Maiasaura – Good Mother Lizard

Although most dinosaurs are named according to the male gender version of the binomial name, there are one or two exceptions.  Today, Sunday March 14th is Mothers Day and this is a good time to remember Maiasaura, a dinosaur named “Good Mother Lizard”.

Maiasaura fossils have been found in the north-western part of the United States, this sizeable flat-headed Hadrosaurine, with a body length in excess of 8 metres lived during the late Cretaceous (Campanian faunal stage).  To refer to this dinosaur as a flat-headed Hadrosaurine, is not quite accurate.  Maiasaura had a small,  bony crest that ran from the muzzle to a point on the skull just behind the eyes.  Unlike the more flamboyant crests of the Lambeosaurine Hadrosaurs the skull crest was solid and not hollow.

The first fossils of Maiasaura were found in the badlands of western Montana in 1978.  The scientists who found the fossils also uncovered evidence of dinosaur nests, eggs, and baby dinosaurs.  So rich was the fossil site that the area was named “Egg Mountain”.  The researchers had found a dinosaur nesting colony.  It seemed that Maiasaura migrated to same traditional breeding area to lay eggs and raise their young, just as many species of modern birds do today.  Over 200 specimens of Maiasaura have been found in the area to date, it has been speculated that all the remains are those of females.  The excavation provided evidence for dinosaur nesting behaviour and it seems that from the remains preserved, that this particular dinosaur cared for its young in the nest, bringing the babies food.

An Illustration of Maiasaura

Picture Credit: Everything Dinosaur

To view a model of Maiasaura, complete with baby dinosaurs in a nest and other dinosaur models: Dinosaur Toys for Boys and Girls – Dinosaur Models

Maiasaura was formerly named and described by American palaeontologists Jack Horner and Robert Makela in 1979.  As this dinosaur was such a good mother, and since the fossilised adults were believed to be female, this dinosaur was named using the Latinised female gender.

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