Monday, 7 January 2013

G is for Gryposaurus

Now that the holidays are over, we're back to our current feature: the Albertan dinosaur alphabet. Back before the holidays started, you'll remember we talked about the strange dinosaur Falcarius, which is not from Alberta. Now, we're back with a duck-billed dinosaur from Alberta called Gryposaurus.

Gryposaurus (pronounced 'GRYE-puh-SAWR-us') means 'hooked-nose lizard' and was a duck-billed (hadrosaur) dinosaur that lived 83-75 million years ago in North America. Its remains have been found in Montana, Utah, and Alberta. Its most distinctive feature is its large, arching, humped nose which distinguishes it from other hadrosaurs. It was 8-9 m long, which is pretty typical for duck-billed dinosaurs. Almost the entire skeleton is known, making it a good dinosaur to use in comparison to other lesser-known animals. 
The head of Gryposaurus showing the nasal hump. Image by Wikimedia Commons user ArthurWeasley.
The first specimen of Gryposaurus was collected along the Red Deer River in Alberta in 1913, and it has been controversial ever since. Several people have suggested that it is the same as another dinosaur called Kritosaurus (which we will discuss for the letter K), and also the very poorly known Hadrosaurus. These three dinosaurs are considered to be distinct animals, at least for now. Three species of Gryposaurus are recognised: G. notabilis (the original species named by Lambe in 1914), G. latidens (named by Jack Horner in 1992), and G. monumentensis (named in 2007).

Like other hadrosaurs, Gryposaurus was capable of walking on 2 or 4 legs, and was a herbivore. It used its hundreds of flat teeth to grind tough vegetation, and had a cheek to allow for chewing. The function of the nasal hump is not entirely known, but was likely used for social functions like sex recognition. Many hadrosaurs have nasal or cranial ornamentation for a variety of functions, and Gryposaurus is no different! 

Stay tuned next week when we move on to 'H' and a small theropod dinosaur!

Other 'G' Dinosaurs from Alberta:

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