The amazing world of dinosaurs hides an endless number of striking species, biological adaptations and also the development of different groups according to their feeding strategies. One of those most numerous groups is undoubtedly the herbivorous dinosaurs of the Jurassic, which devoured all kinds of leaves and plants that existed throughout the Mesozoic era. Thanks to the numerous and diverse studies of dinosaur remains that paleontology has carried out throughout history, today we can know in detail many of the species names and characteristics of herbivorous dinosaurs.
Characteristics of herbivorous dinosaurs and when they existed
Herbivorous dinosaurs needed to have a certain anatomical structure that would allow them to defend themselves against their fearsome carnivorous predators. In the following list we will see many of the main characteristics of herbivorous dinosaurs :
- The dimensions: they were heavy and corpulent, with weights that varied according to the species, from 0.5 tons to a staggering 123 tons. Due to their dimensions, they were not very agile or fast, in contrast to the fearsome carnivorous dinosaurs.
- The anatomical structure of the neck: the structure of this part of the body of herbivorous dinosaurs was adapted for the optimal range of the plants and vegetables on which they fed.
- The teeth: they were not very pointed and with large surfaces, adapted to be able to tear, crush and digest the leaves. Their jaws were not able to move laterally to chew more effectively so they normally had to swallow whole leaves and digest them later in the stomach.
- The stomach: it was large and presented characteristics that facilitated the intake and processing of up to 200 kilograms of nutritious plant resources per day. To facilitate the processing of plant nutrients, they swallowed small stones as gastroliths.
When Dinosaurs Existed: Mesozoic Era
Dinosaurs existed during the Mesozoic, Mesozoic or Secondary Era , which is commonly known as ” The Age of Dinosaurs “, since the presence of these incredible animals is the most remarkable event of that period in the history of life in the earth. Thus, the extensive “Age of Dinosaurs” includes much of the Mesozoic, as well as the entire Cenozoic or Tertiary Era.
If you want to learn more about it, you can read this other post in which we talk about various theories about why the dinosaurs became extinct .
As we can well imagine, herbivorous dinosaurs based their diet on plant-based nutrients, mainly from the leaves of trees, shrubs and grassland vegetation that flooded the fertile lands of the Age of Dinosaurs with greenery .
According to the structure of their teeth and jaws, as well as the length of their necks or the presence of beaks and other anatomical structures related to food, herbivorous dinosaurs were capable of feeding on young shoots, ferns and tree leaves. as well as somewhat more hardened plant resources such as fruits, pineapples or needle-like leaves of the astonishing variety of plants existing at that time.
Types of herbivorous dinosaurs
The different types of herbivorous dinosaurs that existed were mostly terrestrial animals that lived in herds, although some species preferred to live alone, occupying the extensive continental ecosystems. When it comes to grouping the great variety of species of herbivorous dinosaurs that existed, we can distinguish two main types:
- Herbivorous sauropods: they moved quadruped, that is, on their four limbs, and had hips similar to those of lizards, as well as long necks and vast columnar structures. The molar parts of the sauropods were adapted to tear the leaves and ingest them without being able to chew them efficiently.
- Herbivorous orniquistios: their hips resembled those of birds, thus being able to move on their two hind limbs. Some species of this group had jaws and chewing structures in the shape of a bird’s beak, as well as scissor-shaped teeth, which allowed them both to remove the leaves and fruits with precision, and to crush them prior to their digestion.
Herbivorous dinosaur names – list of examples
Thanks to paleontology , we can now know the main characteristics of herbivorous dinosaurs . That’s right, thanks to the numerous and varied records of bones, footprints and even eggs, of herbivorous dinosaurs, today we can learn about various anatomical and biological aspects of these fascinating animals. Here is a list of examples of herbivorous dinosaur names :
- Patagotitan Mayorum
Let’s take a closer look at some of these herbivorous dinosaurs. In the next sections we will see its characteristics and some curiosities about its feeding strategies.
The diplodocus constitute a genus within the group of sauropod dinosaurs . Its name comes from the Greek “two beams” , referring to the presence of two small bones that constitute a bony band at the bottom of its gigantic tail.
Characteristics of d iplodocus
With powerful limbs, a strong super-long tail, and reaching up to 36 meters in length, diplodocuses are known worldwide as one of the largest and heaviest dinosaurs that existed in the Late Jurassic (150 million years ago).
The teeth of these herbivorous dinosaurs were perfectly adapted to skew and chew the soft parts of the plants on which they fed, thanks to their pincer-shaped teeth. With their long necks they reached the high tops of all kinds of trees.
The name of the genus Brachiosaurus or brachiosaurus (“lizard with arms”) refers to the amazing length and robustness of its forelimbs.
Characteristics of the B rachiosaurus
These stout herbivorous dinosaurs could reach 13 meters in height and 80 tons in weight. With such dimensions, the heart of the brachiosaurus acted as a powerful blood pumping machinery, capable of delivering oxygen to the brain, passing through a long neck, which they were able to move to both sides, as well as keeping it upright. left and right, as well as top to bottom, giving it the same stature as a four-story building.
