Corythosaurus

The genus Corythosaurus includes some species of ornitischio-hadrosaurid dinosaurs that lived during the Cretaceous Period approximately 77 million years ago.

Its name means “hoof lizard” due to the crest that the species had, very similar to the hoofs of the Corinthians.

It was one of the largest hadrosaurids, not only from the Cretaceous Period but from the entire family.

It has been assumed that its crest was very colorful, since such striking characters in the anatomy of an animal are usually referred to mating behaviors.

Basic information about Corythosaurus

The Corythosaurus is a dinosaur that is well known because many complete skeletons have been found on it.

  • How long is it? – Corythosaurus averaged about 30 feet long.
  • What’s its height? – It was about 3.6 meters high.
  • What’s his weight? – The approximate weight of the corytosaurus is 4 tons.
  • When did it live? – It was on Earth 77 million years ago until approximately 75.7 million years ago.
  • What is its family? – Corythosaurus belongs to the hadrosaurid family.

The taxonomy of Corythosaurus

Kingdom Animalia > Filo Chordata > Superorder Dinosauria > Order Ornithischia > Suborder Ornithopoda > Family Hadrosauridae > Tribe Lambeosaurini > Genus Coritosaurus

The family: the hadrosaurids

Before describing Corythosaurus directly, one must know more about the family it belongs to. Therefore, let’s start with the characteristics of the hadrosaurs.

The hadrosaurid family is also well known by its second name, which would be the translation to our language, the duck-billed dinosaurs. As can be deduced, the main characteristic of the hadrosaurids is the beak they have, they had the part of the snouts a flattened beak.

This shape of beak is quite similar to that of modern-day ducks.

Unlike other herbivorous dinosaurs whose digestion consists of gastrolitis, hadrosaurs could chew their food.

They had thousands of teeth in the back of their mouths capable of grinding and chewing food before they ate it.

Something quite peculiar and that is being studied its usefulness, is the crest that these dinosaurs have in the upper part of their head.

The most accepted hypothesis is that it served as a sounding board that allowed communication between them.

Pleurokinesis: the way the hadrosaurs chew

Thanks to the study conducted by paleontologist Mark Purnell in 2009, it has been possible to determine that hadrosaurs had a unique way of eating. The study was conducted by analyzing microscopic scratches found on the teeth of an Edmontosaurus fossil.

The study deduced that the hadrosaurids had a single hinge located between their upper jaw and what would become the rest of their skull. This is quite different from today’s mammals, which have a lower jaw with a flexible joint.

The way this dinosaur chews is called pleurokinesis. Pleurokinesis consists of the upper jaw wrapping around the lower jaw, that is, the upper jaw is pushed sideways and outwards while chewing and the lower jaw slides against the upper teeth.

This way of chewing achieves a shearing effect, as the teeth are ground more precisely against each other.

Description of Corythosaurus

Knowing more about the Corythosaurus family, the hadrosaurs, it is time to analyze the characteristics of the Corythosaurus.

Size and weight

The size of Corythosaurus is about 9 meters. This size is quite similar to that of Lambeosaurus lambei, which is also another Canadian lambeosaurus.

This size estimate is made in 2012 according to paleontologist Benson. However, since 1942, the average size of the dinosaur was considered to be 9.4 meters as described by Richard Swann Luli.

The weight of Corythosaurus is very close to 3.82 tons, which would be 3820 kilograms. The estimation of this weight is thanks to Edwin H. Colbert who in 1962 used Vincent Fusco’s models to get the weight of this extinct quadruped.

The characteristics of its skull

Over twenty skulls have already been found on this dinosaur. Thanks to this quantity of skulls found, it has been possible to determine that the Corythosaurus had the characteristic crest of the hadrosaurs.

This crest was bony and was located at the end of its skull, including its elongated nasal passage. The nasal passage extended to the ridge, initially in two pockets located on the sides and finally joined in a single central chamber until it reached their respiratory system.

Their skulls found have no dermal imprints. The only thing that seems to distort reality is the compression that has emerged during the conversation of the remains.

The width of the skull is currently 2/3 of what it would have been in reality. In addition to the problem of comprehension, the skulls appear to be in very good condition.

The crest of the Corythosaurus is formed by a combination of its premaxillary, prefrontal, frontal and nasal bones. It has two halves that are separated from each other by a medium suture. Its nostrils occupy most of the ridge.

According to Brown’s research, they are supposed to extend from the tip of its beak to the highest part of the ridge.

The soft tissues of Corythosaurus

According to the research done on the remains of this dinosaur, it has been seen that the tail of this dinosaur is covered with scales of different shapes.

The scales that Corythosaurus has are varied:

Polygonal tuberculae, covered with small bumps that vary in size along the body
On the back of the tibia, conical-shaped scales. It was most likely the lower part of his abdomen and not his leg.
Except for the vertebrae in the cervical region, all the others have ossified tendons.

The peculiarity of Corythosaurus casuarys is that their scales are of the shield type and arranged closely together in rows.

It is one of the few dinosaurs that have preserved impressions on the skin of their hind limbs and feet.

Its scales have given rise to the idea that this dinosaur lived most of its time in the water. This deduction comes from the fact that it had webbed feet and hands. It was later discovered that it was actually padded that it was deflated, very similar to many mammals today.

