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Dino Facts

Before we get into the game, let's learn about some dinosaur facts to help you along.

Montana has a lot of great stories to tell. One of the most fascinating is of those times, long ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Just as our Big Sky Country and open lands are a great habitat for wildlife today, millions of years ago, Montana was prime pasture for Maiasaura, Brachylophosaurus, Triceratops, and more.

In the profession of paleontology, Montana is among the elite locations. The world’s first Tyrannosaurus rex was found here. Our state provided North America’s first baby dinosaur bones. We are also home to the largest collection of dinosaur fossils from the United States, some of the world’s best preserved dinosaur specimens, and the largest skeletal replica. The following are some of the dinosaurs highlighted in Montana’s museums:

HADROSAURIDS

MAIASAURA

  • Maiasaura means “good mother lizard” in Greek. These dinosaurs lived in extremely large herds and cared for their young in nesting colonies.
  • Maiasaura is Montana’s state fossil. Paleontologist Jack Horner first identified skeletal remains of Maiasaura hatchlings at “Egg Mountain” in the Two Medicine Formation near Choteau, Montana. He found 15 intact fossil remains of the young, each weighing about 1.5 pounds and measuring less then 14 inches long. The nest was seven feet wide and two and one half feet deep and shaped like a bowl. It's believed the young may have remained in the nest for up to two months. Horner's team also unearthed the first unhatched dinosaur embryo ever found in the United States.
  • All hadrosaurs had three toes on the hind feet and four toes on the front.
  • Adult Maiasaurs were nearly thirty feet long, weighed about three tons, had a tiny knob between its eyes, and a flat, duckbill-shaped snout. The dinosaur walked on its hind legs with its tail held out straight for balance.

BRACHYLOPHOSAURUS

  • Brachylophosaurus means “short-crested lizard.”
  • Brachylophosaurs belong to the plant-eating hadrosaur family know as duckbill dinosaurs.
  • “Elvis” the Brachylophosaurus, found in 1994 by Nate Murphy, is considered to be one of the most complete skeletons of a dinosaur ever found in Montana.
  • In 2000, Nate Murphy discovered and named “Leonardo”, a Brachylophosaurus known as the mummy dinosaur, is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the best preserved dinosaur ever found.
  • Brachylophosaurs lived around 77 million years ago.

LAMBEOSAUR

  • A lambeosaur is a type of hadrosaur, or “duckbill” dinosaur, with a bony crest on top of its skull.
  • Lambeosaurs are named after Lawrence Morris Lambe as a tribute in 1923. Lambe was a famous geologist and palaeontologist from Canada who lived from 1863 to 1919.
  • Crests appear differently, from fan-shaped to tubular, among various species of lambeosaurs.
  • Lambeosaurs were known as the “cows of the Cretaceous Period”, and they were the most abundant plant-eaters of the late Cretaceous Period, which was 100 million to 65 million years ago. Dinosaurs thrived during this period, and many new types appeared and diversified, such as Tyrannosaurs, horned dinosaurs, and duckbilled dinosaurs like the lambeosaur.
  • Clutches of up to 22 lambeosaur eggs, some with embryos, are preserved in nests that average six feet in diameter.

GRYPOSAURUS

  • Gryposaurus was a duckbilled dinosaur like Maiasaurs and Lambeosaurs. Its name is of Greek origin and means “hook-nosed lizard.” Two parallel arched nasal bones that curve to a hump in front of its eyes give the Gryposaurus its name. These arched noses may have been used to distinguish between male and females or in head-butting battles to determine social ranking.
  • Gryposaurus lived near streams and rivers on a lowland coastal plains in North America 83 to 75 million years ago during the late Cretaceous Period.
  • These bipedal (meaning they walked on two feet), plant-eating dinosaurs were 30 feet long and traveled in large herds. They laid eggs and cared for their babies.
  • The Two Medicine Formation that was deposited in northwestern Montana during the late Cretaceous, and Gryposaurs who prospered during this period have been found in it.
  • The Gryposaurus would use a few teeth to grind up its food and then naturally replace the teeth from a store of hundreds stored in its jaw when they were too worn down.

ANATOTITAN COPEI

  • Anatotitan copei was over 30 feet long and weighed approximately 3.5 tons. They were slightly larger than Maiasaurs and had a long, low skull with the duckbill-shaped snout characteristic of hadrosaurs.
  • The Anatotitan copei skeleton at Carter County Museum was discovered during the summer of 1938 by Walter H. Peck and Ted Snyder along with other members of the Carter County Geological Society.
  • Anatotitan copei were plant-eating dinosaurs and made their homes in lowland swamps.
  • Anatotitan copei’s name is of Latin and Greek origin. Anas is Latin for duck. Titan, like the race of powerful gods in Greek mythology that were many times the size of an average human, means giant. Altogether Anatotitan copei then means “giant duck.” “Duckbilled dinosaur” is a term used to refer to all types of hadrosaurs.
  • The Carter County Museum’s giant hadrosaur is one of at least five know specimens found in the United States. Two others are housed within the American Museum of Natural History, New York. These were found approximately 30 miles west of Ekalaka.

