Some of the most iconic dinosaurs that came out of the Mesozoic era were fearsome predators—their agility, speed, sharp teeth, and claws made them successful hunters. These dangerous dinos make it hard to imagine how any herbivore could have survived. Based on scientific evidence and the evolution of modern-day animals, we know that they did, but how? Let’s take a look at herbivorous dinosaur defense mechanisms to get to the bottom of this Mesozoic mystery.
Many dinosaurs had horns, but one of the most iconic horned herbivores is the Triceratops, part of the Ceratopsian sub-order. Ceratopsia or Ceratopsian translates to “horned faces,” as these dinosaurs were all herbivores that had a sharp beak and at least one horn on their face—except for the Psittacosaurus mongoliensis, which only had a beak. However, the Kosmoceratops richardsoni had 15 horns, and as you might have guessed, these horns were huge, durable, and sometimes incredibly sharp.
While they could use them to fight off a predator, their horns mostly protected the vulnerable parts of their body, like a spiked collar. If a Ceratopsian wanted to do serious damage, it would use its sharp beak and powerful teeth that could easily snap a tree branch.
Many dinosaurs could use their tails as weapons to fight off predators. While there is some debate, paleontologists suggest that Diplodocus Hallorum could use its long tail as a bullwhip—flicking its tail at the speed of sound. Ankylosaurus, part of the suborder Anklyosauria, had incredible natural armor and a club-like tail that could fight off predators and competing mates. Most members of Anklyosauria had thick armor, but the Ankylosaurus magniventris was one of the only dinosaurs of its kind with a club-like tail. Either way, you wouldn’t want to get behind any of these treacherous tails.
Carnivores weren’t the only dinosaurs with huge claws. Many of these herbivores had sharp claws for grasping, digging, piercing, or pushing leaves into their mouths. Therizinosaurs were large herbivores known as theropods—a clade of dinosaurs with hollow bones and three toes with three claws on their limbs. Of the Therizinosaurs, the one with the most fearsome claws was the Therizinosaurus cheloniformis. It had three digits on its forelimbs with three fearsome claws to match, the first of which was almost three feet long, and all three were shaped like scythes.
These are just a few of the incredible defense mechanisms herbivorous dinosaurs had. Many also had camouflage abilities, and many were diurnal, eating during the day and night when there were fewer predators. Unfortunately, we can’t directly study these incredible animals, but you can still get up close and personal with our realistic dinosaur figures. At Creative Beast Studio, we create highly detailed figures so that you can have a glimpse of the past right at home.