The Troodon was a genus of intelligent dinosaurs that inhabited our planet during the Cretaceous period (about 72 million years ago). It is classified within the group of theropod troodontid dinosaurs.
This genus would have looked similar to a modern-day duck. It had a fairly long neck, long narrow jaws and had sharp teeth. In addition, its front legs had 3 toes with large claws and its hind legs would have been adapted exclusively for running.
Troodon’s dimensions would have been small. It is estimated that he would have been about 2 meters long, 1 meter high and no less than 25 to 50 kilograms in weight.
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What does the name Troodon mean?
The meaning of the name Troodon is “wounding tooth”, the name is of Greek origin. This name was assigned to it because the first fossil sample of this dinosaur was found to be a tooth.
Where, how and who discovered it?
Since there were no complete fossil fragments found in the first place, the identification of this dinosaur was quite complicated.
he first description of the Troodon was made by American biologist Joseph Leidy in 1856. The description was made from a tooth, discovered in the early Judith River Formation in Montana-USA. This biologist decided to name it Troodon.
Leydy himself believed that this tooth belonged to some lacertylium (suborder of reptiles). However, it was later found to be a dinosaur tooth and was classified as a Megalosaurus by paleontologist Franz Nopcsa in 1901. In spite of this, everything was not clear and the confusion about how to classify the Troodon continued, also taking into account that there was only one tooth.
In 1924, the American paleontologist Charles Gilmore suggested that the tooth belonged to the infraorder of the troodon of the genus Stegoceras. Since it presented some similarities in the structure of the teeth of these herbivorous dinosaurs.
Stegoceras would become taxonomically a minor synonym for Troodon. Therefore, for more than two decades it was considered an herbivorous Pachycephalosaurus with a thick skull, and on this basis it was assigned to the troodon family.
Let’s summarize a little bit, until the moment of the Troodon we only have one tooth, this tooth at first was believed to belong to some current reptile, later on, it was proved that it belonged to a dinosaur and we tried to classify this species taxonomically, based on similarities with other fossil remains already found. Once we understand this, we can continue…
Charles Mortram Sternberg in 1945 claims that the Troodon is not a pachycephalosaurid, as was first said, since that tooth, had many similarities to the teeth of many predatory dinosaurs.
The Troodon would eventually be classified as a theropod. Thus the entire family of troodontidae would be classified as theropods.
Shortly before, another important discovery had been made. Sternberg in 1932, had found fossil remains of legs, claws and parts of vertebrae in Alberta-Canada.
This discovery was described by Charles Hazelius Sternberg, who would name this dinosaur Stenonychosaurus, later, he would relate the tooth found by Leidy with the parts he described. Claiming that they had similar features. However, he had no basis to corroborate that hypothesis
In 1969, a Troodon’s skull was found in a museum collection by fossil curator Dale Russell. This skull was three times the size of any other known dinosaur.
This discovery was described by Dale Russell, who also opened a wide debate in the scientific world, that debate would have been initiated after Russell claimed that if the Troodon had not become extinct it would have evolved into a thinking biped very much like us humans, whose evolved form he called dinosaurus, but we will talk about this later in this article.
Finally in 1987 the Canadian palaeontologist Philip Currie classified the names Pectinodon, Stenonychosaurus and Polyodontosaurus as minor synonyms for Troodon (Troodon formosus). These conclusions were supported by a large number of scientists.
Finally, it should be clarified that the Troodon would become a genus of dinosaur, represented by a single species, which may receive different scientific names (Pectinodon, Stenonychosaurus and Polyodontosaurus). It is expected that more remains of this dinosaur will be found later on and many more things can be clarified about it.
Where and when did it live?
This theropod lived in the upper Cretaceous, about 72 million years ago. It lived in what we know today as North America and Asia.
Its habitat was characterized by extensive plains near lakes, meadows, swamps, mountain foothills and other areas rich in vegetation. It is even known that the troodon was perfectly adapted to the climate, because many of its finds went to the north of America. It can be said that in the Upper Cretaceous most of the continents were already separated and had a shape very similar to the one we see today.
This dinosaur was approximately 2.54 meters long, 0.7 to 1 meter high and could weigh from 21 to 50 kilograms.
The Troodon was bipedal, walking on fairly thin and long legs. It was presumably quite fast, as its upper limbs were basically adapted to handle everyday objects with great ease.
In addition, on its hind legs it had large, very sharp claws, like those of the Velociraptor or the Deinonychus, however, those of the Troodon were smaller in comparison. It is believed that it used them to easily catch its prey and even to defend itself from other predators or competitors.
About the position of the arms, there are different theories: most scientists believe that the Troodon had its arms stretched forward, like most bipedal dinosaurs and as shown in most pictures.
However, another group of paleontologists believe (perhaps because of their similarity to birds) that the Troodon had its arms over its body, like a wing, so that its hands and arms were facing backwards attached to the body. This hypothesis has been gaining strength over the years, and is what has changed the view about dinosaurs, life form and use of the upper limbs.
As for their jaws, they were narrow and long. The teeth were small and had an unusual structure. To talk about their diet would be to reopen a debate, on one hand many scientists, based on their teeth, indicated that they had a herbivorous diet, however, on the other hand it is believed that they were carnivorous, due to their physical characteristics, typical of a predator. To settle this debate, many scientists agreed that this dinosaur was omnivorous.
