The Parasaurolophus (“Like Saurolophus”) was a herbivorous dinosaur that lived in present-day North America during the late Cretaceous period. It was a member of the Ornithopod family, including well-known creatures such as the Iguanodon. Like the Saurolophus, the Parasaurolophus had a long, slender neck and a small head. Its most distinctive feature, however, was the large, hollow crest that protruded from the back of its head. It is believed that the Parasaurolophus used its crest to make sounds and communicate with other members of its species.

Key Facts

Parasaurolophus pronunciationpa-ra-saw-ROL-off-us
What does Parasaurolophus mean?Like Saurolophus
Dinosaur typeOrnithopod
On the menuHerbivorous
Length10 meters ( 33 feet)
Height4 m (14 feet )
Weight3500kg (about 7700 lbs)
Life expectancyUnknown
Legs used to get aroundBipedal/Quadruped
Estimated top speed48 km/h (30 mph)
When they livedLate Cretaceous era 76-74 million years ago
Where they have been found?Canada, USA

When & Where

Parasaurolophus remains, as most dinosaur remains, are scarce, and only a handful of discoveries have been made to date. William Parks made the first discovery in 1922 along the Red Deer River in Alberta, Canada. His find of a partial skull and some other bones was originally classified as a new species of hadrosaur, which he named Parasaurolophus walkeri. In updated faunal lists, there has been a mention of Parasaurolophus fossil discoveries pointing to other locations, such as the Hell Creek Formation of Montana, New Mexico, and Utah.

Size & Weight

The Parasaurolophus was a large dinosaur, measuring up to 30 feet in length. Its estimated body weight is around 3.5 metric tons, which is about the same as a modern-day elephant.

Mobility & Diet

The Parasaurolophus is thought to have lived in herds and was a peaceful creature. It is believed to have fed on plants and used its long neck to reach leaves high up in trees. Its versatile skull allowed for a grinding motion when chewing its food, much like how cows chew their cud.

The Parasaurolophus was both bipedal and quadrupedal. It most likely foraged for food on four legs but ran on two. The Parasaurolophus forelimb was shorter than normal hadrosaurids but a wider shoulder blade compensated for this. 

Interesting Points

  • The Parasaurolophus had bizarre head adornments in the form of a long, thin crest that ran along the length of its head and protruded from the back. The function of this crest is still debated, but it is thought that the Parasaurolophus used it to communicate.
  • They had a very fast growth rate that took place within a year.
  • Their mouth structures included chewing strips with large sets of teeth with several hundred teeth, which were never used simultaneously during chewing.

Featred Image Credit: Ryanz720, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons