viernes, marzo 26, 2004

Saurolophus

saurolophus
These 11-12 meters long crested animals would have been a sight to behold as they travelled in numbers across the Nemegt desert. Feeding on soft foliage like leaves meant Saurolophus was constantly moving on from one grazing area to another.
Although it normally walked on four legs, Saurolophus would have raised itself onto two feet in order to eat from higher branches. After stripping the leaves from these branches, it used specialised teeth to pulverise the vegetable matter before swallowing it.
A fully-grown Saurolophus would have been one of the largest dinosaurs in the Nemegt Desert (5 tonnes), rivalling both Tarbosaurus and Therizinosaurus in size and weight. They may have moved in small herds or in groups of a dozen or so individuals. At certain times of the year, Saurolophus may have gathered together in order to nest in large colonies.
A need for a constant supply of vegetation would have kept Saurolophus from the most arid regions of the Nemegt Desert.
Saurolophus had few methods of defence. It was slow moving and had no claws or sharp teeth to fight off predators. But its gigantic size was in itself a very effective deterrent. Only the largest predators, such as Tarbosaurus, would have dared tackle an adult Saurolophus.

The Evidence

The first Saurolophus skeleton was uncovered in Alberta, Canada, in 1912. Many more finds followed in the region afterwards. Then, in 1946, Russian palaeontologist Ivan Efremov recovered seven near-complete Saurolophus skeletons at a location called Altan Ula in Mongolia. This suggests that there may have been a link between Canada and Asia in the Late Cretaceous period. The recovery of these skeletons has since led local tribesmen to call Altan Ula the 'Dragons' Tomb'.
Saurolophus was part of the hadrosaur group of dinosaurs. At 12 metres in length and 5 tonnes in weight, it would have been one of the largest dinosaurs found in the Nemegt. It was a herbivore and, like other hadrosaurs, had specialised teeth that could grind even the toughest vegetation to pulp. These teeth were arranged in multiple layers. An adult Saurolophus might have had over 1000 teeth in its mouth.
Proof of its diet comes from a well-preserved specimen of Edmontosaurus (to which Saurolophus is related) from North America. In its stomach were fossils of conifer plants, seeds and deciduous leaves showing that these animals were not fussy eaters.
Saurolophus skeletons are more commonly associated with the wetter, more vegetated parts of the Nemegt Desert and their remains are only rarely found in the sand dune areas themselves.
The discovery of several Saurolophus at Altan Ula has led to speculation that these dinosaurs may have travelled in large social groups. There is even evidence that they may have nested in vast colonies and that parents brought up their young in the nest, much as modern birds do.
Living in large groups offers protection to animals like Saurolophus - and they may have needed it. In 1992, a Saurolophus skeleton was discovered which had the foot of the giant meat-eating dinosaur Tarbosaurus attached to it. Scientists cannot say for certain that the Tarbosaurus was in the middle of attacking the Saurolophus, but Tarbosaurus would certainly have been capable of taking on this large dinosaur.

4 comentarios:

  1. Anónimo5:16 p.m.

    Nemegt desert? The region was fairly arid but no longer a desert.

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  2. oh, "what now is the Nemegt Formation"!

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  3. Arizona1:18 p.m.

    how much does a saurolophus eat?

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  4. well, I must tell you they no longer DO eat!

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