Its most characteristic features

According to the paleontologist Barnum Brown in 1914, there are many characteristics in this dinosaur that allow it to be distinguished from the other hadrosaurids in the Alberta area.

The coritsoraur has a relatively smaller skull than that of its relatives and that its hoof crest was formed by its nostrils, front and prefront.

In addition to the latter, its nostrils were not separated in front of the premaxillaries. Another characteristic is that they had a narrow beak with an elongation towards their nostrils, as well as a small nasal opening.

In 1916, Mr. Brown increased the set of specific characters of this dinosaur to describe it more thoroughly and thus distinguish it more from its relatives.

The Corythosaurus has 15 verticular vertebrae, about 19 dorsal and over 61 caudal. It also has its spines at a medium height, its caudal spines at a high height, with a medium wide leaf and a radius somewhat longer than that of its humerus.

Its metacarpals were what would be relatively short and an anterior iliac bone without curvature. The length of the ischium expanded from the terminal to similar feet.

His pubic bone had a relatively short anterior blade that expands at the ends.

A belly with rows of large, tapered scales located longitudinally and separated by large polygonal tubers. Most of its postcranial features are shared today with other types of lambeosaurs.

When and where did Corythosaurus live?

When did Corythosaurus live? – Dinosaurs inhabited the Earth for many millions of years, approximately 186 million years.

Talking about dinosaurs and thinking they were all the same is wrong, there were many kinds of dinosaurs and they evolved over the years.

The Corythosaurus were only about 2 million years old on earth out of all those 186 million years that dinosaurs were. They started living about 77.5 million years ago until about 75 million years ago (more or less).

77.5 million years ago was the Late Cretaceous period. That may be a bit specific, but the Cretaceous covers almost 70 million years where a lot of things happened.

To be more specific we always divide the Epochs into Ages so that we can specify more. In the case of the Corythosaurus, they lived in the Upper Cretaceous of Campania.

The Campanian Age began 83.6 million years ago and ended about 72 million years ago. In addition to the fact that Corythosaurus inhabited the Earth during those years, other quite important events took place.

In the Campanian Age a radiation arises among the dinosaurs that caused the appearance of many species. For example, in North America, the number of known dinosaur genera increased from 4 at the beginning of the Age to 48 at the end of the Age.

It is not really known whether it is because the preservation of the oldest fossils at that age is unlikely or whether there was really a natural phenomenon that led to the emergence of all these new dinosaur genera.

During this stage there were large continental areas with warm climates and covered with shallow waters. It is very likely that this favored the life of dinosaurs in general. As the Campanian Age ended, the last age before the disappearance of the dinosaurs, the Maastrichtian Age, would begin.

There are far fewer findings from the Maastrichtian Age than from the Campanian Age.
This makes one suspect that there was indeed a very abrupt change at the beginning of the Campanian Age, as it went from 4 genera of dinosaurs to 48. To refute this we could say that the preservation of fossils from the pre-Campanian Age was very bad.

With this rule of three we could say that then, in the Maastrichtian Age there would be more fossils, which is not the case. In North America, from the Maastrichtian Age, 30% fewer dinosaurs have been found than in the Upper Campanian Age.

Where did this dinosaur live? – Everything indicates that the habitat of Corythosaurus was in the area of the Oldman Formation and the Dinosaur Park Formation in the Canadian country. These formations are located in southern Alberta.

The most curious thing is that they had a limited area being the most abundant dinosaurs in the Campanian Age. It has been observed that the large herbivorous dinosaurs like the hadrosaurs had small geographical areas.

This is quite curious because they had a large size and relatively high mobility.

What did the Corythosaurus eat?

This dinosaur was an ornithopod. This means that the diet it follows is herbivorous. According to research, this dinosaur would not have had it too easy to eat.

The paleontologist Benson in 2012 noticed that the Corythosaurus had a shallow and rather delicate beak, which would have conditioned its diet to soft vegetation.

Its beak, along with the Upper Cretaceous climate, could be assumed that the Corythosaurus was quite selective about its diet. It would have eaten only the youngest leaves and the juiciest fruits.

Who discovered the hoofed lizard?

The first evidence of the existence of Corythosaurus on Earth was thanks to specimen AMNH 5240 discovered in 1911. Barnum Brown found this sample in the Red Deer River area of Alberta, Canada.

Specimen AMNH 5240 was a great find, as not only was the sample well preserved but also a large part of the skin impressions of this dinosaur. This is in addition to the fact that only a little bit of its tail and the parts of its forelimbs were missing.

In 1914, Brown and Peter Kaisen found another specimen (AMN 5338) that, like the first one, was also very well preserved.

If you are interested in seeing one of these two, or directly the two specimens you should visit the American Museum of Natural History. There you will find the two specimens in the original positions of their death.

Who is Barnum Brown?

A day like February 12, 1873 is when Brown appears on Earth.

Barnum was one of the most famous paleontologists. This is because, among many other things, he was the first to find remains of Tyrannosaurus rex.

Barnum Brown’s work area is not only limited to dinosaurs. He was a hunter of fossils of all kinds of animals.

We hope you found this entry with information about Corythosaurus useful.