Fun Tenontosaurus Facts For Kids

Monika Sharma
Nov 28, 2022 By Monika Sharma
Originally Published on Sep 28, 2021
Edited by Kidadl Team
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao
A famous Tenontosaurus fact is this dinosaur had a very long tail.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.8 Min

The Tenontosaurus lived during the early Cretaceous time. These dinosaurs are very close in relation to the Deinonychus, which is a carnivorous dinosaur. This genus consists of two species: the Tenontosaurus tilletti and the Tenontosaurus dossi. The fossil and skeletons of this species were found in western North America and Montana. Remains of the T. dossi are not known about much as only a handful of skeletons are present. The first skeleton now rests in the Museum of Natural History and that's of an adult Tenontosaurus. They existed around 125 million years ago in the Cloverly formation during the lower Cretaceous time period. The meaning of their name is 'sinew lizard', which refers to a genus of medium to large dinosaurs.

The Tenontosaurus came from the early Cretaceous period and they are a genus of ornithopod dinosaurs. Both species under this genus have a lot of similarities with the Deinonychus, which is why it's difficult to differentiate between juveniles of this species and those of the Deinonychus. 1970 is the year when Ostrom assigned this group of herbivore dinosaurs a name. To learn more about other creatures from our natural history make sure to check out our articles on the duck-billed platypus and the crown of thrones starfish.

Tenontosaurus Interesting Facts

How do you pronounce 'Tenontosaurus '?

The audience insights on this discovered Ornithopoda have been mixed. They were earlier known to be predators but later on, it was discovered that other food they ate included plants. It's also possible that they ate primitive flowering plants. They boomed the most in the Cloverly formation of Wyoming and had a range of bony tendons. Their classification answers a lot of questions about the Cretaceous time. You can pronounce this Tenontosaurus as "ti-NON-ta-SOR-us".

What type of dinosaur was a Tenontosaurus?

We have are around 18 specimens of this genus and even with remains of this ornithopod, it was not given any name during the 1940s. The first name which this ornithopod got assigned was sinew lizard, due to its very stiff tendons. According to osteohistology, this dinosaur is an ornithopod.

In which geological period did the Tenontosaurus roam the Earth?

Seeing the decaying teeth and various bone structures of the adult fossil of the Tenontosaurus, it is believed it used to live during the early Cretaceous period. This discovered Tenontosaurus dinosaur lived around 125 million years ago, during the Cloverly formation.

When did the Tenontosaurus become extinct?

The life of dinosaurs came to an end after the asteroid collision. The entire formation and existence of dinosaurs met with a drastic end.

Where did a Tenontosaurus live?

The Tenontosaurus lived in several areas of North America and the western side of America. Areas such as Texas, Utah and Montana are known to have been habitats for this genus, according to researchers and audience insights.

What was a Tenontosaurus's habitat?

Climate conditions of Wyoming and Montana were ideal for the Tenontosaurus. During the early Albian age, semi-arid regions with seasonal rainfall were just perfect to accommodate this dinosaur. The Tenontosaurus preferred to live in tropical forests with a considerable amount of river deltas and a few floodplains. The dry season could be challenging for these dinosaurs as they ate only plants and flowers. Forests with swampy inlets were their main choice.

Who did a Tenontosaurus live with?

It is assumed that the Tenontosaurus lived in a group to save themselves from becoming prey. They had a very strong tail and a fully grown Tenontosaurus was less likely to face defeat but when the Deinonychus attacked in a group it is possible that an adult Tenontosaurus could collapse. A lot of information about the behavior of the Tenontosaurus is given at the National History Museum of North Carolina. Studies on Tenontosaurus skeletons revealed that they share a relationship with current herbivorous animals, such as African bush elephants and the western black rhinoceros.

How long did a Tenontosaurus live?

If a Tenontosaurus managed to get away from predators, their life expectancy would have risen significantly. Various teeth and other fossils of the Tenontosaurus were often found very close to those of the Deinonychus. It's surprising, but almost 20% of the remains of this genus were discovered in very close proximity to the Deinonychus. The Tenontosaurus appeared to be the prime target of predators. Such information is also given at length in the museum of North Carolina. This dinosaur had a life expectancy range of 20-25 years.

How did they reproduce?

 It is interesting to know that this dinosaur had a tissue known as medullary tissue in its thigh bone and in its shin bone, which is also present in birds of today. They reproduced by laying eggs and then provided parental care to their babies. While drawing a comparison between Deinonychus vs Tenontosaurus, the medullary bone tissue is not present in the Deinonychus.

Tenontosaurus Fun Facts

What did a Tenontosaurus look like?

Close inspection of the Tenontosaurus dinosaur fossil revealed that they were bipedal. Their tail is the topic of interest here, as they had an unusually long tail which gave more shape and size to the dinosaur. According to Ostrom, 1970 this dinosaur had stiffening tendons in the tail and the back of this ornithopoda. Its natural history suggests that it was rich with a large network of bony tendons.

They walked on four legs and were bipedal.

How many bones did a Tenontosaurus have?

Diving into the natural history of the sinew lizard, it's not possible to know the exact number of bones they had. The structure present in the museum is only a partial structure.

How did they communicate?

According to information from North Carolina's museum, this ornithopoda can communicate through calls. The Tenontosaurus dinosaur was also able to interpret information through visual signs.

How big was a Tenontosaurus?

The dinosaur was about four times bigger than a pygmy hippopotamus and around 7-8 times bigger than an Irrawaddy dolphin.

How fast could a Tenontosaurus move?

A Tenontosaurus skeleton reveals that they could not run or move very fast, due to their heavy weight.

How much did a Tenontosaurus weigh?

According to the museum in North Carolina, this dinosaur weighed around 6 t (5,443 kg).

What were the male and female names of the species?

Both genders have the same scientific name and common name.

What would you call a baby Tenontosaurus?

A baby dinosaur can be referred to as a hatchling or a nestling.

What did they eat?

For food, this dinosaur relied on ferns, trees, and cycads. It fed on flowering plants, larger trees, and even ginkgo trees.

How aggressive were they?

When we compare Tenontosaurus vs Deinonychus, it can be seen that these dinosaurs were not very aggressive; rather they were extremely calm and were of no harm. Ostrom believes that the adult of this species is prey more than a hunter.

Did you know...

There were a lot of interesting studies done on this family of dinosaurs which revealed that during the early age they grew very quickly, while later upon reaching maturity they grew very slowly.

Why did the Tenontosaurus have such a long tail?

It had a long tail because the dinosaur had ossified tendons, so the tail of the dinosaur was stiffened in an unusual manner.

Is the Tenontosaurus a hadrosaur?

Yes, because they were from the Iguanodonts clade. 

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 black witch moth facts and American dagger moth facts for kids.

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

Tenontosaurus Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Plants, fruits, and seeds

what Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


What Did They Look Like?

Light brown with dark brown stripes

How Much Did They Weigh?

6 ton (5,443 kg)

Skin Type

Hard scales

How Long Were They?

40 ft (12.1 m)

How Tall Were They?

13 ft (3.96 m)









Scientific Name

Tenontosaurus tilletti

What Were Their Main Threats?

Natural disasters

What Habitat Did They Live In?

Grass plains and tundras

Where Did They Live?

North America
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Written by Monika Sharma

Bachelor of Science specializing in Electronics and Telecommunication

Monika Sharma picture

Monika SharmaBachelor of Science specializing in Electronics and Telecommunication

With a passion for crafting engaging and informative content, Monika brings a wealth of writing experience to our team. Her Bachelors in Electronics and Telecommunications from Symbiosis Institute Of Technology adds a unique perspective to her work, allowing her to effectively communicate complex ideas in a clear and concise manner. Over the past two years, Monika has perfected her writing skills through her roles as a content writer, content manager, and digital marketer for reputable companies in both the USA and India. This hands-on experience has provided her with a deep understanding of industry trends and best practices, ensuring that the content she produces is always of the highest quality. She stays current with the latest field developments,continuously refining her skills to deliver exceptional content.

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