Parasaurolophus (Pronounced pah-RUHSAW-uh-lofe-US) was a unique looking, long-crested, duck-billed dinosaur. It had a pebbly-textured skin, a spoon-shaped, toothless beak with numerous cheek teeth, and a pointy tail. It may have had webbed fingers too. Parasaurolophus had a very prominent crest atop its head that was almost six feet in length. The crest on a male may have been longer than that on a female.
The nostrils went up through the crest and back down it, forming four tubes. The hollow tubes were used to make sounds to call to others in its herd. Its snout was narrow and shorter than other hadrosaur snouts. Parasaurolophus also had a notch in its back where the crest would touch when its head leaned backwards. Parasaurolophus walked and ran on four legs, and was a relatively fast dinosaur.
The front legs were unusually strong, indicating it may have spent more time on four legs than most hadrosaurs. It probably stood on its two hind legs to feed from trees or defend itsel,f and used its long tail as a counter-balance. Parasaurolophus grew to be about 40 ft long and 9 feet tall at the hips. It weighed about 3 tons. It was one of the largest plant-eaters of the Cretaceous Period.
Parasaurolophus was a herbivore, eating pine needles, leaves, and twigs. Fossilized stomach contents show that it ate mostly land plants. With its long neck, parasaurolophus would have been able to find food on the ground or in trees. Parasaurolophus was a member of the duckbill family of dinosaurs, meaning it had a hard beak in the front of its mouth and hundreds of teeth in the back for chewing tough plant material.
Parasaurolophus lived during the late Cretaceous period, about 76-65 Million years ago. Other dinosaurs living in the late Cretaceous in North America were Albertosaurus, Nanotyrannus, Lambeosaurus (another hadrosaur), Euoplocephalus, Kritosaurus, and Pachyrhinosaurus.Parasaurolophus was named by Dr. William A. Parks in 1922 from a skeleton found in Alberta, Canada. Fossils have been found in Alberta, Canada, New Mexico and Utah.
Parasaurolophus’ were most likely easy prey for the large predators of this time. Their only defense was running away in large herds, since they didn’t have any weapons like long tails or claws. Parasaurolophus was able to stand on its hind legs to watch out for danger.
Parasaurolophus was probably a herding animal and it may have migrated to higher ground to reproduce. Its long, hollow crest was bigger than the rest of its skull and may have been used in courtship displays.
Parasaurolophus had good vision and hearing, but it had no natural defenses. The sound, according to Dr. Williamson, “was like a giant clearing its throat.” Scientists believe the sounds would have been distinctive enough that each parasaurolophus could have been identified individually.Parasaurolophus was an ornithopod, whose intelligence (as measured by its relative brain to body weight) was midway among the dinosaurs.
Lydia King is a huge animal lover and has always been fascinated with learning about the animal kingdom. She enjoys writing about anything animal related from scientific information about rare species to animal references in pop culture.