Lambeosaurus had a toothless beak and a strange-looking crest on its head.
This herbivorous dinosaur had pebbly skin with scales that fitted together like a mosaic. Lambeosaurus usually walked on four feet, but when threatened it ran off on its powerful hind legs. It relied on its sharp eyes and good hearing to sense danger.
This is a well-known dinosaur, and gives its name to the lambeosaurine hadrosaurids (those with ornate hollow crests on their heads). Its remains were discovered in 1889, but it was not recognized as a distinct genus until 1923. More than 20 fossils have been found. The wide geographical range of the finds suggests that it lived all along the western shore of the late Cretaceous inland sea of North America.
Name: Lambeosaurus, meaning ‘Lambe’s lizard’, after the Canadian palaeontologist Lawrence Lambe
Size: 15m long
Food: leaves and other parts of plants
Lived: 70-66 million years ago in the Late Cretaceous Period in Alberta, Canada; the USA and Mexico
The hollow crest on the top of the head is in the shape of an axe, with a squarish blade sticking up and a shaft pointing backwards. The square portion is the hollow part with the convoluted nasal passages, while the spike is solid. The crest of the larger species, L. magnicristatus, has a larger hollow portion, bigger than the skull itself, and a very small spike. The skin is thin and covered in small polygonal scales.
As males had larger crests, it may have been a way to tell them apart from females. Some experts think the crest was used as a ‘snorkel’ if Lambeosaurus went underwater. It is more likely that it was used to make sounds. One scientist discovered that, as air moved through the crest of a similar dinosaur, it sounded like a medieval horn. So, Lambeosaurus could have had its own distinctive call.
Inside its huge 2m-long skull, Lambeosaurus had hundreds of small, sharp teeth for crunching pine needles, woody twigs or seeds. When the teeth wore down, new ones grew to replace them.