Friday, October 29, 2010

Hypsilodontid dinosaurs


This is the group of dinosaurs that lived in southern Australia in the Cretaceous Period. While Hypsilodontids have been found worldwide, scientists have discovered a richness of species in southern Victoria. Being close to the South Pole, the climate there was quite cold, with long dark winters when there was no sunlight. Hypsilodontids may have exploited the near polar conditions better than other species. Fossils of about twelve species of Hypsilodonts have been found along the south coast of Victoria, including sites near Cape Otway.

The Hypsilodontid dinosaurs were Ornithopods, and were quite small, only up to 1 metre in size (about the size of a present day wallaby). They walked and ran on their hind legs, with a long neck, and a long balancing tail. They were herbivores, eating low growing vegetation such as the ferns and mosses that grew in the cold climate. Hypsilodontids had very large eyes and ability to see in poor light. This would have allowed them to find food during the long, cold winters.

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