Central/Eastern Asia, China, Early Cretaceous, ca. 126 to 101 million years ago. A beautifully fossilized, near complete skeleton of a young Psittacosaurus, a ceratopsian dinosaur who lived in the area that is today Mongolia, Siberia, China, and Thailand. As adults, they stood on their powerful back legs, with their heads held high, but in their youth - as this one was - they relied more on their front legs and walked in a crouch. Their skull resembles that of a parrot - indeed, that is the origin of the name, as parrots are Psittaciformes - with a pronounced beak. The skull of this example is particularly well preserved (see color inverted photo) and its form is very clear. As displayed, the animal is: 16" L (40.6 cm); the box is: 3.25" L x 19.5" W x 13.25" H (8.3 cm x 49.5 cm x 33.7 cm)
Indeed, the Psittacosaurus skull is very interesting compared to other ornithischian dinosaurs, with an almost round profile and the eye placed relatively far down the snout. In life, scientists theorize that these animals had keratin around the bony beak, creating a blade-like form for cutting through plants.
Recent research has given us a better idea of what this animal would have looked like in life. A Psittacosaurus found in the Yixian Formation of eastern China had some preserved body covering, revealing that the animal was covered in scales and possibly feathers. Another study from two different fossil finds in 2016 revealed that the animal, which would have lived in dense forest, may have had counter shaded coloring, similar to deer, with stripes and spots that camouflaged it. The tail would have had a series of stiff bristles rising from it. In life, this creature would have had large eyes and an excellent sense of smell, its body evolved to evade predators as it browsed the Cretaceous forests. The dynamic pose you see it in here allows you to imagine it as it was in life.
Provenance: private J.H. collection, Beaverton, Oregon, USA
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