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Shantungosaurus

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shantungosaurus

Shantungosaurus (Zhucheng Museum)

Name:

Shantungosaurus (Greek for "Shantung lizard"); pronounced shan-TUNG-oh-SORE-us

Habitat:

Woodlands of Asia

Historical Period:

Late Cretaceous (70-65 million years ago)

Size and Weight:

About 50 feet long and 15 tons

Diet:

Plants

Distinguishing Characteristics:

Large size; long, flat beak

 

About Shantungosaurus:

Not only was Shantungosaurus one of the biggest hadrosaurs, or duck-billed dinosaurs, that ever lived; at 50 feet from head to tail and 15 or so tons, this was one of the biggest ornithischian dinosaurs (saurischians, the other main dinosaur family, included even bigger sauropods and titanosaurs like Seismosaurus and Brachiosaurus, which weighed three or four times as much as Shantungosaurus).

The only complete skeleton of Shantungosaurus to date has been assembled from the remains of five individuals, whose bones were found mixed together in the same fossil bed in China. This is a good clue that these giant hadrosaurs roamed the woodlands of eastern Asia in herds, probably to avoid being preyed on by hungry tyrannosaurs and raptors--who could conceivably have taken down a full-grown Shantungosaurus if they hunted in packs, and would certainly have set their sights on the less bulky juveniles.

By the way, although Shantungosaurus lacked any dental equipment in the front of its jaws, the inside of its mouth was packed with over a thousand tiny, jagged teeth, which came in handy for shredding the tough vegetation of the late Cretaceous period. One of the reasons this dinosaur was so big was that it needed literally yards and yards of intestines to process its vegetable diet, and you can only pack so many guts into a certain volume!

 

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