Saturday, August 11, 2012

Prehistoric Animal of the Week: Heterodontosaurus

I spoiled this a bit on what the animal this week was on Facebook. I have come to the determination that Heterodontosaurus and is probably one of the most bizarre, interesting ornthischian dinosaurs out there. Let's pump our fists and give a Jersey Boys welcome to this week's animal, Heterodontosaurus!

Heterodontosaurus tucki
"Different toothed lizard", what name of Heterodontosaurus means, was named in 1962. Heterodontosaurus was an ornithischian dinosaur, related to dinosaurs such as Parasaurolophus, Chasmosaurus, and Stegosaurus. Heterodontosaurus can be recognized easiest by its canine teeth. It lived in the Early Jurassic (199-196 MYA) of South Africa and is primarily believed to be an herbivore. This dinosaur was agile from the way it appears. What makes Heterodontosaurus so unique is the pelvis and pubis resembled more advanced ornithisichian dinosaurs. Heterodontosaurus had five fingers, with two being opposable. Heterodontosaurus would be able to grasp and also manipulate food. Heterodontosaurus seemed to also hold some bird-like qualities as well. An example of convergent evolution.

Heterdontosaurus tucki life restoration: Christopher DiPiazza
Easily identified as a chewer, likely due to the presence of cheeks, Heterodontosaurus had three different kinds of teeth overall. The front of the jaw would have small teeth used for chopping leaves and stems. The next, was a pair of tusks with the exact purpose unknown. one speculative theory would be over mating and dominance displays. The final set of teeth were squared off and relatively tall. These teeth would be the chewing teeth and where the belief of Heterodontosaurus having fleshy cheeks (to aid in chewing) comes into play. The teeth situation has lead some paleontologists to believing that Heterodontosaurus's teeth may have been an indication of an omnivorous lifestyle (plants and small animals).

References
"Heterodontosaurus." In: Dodson, Peter & Britt, Brooks & Carpenter, Kenneth & Forster, Catherine A. & Gillette, David D. & Norell, Mark A. & Olshevsky, George & Parrish, J. Michael & Weishampel, David B. The Age of Dinosaurs. Publications International, LTD. p. 37

Paul, Gregory S. "Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs". New Jersey:Princeton University Press. 2010. p.240

That does it for this week, check back next week for a new prehistoric animal! Also, if you have a suggestion of a prehistoric animal that you would like to see, be sure to write us at: tyrannosaur*at*jplegacy.org!

2 comments:

  1. Based on the artist's conception is there actual evidence to support feather attributions?

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    Replies
    1. Since I painted the reconstruction I'll answer (teehee). The answer is no. There is no direct evidence of heterdontosaurus itself having any sort of quill-like structure. However, its close relative, Tianyulong, from China DID preserve these structures. That being said its not unreasonable to depict Heterdontosaurus with them as well.

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