Fun Opisthocoelicaudia Facts For Kids

Aashita Dhingra
Nov 28, 2022 By Aashita Dhingra
Originally Published on Sep 24, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Come join us as we explore and learn amazing Opisthocoelicaudia facts!
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.9 Min

One of the well-known sauropod dinosaur genera from the Late Cretaceous age is the Opisthocoelicaudia. Opisthocoelicaudia specimens were discovered in the Mongolian Gobi Desert. The type species under the Opisthocoelicaudia genus is the Opisthocoelicaudia skarzynskii.

Almost all parts of this sauropod have been discovered except the skull. However, the skull of another sauropod, the Nemegtosaurus, has been derived from the region of Mongolia, creating the debate if this collected skull makes both of these species the same.

It was in the year 1965 when the remains of this specimen were unearthed. In 1977, a possible reconstruction of their skeletons was presented by Borsuk-Białynicka, which was based on both the horizontal back posture and the steep inclined posture.

We are sure you will love to explore and do more research on the Opisthocoelicaudia! For more relatable content, check out these Heterodontosaurus facts and Ostafrikasaurus facts for kids.

Opisthocoelicaudia Interesting Facts

How do you pronounce 'Opisthocoelicaudia'?

The name Opisthocoelicaudia is pronounced as 'Oh-pis-tho-see-lih-caw-dee-ah'.

What type of dinosaurs were the Opisthocoelicaudia?

Opisthocoelicaudia were sauropod dinosaurs.

In which geological period did the Opisthocoelicaudia roam the earth?

This is one of the well-known sauropods of the Late Cretaceous period. The formation is thought to be from the late Campanian to early or middle Maastrichtian age which was 83.6-66 million years ago.

When did the Opisthocoelicaudia become extinct?

While we haven't been able to learn the exact information on the extinction of the Opisthocoelicaudia skarzynskii, it is thought they last lived on earth about 66 million years ago.

Where did an Opisthocoelicaudia live?

The remains of Opisthocoelicaudia skarzynskii were discovered in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia.

What was an Opisthocoelicaudia's habitat?

These sauropods of the Late Cretaceous period preferred terrestrial habitats. This dinosaur of the Saurischia clade is believed to have lived in a warm, humid climate.

Who did an Opisthocoelicaudia live with?

We do not have information on the way these sauropods of Mongolia lived. They might have lived solitary or in groups like other herbivorous dinosaurs.

How long did an Opisthocoelicaudia live?

Unfortunately, there is not much data available on the lifespan of this dinosaur of the Cretaceous age.

How did they reproduce?

There is not much information from scientists on the reproductive behavior of this species. The only information available is that they reproduced by laying eggs. It is not known if they took care of their baby dinosaurs.

Opisthocoelicaudia Fun Facts

What did an Opisthocoelicaudia look like?

The body can be described as a small head resting on an extended, long neck. A barrel-shaped trunk is supported by four firm column-like legs. To date, there have been only two additional specimens discovered which are not complete, including a fragmentary tail as well as a part of the shoulder.

Currently, the Opisthocoelicaudia skull is not known. Many researchers feel that the Opisthocoelicaudia and the Nemegtosaurus may indirectly represent the very same species as the Nemegtosaurus skull has been collected. The sauropod footprint found at the Mongolian Nemegt Formation can refer to either of the dinosaur specimens, as they are the only known sauropods that have been found at this formation. Some skin impressions and features have also been derived.

In the year 1965, a well-preserved skeleton was unearthed by Mongolian and Polish scientists, with only the neck and head missing from the skeleton. This made the Opisthocoelicaudia one of the most popular sauropods to be discovered, which belonged to the Late Cretaceous period. The tooth markings on the Opisthocoelicaudia skeleton indicated that these specimens were fed upon by larger carnivores, biting down on the carcass, pelvis, and thighs, and may be carrying the remaining parts which are now missing.

There is not much research made on the Opisthocoelicaudia teeth. The tail of this specimen was very long. Even though these dinosaurs were large, they were small in comparison to other sauropods. Even though both the head and neck of this species are not present, later reconstructions of the sauropod’s nuchal ligament have suggested that this species had a neck of medium length, which grew to about 16.4 ft (5 m) in length.

In the description provided in 1977, Borsuk-Białynicka pointed out 11 dorsal vertebrae present on the skeleton. However, in 2019, Gregory Paul intervened saying that the known part of the vertebral column was actually inclusive of the neck vertebra first cervical, leaving behind a total of only 10 dorsals, which is quite typical of Titanosaurs. The lack of accessory vertebral joints (hyposphene-hypantrum articulations) indicated that their back was very flexible. The pelvic region of the Opisthocoelicaudia is strengthened with the presence of an additional sixth hip vertebra.

