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Dinosaurs Named After their Heads I

By Yona Williams    9/28/12

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Just like anything in the world, some dinosaurs were named after the shape of their head or features they may have had, such the number of horns on display. For example, the Ornatotholus was given its name because it had an elaborate-looking dome. In this article, you will encounter some of the dinosaurs that had distinct heads – enough to influence their naming.

Brachyceratops

The Brachyceratops ("short-horned faced") was a dinosaur that possessed a scallop frill with a crest on its head. His face was decorated with horns. The plant eater lived during the late Cretaceous period, which was 80 to 70 million years ago. Standing about 6 feet long, fossils of the dinosaur have been discovered in the state of Montana in the United States. In 1914, the dino got its name from C.W. Gilmore.

Corythosaurus

It was the shape of the head that led to the naming of the Corythosaurus. The large, duck-billed creature was known as the "helmet lizard." Standing around 30 to 33 feet long and nearly 7 feet tall at the hips, the dinosaur could have very well weighed up to 5 tons. The helmet shape of the dinosaur's head had a hollow, bony crest that flattened on the sides. The creature's nostrils traveled through the crest and this feature is believed to have served many different purposes – from making sounds to attracting females.

Living during the Cretaceous period (about 80 to 65 million years ago), the dinosaur had no natural defenses as it walked on two or four legs. Its tail was long and heavy, and it had short arms. When it did eat, its toothless beak and hundreds of cheek teeth would grind up its meal. The Corythosaurus was an herbivore, and probably dined on pine needles, conifers, ginkgos, seeds, cycads, twigs, and magnolia leaves in its day.

The credit of naming the Corythosaurus goes to Barnum Brown. In 1914, he used a fossil found in Alberta, Canada to come to a conclusion. Since then, fossils of the dinosaur have been uncovered in North America (like Montana and Alberta, Canada).

Dilophosaurus

The head of the Dilophosaurus (two-ridged lizard) possessed two thin, bony crests shaped like a semi-circle that is believed to have helped the creature create a display while mating. Other physical features of the dinosaur were hollow bones, a dewclaw on one toe, and a curved neck shaped like an 'S.' The slender shape of the Dilophosaurus gave the creature a bit of speed while it roamed the earth during the early Jurassic period.

These meat-eaters are thought to have traveled in packs – as suggested by three specimens were found together in the state of Arizona. When they killed their prey, they most likely used their clawed arms and legs since their loosely attached jaws would have made it difficult to kill animals. It is also possible that the creatures would act as scavengers and enjoy the meat of the already dead.

Arizona is the first place to introduce the world to the fossilized skeleton of the Dilophosaurus during the 1940s. However, the naming of the specimen did not come until 1970 when Samuel P. Welles used the shape of its head to identify the creature. If you are interested in viewing the fossils of this particular dinosaur, the only place in the United States to go is the University of California's Museum of Paleontology at Berkeley.

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