Click to visit the previous dinosaur bio

| submit to reddit | Delicious
Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
SuperOrder: Dinosauria
Order: Ornithischia
SubOrder: Ornithopoda
Family: Hadrosauridae
Genus: Olorotitan
| | |

The Olorotitan was large dinosaur that was discovered in the Asian side of Russia. It was present on the earth in the final stage of the Cretaceous period, the Maastrichtian age. At the end of this age, all dinosaurs became extinct due to the Cretaceous Paleogene extinction event. It is quite possible that it lived up till the very last stages of this age, only to be eliminated by the cataclysmic effects of this event. It fossils are about 70 to 66 million years old; the extinction event is known to have begun 66 million years ago.
The Olorotitan is a lambeosaurine hadrosaur, a group of dinosaurs that had duck like bills and were herbivorous. Such dinosaurs were most commonly found in North America. But their fossils in North America date back prior to the Maastrichtian age, which could mean that climatic conditions were not favorable for them on North America during this age. Possibly those on Asia were conducive and hence they flourished here.

This dinosaur was characterized by a long crest on its skull. This crest was a thin bony projection that was unlikely to be used for combat. The length of the Olorotitan was around 12 meters and its weight is estimated to be about 5 tons. These dimensions were quite large for a hardrosaur.

The Olorotitan is considered one of the most graceful dinosaurs of all time.


The name Olorotitan can be divided into two parts, ‘oloro’ and ‘titan’. ‘Olor’ is the Latin word for ‘swan’ and ‘titan’ means ‘large’ or ‘gigantic’. The long neck and the crest of the dinosaur made it resemble a swan. And since was quite a big reptile, it was named as the ‘giant swan’.

The second part of the binomial name, O. arharensis is derived from the Arhara County where the holotype specimen of this dinosaur was discovered. The animal was named and described by Pascal Godefroit in the year 2003.

Discovery of fossils

The fossils of the Olorotitan were discovered in 1999, in the Udurchukan Formation in the Kunder locality of the Amur region. This formation is a part of the Tsagayan Group and is located in the easternmost boundaries of Russia. The Kunder region, for its viability for prehistoric remains, was discovered by Vladimir Nagornyi in 1990.

The holotype consisted of a well preserved skull with a partial post cranial skeleton. Only the hands and feet were missing in the holotype, which gave researchers a lot of material to work with.

Current location of fossils

The remains of the Olorotitan are currently preserved and displayed in the Amur Museum of Natural History.


The Olorotitan is an ornithischian dinosaur. It is classified under clade ornithopoda, family Hadrosauridae and subfamily Lambeosaurini.

The orinithopods were some of the most successful plant eating dinosaurs of the Cretaceous period. The hadrosaurids possessed a snout that was modified to form a bill like the present day ducks. Dinosaurs in subfamily Lambeosaurini are more closely related to the Lambeosaurus as compared to the Parasaurolophus. They have hollow crests while the saurolophines have solid ones.

Udurchukan Formation

The Udurchukan Formation is a natural geological rock formation in the far eastern region of Russia. It contains fossils from the late Cretaceous period, particularly the Maastrichtian age. Recent studies have shown that it could contain material from the mid Cretaceous as well. There is also a likelihood that it was continuous with the Lance Creek and Hell Creek Formations of North America before the continents drifted apart.

Dinosaurs such as the Amurosaurus, Arkharavia and Kundurosaurus were unearthed from this formation.

The crest

Crests are present in almost all hadrosaurid dinosaurs, and the Olorotitan was no exception. Its crest was elongated, broad, hollow and fan shaped. It contained an extension of the nasal cavity, which has led scientists to believe that it could have been a sensory organ. Some researchers also hypothesize that it could have been used for vocalization.

The other possibility is that was used a medium for species recognition based on sight, but that does not explain its hollow nature. It was also likely brightly colored, as it is shown in many artistic interpretations.

Physical features

  • The Olorotitan was large dinosaur, with is adult length being 36 to 40 feet. Its weight was about 4500 to 5500 kilos.
  • The skull of the Olorotitan was similar to other hadrosauruids. Along with having a crest, its jaws were modified to form a bill. This bill contained teeth in the form of batteries. They were adapted for efficient grazing.
  • The neck of this reptile was longer than other lambeosaurines. Although it was not nearly as long as the sauropods, it consisted of 18 cervical vertebrae whereas most of its contemporaries contained 15.
  • The forelegs of this dinosaur were slender while its hind legs were muscular and powerful. The femur and the tibia of its legs were of similar size, indicating that it could sprint easily enough. It could by no means be termed as swift.
  • It contained 15 to 18 sacral vertebrae, about 3 more than most hadrosauirids.
  • The first few coccygeal vertebrae of its tail were fused together. This indicated that its long and stout tail was quite rigid at the base. The uniformity of the fusion makes pathology unlikely, but it cannot be ruled out altogether.

Habits and habitat

The Olorotitan was a plant eating dinosaur, which had teeth that were well adapted for grazing and chewing. It was clearly a terrestrial dinosaur that lived in the woodlands and marshes of Asia and possibly Europe.

The posture of the Olorotitan is not yet completely understood. Most scientists agree that it was likely bipedal and assumed a quadrupedal posture while feeding. It could run at decent speeds and avoid many of predators.

No other information is available about its social or nesting behavior.

Related and coexisting species

The Olorotitan was closely related to the Sahaliyania and Nipponosaurus. It was also related to the Lambeosaurus and the Corythosaurus and possibly the Amurosaurus.

It probably shared its habitat with the Amurosaurus, Charonoaurus and Kerberosaurus along with theropods, crocodiles and other brackish water creatures.

The final notes

The Olorotitan was an elegant creature that most likely looked quite aesthetic. Although it has limited fossil representation, scientists believe it was ubiquitous in its environment. It was probably the asteroid hit at the end of the Cretaceous that exterminated it from the earth.