The Maiasaura was a genus of dinosaur that inhabited our planet during the Cretaceous period (about 70 million years ago). It is a specimen that is classified within the group of the hadrosaurid dinosaurs.
This genus would have been able to move using two of its four limbs. And that was relatively a heavy dinosaur, about 5 tons and about 10 meters long (it should be noted that half is due to the tail).
The Maiasaura is a relatively popular and well-known dinosaur, so much so that it has appeared in the famous Jurassik Park movie saga.
Do you want to know more? On our page you will find complete information about the Maisaura, read on and find out all about this herbivorous dinosaur from the Cretaceous period!
Taxonomy of the Maiasaura
- The specimen belongs to the Animalia kingdom.
- This dinosaur corresponds to the phylum Chordata.
- Its class is Sauropsida.
- The animal belongs to the super-order called Dinosauria.
- Its order is called Ornithischia.
- The Maiasaura corresponds to the suborder designated Neornithischia.
- It is part of the suborder Ornithopoda.
- It is located within the family called Hadrosauridae.
- It belongs to the subfamily Saurolophinae, specifically to the tribe Brachylophosaurini.
- Its genus is the Maiasaura.
As we already mentioned, it developed its life during the period identified as Cretaceous, precisely in the superior stage of this one. The curious thing about it is that when the first great finding of this enormous specimen was made, a huge group of nests was also found.
That is why the place is known today by many great and prestigious scientists, such as the famous Egg Mountain, which is obviously located in the first power of the world.
Since then, the entire scientific world of Paleontology came to recognize their error about the fact that large specimens were not in charge of providing the necessary food for their offspring; now everyone knows that it certainly happens that way, verified by the last finding we have just mentioned in the previous paragraph.
Characteristics of the Maiasaura
This unique specimen could reach a length of more than 10 meters, whose volume could be a maximum of 3 tons. On the other hand, the bone structure and the position of that one seems to us to indicate clearly that this animal had the great capacity and ability to be able to move from one point to another with the use of only two of its extremities.
Likewise, one of the parts of this enormous specimen was its tail, which fulfilled a really necessary function, that of maintaining the balance while this specimen was in charge of moving from one place to another.
Another detail that we know about this strange creature is that they used their bipedal form to be able to reach the vegetables that were at a much more considerable height, in this way the food for them was always available, nevertheless, it is also known that they were able to use their four extremities to be able to place themselves in a position that allowed them to feed on vegetables that were at less prominent heights.
Feeding the Maiasaura
As we have already mentioned, this huge animal based its main diet on the consumption of vegetables, among which we can mention some fruits and seeds, however it is known that it was also very common for the animal to choose which fruit or seed to eat.
In addition, this rare specimen used its solid and resistant teeth, which kept the shape of the beak it had, which was quite similar to that of the animals we know today as ducks, a quite common beak in the specimens known as hadrosaurids, said teeth were used frequently to be able to shred the food and later digest it with much more comfort.
The curious thing about its structure is that precisely in the area of the skull this huge animal had a strange prominence formed by bone tissue in the same way, this strange prominence was located just above the pair of basins that housed the visual elements of the animal.
Another interesting fact about this specimen is that it is stated that in order to develop a good full and healthy body, it had to eat at least a quantity of almost 100 kilograms of vegetable food, a really ridiculous but necessary quantity.
History of the Maiasaura
The main discovery of the Maiasaura was made by a guy known as dinosaur Jack Horner, who turned out to be actually one of the best scientists in Paleontology, and who was also the individual who actively participated in one of the most famous dinosaur movies of all times, the super famous Jurassic Park.
This great scientist, together with the prestigious Makela, were exploring a formation rich in prehistoric vestiges, a formation identified under the name of “Two Medicines”, located in Montana, precisely one year before reaching the 1980s.
It was in that formation that they found vestiges of this enormous specimen, at that time they gave it the name of Maiasaura due to the good reputation that this animal had as a mother, since a series of nests were found near the place.
These nests had the characteristic of being in reality medium sized depressions found in the mud, they were oval in shape and contained a set of egg shells that were fractured inside.
This detail indicates that the Maiasaura took care of their offspring until these small specimens could develop their life independently without any kind of problem, although at first there were several wrong conclusions about this situation.
What is really interesting about the discovery of these famous nests is that specimens of the same dinosaur of almost all ages were found, this allowed the whole scientific community to carry out an extensive and fruitful investigation, reaching diverse conclusions that today are exposed in diverse museums and different universities throughout our planet, a discovery that turned out to be one of the most important in the whole history of the Earth.
It is also believed, by the same fact, that this specimen was grouped in herds in order to protect itself from any threat, whether that threat is the climate or some other predators that wanted to feed on them or their offspring.
That is why they made a journey through long and extensive territories to later return to the initial place where they were born and raise their offspring. That is how the process or cycle was repeated in a tireless way time and time again, the new and young specimens replaced the old ones and again everything started from scratch.
About its solid defenses we can say that this animal had within its repertoire a number of resources that helped protect it from the stalking of other ferocious predators, one of these resources was the rapid escape to avoid becoming the food of another stronger dinosaur, another resource was that incredibly this dinosaur had the ability to camouflage with the environment in which it was, so predators could not detect their presence in almost no way.
