Hadrosaur, a member of the family hadrosauridae — a duck-billed dinosaur
Hadrosaurs were the most advanced members of a group of dinosaurs called ornithopods. All ornithopods had a beak at the front of their jaws to strip plants with and teeth for chewing. Hadrosaurs took chewing to a new level, having evolved a ‘battery’ of teeth — as many as six rows, each containing 45 to 60 teeth that acted like huge files for grinding coarse plant material. These teeth were constantly replenished by new teeth growing from below. Ornithopods also had cheeks that enabled them to chew without losing much food.
Hadrosaur locomotion was unusual, in that they moved on all four legs when foraging and walking slowly, but ran on their long hind legs with their bodies held horizontally when speed was required.
More is known about hadrosaurs than just about any other prehistoric animal. As well as complete fossilised skeletons of recently hatched, juvenile and adult animals, scientists have found mummified bodies, skin impressions, stomach contents, coprolites, footprints, eggs and nesting sites and possibly some internal organs.
The fossil on display at Melbourne Museum is still embedded in the sandstone in which it was found. Palaeontologists use the skull to identify hadrosaur species. Unfortunately, we cannot be sure of the identity of the specimen, as it is missing its head. It is probably Edmontosaurus.
Hadrosaur fossil on display in the Dinosaur Walk exhibition. Photographer Rodney Start. Source: Museum Victoria