STL Science Center

STL Science Center

27 July 2012

An Almost Tall Enough Lizard

Almost, but not quite as tall. Artist unfound so far.
It is a rare occurrence in dinosaur naming that sees one dinosaur named after, or in relation to, another dinosaur; Nanotyrannus being a notable exception that has been covered on this blog. This week's dinosaur, however, like Nanotyrannus, was named due to its height in relation to Tyrannosaurus, in part. Hypacrosaurus, two species of this genus being H. altispinus and H. stebingeri, means "near the highest lizard" or "almost the top lizard" depending on translation and is a reference to the fact that Hypacrosaurus was nearly as tall as Tyrannosaurus, which was quite a feat for an herbivore of the Late Cretaceous in North America as most of the animals there and at that time were being easily outsized by Tyrannosaurus Rex. Hypacrosaurus enjoyed a long life as a genus, stretching from 75 to approximately 67 million years ago and ranged from what is now Montana to Alberta. The age and range make Hypacrosaurus the youngest, or last if you think that way, well known hadrosaur, or duckbill, with a hollow crest that has been found in North America. The second species, H. stebingeri, has even been found nesting with eggs and young, which is always good for studying the full lifeline of an extinct species. The number one anatomical item that is going to set Hypacrosaurus apart from other hadrosaurs, other than height, is going to be its dorsal neural spines that stretch from head to tail, so look carefully at them the next few days to be able to readily distinguish Hypacrosaurus.

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