15 Fascinating Duck-billed Dinosaurs You Should Be Aware Of

Leave a comment / / Updated on: 4th January 2024

At first thought, one may think that these dinosaurs possessed duck-billed beaks for display purposes only.

The truth is, these creatures wouldn’t have been able to survive if it weren’t for their flattened, laterally stretched rostral bones that gave them a duck-bill appearance.

The beak-like structures protruding from the front of their skulls helped these herbivorous dinosaurs crop twigs and foliage, thus ensuring their survival.

What you might not know about these dinosaurs is that, besides the distinctive duck-bill look, many possessed a unique crest, varying in form and size depending on the species.

As such, if you want to discover some jaw-dropping details about these fascinating duck-billed dinosaurs, don’t hesitate to keep reading!

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The 15 Duck-billed Dinosaurs On The List

Before discussing these creatures, we’d like to point to something essential about their name.

The term duck-billed dinosaurs is a nickname coined years ago for the creatures scientists thought were at least semi-aquatic, fed on soft water plants, and possessed facial structures similar to duck bills.

Nowadays, however, this term is slightly misleading, as scientists argue the members of the Hadrosauridae family (duck-billed dinosaurs) likely weren’t aquatic and fed on plants like conifers.

Cast of skull of a Saurolophus
Cast of skull of a Saurolophus / By Didier Descouens – License

Besides this, the beaks of many species were rather square-shaped than spoon-shaped.

Either way, we’ve selected some of the most fascinating members of this family that, besides their curiously shaped beaks, feature other unique characteristics.

Moreover, the last dinosaur on our list is proof that not only Hadrosauridae species possessed beaks!

15. Hadrosaurus

A restoration of Hadrosaurus
A restoration of Hadrosaurus / Audrey.M.Horn – License
Name MeaningBulky lizard
EraMesozoicLate Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Ornithopoda
Height3.2 meters (10.4 feet)
Length7–8 meters (23–26.2 feet)
Weight2-4 metric tons (2.2-4.4 short tons)
LocationNorth America (New Jersey)

The Hadrosaurus was a duck-billed dinosaur that roamed the Earth around 80-78 million years ago, during the Late Cretaceous.

Its fossils were discovered in New Jersey’s Woodbury Formation.

Since paleontologists recovered parts of the skull and much of the skeleton, the only species in the genus, Hadrosaurus foulkii, is now well-known and described.

Not only this, but it’s the type species of the duck-billed dinosaur family!

Naturally, this large creature had a keratinous beak that served its purpose of helping the host crop foliage.

The beak and the specialized dentition joined their efforts in ensuring the bulky lizard with food!

Apart from its distinctive beak, the Hadrosaurus is characterized by its robust build and long, heavy hindlimbs.

It is, in fact, considered one of the world’s most robust hadrosaurids.

14. Edmontosaurus

Edmontosaurus dinosaur 3D illustration
Edmontosaurus 3D Illustration / Warpaintcobra via Istock
Name MeaningThe lizard from Edmonton
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Ornithopoda
Height4 meters (13 feet)
Length9–12 meters (29.5–39.3 feet)
Weight4 metric tons (4.4 short tons)
LocationNorth America

Did you know that the Edmontosaurus could move on two and four legs?

How amazing is that!

Well, the truth is, all hadrosaurids could walk this way!

These creatures lived approximately 73-66 million years ago, when they explored the territory we now call North America!

Paleontologists even discovered that these dinosaurs might’ve lived in groups and probably even engaged in migratory behavior!

We must mention that there are two species in the genus, Edmontosaurus regalis and Edmontosaurus annectens, which had slightly different appearances.

Still, both had specialized, broad beaks that helped them crop plant material.

Their beaks were toothless and extended by keratinous material. It is also known that E. annectens had a highly hooked-shaped beak!

As for the dinosaur’s overall appearance – it was a bulky creature with a wide belly, a long, laterally flattened tail, a curved neck, and heavily-built limbs.

