In this article we will talk about a very particular Hadrosauridae, it had a beak like that of a duck and a crest that was not indifferent at all, roughly that was the Saurolophus; without a doubt a very interesting dinosaur, not being more we will discover everything about this dinosaur.
What does the name Saurolophus mean?
The name Saurolophus means “lizard with a crest”, it comes from the ancient Greek saurus (σαυρος) which is understood as “lizard” and lophos (λοφος) which is understood as “crest”.
History of the discovery
The Saurolophus was first described in 1912 by Barnum Brown in Alberta-Canada, naming the species S. osborni.
Its fossil remains were found in what is now known as the Horseshoe Canyon Formation.
The fossils had a partial skeleton, which is available to the public at the American Museum of Natural History. In fact, it was the first partial skeleton found in Canada.
Due to the completeness of the fossil remains and how relatively easy it was to describe them, it did not take long for the Saurolophus to become a reference of the hadrosaur family and the basis for different studies and classifications of this family.
Many years later, in 1952, Rozhdestvensky found a similar species on the other side of the world, in Mongolia, called S. angustirostris (because the horn was longer than the American species).
It should be noted that S. angustirostris is the most abundant dinosaur in Asia.
Then in 1973 three fossil remains were found, exactly in the Moreno formation in California USA, they were named as Saurolophus sp.
Although one of these remains actually belonged to the Edmontosaurus and the remaining two were assigned to a new genus called Augustynolophus, closely related to the Saurolophus.
This is further proof that in the Upper Cretaceous of Asia and North America they were connected and there was a remarkable biological exchange.
Some paleontologists, however, now believe that the two species of Saurolophus belong to two distinct but strictly related genera. Others believe that S. angustirostris is even congenital with S. osborni.
When did the Saurolophus live?
This dinosaur inhabited the earth in what is now known as the late Cretaceous, some 70 million years ago in Maastricht.
In the area now known as North America and Asia.
What did the Saurolophus eat?
Like the other hadrosaurs, this dinosaur fed on a wide range of vegetables.
Its physiognomy that allowed it to make chewing movements and its great amount of teeth, allowed it to eat almost any vegetal material that was within its reach.
It is believed that in a first place it picked them up or cut them with its beak, and it chewed them with the help of some cheeks or something similar to these. It could feed on tall vegetation.
This dinosaur is a classic belonging to the hadrosaurid family, the large duck-billed dinosaurs characteristic of the late Cretaceous period.
The characteristics are similar to those of the other hadrosaurs, and in fact it was endowed with powerful elongated hind legs and a fairly strong body that went along the whole back by a low “sail” formed by the elongation of the vertebrae.
Saurolophus reached a length of nine to twelve meters.
It had a concave bone crest 13 centimeters long in its skull, pointing backwards. This ridge was formed by the nasal bones and crossed by the nostrils.
Therefore, it was hypothesized that some of the nasal tissue could have been inflatable and allowed the animals to make sounds.
Since Hadrosaurs lived in groups, it is quite conceivable that they communicated acoustically with each other, especially over long distances.
The tip of the lower toothless beak was slightly curved upwards. For grinding plant food, it had hundreds of molars.
Saurolophus’ hind legs were clearly longer and stronger than their front legs. In addition, it was able to move on two and four legs.
The Saurolophus ridge
The main characteristic of the Saurolophus and which allowed it to be distinguished from any other hadrosaur: it was a kind of horn projected backwards, at the back of the skull.
The horn was composed of complete bone, contrary to the structure of the Parasaurolophus apparently similar, and was a direct extension of the nasal bones.
The structure has led some paleontologists to believe that there was a mass of tissue just above the region of the nostrils, which could be “inflated” to produce particularly powerful sounds.
The ridge could act as a support for this “pouch,” expanding its surface area and efficiency.
In fact, there is no evidence of such a structure, but since they probably lived in herds, the ability to emit a particular type of very powerful sounds could have been a very valid means of intraspecific communication, even at great distances.
It is believed that their behavior was very calm and that in the face of any danger they would flee.
So he could be easy prey for some faster and more skilful predators.