Most families of plant-eating dinosaurs evolved specific adaptations to help them cope with their meat-eating adversaries. Some, like Triceratops, evolved big horns that made them too dangerous to attack. Others evolved bony suits of spiky armour that turned them into walking fortresses. A few others evolved lightweight bodies and extra-long legs that gave them the speed to reliably outrun predators. But one group has always appeared virtually defenseless: the hadrosaurs—better known as the duck-billed dinosaurs.
What is a “Duck-Billed” Dinosaur?
Hadrosaurs were a family of dinosaurs that are commonly called “duck-billed” dinosaurs. Can you guess why? Yes, it’s because they often had flat, wide mouths that looked like a duck’s bill! These large animals lived during the Late Cretaceous Period, right up until the extinction of all non-bird dinosaurs. They grew quite large, ate plants, and sometimes had striking crests on their heads, the purpose of which is still debated by paleontologists.
List of Duck-Billed Dinosaurs
Out of all the hadrosaurs (also known as the duck-billed dinosaurs), Parasaurolophus is one of the most widely recognized thanks to its very distinctive skull crest. The name Parasaurolophus is a bit of a mouthful, but this is based on the early interpretation that Parasaurolophus was similar to another genus names Saurolophus, because Saurolophus also has a skull crest, though not as large or as ornate as Parasaurolophus.
However, under modern systematics, Parasaurolophus is classed as a lambeosaurine hadrosaurid because of the hollow crest,whereas Saurolophus is the type genus of the Saurolophinae (previously Hadrosaurinae) a sister group of hadrosaurids noted for having solid to no crests at all.
Parasaurolophus cyrtocristatus skeleton on display at the Field Museum of Natural History, in Chicago.
Iguanodon is an ornithopod dinosaur, approximately halfway between the early hypsilophodontids and their final culmination in the duck-billed dinosaurs. They lived between 120 to 140 million years ago, in the Barremian to Valanginian ages of the early Cretaceous time, though one unknown species is from the late Jurassic. Its most characteristic feature was a large razor-sharp thumb, likely used for defense from predators.
The various Iguanodon species are large herbivores, ranging from 6 to 11 metres (20 to 36 feet) in length, and averaging about 5 tonnes (5.5 tons) in weight.
Size: About 6 meters long.
Time period: Cenomanian to Campanian of the Cretaceous.
A typical Bactrosaurus would have been 6.2 m (20 ft) long and weighed 1.2 metric tons (1.3 short tons). It was an early relative of Lambeosaurus and shows a number of iguanodont-like features, including three stacked teeth for each visible tooth, small maxillary teeth, and an unusually powerful build for a hadrosaur. It shows features intermediate between those of the two main hadrosaurid groups. Its femur measured 80 centimetres (2.6 ft) long.
Bactrosaurus was originally thought to be a lambeosaurine hadrosaurid, supposedly the oldest and most primitive known, and its crestless head was seen as an anomaly. A 1990 popular book suggested that it had an incompletely preserved crest, but recent studies place Bactrosaurus as a more basal hadrosauromorph. Basal members do not preserve hollow crests, so Bactrosaurus itself is likely to be crestless.
The Restored Akeleton Displayed at the Hong Kong Science Museum
Corythosaurus is an extinct genus of hadrosaur dinosaurs that lived in the Late Cretaceous period. Its name means “Helmet lizard”. It is also known by the incorrectly spelled name, Carninthosaurus in The Lost World: Jurassic Park script and media.
In the game, Jurassic Park: Explorer, the following information is given about this creature:
Corythosaurus had hundreds of small interlocking teeth at the back of its jaw, allowing it to crush and grind plant matter. The bony crest on top of its head contained its nasal passage and may have been used as a sounding device.
Corythosaurus at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Edmontosaurus is a genus of hadrosaurid (duck-billed) dinosaurs. It contains two known species: Edmontosaurus regalis and Edmontosaurus annectens. Fossils of E. regalis have been found in rocks of western North America that date from the late Campanian stage of the Cretaceous Period 73 million years ago, while those of E. annectens were found in the same geographic region but in rocks dated to the end of the Maastrichtian stage of the Cretaceous, 66 million years ago. Edmontosaurus was one of the last non-avian dinosaurs and lived alongside dinosaurs like Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus, Ankylosaurus, and Pachycephalosaurus shortly before the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event.
