Discovered By: Walter W. Stein, 2000
Discovery Location: Harding County, South Dakota
Diet: Plants & Animals (Omnivore)
Period: Late Cretaceous
Age: 66 million years
Formation: Hell Creek
Length: 9 ft
Location of Original Specimen: Museum of Ancient Treasures, Wichita, Kansas
Thescelosaurus was a small to medium sized ornithischian dinosaur that browsed the late Cretaceous floodplains looking for a tasty plant to chew upon. Related to other small hypsilophodonts like Hypsilophodon, Dryosaurus, Tentontosaurus and Orodromeus, it is very primitive in its skeletal features. Unlike most ornithischians it retains teeth in sockets instead of rows of tooth batteries found in the hadrosaurs and ceratopsians.
One of the most exciting discoveries of the last ten years involved a Thescelosaurus named “Willow”. Preserved in Willow’s chest were remnants of a fossilized heart. Organs and soft tissues almost never become fossilized, so this discovery was incredible to the paleontological community. What Willow’s heart taught us, is that at least some dinosaurs had a 4- chambered heart, like dinosaurs’ closest relatives, crocodiles and birds. It also provided evidence that dinosaurs were warm blooded like birds and mammals.
Though Peep was not discovered with any fossilized organs, she is a beautiful and important dinosaur nonetheless.