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Did You Know? 19 Incredible Psittacosaurus Facts

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The species of Psittacosaurus mongoliensis inhabited the Earth nearly 101-126 million years ago, particularly during the late Barremian to Albian stages of the Early Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic Era. Some other species of this genus are P sinensis, P lujiatunensis, P sibiricus, and P ordosensis. An abundant fossil record of this ceratopsian has made it the most studied dinosaur of all times. The known fossil remains were procured from various Asian countries namely China, Mongolia, Siberia, Thailand, and Laos. They indulged in a herbivorous diet and dwelled in forest and riverine habitats. Entire skeleton remains have helped paleontologists to reconstruct the physical appearance along with their age classes, longevity, locomotion, and other aspects completely. They were not very big in length with bipedal features, a parrot-like skull, and a toothless beak. You can visit the Natural History Museum to witness a preserved skeleton of the Psittacosaurus with your own eyes!

Keep reading to discover more interesting Psittacosaurus fossil facts for kids! If you like this article, do not forget to check out Diabloceratops and Pentaceratops to discover and learn various lesser-known facts about them.

Psittacosaurus Interesting Facts

How do you pronounce 'Psittacosaurus'?

The word 'Psittacosaurus' is an amalgamation of five syllables, which when pronounced together sounds like 'sit-ah-co-sore-us'.

What type of dinosaur was a Psittacosaurus?

The species of Psittacosaurus mongoliensis belonged to the animal kingdom of class Reptilia, family Psittacosauridae, and genus Psittacosaurus. It is a group of extinct basal ceratopsian dinosaurs beside 12 others, a few of them being P sinensis, P lujiatunensis, P sibiricus, P ordosensis, and so on. However, P. mongoliensis is considered to be the type species. It is closely related to Triceratops and is probably the most studied dinosaur species, considering the fossil record of 400 specimens that have been procured to date. Another unique thing about this dinosaur is its species richness.

In which geological period did the Psittacosaurus roam the earth?

It is estimated that the Psittacosaurus inhabited the Earth during the Early Cretaceous period of the Mesozoic Era, particularly from the late Barremian to Albian stages, near about 101-126 million years ago.

When did the Psittacosaurus become extinct?

The exact time frame within which the extinction of these dinosaurs spiraled is unknown. However, it can be assumed that predation by larger animals and natural disasters that the Cretaceous period had witnessed could be the two major contributing factors for their extinction.

Where did a Psittacosaurus live?

Nearly 400 specimens of this dinosaur have been procured from various parts of the Asian continent. Some of the countries that have witnessed these discoveries are China, Mongolia, Siberia, Thailand, and Laos.

What was a Psittacosaurus' habitat?

Based on scientific evidence obtained from studying the fossils and the lacustrine locations from where those were excavated, two scientists, Ford and Martin (2010) interpreted that these dinosaurs were semi-aquatic creatures that suggest that they preferred a riverine habitat. However, some other scientists postulate that they were more terrestrial.

Who did a Psittacosaurus live with?

Researchers opine that mass death sites are indicative of dinosaur sociability, which may be true in the case of this one as well. This is because skeletons of different individuals of the same species as well as others were found huddled together. Moreover, some ceratopsians are believed to have engaged in social interactions and roamed in herds or groups, and so, the same can be assumed for this one as well.

How long did a Psittacosaurus live?

By studying the growth lines in the bones of a Psittacosaurus mongoliensis specimen, paleontologists assumed that the approximate life expectancy of this ceratopsian ranged between 10 - 11 years of age.

How did they reproduce?

Like all other dinosaur species, these ceratopsians were oviparous and reproduced by laying eggs. After successful copulation, females laid eggs inside nests and incubated them for nearly six months. Upon hatching, the young needed no parental care. Any more information regarding the other aspects of reproduction like breeding seasons, courtship rituals, and clutch size cannot be provided due to a dearth of scientific data.

Psittacosaurus Fun Facts

What did a Psittacosaurus look like?

