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Parasaurolophus

PAR - uh - SAW - roh - LOH - fus

Ornithopoda/Hadrosauridae
Copyright 2007

Field Notes

Name Means: "Side-ridged lizard"
Length: 35 feet (10.5 m)
Diet: Herbivore (Plant-Eater)
Time: Late Cretaceous
Location: Montana, New Mexico, USA; Alberta, Canada

With its snout bones drawn up into a giant snorkel-like structure, Parasaurolophus was one of the most bizarre of all the hadrosaurs. It lacked a hole in its apex, and because of this it is clear that this bony structure was not used as a breathing apparatus while the animal was swimming or feeding underwater. It seems more likely that it helped Parasaurolophus produce noises for signaling to mates or, if it was colored, for courtship displays. We know from the specimens that have been discovered that soft tissues adorned the bony crest.

The first skeleton of Parasaurolophus was collected in 1921 by Levi Sternberg in the region of southern Alberta, Canada, that is now the Dinosaur Provincial Park. This early find is still the most complete specimen to have been discovered. Three species of Parasaurolophus are recognized from their skull. P. cyrtocrystatus had a short crest; on the other two species-P. walkeri and P. tubicen-the crests were much longer. The internal structure of the crest, which, unlike the crest of Saurolophus, had a hollow area that connected with the nostrils and the back of the throat, was more complex in P. tubicen than in other Parasaurolophus species.

Like all hadrosaurs, Parasaurolophus was a plant-eater. It had many closely compacted teeth, each of which had a central ridge. The teeth formed a strong dental battery that made it easier to chew though vegetable matter. The principal dangers this dinosaur faced were from the larger predators such as Albertosaurus. Parasaurolophus probably sought protection from its enemies by living in large herds, in the same way that herbivores that inhabit the African plains do today.

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