Psittacosaurus

Psittacosaurus was one of the closest dinosaur genera to the birds that inhabited the planet during the Cretaceous period (about 130 million years ago). This genus has been classified among the Psittacosaurus ceratopsial dinosaurs.

This genus of dinosaurs would have been relatively small, barely 2 meters long and approximately half a meter high.

If you are interested in learning more about Psittacosaurus… Read on and find out absolutely everything about this herbivorous dinosaur from the Cretaceous period!

Psittacosaurus Taxonomy

According to the classification established for this mysterious animal, its taxonomy would be as follows:

  • Within the Animalia Kingdom
  • The Edge of this dinosaur is: Chordata
  • The Class of this specimen is: Sauropsida
  • Inside the Superorder Dinosauria
  • Placed within the Order of Ornithischia
  • This dinosaur’s suborder: Neornithischia
  • The Underorder of the animal is: Ceratopsia
  • He was assigned within the Ceratopsidae Family
  • He was placed within the genus Psittacosaurus.

History of Psittacosaurus

In the Middle Cretaceous period this unique specimen developed its existence. A total of ten species have been catalogued, so we can deduce that the amount of vestiges found is not scarce.

The different vestiges were located in China and Mongolia, and also great findings in Russia.

In addition, vestiges have been found in Thailand, but it has not yet been admitted that they belong to the genus Psittacosaurus.

Most of these specimens were fairly regular and uniform in size, a size that is comparable to today’s gazelles. They turned out to be specimens that consumed purely vegetable food and used only two of their total limbs as a method of locomotion.

A species of beak very similar to that of today’s parrots can be distinguished on their snout, hence the name Psittacosaurus (pisttaco- is the same lexical root as that used for the parrot family).

After several scientific studies and rigorous analysis of the remains found of this animal, it was determined that one of the 10 species found had a set of tube shaped bristles in the structure of its tail, which were quite long, and probably served for social differentiation or sexual exhibitionism.

The Psittacosaurus is quite linked to the Triceratops, however, the dinosaur that is the subject of this article does not enjoy the same fame as the other specimen, but this does not prevent it from being one of the most studied and known specimens in the world of science.
The figures are really overwhelming, more than 4 hundreds of bone structures have been found and studied in a slow way, many of them were totally intact so the studies have provided very accurate data.

The interesting thing about this massive discovery of fossil remains is that many of them belong to specimens of different ages and sexes, so the complete analysis of the remains has provided results that can even explain the form and speed in which these animals developed, as well as how the reproduction stage of these specimens came about.

Characteristics of Psittacosaurus

All these species that have been typecast within the same specimen had something in common, the morphology, so the differences were more focused on the dimensions of these animals and some qualities that come from their cranial elements and bone structures.

The general features of this genus of ceratopsial dinosaurs is that they did not exceed 2 meters in length, and they were not very heavy animals as they did not exceed 20 kilograms.

This species has been officially named Psittacosaurus mongoliensis, due to the place where the remains were found.

Meanwhile, the other species that share various similarities in terms of the size of the species described above are those known as Psittacosaurus xinjiangensis and Psittacosaurus neimongoliensis. These are the species that share similar dimensions and are not very far apart in terms of the shape of their bone structure.

On the other hand, the other species do become less uniform according to the above mentioned, so the dimensions can be up to almost a third of difference.
In general, the cranial element of Psittacosaurus has a series of variations in its structure if we start to compare it a little with the structure of other specimens known as ornitischia. In this case, the Psittacosaurus is taller but shorter, giving the impression of having a circular shape in most of its species.

On the ocular zone we can observe that it represents almost half of the size of the skull, nevertheless, this is a smaller figure if we continue comparing it with those animals denominated as ornitisquians, since they generally presented more than half in this case.

As for the mandibular area, we can see that both the upper and lower jaws showed a strange but efficient beak made up of rostral and predental bone elements.

The central part of the beak would probably have been formed by keratin, and this was necessary since the edge of the beak was much more pronounced and could cut the opponent in a simpler and faster way, without needing higher doses of power, the same served to obtain a more exclusive food.

In the beginning of this article we mentioned the similarity of the animal with the parrots that we know in our days, this similarity is actually due to the peculiar shape and dimension that its head possesses, what at first sight would seem to be a parrot is actually an animal that lived on the planet many millions of years ago.