Museum Frankfurt


Parasaurolophus walkeri

Order:    Ornithischia
Suborder:  Cerapoda
Infraorder:    Ornithopoda


Diet:  plants
Weight:  approx. 4-5 tons
Length:  approx. 10 metres
Age:  85-75 million years (Upper Cretaceous)


Fossill site:  Alberta (Canada)
at Senckenberg: 

 (Original at Royal Tyrrell Museum, Alberta/Canada)

Parasaurolophus had one of the most bizarre head attachments. Its nasal passages and its forehead were sharply extended to the rear and grew to form a bony crest. This bony crest was up to 1.80 meters long and was hollow. Its function has long been unclear. Since Parasaurolophus lived on the land and the crest had no opening to the outside, it could not have served as a snorkel.
It is likely that the crest functioned as an elongated resonance chamber. The dinosaurs could press air into the
cavity. Presumably, they produced deep tones with this "trombone", so they could communicate over long distances. The advantage is obvious: deep tones cannot be easily located. Thus they did not betray their position so easily to the flesh eating dinosaurs. Fellow species, however, could hear the loud bass from far away. Perhaps the males had longer bony crests than females. Whether there was a brightly colored skin  stretched between crest and the neck as an optical signal transmitter – as is often to be seen on reconstructions – is not verified by the fossils.
Parasaurolophus' crest grew as it matured from young animal to an adult, and thus the cavity grew as a
resonance chamber. One assumes that young animals produced high notes, which became ever deeper as it matured.

Gift of the Erika and Walter Datz Foundation

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