Fun Heterodontosaurus Facts For Kids

Aashita Dhingra
Nov 29, 2022 By Aashita Dhingra
Originally Published on Sep 20, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Check out these amazing Heterodontosaurus facts to know more about this tiny dinosaur!
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.2 Min

Heterodontosaurus was one of the smallest and most interesting dinosaurs that have ever existed.

This is because it is quite well known owing to the many specimens that were found in near perfect condition. It has been estimated that this dinosaur lived during the Early Jurassic, and was found in modern day South Africa and Lesotho.

The most distinguishing feature of this dinosaur was its dentition.

Most reptiles only have one kind of teeth, that is, all of them are identical. This is not seen in most mammals, as they have different types of teeth, such as incisors, canines, molars, and premolars in human beings.

However, most dinosaurs in the family Heterodontosauridae, including the Heterodontosaurus, are an exception to this because they had different types of teeth.

The Heterodontosaurus had small and sharp teeth in the front, canine tusks in the middle and square shaped molars in the back. This was also considered unusual because reptiles are not known to chew their food, but the different teeth seen in the Heterodontosaurus skull implied that it chewed its food in the mouth before swallowing.

These different teeth have caused a lot of confusion regarding their purpose as well as the diet of this prehistoric animal, as the canine tusks could have been used for either tearing vegetation, or attacking other animals for meat, or both.

It also had a small beak formed by its jaws, large cheek pouches, a short tail, short forelimbs, and long hind legs. It was also rare for a dinosaur of that time period to have five fingers on its hands that could be used for grasping things like plant material.

Here are some fun facts about this small dinosaur, so keep reading!

If you want to learn about other cool dinosaurs, check out our Austroraptor and Homalocephale pages.

Heterodontosaurus Interesting Facts

How do you pronounce 'Heterodontosaurus'?

The word Heterodontosaurus is pronounced as 'Heh-tuh-row-don-toe-saw-rus'.

What type of dinosaur was a Heterodontosaurus?

Heterodontosaurus is a genus of dinosaurs belonging to the order Ornithischia, which consists of dinosaurs with bird like pelvis structures, and the presence of a beak.

In which geological period did the Heterodontosaurus roam the earth?

The Heterodontosaurus lived on Earth from the Late Triassic to the Early Jurassic period, that is, about 208-190 million years ago.

When did the Heterodontosaurus become extinct?

Heterodontosaurus have been speculated to have existed till about 190 million years ago as no fossils of these animals have been found dating after that time.

Where did a Heterodontosaurus live?

These prehistoric animals lived in modern day South Africa and Lesotho. All specimens have been found in these countries.

What was a Heterodontosaurus' habitat?

Back then, the countries where it was found would have had a hot and dry climate. Thus, these dinosaurs lived in a dry desert like habitat, where vegetation would have been scarce in the dry season.

Who did a Heterodontosaurus live with?

It is likely that a Heterodontosaurus would have lived in a small group of others of its kind.

How long did a Heterodontosaurus live?

The lifespan of this dinosaur is unknown, although the famous dinosaur Tyrannosaurus rex would have been able to live up to 30 years of age.

How did they reproduce?

Not much is known about the reproduction process of Heterodontosaurus, but some scientists once believed that males of these dinosaurs used their canine tusks to fight other males in order to establish their dominance and impress the females.

Heterodontosaurus Fun Facts

What did a Heterodontosaurus look like?

Like most Ornithischia dinosaurs, the Heterodontosaurus had three different types of teeth in its jaws. The first was the small and sharp teeth located at the front of the jaw and mouth, the second was the canine tusks, and the third was molars, similar to the ones most mammals have.

The skin covering its mouth formed large cheek pouches that enabled it to keep the food inside the mouth while chewing.

The large canines on the lower jaw fit into an indentation on the upper jaw, and vice versa. The Heterodontosaurus had a long and flexible tail.

Its hind legs were long, and it had three clawed toes on each foot, which it would have used for running.

It had five fingers in each of its shorthands, but only three of those grew long, and the rest remained short and had no use. Thus, this dinosaur would have been capable of grasping plants, leaves, and other food materials.

The Heterodontosaurus had short forelimbs, long hind legs, and a long and flexible tail.

How many bones did a Heterodontosaurus have?

The exact number of bones in a Heterodontosaurus skeleton is unknown. However, its tail was very long and contained up to 37 vertebrae.

How did they communicate?

Scientists have not been able to figure out how these particular animals communicated, but most dinosaurs were known to communicate using roars or bellows by making sounds from head crests.

How big was a Heterodontosaurus?

A Heterodontosaurus was considered to be a relatively small dinosaur, with its body length being 46.45-68.9 in (1.18-1.75 m), and the average height of this animal would be 20 in (50 cm). Therefore, its length would be about nine times less than one of the biggest dinosaurs, the Titanosaurus.

How fast could a Heterodontosaurus move?

These prehistoric animals are said to have been able to run at a fairly high speed given their long hind legs. There are also speculations about them being able to run even faster if they used all four limbs.

How much did a Heterodontosaurus weigh?

The Heterodontosaurus would have weighed in the range of 4-7.5 lb (1.8-3.4 kg). Their weight was somewhat equal to another small dinosaur, the Compsognathus.

What were the male and female names of the species?

These dinosaurs do not have sex specific names for males and females. In fact, it is hard to even distinguish between the fossils of males and females.

What would you call a baby Heterodontosaurus?

A baby dinosaur of this kind would have been called a hatchling. When it was in the process of growing into an adult, it would be called a juvenile.

What did they eat?

The diet of this animal has been an issue of controversy for years. At first, it was thought to be a herbivore and the canine tusks were thought to serve as sexual dimorphism between males and females.

However, almost every fossil found of this dinosaur contained canines, along with juveniles. This led to the popular belief that the dinosaur was omnivorous and ate both plants and meat.

It would have fed on leaves, roots, tubers, as well as small animals. The fingers on its hands would have made it easier for grasping leaves or catching prey.

Their predators would have been Pterosaurs and crocodilians.

How aggressive were they?

These animals could have been aggressive as their canines are speculated to have been used for defense purposes, but their bite would have definitely hurt due to the sharp teeth found in every Heterodontosaurus skull.

Did you know...

This dinosaur is thought to be related to birds because of the bone structure of its hind legs. The bones of its leg and foot are fused together, and its toes form a claw like structure rather than the usual hoofs seen in other members of the group of ornithischians.

What is the meaning of 'Heterodontosaurus'?

The meaning of the name of this dinosaur is different toothed lizard, and it was given by Alan J. Charig and Alfred W. Crompton.

Who discovered the Heterodontosaurus?

In 1961-1962, a specimen of the Heterodontosaurus was excavated from a mountain in the Cape Province of South Africa, and the excavation was performed as a part of the British South Africa expedition. It was described and named by Alan J. Charig and Alfred W. Crompton in 1962.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! To know more about other dinosaurs, check out our Atrociraptor facts, or Sauropelta facts for kids pages.

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

Main image by Michael B. H. and second image by Nkansahrexford.

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Written by Aashita Dhingra

Bachelors in Business Administration

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Aashita DhingraBachelors in Business Administration

Based in Lucknow, India, Aashita is a skilled content creator with experience crafting study guides for high school-aged kids. Her education includes a degree in Business Administration from St. Mary's Convent Inter College, which she leverages to bring a unique perspective to her work. Aashita's passion for writing and education is evident in her ability to craft engaging content.

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