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KidZone Animals: Dinosaurs
"Duck-Billed" Dinosaurs

“Duck-billed” dinosaurs belong to the group Ornithopoda and there are many sub-groups within this group. There were lots of “duck-billed” dinosaurs during the time of the dinosaur and there is evidence that some of them travelled in groups while others travelled solo.

hadrosaurus fossil in a museum
Fossilized Hadrosaurus Skull
Photographed by Derek Bruff;
used with permission under CC BY-NC 2.0

All "duck-billed" dinosaurs are herbivores and excellent chewers. They have special adaptations, which allow them to chew very tough material like bark. The bone that connects their lower and upper jaw (the coronoid process) is very large so that their jaw is strong and can chew for a long time. Some duck-billed dinosaurs (like the hadrosaur for example) have dental batteries. This means that as their teeth get worn down from chewing and fall out, new teeth are always ready to be there as replacements.

Even though this group is commonly known as the "duck-billed" dinosaurs, palaeontologists have uncovered new evidence that these dinosaurs didn't actually have duck bills. Based on the skull fossils we find of ornithopods, it looks like they have duck bills. So lots of people have compared them to ducks; thinking they live in areas around ponds and lakes and eat pond scum. However, what the skulls didn't have was the layer of kerotin (the stuff that fingernails are made up of) around their mouths. Kerotin very rarely fossilize like bone does, but palaeontologists did find a skull with the keratin still attached.

Some "duck-billed" dinosaurs had solid or hollow crests on top of their heads and others didn't have crests at all. These crests came in all different shapes and sizes. Sometimes they look like bumps or long tubes around the top of the head, and some like large bumps along the nasal area.