Maiasaura Facts

The Maiasaurus, which translates to ‘the good mother lizard,’ was exclusively a land dinosaur. As a juvenile, they were bi-pedal or walked on two legs. Once they matured into adulthood, they generally got around on all four legs, although retaining the ability to do both. They got their name from the evidence that showed that they raised their young in nesting colonies alongside up to 1,000 ‘family members’.

Maiasaura is a large duck billed species of dinosaur that lived during the Cretaceous period in Montana about 70 million years ago. The very first fossils were discovered in 1978 by Laurie Trexler, yet they were not named until 1979. It was later described by Jack Horner who was also a advisor during the filming of the Jurassic Park movies. The discovery of Maiasaura was groundbreaking because it showed for the first time that large dinosaurs cared for and raised their young.

Maiasaura was a herbivore and had few defenses against predators which wished to attack it other than its tail and herding behavior. It could walk on two legs or four. These beauties were assumed to be herd dinosaurs and shared many of the same characteristics with the Brachylophosaurus. It raised its children in nests which would have between 30 to 39 eggs. Their young were thought to have stayed in the nest (alongside many others) until around one year of age, earning them their parenting prestige and moniker. Both parents would guard the nests, and the species was found primarily in North America, Asia, and Europe.

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What did they eat

Being herbivore’s, these magnificent creatures are thought to have a diet consisting solely of plants and vegetation. Being both quad and bi-pedal, they would have been able to easily munch tree leaves, as evidence suggests that there was no grass in the area during this period.

Habit

The Maiasuarus roamed the earth in the upper Crustaceous period, around 76.7 million years ago. They were migratory land animals and more than likely stuck with the leafy, green areas of what is now considered the state of Montana.

Physical Characteristics

Since the initial discovery of Maiasaura, about 200 fossils have been found. Maiasaura was an odd looking animal, even for dinosaur standards. It was fairly large, and was about 7 meters in length. Like many duck bills, it had a flat beak and a nose which was thick. In the front of its eyes was a small spike, and the shape of its overall head is similar to modern horses.

Maiasaura would have had probably hundreds of teeth in its mouth which would allow it to grind the food it ate. They lived in tropical forests, a were a member of the first family of dinosaurs to be discovered in the US during the middle of the 18th century. Like many duck-billed dinosaurs, Maiasaura was a herbivore. Growing to be about 9 meters in length, they were of a decent size; however, their only defense against predators seemed to be their thick, muscular tails, along with engaging in safety in numbers. As leaf eaters, they were likely calm and non-confrontational, although they would presumably defend themselves if the need arose.

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