Psittacosaurus was about 8 feet (2.4 meters) long. It was bipedal (walked on two legs) and equipped with a powerful beak on its upper jaw. Psittacosaurus jaws were filled with self-sharpening teeth that would have been used for cropping and slicing plant material, but were unsuitable for chewing its food. The animal is known to have swallowed stones ("gastroliths") which would have helped wear down its food as it passed through its digestive system (probably in a similar manner to the gizzard in modern birds) - as many as 50 gastroliths have been found in the abdominal cavities of some specimens.
Fossils of at least 10 different species of Psittacosaurus have been found so far in China, Mongolia and Russia, plus a possible additional species from Thailand. In fact, in total fossils of over 400 individual animals have been collected so far, including many complete skeletons, and of every age from hatchling to adult, making it one of the most studied and best-known dinosaur genera.
One fossil specimen found in China was found to have what appear to have been hollow tubular bristles, each about 6 inches (16 centimeters) in a single row down its back and tail. The purpose of these structures are not certain, but one possibility is that they were used for display and communication. It is also not clear whether these (or similar) structures were found on all species of Psittacosaurus, or just on this one particular species.
Psittacosaurus was a herbivore (plant-eater) that lived from 120 to 100 million years ago
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