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Parksosaurus

A small ornithopod dinosaur

WWD - Prehistoric Planet

Parksosaurus was a small ornithopod dinosaur with a beak, large eyes and a small head.

They call it home

Parksosaurus lived in a well-watered, forested floodplain with coastal swamps, marshes and cool winters. Being positioned near the Western Interior Seaway, which split North America at the time, there was also a marine influence to the climate. It shared this landscape with Albertosaurus and Pachyrhinosaurus.

What we heard about their hearing

What we heard about their hearing

Other ornithopods are thought to have had good hearing and the ability to hear low-frequency sounds, so it is a reasonable guess that Parksosaurus could too.


What big teeth you have

What big teeth you have

Parksosaurus had a horny beak at the front of its snout as well as teeth along the sides. These teeth had large bumps called denticles along the front and back sides, which were used to grind up plants.

The most fantastic find

The most fantastic find

Parksosaurus was described by William Parks as Thescolosaurus warreni. The fossil was discovered in 1922 as a partial skeleton and skull. In fact, the animal had fallen on its left side and most of its right side was destroyed before burial. Charles Sternberg later found that it needed a new genus and changed its name to Parksosaurus warreni.

Parksosaurus features

Parksosaurus features Height: 1m (3.28ft)
Length: 2.5m (8.2ft)
Weight: 49.9kg (110lbs)
Top speed: 56.0kph (34.80mph)
Vision: Hypsilophodontid brains had large optic nerves. Combined with large eyes, it is thought they had excellent vision.
Skin: A close ornithopod relative, Edmontosaurus, has been found with fossilised skin impressions. These show that they had thin, leathery skin with small overlapping scales, like a gila monster. Perhaps Parksosaurus had this too?
Brain: Ornithopods had a large forebrain. More specific to Parksosaurus, hypsilophodontid brains had separate cerebral hemispheres and well defined optic lobes.
Prey: Parksosaurus ate low-level conifer foliage, deciduous shrubs and trees of the newly evolved flowering plant group, the angiosperms.
Bite: The success of Parksosaurus and other ornithopods was probably down to their ability to grind vegetation. Their lower jaws could move sideways and back-and-forth whilst chewing, allowing them to extract more nutrients from their food.
Nest: It is thought that hypsilophodont dinosaurs nested in colonies consisting of half-a-dozen to perhaps hundreds of nests. These nests seem to have been used repeatedly for many years, like those of modern day ground-nesting birds.

Parksosaurus facts and theories

Parksosaurus facts and theories

  1. Fossils of Parksosaurus come from the dinosaur-rich cliffs along the Red Deer River of Alberta. Early fossil hunters would prospect for dinosaur bones by sailing along the river on a boat, using binoculars to peer at the cliffs.
  2. Parksosaurus was an ornithopod. These were bipedal grazers that became some of the most successful Cretaceous herbivorous dinosaurs ever, dominating the landscape. Within this group, Parksosaurus is a hypsilophodont – small creatures named after their 'high-crested teeth'.
  3. Hypsilophodont dinosaurs like Parksosaurus are thought to have had hatchlings that weighed between 0.07 and 0.15kg (0.15-0.33lb). However, there is evidence of chicks weighing about 1.5kg (3.3lb) in some nests, showing there must have been some level of parental care within the nest after birth.
  4. It is possible that Parksosaurus had long toes and strong arms for burrowing, possibly for food or perhaps even for rearing young.
  5. Parksosaurus had cheek pouches, like us, for storing food when chewing.
  6. Ornithopoda is one of the longest-lived dinosaur groups, with members appearing during the Early Jurassic and going extinct by the end of the Cretaceous.