With their incredible animal diversity, dinosaurs have not finished surprising us. Dinosaurs have the most amazing features of all animal species. It’s amazing to think that the larger dinosaurs on the planet evolved into modern birds.
Despite this, there is one group of dinosaurs that stands out from the rest: herbivorous dinosaurs. Besides being the most numerous group of dinosaurs, herbivorous dinosaurs also possessed the most amazing features.
Many people find them interesting for that reason. This is also the right place for you if you are one of them.
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Learn everything you need to know about herbivorous dinosaurs in this article.
Let’s talk about the diet of herbivorous dinosaurs now that you know their physical characteristics.
Diet of plant eating dinosaurs
The diet of herbivorous dinosaurs evolved during the Mesozoic era or secondary epoch and is much different from that of today’s herbivores. During this period, they ate mostly leaves from trees, shrubs, and grasslands.
These dinosaurs ate a variety of shoots, leaves, or ferns depending on their size, teeth, and jaws. Dinosaurs with adapted anatomy were capable of eating fruits, pine cones, etc.
This large family of dinosaurs includes many well-known species that ate plants and diverse flowers and trees but not only. Indeed, some of the largest herbivore dinosaurs from North America or other continents were also used to eat many things that can be very surprising. Many dinosaurs swallowed stones to digest the gigantic quantities of tough vegetation that they ingested in their digestive tract.
The 2 main families of herbivore dinosaurs
1.The herbivorous Sauropods
All-fours locomotion was a distinctive characteristic of this dinosaur family. Additionally, their hips were shaped like those of lizards, their necks were long, and they had large vertebrae. Dinosaurs with these molars were also perfectly adapted to tearing and swallowing leaves without chewing them properly. This category of dinosaur often includes animals with a long tail like the Diplodocus for example. These species are often known to be the largest dinosaurs that ever roamed the Earth but they have many other particularities that are impressive.
2. The herbivorous Ornithischians
The dinosaurs had hips similar to those of birds, which allowed them to move on their hind legs. The jaws and teeth of some of these dinosaurs were similar to those of birds. They were able to tear leaves and fruits precisely while crushing them before digestion and often had longer intestines than other species and also a massive body structure.
TOP 10 Most famous herbivorous dinosaurs
1. The Diplodocus, the dinosaur with a very long neck
Diplodocus is certainly one of the best-known herbivorous dinosaurs. Having a long neck and moving on four legs, this plant-eating dinosaur is a member of the Sauropod family. With an impressive height of 13 meters (42ft) and a length of 35 meters (115ft), this dinosaur is quite impressive. This dinosaur lived in Western North America and is known to be one of the largest animal that ever existed. This long-neck dinosaur from the late Jurassic period is not known to be one of the most famous plant eating dinosaurs, but is also very represented in the movies for its friendly aspect.
2. The Stegosaurus, the armored dinosaur
The stegosaurus is probably the largest herbivore dinosaur from the early Cretaceous period and is known to be a member of the famous armored dinosaurs family. It could grow up to 9 meters (29ft) long and 4 meters (13ft) tall on four legs. Science fiction writers and filmmakers often feature this dinosaur. The plating on its back, the beak-like snout, and the spikes on its tail make it easy to identify. As a result, its back was covered with plates, and its tail had spikes that served as a weapon against predators. The Stegosaurus are one of the most famous prehistoric creatures for good reasons, indeed, besides being from the family of the plant eaters it was also capable of competing with the tyrannosaurus Rex thanks to its massive size comparable to a blue whale, its thick skull and its tail spikes. All the dinosaurs had a great deal of respect for this massive herbivore dinosaur even if it was not aggressive.
3. The Triceratops, the dinosaur with the three horns
This 4-legged dinosaur also has 3 horns. This sauropod dinosaur was quite large, reaching a length of 37 meters (121ft) and a height of 6 meters (20ft). His horns enabled him to defend himself against predators. The Triceratops is probably the most famous herbivore from the late Cretaceous period. Indeed, its three horned face and its cute appearance made it a movie star. The triceratops even if it was not the most impressive reptile from the different Cretaceous periods, was already very impressive for small herbivorous dinosaurs from these times.
