Oryctodromeus cubicularis in its burrow, by Michael B. H., courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
The Burrowing Runner
Oryctodromeus, whose name means “Burrowing Runner,” was first discovered by Dr. Anthony J. Martin and his colleagues in 2007. Oryctodromeus lived during the Middle Cretaceous, about 95 million years ago, in southwestern Montana and southwestern Idaho. Here are five quick facts about Oryctodromeus:
- Oryctodromeus Fact #1: Oryctodromeus did not have long arms and legs, like modern burrowing animals. Instead it had more specialized adaptations, such as a flexible tail it could curl up underground. This makes it similar to rabbits, aardvarks, and hyenas.
- Oryctodromeus Fact #2: Oryctodromeus was the first known burrowing dinosaur, and Dr. Martin and his colleagues found an adult and two juveniles in a fossilized chamber, in 2007.Oryctodromeus made its home its exact width, at 11.8 inches, probably to keep larger animals from coming inside the burrow.
- Oryctodromeus Fact #3: The fossils Dr. Martin and his team found had died and decayed in the burrow. Having juveniles with the adults suggests Oryctodromeus provided parental care for an extended period of time.
- Oryctodromeus Fact #4: Oryctodromeus may have lived in burrows to survive in harsh weather conditions, such as cold temperatures. Their discovery has led some scientists to look at how dinosaurs in polar conditions may have survived.
- Oryctodromeus Fact #5: Oryctodromeus was small, but quick. It was only 6.8 feet long, and weighed 70 pounds