By: the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.

Othnielia rex
Othnielia rex
Brian Franczak

OTHNIELIA (oth-NEE-lee-ah)

Period: Late Jurassic


Order, Suborder, and Family: Ornithischia, Ornithopoda, Hypsilophodontidae

Location: North America

Length: 10 feet (3 meters)

Othnielia is a recently named dinosaur. Peter Galton named it in 1977 and described the animal in 1983. The name Othnielia is in honor of Othniel Charles Marsh, an early American paleontologist. Of Late Jurassic age, Othnielia is not a well-known hypsilophodontid dinosaur. The only material we know about is three or four skeletons and some pieces of skull and teeth. Unfortunately, no full skull has been found for Othnielia, but there is still much information that scientists can piece together.

From the teeth of Othnielia, we know that it probably ate leaves, succulent plants, and possibly insects. Its close relatives lived in the Early and Late Cretaceous, among them Zephyrosaurus, Thescelosaurus, and Orodromeus. These animals also fed on low-growing plants such as shrubs.

The limbs of Othnielia show that it would have been a good runner. This speed was useful when Othnielia needed to escape from predators such as Ornitholestes, Coelurus, and Allosaurus. Speed would have been needed to catch insects.

During the Late Jurassic, Othnielia was part of a fauna of plant-eating dinosaurs in western North America, including Camptosaurus, Dryosaurus, and Stegosaurus. Othnielia also lived at the same time as the sauropods Apatosaurus and Diplodocus.