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Koh - RITH - oh - SAW - rus

Ville Sinkkonen. Copyright 2006

Field Notes

Name Means: "Corinthian-crested lizard"
Length: 33 feet (10 m)
Diet: Herbivore (Plant-Eater)
Time: Late Cretaceous
Location: Alberta, Canada; Montana, USA

The best known of all the crested duckbill dinosaurs (lambeosaurine hadrosaurs), which lived beside the ancient inland sea of western North America, Corythosaurus walked on all four limbs. It had flattened, blunt claws on its four-fingered hands but, as with other ornithopods, most of its body weight was supported by the large three-toed hindlimbs and balanced by the large tail. Criss-crossing ossified tendons stiffened the tail all the way from the hips, preventing the tail from swinging from side to side when the dinosaur ran.

The spine was strongly flexed, or "hunched," at the shoulders, suggesting that Corythosaurus fed on low-growing plants - probably on the flowering plants that had evolved earlier in the Cretaceous - but that it could also raise its head above shoulder level to check for danger and to communicate with other members of the herd.

Like other duckbills and some other late Cretaceous plant-eating dinosaurs, Corythosaurus had huge numbers of teeth crammed together into "batteries" forming a single grinding surface on each side of the upper and lower jaws. This allowed the dinosaur to process large amounts of food at once. The hadrosaurines had broad, "ducklike" snouts to cut a wide swathe through the herb layer, while lambeosaurines such as Corythosaurus had narrower snouts and presumably fed more selectively.

The most distinctive feature of the lambeosaurines was the hollow bony crest on top of the head. The size and shape of these crests varied greatly. As a result, different skeletons of Corythosaurus have been identified as belonging to at least seven different species. However, comparison of more than 20 skulls has shown that the crest changes as it grows and differs between the sexes. Only a single species is, therefore, now recognized.

The large-crested individuals are thought to be the adult males. They probably used the crest to intimidate others males. The skin covering the crest may have been brightly coloured or patterned, and the hollow within the bone, which was connected to the airway, may have been used to produce distinctive honking calls.

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2006 - 2011 Content by Gavin Robinson.