card
032

Psittacosaurus
mongoliensis

OLogy Series
extinct animal
card
032

Psittacosaurus
mongoliensis

OLogy Series
extinct animal

Psittacosaurus is one of the oldest and most primitive ceratopians ever found. Unlike later ceratopians such as Triceratops and Protoceratops, this small dinosaur was bipedal (stood on two legs), and lacked horns. Psittacosaurus was about as tall as an eight-year-old child.

Surprising Discoveries
Henry Fairfield Osborn described two incomplete Psittacosaurus skeletons found in Mongolia during the Central Asiatic Expedition of 1922. Osborn originally thought that the fossils belonged to two different species of dinosaurs. He later
realized that they were both Psittacosaurus specimens. During this expedition, Osborn also found a rock that
contained what he thought were only a few Psittacosaurus bones. When this fossil was prepared back at the Museum, the scientists
discovered two young Psittacosaurus skulls. Paleontologists believe he stumbled upon a Psittacosaurus nest.

Paleontologists believe that Psittacosaurus used its tough, hooked beak to eat:

carrots

small snakes

cycads and other green plants

Are you right?

Correct!

Psittacosaurus used its strong beak to cut up tough plant food just like other ceratopians.

Why was the Psittacosaurus named "parrot lizard"?

It squawked like a macaw.

It had a horny parrot-like beak.

It had beautiful feathers.

Are you right?

Correct!

Psittacosaurus had a parrot-like beak, a common characteristic among ceratopians.

All ceratopian dinosaurs have a large bony frill, a parrot-like beak, and walked on all four legs.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Psittacosaurus is a ceratopian dinosaur that walked on two legs and lacked a large bony frill.

Psittacosaurus
"parrot lizard"
(sit-a-CO-saw-rus)
Locality found: Asia
Age: Early Cretaceous, 119-97.5 MYA
Size: 6 feet long, 50-175 lbs.
Characteristics: small, primitive ceratopian with a toothless parrot-like beak; it probably swallowed stones to grind up plants that it ate

Image credits: courtesy of AMNH/Kelvin Chan.