ORNITHOMIMID

STRUTHIOMIMUS

  • Struthiomimus means “ostrich mimic.”
  • Struthiomimus was the largest, strongest and heaviest of the ornithomimids found in North America. It was 11.5 feet in length and weighed 220 pounds. Struthiomimids lived in the open lowlands and plains along riverbanks.
  • A toothless omnivore, it swallowed food whole. Rocks called gastroliths helped to grind the food inside the stomach.
  • The first remains of Struthiomimus in Alberta were found by Lawrence Lambe in 1901.
  • Struthiomimus was built for speed, with large hind legs and a tail that could be stiffened to provide balance and the ability to make quick turns.

PACHYCEPHALOSAURID

STYGIMOLOCH

  • Stygimoloch is known for its thick, domed skull with bony spikes and knobs. Short, knobby horns covered the nose. The back corners of the skull bore pair of massive, backward-pointing spikes that were as long as six inches and surrounded by smaller spikes.
  • Stygimoloch is believed to be a plant-eating dinosaur.
  • Stygimoloch has 5 fingers its forelimbs but only 3 toes on each hindlimb.
  • The name Stygimoloch comes from Greek mythology and means “demon from the river Styx.” Moloch is an ancient god and the river Styx ran through the Underworld.
  • A Stygimoloch skull was found west of Jordan, Montana, by Clayton Phipps in 2003.
  • A Stygimoloch skull cast is on display at the Garfield County Museum.

TYRANNOSAURIDS

TYRANNOSAURUS REX

  • Tyrannosaurus means “tyrant lizard” and rex is Latin for king.
  • Tyrannosaurus rex was most likely both an effective predator and scavenger.
  • Tyrannosaurus rex had about 60 teeth in its jaws. T. rex had the greatest bite force of any dinosaur and one of the strongest bite forces of any animal. Tyrannosaurid teeth were continually replaced throughout the life of the animal, so it didn’t matter if a T. rex broke a tooth chomping down on its prey.
  • Tyrannosaurus rex is the largest carnivorous dinosaur found in North America.
  • The largest known tyrannosaurid and one of the largest known land predators ever to exist, Tyrannosaurus rex was about 40 feet in length and weighed in at around 6 tons—but modern estimates show that they may have weighed as much as 7.5 tons. Studies suggest that their rapid growth began to slow at around 16 years of age. This sudden change growth rate might have just been because the dinosaurs reached physical maturity, a hypothesis which is supported by the discovery of tissue in the femur of a 16 to 20-year-old T. rex from Montana known as "B-rex."
  • Tyrannosaurus rex's arms were only about 3 feet long, and it had just two fingers for each forelimb.
  • The Fort Peck Field Station of Paleontology is home of “Peck’s Rex”, one of the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons ever discovered. It is the first T. rex ever to be mounted with its belly ribs. It is the first T. rex ever discovered with a third finger and its upper jaw has healed bite marks from another T. rex.

GORGOSAURUS

  • Gorgosaurus was named by Lawrence Lambe, a Canadian fossil hunter, in 1914.
  • Gorgosaurus means “gorgon lizard.” Named after the mythological monster, such as Medusa, that had sharp fangs and snakes for hair. In Greek the word Gorgon means “terrible” or “loud-roaring.”
  • A mature Gorgosaurus would have been 26 to 30 feet in length, 9.3 feet tall, and weighed approximately 2.5 tons.
  • Gorgosaurus actually had more teeth than the T. rex.
  • Gorgosaurus was in the tyrannosaur family, a close relative of the Tyrannosaurus rex and the Albertosaurus.
  • More than 20 Gorgosaurus skeletons have been discovered, which is the largest number of fossils on record of any type of tyrannosaurid.

ALBERTOSAURUS

  • Albertosaurus means “Alberta lizard.”
  • Albertosaurus belongs to the tyrannosaur family and is closely related to Tyrannosaurus rex.
  • Albertosaurus, like other tyrannosaurus dinosaurs, were meat-eating dinosaurs that both hunted and scavenged for food.
  • Albertosaurus has about 60 teeth in its mouth and also has hollow bones like modern birds.
  • The Albertosaurus lived around 75 million years ago.

DASPLETOSAURUS

  • Daspletosaurus means “frightful lizard.” Daspletosaurus is closely related to the much larger and more recent Tyrannosaurus rex.
  • The Two Medicine Dinosaur Center houses a family of Tyrannosaurs: a subadult, a small adult, and a large adult. This discovery is only the second know where more than one tyrannosaurid dinosaur was found in the same location.
  • The Daspletosaurus at the Two Medicine Dinosaur Center belongs to a new species of Daspletosaurus.
  • Daspletosaurus shared a similar body shape as other tyrannosaurids. It walked on its two thick hind limbs, which ended in three-toed feet. In proportion to body size, Daspletosaurus had the longest forelimbs of any tyrannosaurid, but they were still tiny and had just two fingers.
  • A long, heavy tail served to balance out the dinosaur since it has a massive skull.

CERATOPSIDS

TRICERATOPS

  • Triceratops is derived from Greek and means “three-horned face.” Tri means three, ceras means horn, and ops is the Greek word for face. It had three horns, a large frill that extending over its neck, a tough beak, and a bulky body. The horns and frill may have been used in either combat or courtship.
  • Partial specimens of Triceratops were first discovered in 1887 near Denver, Colorado. No complete skeleton has ever been found, but Triceratops is still one of the most recognizable dinosaurs.
  • Triceratops was a quadruped, or walked on four feet, and could run up to 30 miles per hour for short distances. They were herbivores and probably fed on vegetation near to the ground but may have knocked over taller plants to feed on.
  • An adult Triceratops weighed 4 to 6 tons and was about the size of an elephant.
  • Triceratops was one of the last dinosaurs to become extinct.

TOROSAURUS

  • Torosaurus may come from the Latin taurus (or Spanish toro), meaning bull and literally mean “bull lizard.” On the other hand, its name may come from the Greek word toreo for pierce, perforate and would then mean “perforated lizard.” This would refer to the openings, or perforations, in the dinosaur’s frill. Studies indicate that Torosaurus is most closely related to Triceratops. Both are part of the group of dinosaurs known as Ceratopsids, which is derived from the Greek words for "horned face."
  • Baby Torosaurus horns pointed backward.
  • Torosaurus horns were hollow on the underside and not very strong, so experts believe that they did not use their horns to fight. Scientists think they used their horns to recognize other dinosaurs of the same species.
  • Torosaurus has the largest skull of any dinosaur found so far.
  • Torosaurus has a narrow, parrot-like beak.

AVACERATOPS

  • Avaceratops is a plant-eater, and it is likely that this dinosaur fed on the predominant plants of the era. These included ferns, cycads, an ancient group of seed plants; and conifers, or cone-bearing seed plants.
  • Avaceratops is closely related to Triceratops. Both names come from the Greek for horned face.”
  • Avaceratops fossils were found in Montana in the early 1980s by Eddie Cole, and the fossil was shortly thereafter named after his wife Ava.
  • Many paleontologists think this specimen of Avaceratops was a sub-adult, or not yet full grown.
  • Avaceratops was about 8 feet in length.

OTHER FUN FOSSIL FACTS

  • Fossils, from Latin fossus, literally "having been dug up", are the mineralized remains of animals or plants or other artifacts such as footprints.
  • The term dinosaur means “terrible lizard.”
  • Part of the Two Medicine Formation, Egg Mountain was discovered and named by Jack Horner and Bob Makela in 1979. It is a colonial nesting site that is famous for its fossil eggs of Maiasaura, which demonstrated for the first time that at least some dinosaurs cared for their young. Skeletons of Orodromeus and skeletons and eggs of Troodon were also found at Egg Mountain.
  • Digging up a dinosaur only takes about 10% of the total time to produce a finished dinosaur exhibit specimen. The other 90% of the time is spent in the laboratory.
  • Fossils of one of the largest dinosaurs known to us was found in Montana. The Apatosaurus (formerly known as Brontosaurus), which means "deceptive lizard", was an enormous herbivore measuring about 70 to 90 feet long and weighing roughly 33 to 38 tons; however, its head was less than 2 feet long.
  • The Montanoceratops, like other ceratopsids, walked on four legs, had a large head, a bulky body, a parrot-like beak, and a neck frill. Montanoceratops was up to 6 feet long and weighed about 900 pounds. Scientists believe they lived in herds as large bone beds and fossilized nests have been discovered within close proximity. One of the dinosaurs’ skulls was discovered in 1987 by the St. Mary River Formation in Montana.
  • Nanotyrannus, meaning "tiny tyrant", was a bipedal carnivore related to Tyrannosaurus rex. It was about 16 feet long, had a large head, long legs with three-toed feet, short arms with two-fingered hands. Nanotyrannus was a tyrannosaurid dinosaur named by paleontologists M. Williams, R. Bakker, and P. J. Currie in 1988 from a skull only 22 inches long found in Montana in 1942.
  • In 2003 Horner found a tyrannosaur thigh from which scientists were able to retrieve proteins in 2007.
  • In March of 2007 the remains of a new dinosaur have been found in Lima, Montana. Scientists claim that this type of dinosaur has been the first discovered of its kind because evidence shows they burrowed in the ground. The dinosaur is about 8 feet long and about 22 kilograms in size. The remains are nearly 95 million years old.

Now that you have gathered up all this fantastic dino info. Let's see how you you do by playing your "Dino Trivia Game".

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