Sunday, May 4, 2014

Velafrons: Prehistoric Animal of the Week

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone!  Today, like last year, we will be looking at a dinosaur that used to call Mexico home.  Check out Velafrons coahuilensis!  The name sounds just sexy.  Say it out loud with me.  VELAFRONSSSSS.  yeah...

Velafrons was a hadrosaurid (duck-billed) dinosaur that was alive during the late Cretaceous period, 72 million years ago.  It measured about thirty feet long from beak to tail and was a plant eater.  The genus name, Velafrons, translates to "sail forehead" and the species name is in reference to Coahuila, Mexico, where some of its remains have been found.  When alive, Velafrons would have coexisted with Coahuiliceratops

Velafrons life reconstruction by Christopher DiPiazza

Velafrons was a kind of hadrosaurid called a Lambeosaurine.  Lambeosaurine hadrosaurs tended to have had more narrow bills and elaborate crests on their heads, which were hollow and could have been used for producing sound.  Another example of a lambeosaurine hadrosaur is ParasaurolophusVelafrons was most closely related to Corythosaurus and Hypacrosaurus, however.  

Velafrons is known from a skull and partial skeleton.  It is believed that the remains found were actually from a juvenile animal so it could have possibly grown to have been even larger than thirty feet at older ages.  The crest may have also been larger in an adult as well.  Paleontologists hypothesize this because the crest of Velafrons is similar in shape to crests seen in juveniles of other, more completely known lambeosaurines, like Corythosaurus and Hypacrosaurus.  It is totally possible, however, that the Velafrons found was actually an adult after all and just had a...youthful look about it.

Velafrons skull at the Paleontology Museum of Guadalajara.

Like all hadrosaurs, Velafrons had a beak in the front of its mouth for clipping vegetation and hundreds of tightly packed teeth in the back of its mouth for chewing.  It could have walked on all four legs or reared up on its hind legs to run or reach higher leaves if it needed to.  The tails of hadrosaurs like Velafrons tended to be wide longitudinally (up and down ways) and stiff due to the way the vertebrae fit together. They would have been good counterbalances for when the dinosaurs were walking.  Hadrosaurs also likely used their tails like club-weapons to keep predators at bay if need be.

That's it for this week!  As always feel free to comment below or on our facebook page!  Happy Cinco de Mayo!


Gates, Terry A.; Sampson, Scott D.; Delgado de Jesús, Carlos R.; Zanno, Lindsay E.; Eberth, David; Hernandez-Rivera, René; Aguillón Martínez, Martha C.; and Kirkland, James I. (2007). "Velafrons coahuilensis, a new lambeosaurine hadrosaurid (Dinosauria: Ornithopoda) from the Late Campanian Cerro del Pueblo Formation, Coahuila, Mexico". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 27 (4): 917–930. doi:10.1671/0272-4634(2007)27[917:VCANLH]2.0.CO;2.

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