Diet: Plant eater
Name Means: "Parrot Lizard"
Length: 6.5 feet (2 m)
Height: 2 feet (.6 m)
Weight: 150 pounds (68 kilos)
Time: Early Cretaceous - 140 MYA
Psittacosaurus was discovered in Outer Mongolia in 1922 by
the Roy Chapman Andrews expeditions. It was these expeditions
and Andrews' adventures that inspired the Indiana Jones
character. Psittacosaurus was one of the very first in the
family of dinosaurs that later included
Triceratops It was very small and still walked on two
legs much of the time. Its later and much larger family members
would need to walk on all four legs all the time.
This is possibly the best-known genus of dinosaurs, as many well-preserved specimens have been found. It represents a possible transitional creature, resembling the ornithopod Hypsilophodon but clearly showing the traits that would later mark the Ceratopsian dinosaurs.
Named by Henry Osborn, Psittacosaurus is the earliest and most primitive in the Ceratopsian family. The beak for which Psittacosaurus was named was a typical Ceratopsian feature. Although the wide squamosals and the beak gave it a Ceratopsian resemblance, there are no horns or frill at all. The ragged spade-shaped teeth indicate that it had a diet of course vegetation. The body itself was much lighter than Protoceratops and the smaller size of it's front limbs would indicate that it spent much of its time on two legs. The "hands" show some ability to grasp objects. Gastroliths have been found associated with some specimens.