The skeleton of the Opisthocoelicaudia has been restored at the Museum of Evolution of Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw.

How many bones did an Opisthocoelicaudia have?

We do not have the data on the exact number of bones this dinosaur had. All we know is that there are probably more than 200 bones on their body! There is a restored skeleton of Opisthocoelicaudia at the Museum of Evolution of Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw.

How did they communicate?

Scientists have not found out how dinosaurs communicated in their research. It is assumed that they communicated vocally with grunts or with visual displays.

How big was an Opisthocoelicaudia?

The dinosaurs of this genus were small sauropods. The Opisthocoelicaudia length measured about 37-43 ft (11.3-13.1 m), beginning from the head all the way to the tip of the tail.

Comparing the wildlife specimen Ohmdenosaurus liasicus with the average Opisthocoelicaudia size, the Opisthocoelicaudia was about three times the size of the Ohmdenosaurus liasicus.

How fast could an Opisthocoelicaudia move?

We have not found enough data on the speed of the Opisthocoelicaudia skarzynskii.

How much did an Opisthocoelicaudia weigh?

The Opisthocoelicaudia skarzynskii was an extremely large specimen having a lot of body weight. It has been discovered that the weight of this species probably weighed between 18,518.8-55,115.6 lb (8,400-25,000 kg).

What were the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for the male and female members of these specimens of Mongolia.

What would you call a baby Opisthocoelicaudia?

A possible name for a baby dinosaur is a hatchling.

What did they eat?

These sauropods were known to be herbivores. Their diet was based on the available plants and vegetation around them. It has been deduced from tooth marks on their skeleton that other carnivores might have preyed on their carcasses.

How aggressive were they?

There is not much data collected on the natural behavior of these sauropods. It is not known if they were aggressive in order to protect themselves from larger dinosaurs.

Did you know...

All the fossils of the Opisthocoelicaudia genus stem from the Mongolian Nemegt Formation. The Nemegt Formation is quite rich in dinosaur fossils, being the source of many more dinosaur species. However, the only other sauropod derived from this formation is the Nemegtosaurus, which is currently known for the presence of a single skull alone.

The specimens of this genus were named as well as described in 1977 by Maria Magdalena Borsuk-Białynicka, a Polish paleontologist. However, earlier this species was thought to be one of the new members of the Camarasauridae. However, it is now considered to be a derived member of the titanosaurians. The exact relationships of these specimens within the Titanosauria clade are quite controversial. However, it is believed to be a close relative of the Alamosaurus of North America.

Some other dinosaur specimens found in Mongolia include the Velociraptor, Therizinosaurus, and the Zanabazar.

You can search for more information at the Museum of Evolution of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, where the skeletal system is restored.

What made the Opisthocoelicaudia unique?

The anterior tail vertebrae were concave on the backsides, and convex on the anterior sides, creating effective ball-and-socket joints. This opisthocoelous tail vertebrae makes it unique from all other titanosaurs.

Another feature making the Opisthocoelicaudia skarzynskii unique from the close titanosaurs can be their back vertebrae. The back vertebrae display bifurcated spinous processes, which accordingly result in dual rows of bony projections running down the spine. These features made this reptile of Mongolia a unique specimen.

How did the Opisthocoelicaudia get its name?

The name Opisthocoelicaudia simply translates to ‘posterior cavity tail’, hinting at the opisthocoel condition of this dinosaur’s anterior hollow tail vertebrae, which were noticeably concave towards the posterior ends. This key feature and including other skeletal features convinced researchers to conclude that this dinosaur could rear on its hind legs.

The genus title, Opisthocoelicaudia, comes from the compound of terms 'opisthen', a Greek word which means 'behind' or 'at the back', Greek word 'koilos' meaning 'hollow' or 'cavity', and Latin term 'cauda', which means 'tail'.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other dinosaurs from our Yinlong fun facts and Orodromeus fun facts for kids pages.

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

Main image by Adrian Grycuk

Second image by FunkMonk (Michael B. H.).

Opisthocoelicaudia Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Plants and vegetation

what Type of Animal were they?

Herbivore

Average Litter Size?

N/A

What Did They Look Like?

Short head, medium neck, and large body

How Much Did They Weigh?

18,518.8-55,115.6 lb (8,400-25,000 kg)

Skin Type

Scales

How Long Were They?

37-43 ft (11.3-13.1 m)

How Tall Were They?

N/A

Kingdom

Animalia

Class

Reptilia

Genus

Opisthocoelicaudia

Family

Saltasauridae

Scientific Name

Opisthocoelicaudia skarzynskii

What Were Their Main Threats?

Predation by larger dinosaurs

What Habitat Did They Live In?

Terrestrial habitat

Where Did They Live?

Asia (Mongolia)
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Written by Aashita Dhingra

Bachelors in Business Administration

Aashita Dhingra picture

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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