Dino Index

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Latin Name Hypsilophodon
Everyday Name Hypsilophodon
Length 2.3 to 2.5
Height 0.5 m
Weight 60 kg
Diet herbivore
Period Cretaceous
Pronunciation Hip - so - law - of - don

Hypsilophodon was found first on the Isle of Wight. Since then it has been found in Europe and also in South Dakota, North America. The family Hypsilophodontidae was in fact quite successful, stretching from the middle of the Jurassic Yandusaurus to the end of the Cretaceous. The first Hypsilophodon found was originally classified as an Iguanodon, but this was revised later as scientists discovered more specimens. There was some debate for many years, but they finally decided it was a separate species.

Not Just The Classification

The debate was not only about the classification of this animal. Scientists also argued for years about what it was like. For quite a long time, many scientists thought that it not only could climb trees, but that it lived mostly in the trees. Scientists thought it could climb trees because it had five fingers on the front arms. The scientists also thought that it had curved claws, and that one of the toes (the first) could grasp branches. This is now changed. They found that the toes could not grasp anything, and that the way the muscles attached to the bones would give the dinosaur a posture that would not allow tree climbing.

The Runner

The posture they found most natural for this dinosaur would give it a great running physique. In fact, it is probably one of the fastest ornithischians. It had a horizontal posture, and a stiff tail, which helped it to run fast. The tail was long - about half the body length - and it probably ran on two legs (bipedal).

Did it live in Groups?

No nests for this dinosaur have been found yet, but fossils of large groups have been found, so it looks like they moved in herds. This leads to nicknaming them the deer of the Mesozoic. It was smaller than a man, perhaps standing up to waist height , weighing 50 to 70 kilograms. It’s five fingers make it appear quite primitive, as dinosaurs in general had fewer and fewer fingers as they progressed through the Mesozoic Era, but in some ways it might have been advanced.

Primitively Advanced

Although it had five fingers like more primitive dinosaurs, it also had teeth going far back into its mouth. This makes it seem likely that it had cheeks. Dinosaurs in general did not have cheeks, and this feature alone makes it appear somewhat advanced, since this would have helped it chew food. It ate plants, and the teeth are arranged alternately, possibly allowing them to self sharpen. Like most dinosaurs, the teeth were continuously replaced.