13. Parasaurolophus

Parasaurolophus 3D Illustration
Parasaurolophus 3D Illustration / Warpaintcobra via Istock
Name MeaningNear crested lizard
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Ornithopoda
Height2.7 meters (8.8 feet)
Length11.45 m (37.5 feet)
Weight2.47 metric tons (2.72 short tons)
LocationNorth America

The Parasaurolophus was first discovered in 1920 in Alberta, Canada.

Only a year later, paleontologists recovered fossils belonging to another specimen from New Mexico’s Kirtland Formation.

Utah preserved some more fossils belonging to the genus.

These discoveries prompted specialists to attribute the fossils to different species, P. walkeri, P. tubicen, and P. cyrtocristatus, as they have multiple dissimilarities.

However, since the skeletons of the recovered specimens aren’t complete, scientists couldn’t provide a full description of their appearance.

Still, it is known that they had beaks specialized in cropping plant matter.

However, like other lambeosaurines, their beaks were slightly narrower than those of other members of the Hadrosauridae family.

As such, specialists suggested they could feed more selectively and likely ate leaves, pine needles, and twigs.

12. Lambeosaurus

Lambeosaurus 3D Illustration
Lambeosaurus 3D Illustration / Warpaintcobra via Istock
Name MeaningLambe’s lizard
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Ornithopoda
Height2.1 m (7 ft)
Length7–7.7 m (23–25.2 ft)
Weight2.5–3.3 metric tons (2.75–3.63 short tons)
LocationNorth America

During the Late Cretaceous, the Lambeosaurus inhabited what we now call North America 76-75 million years ago.

Its fossils were recovered from Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

These discoveries revealed different specimens, which led to the description of two species within the genus, L. lambei and L. magnicristatus.

These dinosaurs are known to be quite similar to those in the Corynthosaurus genus, except for a few skull characteristics.

Lambe’s lizards had long tails, robust limbs bearing four fingers and three toes, a distinctive crest (whose shape varied depending on the species), and thin skin decorated with polygonal scutes.

Like other dinosaurs on our list, the Lambeosaurus had a beak used to crop plant matter.

This specialized beak was held in the jaws by an organ similar to the cheeks.

11. Hypacrosaurus

Restoration of Hypacrosaurus
Restoration of Hypacrosaurus / Nobu Tamura – License
Name MeaningNear the highest lizard
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Ornithopoda
Height2.5-3 meters (8.2-9.8 feet)
Length9.1 meters (29.8 feet)
Weight4 metric tonnes (4.4 short tons)
LocationMontana, United States; Alberta, Canada

The Hypacrosaurus is commonly known as near the highest lizard thanks to its enormous size.

The thing is – it was almost as large as the famous T-Rex, that’s why it was near the highest!

This dinosaur inhabited our planet 75-67 million years ago, during the Late Cretaceous, when it spent time foraging and exploring its surroundings!

One thing that can help you distinguish these creatures from other duck-billed dinosaurs is the tall neural spines.

As with other dinosaurs, paleontologists discovered fossils thought to have belonged to two species, H. altispinus and H. stebingeri, the latter being named especially from hatchling fossils, known to form one of the world’s largest baby hadrosaur skeletal collections.

The Hypacrosaurus had a broad beak alongside its fascinating crest, and it probably fed at a height of up to 4 meters (13 feet). 


Corythosaurus 3D Render
Corythosaurus 3D Render / CoreyFord via Istock
Name MeaningHelmeted lizard
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Ornithopoda
Height2.8 meters (9.1 feet)
Length7.7–9 meters (25.2–29.5 feet)
Weight3.82 metric tonnes (4.21 short tons)
LocationNorth America

The territory we now identify as North America was once home to Corythosaurus dinosaurs, which, upon fossil discoveries, were divided into two species, C. casuarius and C. intermedius.

These dinosaurs were first recovered in 1911 from Alberta, Canada.

This discovery marked an important paleontological event, revealing an almost complete skeleton.

But the fascinating aspect was that the specimen had most of its skin preserved!

The Corythosaurus can be distinguished from other hadrosaurids by its relatively short skull, helmet-like crest, and narrow beak.

