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Parasaurolophus

Name: Parasaurolophus
Pronunciation:
PAR-ah-SORE-ah-LOW-fuss
Name means: "beside crested lizard"
Length: 30-40 feet (9-12 meters)
Weight: 4,000 pounds (1.8 metric tons)
Diet: Herbivore
Lived in: Late Cretaceous
Discovered by: Levi Sternberg
Found in: Canada, North America; United States, North America

Parasaurolophus was a large hadrosaur that lived during the late Cretaceous Period. Its hind legs were much longer than its forelegs, and paleontologists are not sure if it walked on all fours or was bipedal. Parasaurolophus is one of the most well-recognized of the hadrosaurs. It had a long, hollow, bony crest that grew from the back of its head. This crest could be up to six feet long. The function of this crest is shrouded in mystery. Paleontologists have speculated that it could have been brightly colored and that it might have connected a thin layer of skin to the back of the dinosaur's neck. This added color could have been used for territorial displays or for attracting mates. Other ideas are that the crests allowed the dinosaurs to recognize members of their own species. Still other theories state that the hollow crest was used to produce noises for communication. This is one of the most likely theories as the crest contained nasal passages that passed down into the throat.

Parasaurolophus was probably a herd animal, keeping in groups of large numbers for protection from predators. It might have been relatively fast, especially if it was able to rear onto its hind legs and run. It probably roamed forests and plains, looking for food to sustain its large body. Parasaurolophus had a flat beak and thousands of closely compacted teeth for grinding its food before swallowing.

Two scientists, Dr. Carl Diegert and Dr. Thomas E. Williamson worked together to create what they think might have been what Parasaurolophus sounded like. To read more, visit the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science's web site.