Edmontosaurus included some of the largest hadrosaurid species, measuring up to 12 metres (39 ft) long and weighing around 5.6 metric tons (6.2 short tons) in average asymptotic body mass, although some individuals would have been larger.Several well-preserved specimens are known that include not only bones, but in some cases extensive skin impressions and possible gut contents. It is classified as a genus of saurolophine (or hadrosaurine) hadrosaurid, a member of the group of hadrosaurids which lacked large, hollow crests, instead having smaller solid crests or fleshy combs.
Maiasaura was a herbivore. It lived in the Cretaceous period and inhabited North America. Its fossils have been found in places such as Montana.
This dinosaur was named “The Good Mother” because there is evidence that she looked after her nest of eggs very well. And her fossil was found among a whole area of nests, all clustered together, like a mass incubation ground. She was excavated in Montana during 1979.
Big Mama weighed in at around four tons, with a nose to tail tip measurement of some 30 feet, and stood at least eight feet at the shoulder. Montana must have been a very rich environment at the time, rich enough to support hundreds of duck-billed plant eaters like Maiasaura, with huge appetites, and side teeth that could process enormous amounts of plant material.
The dinosaur was named by Yuri Bolotsky and Sergei Kurzanov in the year 1991. The remains of the dinosaur were found near the Amur region hence giving it the name Amurosaurus. Amurosaurus is based on partial remains found in a bonebed of multiple dinosaurs, which indicates that there must be more remains for the dinosaur somewhere. Studying the fossil remains for the dinosaur, it was described as a lambeosaurine hadrosaurid dinosaur known for its hollow crest, similar to the Corythosaurus of North America. Amurosaurus was the proof of a lambeosaurine hadrosaurid living in Asia near the end of the Cretaceous period, when the same species was getting extinct from North America, except for the solid to no crested saurolophine hadrosaurid. This proves the theory that the lambeosaurines evolved in Asia and then crossed over to North America via a land bridge.
Fossil bones of adult Amurosaurus are extremely rare to find, but the small amount of material that has been found shows that Amurosaurus was about 12 meters long.
Replica of Amurosaurus at Brussels
Tsintaosaurus (“Qingdao lizard”, after the old transliteration “Tsingtao”) is an extinct genus of hadrosaurid dinosaurs from the Late Cretaceous Period of China. It reached lengths of up to 27 feet long and weighed up to 2.5 tons, or 5,000 pounds.
A hadrosaur, Tsintaosaurus had a characteristic ‘duck bill’ snout and a battery of powerful teeth which it used to chew vegetation. Tsintaosaurus, like most hadrosaurs, probably traveled in herds and was semi-quadrupedal and bipedal, meaning it can walk and run on two legs and four legs under certain times.
Like many hadrosaurs, Tsintaosaurus sported a crest on its head. It was originally believed to point forward from its forehead, giving it the nickname “Unicorn of the Cretaceous”. More recent discoveries suggest the crest instead pointed backwards and was comparable to its close relative, Lambeosaurus.
Anatotitan was a large, duck-billed dinosaur about 33 feet (10 m) long and 8 feet (2.5 m) tall at the hips; it weighed roughly 5 tons (7300 kg) – about as big as a bus. It was very similar to Edmontosaurus, but it was more lightly built and had longer legs.
Anatotitan had short arms, a long, pointy tail, three hoofed toes, mitten-like hands, a flat, sloping head with a wide, toothless beak, cheek pouches, and hundreds of closely-packed cheek teeth (for grinding plant material).
Anatotitan was a biped (it walked on two legs) but it could also walk on four legs, perhaps to graze low-lying plants. Anatotitan was probably a relatively slow-moving dinosaur with few defenses but may have had keen senses (eyesight, hearing, and smell) to help it avoid predators.
Saurolophus is a genus of hadrosaurid dinosaurs that lived during the Late Cretaceous period. Its fossils have been found in North America and Mongolia.
They were plant eaters and could move on two or four feet, though their rear feet were longer than their arms. There is speculation that their spike was attached to a flap of skin that covered the nostrils and could be blown up for displays and noise-making.
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