits Formation, Garfield County
The Three Parasaurolophus Species
Source by: Marcus33 – Own work
Now, what’s the significance of the three locations we just mentioned? These three places also signify the three different kinds of parasaurolophus.
Woah, right? And we all thought there was just one kind of dinosaur with a long head.
Source by: Terry A. Gates, David C. Evans, Joseph J.W. Sertich
So here are the quick facts about the parasaurolophus species found from Alberta, New Mexico, and Utah:
#1 P. walkeri
Source by: Leandra Walters, Phil Senter, James H. Robins
- This was the first parasaurolophus species discovered. It was found in 1920 in Alberta, Canada.
- It’s distinguished by its crest that’s straighter than the others. It also has an internal skeletal structure that’s simpler.
- It’s named after Sir Byron Edmund Walker who was the Royal Ontario Museum’s Board of Trustees chairman at the time it was found
#2 P. tubicen
Source by: DeviantArt
- This one’s the largest of all three species and had a crest that’s longer than the others.
- It was found in 1921 at New Mexico’s Kirtland Formation.
- The P. tubicen‘s name is Latin for “trumpeter”.
#3 P. cyrtocristatus
Source by: ДиБгд at Russian Wikipedia – Transferred from ru.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain
- This one’s the smallest and could be the most basal (earliest living) Parasaurolophus species.
- It was found in 1961 at Utah’s Kaiparowits Formation at Garfield County.
- The cyrtocristatus‘ crest has the most pronounced curvature out of the three species.
- Its name comes from the Latin word curtus and cristatus which means “shortened” and “crested”, respectively.
The Physical Makeup: What Does a Parasaurolophus Look Like?
Source by: edenpictures
The parasaurolophus had a snout that’s shaped like a duck’s flat bill. It also had a long tube-like bone on its head called a cranial crest.
Additionally, it had four limbs which the parasaurolophus used to run and walk with. It also had a heavily built body with broad shoulder blades and large thigh bones.
Source by: Ghedoghedo – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
What we shared just now are the few distinct physical features that are common among them. Because technically, the parasaurolophus has three different looks because it has three kinds of species as previously mentioned. But that’s what the parasaurolophus looks like in a nutshell.
Don’t stop reading yet though. Because we’re going to highlight something that everyone’s most curious about — the parasaurolophus crest. What is it and what was it for?
Add to that a short bonus section about the parasaurolophus size for a real treat. So we invite you to scroll down and take a look.
The Parasaurolophus Crest
Source by: Only Dinosaurs
Oh, the dinosaur with the crest. It’s hard not to miss in the movies as it runs by like a gazelle beside the lumbering sauropods and beneath the flying pterosaurs.
What’s hard not to miss too is its cranial crest. Can you guess what it was for?
Source by: Mediastorehouse
Before you share your answer, here are a few rejected hypotheses to know what it was not:
- It’s not a snorkel used to help the parasaurolophus swim.
- It’s not a breathing tube or a physical feature used to help the dinosaur gather its food.
- It’s not an air trap to keep water from entering the parasaurolophus’ lungs.
- It’s not an air reservoir. Parasaurolophus don’t scuba dive and live an aquatic lifestyle.
- It’s not a place where it kept its “olfactory tissue”.
Source by: Sarah&Boston
Now here are the hypotheses more widely accepted among scientists to know what the parasaurolophus crest really was. Did yours make the list?
- Species recognition: It may be used as a visual means to recognize species members and identifying genders
- Communication: It may be used as a means to resonate the sounds they made to communicate with each other
- Thermoregulation: It may be used to regulate the dinosaur’s body temperature
The Parasaurolophus Size
Source by: Slate Weasel – Own work, Public Domain
The parasaurolophus was a large-bodied dinosaur. It had thigh bones that grew as long as 41 inches and heavily built arms. A good example is the P. walkeri, the type specimen. It’s believed to be as heavy as two and a half tons with a total length of 31 feet.
It’s no surprise either that the parasaurolophus is called the dinosaur with a long head. Why? Because the P. walkeri’s head measures about 5 feet with the P. tubicen measuring as long as 6.7 feet.
The Habitat: Where Did the Parasaurolophus Live?
Source by: London looks
We’ve just gotten a pretty good picture of what a parasaurolophus was and what it looked like. Now let’s check out the parasaurolophus habitat: where it lived and who were its neighbors.
The Parasaurolophus’ Home Sweet Home
Source by: Chase Lewis on Unsplash
The parasaurolophus habitat was in prehistoric North America. It’s where Alberta, Canada, New Mexico, and Utah, USA are today.
They had an environment that’s possibly made of floodplains that eventually turned swampy. It may have lived near rivers, coasts, and highlands too.
The weather back then may have been warm, humid, and wet. Dry seasons may have been experienced as well.
The Animals & Dinosaurs That Coexisted with Parasaurolophus
Source by: sporst
The other dinosaurs that may have also lived within the parasaurolophus habitat were centrosaurus, tyrannosaurids like the gorgosaurus, pentaceratops, and pachycephalosaurus. Fishes, pterosaurs, albertosaurus, and turtles may have lived in the same environment too.
The Moment in Time: When Did the Parasaurolophus Live?
Source by: foilman
The parasaurolophus time period was set during the Late Cretaceous period around 76 to 73 a million years back. The earliest living parasaurolophus was the P. cyrtocristatus with about a million-year difference from the P. tubicen and P. walkeri.
The Diet: What Did the Parasaurolophus Eat?
Source by: DinoTeam – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
This dinosaur with a crest on its head was a herbivore. It ate plant material like leaves, pine needles, and twigs which were abundant in its habitat.
Here’s another interesting parasaurolophus fact. Did you know the parasaurolophus’ teeth numbered to a hundred pieces that were packed into dental batteries? Their teeth ground the food the parasaurolophus found which gave it a chewing-like motion while eating.
The End of The Crest Of Parasaurolophus Facts
Source by: Only Dinosaurs
How did you like the facts about the parasaurolophus you just learned? Did it help you understand this amazing dinosaur a little more?
We hope it did! Especially if you plan to cast it as one of the dinosaurs who’ll play a role in your exhibit or party. It’s also going to be more awesome when you make a show using an animatronic parasaurolophus puppet because you now know how it lived.
Let us know what you loved the most in this article! See you in the next one!