Corythosaurus, the dinosaur with a crest on its head

John Henrique Nov 17, 2022

Corythosaurus was a dinosaur that lived approximately 75 million years ago in the late Cretaceous period in the coastal and marshy areas of western North America (Alberta in Canada and parts of the United States).

It was an ornithopod (bipedal) herbivore of the “duck-billed” type that lived in huge herds that migrated throughout North America.

Corythosaurus means “helmeted lizard”.

The reason for such a name is that, on top of its head, it had a high, hollow bone crest, like that of a cassowary or a Corinthian helmet (note that the name Corythosaurus casuarius refers to these two analogies).

The shape of the crest changed according to the sex and age of the specimen, and its crest only fully grew when the animal reached maturity.

Corythosaurus male and female

Corythosaurus information

Scientific nameCorythosaurus casuarius
PeriodLate Cretaceous (77 to 75.7 million years ago)
Where it livedAlberta in Canada and USA
Weight3 to 5 tons
Length9 to 10 meters (29 to 32 ft)
Height4 meters (13 feet)
Speed48 km/h (30 mph)

Hadrosaurus, or duck-billed

A hadrosaur is a duck-billed dinosaur. Like other hadrosaurs, Corythosaurus had a toothless beak at the end of its snout that was broad and flat.

Despite this, it had massive rows of sharp teeth at the back of its mouth that looked nothing like the toothless jaws of a duck.

Corythosaurus side

Corythosaurus had a fancy crest

Yet, the most striking aspect of Corythosaurus was its crest, which gives the impression that the animal is wearing a helmet.

This crest was a hallmark of the Lambeosaurinae subfamily, to which Corythosaurus belonged.

With nasal passages inside the crest, which connected to the nose and mouth, Corythosaurus produced an amplified sound, like that of a trumpet, to alert or attract other members of the group. With its keen hearing, it could detect such sounds from far away.

Physical characteristics

Corythosaurus height comparison

Corythosaurus was about 10 meters (32 ft) long, 4 meters (13 feet) high, and could weigh up to 5 tons.

Its body balanced on its pelvis and placed all its weight on its hind legs, which were tall and strong. But the arms were not as short and weak as we see in other bipedal dinosaurs.

Given these not-so-ordinary arms, it is deduced that the animal also rested its front paws on the ground to perform tasks such as eating low-growing plants.

On the other hand, the broad structure of their arms and the considerable thickness of the tail suggest that the animal’s anatomy was useful for moving in the water.

Corythosaurus side

Habits and behavior

Corythosaurus lived in groups and spent its day chopping and chewing vegetation such as hard leaves, seeds, pine cones, and tender branches, always on the lookout for predators in the region.

The biggest threats to this large herbivore must have been Gorgosaurus and Daspletosaurus.


Corythosaurus is known from several very well-preserved specimens. The first fossil was found by Barnum Brown in 1911 and was named and described by the same person in 1914.

This fossil was in an excellent state of preservation, and even details of skin with polygonal patterns could be seen.

Skeletons of young specimens and more than 20 skulls have also been found, making Corythosaurus one of the most well-known hadrosaurids.

Exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons).

Scientific classification

Species†Corythosaurus casuarius and †C. intermedius

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Written by John Henrique

John has a degree in IT and is the founder of Hyperaxion. He is a science enthusiast and can usually be found reading a book or playing role-playing games.


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