Uteodon

Uteodon (/"U-tee-o-don"/; "Ute tooth") is a genus of herbivorous iguanodontian dinosaur. It lived during the late Jurassic period (Tithonian age), approximately 150.8 to 145 million years ago, in what is now Uintah County, Utah, USA. Discovered in 2011, it was formally named by Andrew T. McDonald. The type species is U. aphanoecetes.

Description and Classification

Uteodon belongs to the clade Iguanodontia, a diverse group of herbivorous dinosaurs that includes duck-billed dinosaurs (hadrosaurs) and their close relatives. It was a medium to large-sized ornithopod, with an estimated body length of 5-6 meters (16-20 feet). Like other iguanodontians, it was primarily quadrupedal but likely reared up on its hind legs to reach higher vegetation or for defense.

Distinguishing Features

Uteodon possesses some unique traits that helped distinguish it from other closely related iguanodontians:

  • Teeth: Its name, meaning "Ute tooth" references its distinct, coarsely serrated teeth with a unique arrangement of tooth ridges.
  • Skull: While its skull shares similarities with other early iguanodontians, the proportions and shapes of certain bones differ.

Paleoenvironment and Diet

The Brushy Basin Member of the Morrison Formation represents a semi-arid environment with seasonal variations. Uteodon, as a herbivore, would have fed on the diverse vegetation available, including ferns, horsetails, and conifers. It likely shared its habitat with other iconic Late Jurassic dinosaurs such as Allosaurus, Stegosaurus, and various sauropods.

Significance and Ongoing Research

The discovery of Uteodon provides valuable insights into the evolution of iguanodontian dinosaurs in North America during the Late Jurassic period. Its unique features highlight the diversity and adaptations within this group of herbivores. Ongoing research and further discoveries could unlock new information about Uteodon's anatomy, lifestyle, and its place within the dinosaur family tree.

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