The Hippodraco, which means 'horse dragon', was a genus of Iguanodonts consisting of only one species. These dinosaurs were discovered in the Yellow Cat Member of the Cedar Mountain formation in Utah, USA, North America. The discovery suggests that these animals lived during the Valanginian age of the early Cretaceous period, around 139-134 million years ago.
This dinosaur genus consists of herbivores that would feed on small to medium-sized plants. The skull of these animals had an elongated, horse-like snout and teeth with a shield-shaped crown. The discovery of these dinosaurs was made through partial remains found by Andrew Milner and was named in 2010 by Andrew McDonald, James I. Kirkland, Jennifer Cavin, Scott Madsen, Donald DeBlieux, Andrew Milner, and Lukas Panzarin. The clade of Ankylopollexians, to which this genus belongs, is considered to have been the most successful animals of their time because of their large numbers and widespread population.
In addition, the paleoenvironment of the Hippodraco dinosaur included a large variety of fauna. Some of the animals found known from this formation included other Ornithopods, Sauropods, Nodosaurids, and Dromaeosaurids.
The word 'Hippodraco' is pronounced as 'hip-po-dray-co'. The word 'hippos' is derived from the Greek, which means 'horse', and the word 'draco' is derived from a Latin word, which means 'dragon'.
These dinosaurs were Iguanodontian Ornithopods.
The Hippodraco lived around the temporal range of the early Cretaceous period of North America.
The Hippodraco scutodens went extinct around 139-134.6 million years ago, during the Mesozoic age of the early Cretaceous period.
This Iguanodontian was a North American dinosaur that lived around the Yellow Cat Member of the Cedar Mountain formation in Utah, USA, North America.
This dinosaur preferred to live around terrestrial wetlands including well-irrigated regions having lakes or floodplains, during the Valanginian stage of the early Cretaceous period.
The Hippodraco probably lived together in large herds of dinosaurs.
The lifespan of a Hippodraco Scutodens is unknown.
Not much is known about reproductive habits of these dinosaurs. They were oviparous and fertilization would take place inside the body.
The overall description of these dinosaurs is based on remains of their postcranial parts such as the lower leg, the pelvis, some vertebrae, the upper forearm, and the shoulder. These were smaller Iguanodonts with teeth shaped like shields in their large skull orbital. The lacrimal bone, which was situated behind the nasal bridge, was quite similar to the one in the Theiophytalia and the Dakotadon. Their body shape was like that of other Iguanodontians.
The holotype discovered was a partial skeleton made up of fragments of a broken skull and teeth; and vertebrae from the dorsal region, the caudal region and the cervical region. They also found an almost complete upper forearm, a left shin bone, the left thigh bone, and a part of the hip, and so most studies about the skeleton of this dinosaur are incomplete.
Communication patterns of these dinosaurs are unknown, but they could have communicated through visual as well as vocal displays.
Based on remains, the Hippodraco size was relatively small for a basal Iguanodont with fossils suggesting a predicted length of 15 ft (4.5 m) which is around two and a half meters smaller than the saltwater crocodile. The estimated height was around 5.2 ft (1.6 m), which is around the same as the Cape buffalo.
Iguanodontians as a group were estimated to be able to run at around 15 mph (24 kph) in a bipedal stance. It was believed that they would not be able to gallop using their forearms as they were not built to withstand heavy loads that come with galloping.
These basal Iguanodonts' weight was estimated to be anywhere between 500-1,000 lb (227-454 kg), slightly lighter than the polar bear.
Males and females of the species have not been given specific names and are simply called Hippodraco which is a combination of the Greek word for horse, 'hippo' and the Latin word for dragon, 'draco', making it quite literally 'the horse dragon'.
Young dinosaurs of these Iguanodonts from Utah would be called juveniles.
This Ornithopod was a herbivore and ate plants and various other grasses.
Being herbivores, these dinosaurs from Utah were not known to be overly aggressive but they had quite a prowess when it came to running. Rather than being aggressive when threatened, this dinosaur might've turned around and hightailed it out of there.
Some of the fauna found around this genus based on the analysis of their paleoenvironment include other Ornithopods, Sauropods, Theropods, Nodosaurids, and Dromaeosaurids.
Apart from the fact that the discovery of both these species was made in the late Cretaceous period Cedar Mountain formation, they are quite different. One of the major differences between the two is that Hippodraco fossils have proven they were Iguanodonts from the Ornithopoda clade, whereas the Utahraptor was a Theropod. In addition, the diet of both the species was quite different as well, with the former being a carnivore and the latter being a herbivore. In addition, the Utahsaurus is known based on several fragmentary specimens, whereas the Hippodraco specimen has an upper forearm, a skull, a lower leg, vertebrae, a pelvis, and a shoulder.
No, the Hippodraco is not at all related to horses in any way, primarily because they are dinosaurs, which are reptiles, while horses are mammals. The only confusing aspect of this is that the Hippodraco had its skull found first and it being long and narrow, quite like a horse's, inspired scientists who named it to call it a 'horse dragon' as is evident in the name Hippodraco. Hippo is the Greek word for horse.
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 Lexovisaurus facts and Aegyptosaurus facts for kids.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Hippodraco coloring pages.
Image one by NobuTamura email:[email protected]
Image two by Lukas Panzarin.