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Fruitadens (Wikimedia Commons)


Fruitadens (Greek for "Fruita tooth"); pronounced FRUIT-ah-denz


Woodlands of North America

Historical Period:

Late Jurassic (150 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 2 feet long and 1-2 pounds


Probably omnivorous

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Small size; possibly feathers

About Fruitadens:

It happens more often than you think, but the fossil specimens of Fruitadens languished for over two decades in museum drawers before being meticulously examined by paleontologists. What they found made headlines worldwide: a tiny (one or two pounds max), late Jurassic dinosaur that probably fed opportunistically on bugs, plants, and any small critters that happened across its path. Fruitadens has proven difficult to classify; it has now been pegged as an ornithopod, and is believed to have been a close (albeit much smaller) relative of Heterodontosaurus. By the way, the name Fruitadens is often mistakenly translated as "fruit tooth," but this wee dinosaur was actually named after the Fruita fossil region of Colorado, where its bones were excavated.

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