Nearly 400 specimens, including complete Psittacosaurus skeletons of individuals (adult and juvenile forms) along with their age classes, have been procured from various sites that have provided exceptional data regarding the physical features of these dinosaurs. The holotype (type species) specimen was discovered in Mongolia and named by Henry Fairfield Osborn in 1923. Scientific analyses show that the Psittacosaurus skull resembled a parrot's head. The skull extended to a beak without teeth with horn-like extensions on the cheeks and a rostral bone on the upper jaw. These bipedal ceratopsians had shorter forelimbs and longer hind limbs with four digits on each of them. Their tail was accompanied by quill-like formations that were supposedly used for display or swimming. Curly feathers have also been found on the tail. Their body was covered in leathery scales and was partly feathery (particularly the tail). By studying one particular specimen of this ceratopsian, SMF R 4970, researchers found that Psittacosaurus color included shades of chestnut brown, black and yellow.

Facts about Psittacosaurus for kids will tell that they had a parrot-like skull and beak without teeth.

How many bones did a Psittacosaurus have?

Although numerous fossils have been secured of this ceratopsian, however, paleontologists are yet to provide a conclusive statement about the exact number of bones that this animal had.

How did they communicate?

The exact method of communication that these dinosaurs displayed is unknown. However, it can be assumed that like all other dinosaurs, they used visual and vocal cues to communicate. The vocalizations resemble the sound of a horn.

How big was a Psittacosaurus?

The Psittacosaurus size was extremely small compared to the famous T. rex. The body length of an adult measured 6.5 ft (2 m) while they were approximately 4 ft (1.2 m) tall. Precisely, they resembled the size of a gazelle.

How fast could a Psittacosaurus move?

Paleontologists infer that Psittacosaurus could use both their arms and legs for locomotion. They further claimed that the presence of shorter forelimbs and longer hind limbs helped them to achieve great speed while escaping predation.

How much did a Psittacosaurus weigh?

Based on the holotype specimen of the Psittacosaurus, it is estimated that their average weight was nearly 44 lb (20 kg).

What were the male and female names of the species?

The male and female counterparts of this ceratopsian have no separate names assigned to them. They can simply be referred to as male and/or female Psittacosaurus.

What would you call a baby Psittacosaurus?

Since babies of this animal hatched out of eggs like all other dinosaur species, they are called hatchlings.

What did they eat?

Considering the parrot-like skull with a toothless beak, paleontologists believe that this group of dinosaurs indulged in a herbivorous diet, particularly parts of trees and nuts. Due to the absence of teeth, they swallowed entire parts of their food which resulted in poor digestion. As a result, they swallowed rocks and pebbles that grind the food inside their stomach. Paleontologists reached this conclusion since rock remains were found in the gut of numerous psittacosaurus.

How aggressive were they?

The level of aggression that this dinosaur of genus Psittacosaurus showed lacks scientific detail. However, considering their bird-like skull and beak along with a herbivorous diet, it is safe to assume that they lacked any sign of aggression. In fact, they lacked predatory features and instincts and were frequently subjected to intense predation by other bigger animals.

Did you know...

Mammals belonging to the Mesozoic Era have left parts of their existence in ways that have captivated paleontologists to a great extent. An exceptional case of 'man bites dog' occurred when a mammal called Repenomamus was found with juvenile psittacosaurus remains in its stomach!

Discovery of the Psittacosaurus

A single holotype specimen of psittacosaurus was discovered and named by Henry Fairfield Osborn in 1923. The scientific name, Psittacosaurus mongoliensis, of this type species, was named after the country where it was discovered, Mongolia.

What does 'Psittacosaurus' mean?

The name 'Psittacosaurus' is a combination of two words, the Latin word 'psittacus' which stands for parrot, and 'saurus' meaning reptiles, lizards in particular. In brief, the name stands for 'parrot lizard'.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Bravoceratops facts, or Zuniceratops facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable triceratops skeleton coloring pages.

The first image is by Radim Holiš.

The second image is by Nobu Tamura.

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