Ornithopod Fossils: Beaked & Duck-Billed Dinosaurs | Darwin and Wallace: A Nature & Fossil Store

Ornithopod Fossils: Beaked & Duck-Billed Dinosaurs

 

        Ornithopods (meaning "bird foot" for their mostly three-toed feet) are one of the most successful dinosaur groups known, with fossils found on all seven continents. Like the antelope of Africa today, the herbivorous ornithopods were numerous within their own separate species, with many of them forming tremendous herds and serving as the main diet for most of the large theropods of their times and places. The oldest know ornithopod was a small turkey-sized creature called Yandusaurus, from the Jurassic Period of approximately 161 million years ago. From that time forward, ornithopods would evolve from fleet-footed bipedal forms such as Dryosaurus, to huge, habitually quadrapedal forms such as the well-known iguanodonts and the hadrosaurs (the "duck-billed dinosaurs"). The iguanodonts' most famous member is the European, spike-thumbed Iguanodon, which was the first ornithopod known, as well as the second dinosaur to be scientifically described (named in 1825 by the English geologist Gideon Mantell). Perhaps the most significant evolutionary development within the ornithopods was the efficient chewing dentition that many of them possessed, where several teeth made up a grinding dental battery that was perfect for processing plant material before being swallowed. As with all non-avian dinosaurs however, the last of the ornithopods would succumb to the great Cretaceous extinction event approximately 66 million years ago.

Click on the images below to see the incredible fossils we offer in our Ornithopod selection: