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Maiasaura

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Maiasaura peeblesorum

Conservation status: Fossil

Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Archosauria
Superorder:Dinosauria
Order:Ornithischia
Suborder:Ornithopoda
Family:Hadrosauridae
Subfamily:Hadrosaurinae
Genus:Maiasaura
Species:M. peeblesorum
Binomial name
Maiasaura peeblesorum
Horner & Makela, 1979

Maiasaura peeblesorum ("Peebles' good mother lizard") is a large duck-billed dinosaur species that lived in Montana in the Upper Cretaceous (Campanian), 74 million years ago.

Discovery

Maiasaura was discovered by dinosaur paleontologist Jack Horner (paleontologic advisor for the Jurassic Park movies). He named the dinosaur after a series of nests with remains of eggshells and hatchlings. This was the first prove of giant dinosaurs raising and feeding their young. Over 200 specimens, in all age ranges, have been found.

Characteristics

Maiasaura was quite a strange looking animal: it was large, about 7 meters long, and it had the typical hadrosaurid flat beak and a thick nose. It had a small, spiky crest in front of its eyes. The form of the head was reminiscent of a horse's. This dinosaur was herbivorous. It walked both on two or four legs and it had no defense against predators, excepting, perhaps, its heavy muscular tail and its herd behaviour.

It lived in herds and it raised its young in nesting colonies. The nests, containing 30 to 40 eggs, were made of earth, and were guarded by the parents (parental care). The eggs had about the size of ostrich eggs, so the hatchlings had to grow fast.

Maiasaura lived alongside with the ceratopsid Centrosaurus, the tank-like Euoplocephalus, and an earlier relative of Tyrannosaurus rex, Daspletosaurus torosus.

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