If you thought that dinosaurs could only be large and monstrous, then you have surely not heard of the tiny little dinosaur species Fruitadens haagarorum!
One of the smallest dinosaur species ever discovered, Fruitadens haagarorum roamed the Earth approximately 150 million years ago and are believed to have last existed in the Tithonian age of the Late/Upper Jurassic Period. It is the smallest known species of Ornithischian dinosaur of the family Heterodontosauridae and order Ornithischia. They hardly weighed 2 lb (0.9 kg) and were not more than 26-30 in (66-76.2 cm) in length!
The fossil remains of these prehistoric animals were first discovered in 1979 by a team led by George Callison. The fossils unearthed consisted of the vertebrae, skulls, legs, and arms of four individual dinosaurs, and these were discovered from the Fruita Paleontological area in Colorado, North America. In fact, the fossils of the Fruitadens dinosaur led experts to believe that these animals were Heterodontosaurids, members belonging to a group comprising primitive ornithopods or bird-hipped dinosaurs. Post discovery, the fossil remains of the dinosaur Fruitadens haagarorum were housed at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. The body structure, anatomy, teeth, and jaws of F. haagarorum suggest that they were omnivorous dinosaurs that thrived on a diet of plants, insects, and other invertebrates.
Don't you find the tiny little dinosaur Fruitadens absolutely amazing? Then read on to know more about them.
If you like reading about one of the smallest dinosaurs ever known, do check out fun and interesting facts about other dinosaur species such as the Skorpiovenator and Anchiornis.
Fruitadens is pronounced as 'Froo-tah-denz'.
As per the accepted classification data of Fruitadens haagarorum, it was an Ornithischian dinosaur of the order Ornithischia. It was a member of Heterodontosauridae, a group comprising bird-hipped dinosaurs. The Heterodontosaurids were herbivorous, beaked dinosaurs with a hip structure like that of birds.
The Fruitadens is believed to have roamed the earth 150 million years ago in the Tithonian age of the Late/Upper Jurassic Period. The climate during that period was reportedly warm, humid, and subtropical with high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
F. haagarorum became extinct approximately 150 million years ago after remarkably thriving for more than 100 million years. These Heterodontosaurids of the Late Jurassic era inhabited present-day North America and were one of the late surviving members of the Heterodontosauridae group of dinosaurs.
The Fruitadens is believed to have lived in present-day North America. Further, the fact that the fossil remains of this tiny little dinosaur were unearthed from the Fruita Paleontological Area in Colorado, United States, confirms that the species existed in North America. After discovery, the dinosaur fossils were stored at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
The Fruitadens' habitat was the North American woodlands where the animals roamed in the Late Jurassic Period.
Due to lack of information, it is not possible to confirm whether the Fruitadens lived a solitary life or were social animals. However, thanks to paleontological data, it is known that fossil remains of the Stegosaurus, Allosaurus, Diplodocus, and Apatosaurus were also discovered from the same site as the Fruitadens'. Thus, it may be said that the Fruitadens, one of the smallest known dinosaurs, co-existed with the dinosaurs named above.
No data is available regarding the lifespan of an individual Fruitadens. Studies on the fossil remains of an individual housed at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County showed that the animal was about five years old at death. Overall, this species of the genus Fruitadens survived for more than 100 million years.
Due to a lack of data, the reproductive details of this dinosaur cannot be stated. The only confirmed fact is that the animal was oviparous, that is, it laid eggs.
Fruitadens is one of the smallest dinosaurs ever discovered. What makes this tiny dinosaur unique is its distinctive array of teeth and the positioning and structure of its hind legs. The jaw of this long-surviving dinosaur was adapted to bite at obtuse angles, a feature which was in sharp contrast to the older Heterodontosaurids that had jaw operational at acute angles. Some evidence suggests that the teeth of the Fruitadens were similar to canines and that they processed their food by puncturing and crushing it. Although many Heterodontosaurids were known to sport a hairy mane, there is no evidence to suggest that Fruitadens had the same.
*We've been unable to source an image of Fruitadens and have used an image of a Edmontonia dinosaur instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of Fruitadens, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at [email protected]
No data is available regarding the total number of bones the Fruitadens had. The only studies that have been conducted on this dinosaur are based on the partial fossil remains of jaws, vertebrae, and bones of the hind limbs stored at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Given the lightweight build and small Fruitadens size, it is believed that the animal's limbs could easily carry the weight of its body.
No information is available regarding the communication of Fruitadens.
The ornithischian dinosaur Fruitadens was not more than 26-30 in (66-76.2 cm) in length and was considered to be a smaller relative of the Heterodontosaurus. Fruitadens was more than twice as small as a Heteredontosaurus. From a more modern perspective, the Fruitadens was just as big as a common raven.
The small size and light bodyweight of the Fruitadens mean that the animal was a swift runner, capable of speedy travel across the forest floor. It was small and fast enough to race between the pillar-like legs of the relatively larger dinosaurs of the age.
On average, the weight of a Fruitadens is estimated to have been between 1.1-1.7 lb (0.4-0.7 kg).
Male and female dinosaurs did not have distinct names.
In general, baby dinosaurs are mostly referred to as juveniles or hatchlings.
Fruitadens were omnivore dinosaurs. The Fruitadens diet is thought to have consisted primarily of plants. Besides plants, the animals may also have preyed on insects, lizards, amphibians, and even small mammals.
Although Fruitadens was an omnivore and did not prey on big animals, it is often considered to be fiercely aggressive and terrifically fast.
The sandstones from which the fossils of Fruitadens were discovered are part of the Morrison Formation from the Upper Jurassic Period. The Morrison Formation is famous for housing fossil remains of other dinosaurs such as the Stegosaurus, Allosaurus, Diplodocus, and Apatosaurus.
Fruitadens is believed to have been a much smaller relative of the Heterodontosaurus.
Although the fossil remains of the Fruitadens were stored in the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County since their discovery in the late '70s, it took more than 30 years to identify them. The identification, classification, and naming of the species were done by an international group of scientists headed by Dr. Richard Butler of the Bavarian State Collection for Paleontology, Germany. Also part of the identification team was the Director of the Natural History Museum Dinosaur Institute, Dr. Luis Chiappe,
If not the smallest, the Fruitadens is one of the smallest known bipedal dinosaurs. Another bipedal dinosaur, Compsognathus longipes, is of a similar size.
The world's smallest dinosaur ever was only discovered in early 2020. Oculudentavis khaungraae, believed to be the smallest dinosaur to date, has been described as a hummingbird-sized avian dinosaur that existed about 100 million years ago in prehistoric Myanmar.
The name Fruitadens is inspired by the Fruita Paleontological area in Colorado, where the Fruitaden fossil was discovered in the late '70s. It translates to teeth like fruits or simply fruit tooth.
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 Agujaceratops facts, or Sinocalliopteryx fun facts for kids.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable triceratops skeleton coloring pages.
Main image by Jens Lallensack.