How brachiosaurs fed
Thanks to their long neck, they were able to acquire the essential plant nutrients for their diet, being able to reach the high tops of conifers and acacias in order to find a greater quantity of fresh leaves.
The name of the herbivorous dinosaur Stegosaurus , from the Greek and means “armored roof lizard” , which indicates its main anatomical feature: the presence of bony plates arranged in two rows along the outer surface of its spine.
Running through the entire body of the Stegosaurus, from head to tail, robust bony plates allowed the animal to regulate its own body temperature, as well as defend it from possible predators. They reached 9 meters in length and up to 4 meters in height.
They had the presence of a beak-shaped mouth structure, thanks to which they were able to chew the plant resources they ingested.
The herbivorous dinosaur Protoceratops , from the Greek for “first head with horns” , is one of the smallest herbivorous dinosaurs that ever existed, reaching two meters in length. Its fossil remains have been found in Asian countries such as China and Mongolia.
The presence of a small bony protrusion on the Protoceratops’ snout stands out, as well as its long neck, useful to protect itself from possible predators, as well as to feed on small plants.
These herbivorous dinosaurs probably lived in small herds made up of individuals from the same family, so that they moved together when looking for food sources and shared the plant resources they consumed together.
One of the best known herbivorous dinosaurs belonging to the group of sauropods is the Triceratops , from the Greek for “cocked head” . Its fossil remains have been found in present-day North America and paleontological studies indicate that it was one of the favorite prey of the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex.
They did not exceed 10 meters in length and their most distinctive anatomical feature was the presence of three horns on their wide skull, one located on the snout and the other two on each eye. On the other hand, the presence of a hair cover on the skin of Triceratops stands out, compared to the common cold bare skin of the rest of the dinosaurs.
How the Triceratops fed
Among the different hypotheses regarding the use of the triceratops’ cranial horns, the fact that they used them to uproot and destroy those plants on which they fed stands out.
One of the herbivorous dinosaurs recently discovered is the Patagotitan Mayorum , a gigantic sauropod whose fossil remains were found in 2014 in Argentina.
Characteristics of the Patagotitan Mayorum
The only specimen found of this amazing species has allowed paleontologists to affirm that the Patagotitan Mayorum lived about 95-100 million years ago, and that it measured about 37 meters in length, reaching 69 tons in weight.
Feeding of the Patagotitan Mayorum
Like other species of herbivorous dinosaurs, the Patagotitan Mayorum made use of its robust and long neck to reach the leaves and tender shoots of the plants that grew in the territory in which it lived, located in present-day Argentine Patagonia.
Commonly known as the “thunder lizard” for the meaning of its name, the herbivorous dinosaur Brontosaurus inhabited the lands of present-day North America about 153 million years ago.
Characteristics of the Brontosaurus
Within the stout anatomy of the Brontosaurus (30 tons in weight and 21 meters long), its small head and its long whip-shaped tail stand out. Likewise, it had numerous highly robust cervical vertebrae that allowed it to move the neck to one side and the other.
Thanks to a rich diet based on the acquisition of plant nutrients from the consumption of coniferous leaves, ginkgos and other similar plants, Brontosaurs were capable of reaching up to 100 years of life.
The curious Apatosaurus , from the Greek, “deceptive reptile” , is commonly identified and confused with the brontosaurus, due to its similar anatomical morphology.
Characteristics of the Apatosaurus
In front of its stout trunk, neck and limbs, a small head stands out, which gave the Apatosaurus a really similar appearance to the Brontosaurus. Thanks to the multiple findings of fossil remains of both species, paleontologists have been able to affirm the coexistence of both herbivorous giants at the same time during the Jurassic.
How the Apatosaurus fed
Using small stones as gastroliths, Apatosaurus were able to more efficiently digest the plant nutrients they consumed. In addition, they had teeth designed to be able to better remove the plant structures of the plants.
Could you identify the largest herbivorous dinosaur that ever lived on Earth? The Amphicoelias is the dinosaur that tops the list of examples of names of the largest herbivorous dinosaurs and, therefore, the largest discovered to this day.
- Amphicoelias (50 m)
- Puertasaurus (40 m)
- Patagotitan Mayorum (37 m)
- Diplodocus (35 m)
- Sauroposeidon (35 m)
- Supersaurus (34 m)
- Brachiosaurus (26 m)
Although the vast majority of the best-known dinosaurs are impressive in size, not all dinosaurs were gigantic. Here are some examples of small herbivorous dinosaurs :
- Minmi (3 m)
- Protoceratops (2 m)
- Pisanosaurus (1 m)
- Lagosuchus (60 cm)
In closing, we want to mention several examples of herbivorous dinosaurs that appear in Jurassic Park and World :
Herbivorous dinosaurs of Jurassic Park
- Gallimimus (omnivorous)
Herbivorous dinosaurs from Jurassic World