Maiasaura

maiasaura

The Maiasaura is a very special dinosaur that bears its main characteristic in its name, which means “Atenta mother lizard”. only one genus of this dinosaur that lived in the Upper Cretaceous 80 million years ago is known. It’s an Ornithopod dinosaur that lived in North America. The most interesting thing is that many nests were found near his remains, which is why this place was called the Mountain of Eggs, which is located in Montana. It is believed that these dinosaurs cared for their children and fed their young, something very rare among dinosaurs that usually left their young to their fate.

The Maiasaura was about 10 meters long and weighed about 3 tons. It was a dinosaur that walked on two legs, i.e. bipedal, for this purpose it had a large flat tail that gave it a point of balance to maintain its verticality and not fall when walking. Although it is believed that this was extremely convenient for eating tree leaves, due to the Ornithopods’ diet, experts believe that they were placed on all four legs in order to eat more nutritious and easily digestible shrubs.

When did they find out?
Maiasaur2The Maisaura was discovered by Jack Horner, who in fact was the consultant for the film Jurassic Park. It was found in Montana in the formation called Dos Medicinas in 1979. As mentioned before, the remains of very young eggs and skeletons of Maiasaura were found around its bones, in addition to the most important, leaves, fruits and seeds. The nests that were found were excavated in the mud and had circle shapes. These findings were found in a considerable radius, in fact more than 200 specimens of all ages were found, this is what gave the name to the Mountain of Eggs.

What did he eat?
imagesThe Maiasaura fed on plants, leaves, fruits and seeds. Its muzzle had a particular shape, like a duck’s beak, which was later characteristic of the hadrosaurids, which served them to eat specific plants. They had more than one row of teeth that were used to grind the food, because of their characteristics it is believed that they could cut the food with their beak and then grind it completely with their rows of teeth. It has been calculated that in order to maintain their energy and a healthy life they had to eat approximately 90 kilos of plants, fruits and seeds per day.

What makes Maiasaura special?
Maisaura2What makes Maisaura2 special is its unique way of caring for its children. It is believed that they lived in unusually large herds of more than ten thousand individuals and created colonies to raise their children. They built their nests very close to each other, the mother dug a hole 2 meters in diameter to contain the eggs that were placed there that were about the size of those of an ostrich, because not only an egg was laid but about 40 eggs that were arranged in a spiral.

Dinosaurs didn’t hatch their eggs like birds but put different materials in their nests to keep the heat that ultimately made dinosaurs develop. One of the most interesting findings is that in the fossils of the younger Maiasauras they could not walk because their legs did not develop until later, so the elders had to take care of them, and the fact that they found food around them proves that they were bringing food to their youngsters who were unable to find food for themselves.

In the first year the Maiasauras grew to 60 centimeters, actually very small. After two years they could walk away and leave the nest. In the faces of the little Maiasaura have been found characteristic features in animals dependent on their parents for survival, these characteristics are large eyes and a shorter muzzle.

Theories tell us that once the Maiasaura left the nest safely to forage for food on his own, however, it is believed that this probably happened under the strict supervision of the parents. They more or less left the nest for the first time when they reached approximately 1.5 meters long, however, they did not leave it completely until they reached 3 meters, just when their legs were more robust and they could hold them completely. They were considered adults when they were about 6 years old.

One of the most particular characteristics of the Maiasaura is that each year they returned to the same place to lay eggs and then go to look for food, this cycle was repeated every year.