Heterodontosaurus

Heterodontosaurus was a small plant-eating animal that was only 3 feet long. This dinosaur belongs to the order Ornithischia (bird-hipped). It was first discovered in 1961 during an expedition along the lands of South Africa

Key Facts

DomainDescription
Heterodontosaurus pronunciationHeh-te-row-don-toe-saw-rus
What does Heterodontosaurus mean?The name Heterodontosaurus means “varied or different-toothed lizard, in reference to its unique teeth. 
Dinosaur typeOrnithischia
On the menuHerbivore
Length1.18 m to 1.75 m
Height5 m
Weight1.8 kg to 3.4 kg
Life expectancyThe estimated lifespan of this dinosaur is unknown.
Legs used to get aroundBipedal
Estimated top speedThere’s no exact speed with its movement but it is believed that it can run at a fairly high speed due to its long hind legs.
When they livedHeterodontosaurus used to exist during the late Triassic to Early Jurassic period which is around  205 million years ago.
Where they have been found?Most of the fossil remains were collected in the lands of Lesotho and South Africa. At that time, the countries used to have dry and hot climates, therefore Heterodontosaurus lived in dry desert habitats.

When & Where

A specimen of Heterodontosaurus was collected from the mountain in the Cape Province of South Africa between 1961-1962. It was done during the British South Africa expedition where the recovered remains were described and named in 1962 by Alan J. Charig and Alfred W. Crompton. 

Size & Weight

Heterodontosaurus have a weight that ranges from 1.8 kg to 3.4 kg which is somewhat equal to a small dinosaur called Compsognathus. Its body length measures around 1.18 m to 1.75 m and it is about 5 m tall. It is said that its length is nine times less than that of the Titanosaurus.  

Mobility & Diet

Heterodontosaurus diet is a bit complicated due to the construction of its teeth, where it could possibly be a plant or meat eater. But to date, it is considered a herbivorous dinosaur. With its canines, they were speculated to be aggressive in terms of defense purposes. 

Interesting Points

  • Heterodontosaurus were known to have a small long skull and short forelimbs
  • It is believed that they existed until 190 million years ago since there are no fossils of such animals that were found dating after that time
  • Heterodontosaurus were equipped with teeth that looked more like a mammal than a dinosaur. 
  • Unlike most dinosaurs who had only 1 type of teeth, Heterodontosaurus used to have three types.
  • There are still studies on whether this animal ate tough vegetation to small animals.
  • Did you know that Heterodontosaurus is one of the most puzzling dinosaurs due to how complicated its teeth were? They were equipped with 3 different types of teeth where they had short teeth in their front top jaw, they also had two pairs of long and pointed canines and many chisel-edged cheek teeth. It is even said to have a beak, which seems to appear that they were equipped to eat almost anything from plants to animals. Therefore, paleontologists are still studying the possibility that these plant-eating dinosaurs can actually be an omnivore.