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Saurolophus (Wikimedia Commons)


Saurolophus (Greek for "crested lizard"); pronounced sore-OLL-oh-fuss


Woodlands of North America and Asia

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (70 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 35 feet long and 3 tons



Distinguishing Characteristics:

Triangular, backward-pointing crest on head


About Saurolophus:

A typical hadrosaur, or duck-billed dinosaur, Saurolophus was a four-legged, ground-hugging herbivore with a prominent crest on its head that it probably used to signal sexual availability to other members of the herd or alert them to danger. This is also one of the few hadrosaur genera known to have lived on two continents; fossils have been found in both North America and Asia (the Asian specimens being slightly bigger). Saurolophus shouldn't be confused with its more famous cousin, Parasaurolophus, which had a much bigger crest and likely could be heard across much longer distances. (We won’t even mention the truly obscure Prosaurolophus, which may have been the ancestor of both Saurolophus and Parasaurolophus!)

The "type fossil" of Saurolophus was discovered in Alberta, Canada, and officially described by the famous paleontologist Barnum Brown in 1911 (which explains why Parasaurolophus and Prosaurolophus, identified later, were both named in reference to this duckbill). Technically, although Saurolophus is classified under the hadrosaur umbrella, paleontologists have granted it primacy in its own subfamily, the "saurolophinae," which also includes such famous genera as Shantungosaurus, Brachylophosaurus and Gryposaurus.


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