Named By : Thomas Henry Huxley - 1869
Diet : Herbivore
Size : Estimated 2.3 meters long
Type of Dinosaur : Euornithopod
Type Species : Hypsilophodon foxii (type)
Found in : England, Spain
When it Lived : Early Cretaceous, 130–125 million years ago
Hypsilophodon, /,hIpsI’lafoUdan/ (meaning “Hypsilophus–tooth”), is a neornithischian genus of dinosaurs from the Early Cretaceous Period of England. Although it was traditionally considered to be an early member in the Ornithopoda group, recent research has challenged this notion.
MWAK, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
In 1849, the first fossils of Hypsilophodon was discovered. The type species, Hypsilophodon foxii was then named. Numerous fossil discoveries were made in the Isle of Wight. This gives a good idea of the species’ build. It was a bipedal, small animal that ate an herbivorous or omnivorous diet. Hypsilophodon was a long-running runner who weighed in at around 20 kg (45 pounds). It reached 1.8m (5.9ft) in height. The pointed head was shaped like modern parrots and had a sharp beak that could bite down on plant material.
Many myths have been created by older studies about Hypsilophodon. They claim it climbs trees and that it is armoured. It can also reach a length of 2.3m (7.5ft) outside of Wight. This has been proven incorrect by new research over the last decade.
Hypsilophodon, a small dinosaur, was not nearly as small as Compsognathus. Hypsilophodon’s maximum length is often stated at 2.3 metres. Galton’s 1974 study led to this extrapolation of a length of 2.28m based on BMNH R 167, a thighbone. In 2009 Galton determined that the femur belonged to Valdosaurus. He also downsized Hypsilophodon, resulting in a length of 1.8m. The largest specimen was NHM R5829, with a length of 202 millimetres. The average specimen is approximately 1.5 meters long. Hypsilophodon could have topped half a metre tall. Gregory S. Paul calculated a weight of 20 kg (44 lb), for a two-metre-long animal.
Hypsilophodon, like most small dinosaurs was bipedal. It ran on two feet. The entire body of Hypsilophodon was designed for running. Many anatomical features helped this such as a light, minimally skeleton, aerodynamic posture, short legs and stiff tail, immobilized by ossified tendon for balance, and a low weight, lightweight, aerodynamic skeleton. In 1974, Galton concluded that it was one of the best-adapted ornithischians to running. The Cretaceous period in which no non-avian dinosaurs walked on the earth saw Hypsilophodon have a few “primitive” features. There were four feet and five fingers on each side, with four each on the foot. Hypsilophodon’s fifth finger gained a special function. It could be used to grasp food items.