Besides, it has been known that this animal was accompanied by the other members of its family, which has even been detailed that could be thousands, an exact figure that scientists have been able to determine is 10 thousand, a detail that has really managed to surprise more than one researcher, because it would be one of the largest agglomerations of animals in all prehistory.
On the other hand, it has also been possible to demonstrate that these specimens were in charge of the breeding of their descendants thanks to the manufacture of nests that they themselves made, small places in which their own children would be much safer, very well protected from the unfavorable climatic conditions that could come to occur as well as from other threats that existed at that time.
These places that we know particularly as nests, were arranged one from the other to a distance of more than 700 centimeters, this means that all these small homes were also very close, on the depth of these constructions we can see that it was of about 200 centimeters, which gave the appearance of a crater, a depression that had been dug by these incredible specimens.
Inside each nest they probably would have reached more than three or four dozens of eggs, and all of them could have been found in quite well ordered positions, the eggs were placed in a circle-shaped order, besides that it has been possible to determine that the size or dimensions of these elements were similar to the eggs of the ostriches.
At this point many of you may wonder how these eggs came to be developed, but what happened is that they actually incubated due to the weather conditions and environmental circumstances of that time.
In fact, these specimens were in charge of placing a series of vegetable products in the structure so that the intense heat that existed in that territory would facilitate the task of heating that element, so that none of the specimens would have to sit in that structure to provide their body heat.
In addition, it has been known that when this specimen was only a few months old, its extremities were not fully developed, therefore the ability to walk or move from one side to another was really only a desire for this specimen.
Another scientist came to interpret and extract more data about the remains of these specimens, and came to report that they used their teeth from a very young age, so we can deduce that the parents of these specimens provided them with food while they could not move to other places to look for it themselves, something that makes a lot of sense if we analyze the whole picture in general.
These small and young dinosaurs measured a total of 16 centimeters, while some others reached the size of 58 centimeters in just a few months, so when it reached that size probably the specimen was preparing to leave the nest to make their own life independently, clarifying that there were many who reached that point in their lives, with few deaths or losses in this type of dinosaur.
Since this happened only in some genera that had warm blood, the death rate was relatively low compared to other dinosaurs of that time.
On the other hand, these Maiasaura’s descendants also presented several differences in terms of their physical characteristics, if we compare them with a specimen that has reached full maturity, a young Maiasaura probably had larger ocular elements and above all the muzzle area was not as developed as the muzzle area of an adult, a whole series of specifications that are actually typical of creatures that live with their parents for a long time, to achieve the goal of independence and survival.
Another of the characteristics of this specimen was that its spine was arranged in an arc, in addition to the fact that the area of its neck was shaped like the letter “U”, this last quality was quite similar to that of the adult specimens, but not what we mentioned about the spine.
Presumably the consistency of the animal was not so important and its bones were not very strong during its first months of life, however, little by little they were gaining in size to achieve more resistance and finally leave the nest.
Another detail that we can know about this famous specimen is that the parents were in charge of taking the vegetable food to the nest, that we had already mentioned, but what was missing is that they were also in charge of chewing that food so that the son could eat it without any problem.
In this way we have been able to find worn out dental elements in the parents demonstrating what we have mentioned before, this happened especially when it was a question of vegetables of a very rigid consistency, since the food that they preferred, the one of minor rigidity, was not always available in the territory in which they were developing their existence, therefore, the circumstances could be very difficult for them.
On the other hand, it has been assumed, which indicates that it has not yet been proven, that these specimens came to take turns watching over them at night, to avoid the threats of other evil predators that inhabited the place with the aim of eating the eggs and their offspring, so we can see that it was a very organized social structure of these magnificent dinosaurs that continue to surprise us more and more.
Another fact that has come to prove is that these young dinosaurs managed to grow twice their initial size in a fairly short period of time, a period that only consisted of approximately 28 days, in that period of time both the upper and lower limbs managed to gain much more strength and even the hip area began to change, all with the sole aim that then can move independently without any problems.
It has also become known, due to recent scientific studies, that these young creatures came out of the nest only at certain times, when they were accompanied by one of the parents.
That way the animal could prepare itself for what it had to face at some point alone, and that is that in just a few months this dinosaur would have to search for the necessary food in a totally independent way, but in the meantime it would do it with the help of another adult dinosaur.
When this animal was more than 20 months old, its length was already quite considerable, even exceeding 300 centimeters. It is worth mentioning that at the age of 4 years, it is already considered an adult animal, in full stage of maturity.
A common behavior in these Maiasaura dinosaurs is that the female was in charge of returning every year to the same territory where the nests were built, with the same objective of continuing to perpetuate the species, to continue laying eggs and raising their young until they were alone in those territories.
Finally, when these animals reached the age of maturity, they knew that they had to leave for another place to avoid taking food away from the other members of their herd, so they had to form their own herds in other very distant places. In this way the cycle would repeat itself in an innumerable way and thousands of remains have been found in various geographical areas.