As far as the torso of this dinosaur is concerned, it was light and compact, which showed that it was adapted to be fast. Its body ended up with a long and thin tail, which was very necessary for balance when moving on its two legs at full speed. In general, Troodon was a fast and flexible hunter, perfectly adapted to his natural habitat.
Let’s talk a little about his skull…
From his skull it is known that he had large basins and developed binocular vision. It is presumed that he had large, widely spaced eyes, plus he probably had very sharp eyesight and was able to distinguish prey in the dark.
A very particular fact about this trodontin is its large brain, this is known thanks to the fact that marks of it were found in the already fossilized cranial cavities, even marks of brain spins could be observed, which showed the great brain activity of this dinosaur and therefore greater intelligence.
In addition, the occipital lobe, the part of the brain responsible for vision and memory, was very developed. So, it is speculated that it could communicate with other dinosaurs of its species in a more complex way.
Although its QS is not very close to that of us humans, if we compare it to other species of its time the real Troodon was a privileged one, its QS is estimated to be up to six times higher than that of any other dinosaur.
How did it behave?
The scientific community often calls the Troodon a “coyote dinosaur” and there is nothing that better describes the behavior and role of this dinosaur. The coyote is fast, skillful, insightful, resourceful, solves problems quickly and adapts quickly to situations.
As we said before, the troodon was thought to be herbivorous because of the shape of its teeth, however, we already know that it was most likely omnivorous.
The teeth of this dinosaur are also found in some herbivorous dinosaurs. So, it is believed that the troodon could trap in the trees to reach the fruits from the treetops. But regardless of whether they were herbivores or not, their diet was wide enough. That diet could include small lizards, snakes, mammals, amphibians and even insects.
It is even believed that the Troodon was able to use objects from its environment such as a kind of tools, for example, a rock to hurt its possible prey or use a branch to eat ants and other insects.
The birds and their nests did not escape from this shrewd dinosaur either; it would sneak away and steal the eggs from the burrow of other dinosaurs. There is even speculation that it ate as a scavenger. They were able to hunt other dinosaurs like the orodromeus and even hunt stegosaurus.
Judging by the remains of Troodon found in Alaska, they were bigger than their southern counterparts because there were few competitors in the north, so the northern troodon hunted larger animals judging by their size.
As for their reproduction, so far some fossilized nests have been found, these nests had an average of 20 eggs. It is believed that the female troodon had two fully functional oviducts and laid the eggs in pairs, the males were the ones that hatched them and once they were born they separated from their parents.
In fact, it is known that their nesting site was close to swamps where dinosaur carcasses usually accumulated, and these carcasses served as food for the newly hatched troodons.
Some curiosities about the Troodon
An excerpt from the documentary film “The Legend of the Dinosaurs,” a group of hungry Troodon eating an ornithopod. Until Gorgosaurus attacks them and snatches the prey. You can see the video here.
He also appears in other programs such as “Prehistoric Park”, he participates in two chapters of “Dinosaur Planet” and he also appears in a very complete documentary in the series “Paleolithic World” in an episode called “Troodon, the genius of the dinosaurs”. Here I leave the whole chapter for you to enjoy.
Without a doubt, one of the most relevant curiosities about this dinosaur is its hypothetical evolution into a being thinking very much like human beings.
Such hypothesis about a dinosaur very similar to us, was born in 1982, when scientists R. Seguin and Dale Russell, wondered what would have happened with this large-brained dinosaur if it had not become extinct, about 65 million years ago?
The Troodon was the perfect dinosaur to make such a hypothesis, because of its large brain. This dinosaur, as we already know, could have been one of the most intelligent species of its era, which left many possibilities open. The resulting creature of 65 million years of evolution was named Dinosaurus.
You have to remember that Stenonychosaurus (Troodon) had a light body, a relatively small head like many modern-day reptiles, big eyes, and it was a night hunter. The construction of the Dinosauroid was made taking into account these points.
The end result was a very intelligent dinosaur that was able to manipulate its environment. It was slower; but it compensated by being more intelligent. Because the Troodon was a predator, we can assume that it used weapons to hunt its prey.
It is remarkable to note that the end result bears much resemblance to how aliens are generally described in movies. Since this dinosaur had features such as long fingers that resemble claws, very large eyes and also had the characteristics of a reptile, such as skin, feet with three fingers and no visible ears. Finally, it walked in a totally upright manner.
In general terms the characteristics of the Dinosauroid, this by having a large brain its skull would logically have a larger size, so its neck was shorter to facilitate support.
The tail would no longer be useful as it is totally erect, it does not need the tail to balance, so its ankle would be lower and its feet would be somewhat longer and flatter. Facilitating the support of his new position, however, this physiological change It would considerably reduce her speed and agility. It would even lose the claws with which it caught its prey.
On the other hand, its great brain and intelligence, would allow it to interact in a more complex way with others of its species, communicate with language, manipulate the environment around them, solve situations even more completely and manufacture weapons.
This theory opened the way to an endless number of stories and conspiracies like that of the reptilians. Many of these somewhat extreme theories, in my opinion, claim that dinosaurs had a 65 million year advantage over mankind.
And it’s possible that they developed technology and went to another world long before man appeared on earth, hence the dinosaur resemblance to aliens. What do you think?