4. The Ankylosaurus the armored dinosaur from the Cretaceous period
This dinosaur belongs to the sauropod family and has spine armor on its back. Approximately 10 meters (32ft) long and 1.7 meters (6ft) high, this dinosaur resembles a cross between a turtle and a gigantic pig. Crocodiles have bony plates on their dermis to act as armor. These plates could protect them from an attacking predator and other dangerous meat eaters dinosaurs.
5. The Brachiosaurus the 69 feet long dinosaur
A corpulent herbivorous dinosaur, they could reach heights of 21 meters (69ft) and weigh 80 tons. The heart of Brachiosaurus was large enough to act as a powerful blood pump, able to circulate oxygen throughout the body, even up to the brain. From left to right, as well as up and down, it was able to be moved from both sides, which gave it the same height as a four-story building.
Because of their long necks, they could reach the high leaves of conifers and acacias, thereby obtaining plant nutrients necessary for their diet.
6. The Brontosaurus the gigantic plant-eating dinosaur
Brontosaurus was an herbivorous dinosaur that inhabited the Western United States continent about 153 million years ago.
A small head and long whip-like tail stand out in the corpulent anatomy of Brontosaurus (30 tons and 21 meters long(69ft)). Many strong cervical vertebrae enabled it to move its neck from side to side easily. Its strong jaws and flat teeth made it capable of grinding vegetation easily and grow to an impressive size that not all dinosaurs could reach.
The Brontosaurus was able to live up to 100 years thanks to a diet rich in plant nutrients obtained from consuming leaves of conifers, ginkgo and other similar plants in their digest cellulose.
7. The Apatosaurus, a dinosaur seen in Jurassic World
Due to its similar anatomical morphology, Apatosaurus is often wrongly identified and confused with Brontosaurus.
Unlike Brontosaurus, Apatosaurus had a small head that appeared in front of its trunk, neck, and corpulent limbs. The multiple finds of both species’ fossil remains have allowed paleontologists to confirm their coexistence during the Jurassic period.
In order to digest plant nutrients more effectively, Apatosaurus used small stones as gastroliths. The Apatosaurus teeth were adapted to better tear apart plant tissues.
8. The Protoceratops, the Triceratops-looking dinosaur
The herbivore dinosaur called Protoceratops was the smallest herbivorous dinosaur ever. It could reach two meters in length and was from the Greek for “first horned head”. Fossils of this dinosaur have been discovered in China and Mongolia.
Protoceratops have a small bony protuberance in their snout and a long neck, both of which are useful for defending themselves from potential predators and for eating small plants.
The herbivorous dinosaurs probably lived in small groups of related individuals so they could share food resources and travel in search of food sources.
9. The Giraffatitan, the giraffe looking herbivorous dinosaur
Herbivorous dinosaur living 150 to 145 million years ago, the Giraffatitan belonged to the Brachiosauridae family. The Giraffatitan lived in Africa during the Upper Jurassic Epoch.
A Giraffatitan appears to be very similar to a Brachiosaurus, so much so that some scientists thought that it was a very large Brachiosaurus. It was discovered that five partial skeletons of the Giraffatitan were found, which allowed a complete skeleton to be reconstructed. There was an estimated 26-meter (85ft) length and 12-meter (39ft) height to it.
10. The Iguanodon, the gigantic primitive reptile
The Iguanodon is one of the most famous dinosaurs in the world. Let’s continue looking at our herbivorous dinosaur friends!
In terms of etymology, Iguanodon is derived from the word iguana and the suffix odon (tooth). Therefore, Iguanodon could be described as “Iguana tooth”. It lived in Europe about 125 million years ago, during the Lower Cretaceous period.
Iguanodons were herbivorous quadrupedal dinosaurs that lived in herds to avoid carnivores. It was equipped with conical thumbs for self-defense, as well as a bony beak and molars for crushing food. When it was standing, it measured between 4 and 10 meters (33ft) in length and 5 meters (16ft) in height.
The impressive anatomy of the herbivorous dinosaurs is the reason why they are so famous.
Let’s conclude by answering a question that has been asked by a lot of people. This question is all about which dinosaur was the biggest ever found. Currently, the largest dinosaur known is the Argentinosaurus. His length and weight were approximately 40 meters (131ft) and 100 tons respectively.
But please keep in mind that this answer may become false at any moment. Every day, new dinosaurs are discovered in archaeological excavations. Therefore, a larger dinosaur may be discovered tomorrow.