Fun Thescelosaurus Facts For Kids

Sharon Judith
Jan 16, 2023 By Sharon Judith
Originally Published on Oct 11, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
Read amazing facts about Thescelosaurus.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.7 Min

The Thescelosaurus or Thescelosaurus saurian was a bipedal ornithopod that appeared in the Late Cretaceous period about 77-65 million years ago until it became extinct around 66 million years ago when the catastrophic Cretaceous-Tertiary took place.

It was first named by John Bell Hatcher and William H. Utterback in 1891. Although the first fossil remains of this specimen were discovered towards the end of the 19th century, it was initially described by Charles W. Gilmore in 1915.

Currently, there are three type species of these dinosaurs which are T. neglectus, T. garbanii, and T. assiniboiensis.

Often described to be a hypsilophodont, modern scientists have stated otherwise by concluding that the only thing they shared in common was the fact that they were ornithopod dinosaurs.

The fossil material of these herbivorous dinosaurs found to date includes many compact Thescelosaurus skulls, some Thescelosaurus caudal vertebra, and partial skeletons. From studying these fossils, many paleontologists indicate that they would have preferred living near streams.

William J. Morris, another paleontologist, interpreted that this dinosaur must have had some sort of armor on its body called scutes and was also recognized for its robust build.

This genus of ornithopod dinosaur was noted to be a specialized basal species.

Heavily built, this dinosaur was bipedal which meant although having four limbs, it could walk on only two!

Held by a strong but not long neck, the Thescelosaurus skull was small as it had a small head that portrayed the appearance of muscular cheeks. Many scientists suggested that these cheeks would have kept the food inside their mouth and could have made chewing much easier.

The mouth had six pairs of small teeth present but the front part had pointed teeth that were leaf-shaped and accommodated a horny beak.

This beak would have aided the animal in tearing up tough plants.

The long tail of this small animal gave it balance when running or walking and contained ossified bone structures or tendons from the tip to the middle. A specimen named 'Willo' was recently excavated in South Dakota in 1993, which created a lot of media frenzy since it was interpreted to have a fossilized heart!

You can find the complete skeleton of this dinosaur at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in North Carolina or the Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford, both in the United States.

If you'd like to learn more interesting facts on similar dinosaurs, check out our Xenotarsosaurus amazing facts for kids or Chungkingosaurus fun facts for kids that you're sure to love!

Thescelosaurus Interesting Facts

How do you pronounce 'Thescelosaurus'?

The pronunciation of Thescelosaurus is 'Thes-kel-oh-sore-us'. These animals were herbivorous and the Thescelosaurus name means 'wondrous' or 'marvelous lizard'. There has been speculation that these species could have walked on all fours, but this idea was refuted by a number of scientists since many famous ornithopods throughout history were only bipedal.

What type of dinosaur was a Thescelosaurus?

Thescelosaurus or 'wondrous lizard' was a herbivorous ornithopod that lived about 77-65 million years ago in North America. Known from several partial skeletons, this dinosaur's fossil remains were frequently discovered near places of water. Several species have been suggested for this genus and currently, identification of three type species exists called T. neglectus, T. garbanii, and T. assiniboiensis.

In which geological period did the Thescelosaurus roam the Earth?

This dinosaur roamed the earth in the Late Cretaceous period around 77-65 million years ago. Initially named by John Bell Hatcher and William H. Utterback in 1891, it was formerly described by Charles W. Gilmore in 1915.

When did the Thescelosaurus become extinct?

The species T. Neglectus became extinct about 66 million years ago, the same as every other dinosaur. The main reason for their extinction was because of the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction but other reasons like natural disasters, volcanic eruptions, meteorite hits, and so on could have also been potential reasons.

Where did a Thescelosaurus live?

This dinosaur lived in a habitat that was mostly surrounded by water bodies like estuaries, wetlands, forest margins, shorelines, and lakeshores. It was found to live in North America.

What was a Thescelosaurus' habitat?

Since many paleontologists found the fossil remains of these dinosaurs in places that were near water bodies, it was assumed they also made their homes in such places. Recently, some studies have suggested that these dinosaurs might have either lived near banks or streams while others claim that they would have been near floodplains.

Living in such places also made access to food easy since a variety of plant matter grew near the water beds.

Who did a Thescelosaurus live with?

The Thescelosaurus lived in small groups, probably grazing together or shifting habitats from one place to another.

How long did a Thescelosaurus live?

This dinosaur that had leaf-shaped teeth was believed to have lived for about 70-80 years just like all other dinosaur species to have ever walked the earth. They wouldn't have lived for long as they were often preyed on by Pectinodon, Tyrannosaurus, Dakotaraptor, and so on.

How did they reproduce?

Not much is known about the reproduction patterns of these dinosaurs, apart from the fact their reproduction was oviparous. This meant that they gave birth by laying eggs. The young of these animals were also assumed to have become independent at an early age.

