psittacosaurid

PSITTACOSAURUS
“Parrot lizard”
Early Cretaceous, 123.2-100 million years ago

Believe it or not, Psittacosaurus was related to Triceratops, though it had no horns or frill. About six feet long, this bipedal herbivore lived in family groups and covered much of prehistoric Asia. More specimens of this dinosaur have been found than any other, and it holds the record for dinosaur species belonging to a single genus: eleven! It’s safe to say this odd ceratopsian truly lived a life of quantity over quality.

Psittacosaurus is a genus of psittacosaurid ceratopsian dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous Period of what is now Asia, about 130 to 100 million years ago. It is notable for being the most species-rich dinosaur genus. Nine to eleven species are recognized from fossils found in different regions of modern-day China, Mongolia and Russia, with a possible additional species from Thailand. All species of Psittacosaurus were gazelle-sized bipedal herbivores characterized by a high, powerful beak on the upper jaw. At least one species had long, quill-like structures on its tail and lower back, possibly serving a display function. Psittacosaurus is not as familiar to the general public as its distant relative Triceratops but it is one of the most completely known dinosaur genera. Fossils of over 400 individuals have been collected so far, including many complete skeletons. Most different age classes are represented, from hatchling through to adult, which has allowed several detailed studies of Psittacosaurus growth rates and reproductive biology. The abundance of this dinosaur in the fossil record has led to establishing the Psittacosaurus biochron for the Early Cretaceous of east Asia. (Full article…)