Thescelosaurus Fun Facts

What did a Thescelosaurus look like?

The Thescelosaurus was a herbivorous dinosaur that was first described by Charles W. Gilmore. This small-sized genus of considerable length lived about 77-65 million years ago in North America.

It was noted by many researchers that this 'wondrous lizard' could have had an omnivorous diet but that is yet to be proven. Thescelosaurus was an animal that walked on two legs even though it had four limbs.

An armor of layered plates was believed to have been present near the Thescelosaurus' ribs called scutes. The skull displayed certain structures of bones above the eyebrows, muscular cheeks, and a long pointed snout.

The muscular cheeks contained teeth that made it easy for chewing soft plants.

The legs were also noted to be strong and sturdy but were not made for quick running. The tail aided in providing balance to this animal when in movement.

Currently, a recently unearthed specimen exists which contains a fossilized heart and this specimen was informally termed as 'willo'. A complete Thescelosaurus skeleton, that was described by Gilmore, can be found now at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and the Burpee Museum of Natural History, both in the United States of America.

Thescelosaurus teeth were of two types, one Thescelosaurus tooth was pointed and the other was leaf-shaped.

How many bones did a Thescelosaurus have?

The bones of this dinosaur, whose specimen has been identified with a fossilized heart, probably had about 100 bones, although the exact number is currently not known due to the lack of enough fossil evidence.

Through the Thescelosaurus osteology of the Thescelosaurus ilium, Thescelosaurus vertebra, Thescelosaurus foot claw, and Thescelosaurus premaxillary teeth, scientists have drawn out many conclusions about this unique animal.

How did they communicate?

This dinosaur would have probably communicated in the form of long calls, growls, and displaying certain body postures or movements too.

How big was a Thescelosaurus?

The Thescelosaurus size was not very big. They were about 98.4-177 in (2.5–4.5 m) in length but the Thescelosaurus height is yet to be determined. Not very big in size, the Thescelosaurus skull was rather elongated with a long snout!

How fast could a Thescelosaurus move?

Thescelosaurus wildlife behavior was probably that they moved at a slow pace, given the structure of their legs. When dinosaur experts and paleontologists studied the Thescelosaurus femur, they ruled out that they were not fast runners which is often why they fell prey to large predators.

Living near water bodies would have enabled these dinosaurs to quickly move away from their predators by running in the water. The speed at which these dinosaurs are not known at the moment as dinosaur enthusiasts are still trying to find it out!

How much did a Thescelosaurus weigh?

The Thescelosaurus weighed about 220.4-661.3 lb (100-300 kg), the same as a gorilla!

What were the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific male or female names for this species. They are known by their common name which is Thescelosaurus. Currently, three type species of these dinosaurs exist which are T. neglectus, T. garbanii, and T. assiniboiensis.

What would you call a baby Thescelosaurus?

A baby Thescelosaurus is called a hatchling or a nestling, just like all either baby dinosaurs.

What did they eat?

These dinosaurs had a herbivorous diet. This meant that they relied largely on plant matter as food.

How aggressive were they?

This dinosaur of hippo length was not really aggressive. They, however, would have depicted a certain level of aggression if they or their habitat were threatened in any way. Mostly, they were the ones who fell as prey and rarely escaped.

Did you know...

Believe it or not, Thescelosaurus was one of the last dinosaurian fauna to have walked the earth before the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction that took place around 66 million years ago. This event was also responsible for the extinction of a number of other dinosaurs too!

How big was a Thescelosaurus compared to other dinosaurs?

Thescelosaurus was not really a big animal compared to other dinosaurs. They were often prey for some large dinosaurs, like the T-Rex.

Did the Thescelosaurus live in groups?

Some paleontologists claim that these dinosaurs would have probably lived in groups or small herds to graze. There is still a lot of study being conducted in this area today.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other creatures from our Puertasaurus amazing facts for kids, or Chilantaisaurus interesting facts for kids.

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


Main image by Ben Jacobson (Kranar Drogin).

Second image by Leandra Walters, Phil Senter, James H. Robins.

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Written by Sharon Judith

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Psychology, Economics, and Sociology

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Sharon JudithBachelor of Arts specializing in Psychology, Economics, and Sociology

A humanities and Science student, Sharon holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with a specialization in Psychology, Economics, and Sociology from Mount Carmel College and is currently pursuing her Master's in Science from Bournemouth University. She is passionate about research, content writing, and development, and has a keen interest in international finance and economics. With her strong analytical skills and inquisitive mind, she is always striving to deepen her knowledge and understanding of these subjects.

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Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi

Postgraduate Diploma in Management

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Sakshi RaturiPostgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi has experience in marketing strategy, social media planning, and recruiting industry experts for capstone projects, she has displayed a commitment to enhancing their skills and knowledge. She has won multiple awards, including a Certificate of Appreciation for Creative Writing and a Certificate of Merit for Immaculate Turut, and is always seeking new opportunities to grow and develop.

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