Since over twenty skulls were found, it’s only natural that paleontologists studied them extensively.

These studies suggested that the Corythosaurus beak was probably shallow and delicate, indicating that the dinosaur likely fed on soft vegetation, preferring juicy fruits and young leaves.

On the other hand, paleontologists discovered the remains of the last meal of some specimens – they were preserved in the cavity and included conifer needles, twigs, seeds, and fruits.

9. Olorotitan

Olorotitan 3D Render
Olorotitan 3D Render / CoreyFord via Istock
Name MeaningTitanic swan
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Ornithopoda
Height3.5 meters (11.4 feet)
Length8 meters (26.2 feet)
Weight2.6–3.4 metric tons (2.86–3.74 short tons)

Having enjoyed the habitats of what we now call Far Eastern Russia, the Olorotitan went extinct around 66 million years ago.

As such, it likely lived during the middle or latest Maastrichtian age of the Late Cretaceous.

Paleontologists discovered the holotype specimen in Russia’s Amur region between 1999 and 2001, subsequently naming and describing it in 2003.

At the time, it was the first almost complete dinosaur known to have lived in Russia.

But that’s not even far from its uniqueness! Since lambeosaurines were more common in North America, the skeleton belonging to Orlotitan still represents the first most complete skeleton found outside the American continent.

What truly sets the Olorotitan apart from its North American relatives is its hatchet-like hollow crest supported by an elongated, slender neck resembling an elegant swan.

Like other hadrosaurids, the titanic swan possessed a beak, which served as an aid during foraging.

8. Magnapaulia

Magnapaulia (formerly Lambeosaurus) laticaudus
Magnapaulia laticaudus / Dmitry Bogdanov – License
Name MeaningBroad tail
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Ornithopoda
Height4.5 meters (14.8 feet)
Length15-16.5 meters (49.2-54.1 feet)
Weight8 metric tons (8.8 tons)
LocationBaja California, Mexico, United States

As its common name suggests, the Magnapaulia is a gateway into the world of dinosaurs possessing the most distinctive tail ever!

More precisely, its tail had chevrons at the base and vertebral spines, giving it its broad appearance.

The recovered specimens also had their skin impressions preserved, thus providing paleontologists with outstanding information on their appearance.

This discovery revealed that, besides being exceptionally broad, the Magnapaulia tails featured 4-centimeter wide scales surrounded by smaller rounded or hexagonal scales.

Just imagine the complexity of this!

But we’re here for the beaks, aren’t we?

The Magnapaulia delighted in its daily walks on Earth approximately 74.7 million years ago when it looked for its preferred plants.

Naturally, it relied on its beak to crop the vegetation.

7. Saurolophus

Illustration of a Saurolophus isolated on a white background
Illustration of a Saurolophus / XiaImages via Istock
Name MeaningLizard crest
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Ornithopoda
Height2.5-4 meters (8.2-13.1 feet)
Length8.2-13 meters (27-42.6 feet)
Weight2.9-10.8 metric tons (3.3-12 short tons)
LocationAlberta, Canada; Mongolia, China

Having spent around 4 million years on Earth, approximately 70-66 million years ago, Saurolophus dinosaurs are now an important piece of our world’s evolutionary history.

The preserved fossils revealed two species, S. osborni (discovered in Canada) and S. angustirostris (discovered in Mongolia).

The Mongolian species was considerably larger than the Canadian one but shared similar characteristics in terms of appearance.

These creatures earned their place on our list not only thanks to their broad beaks held in the jaws by cheek-like organs but also due to their peculiar cranial crests!

The crest starts from over the eyes, projecting upward and backward.

The long, spike-like crest likely featured specialized respiratory or heat-regulation functions within its internal chambers.

It is probably one of the most distinctive crests among all hadrosaurids!

6. Gryposaurus

Head of Gryposaurus
Head of Gryposaurus / Nobu Tamura – License
Name MeaningHooked-nosed lizard
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia, Ornithopoda
Height2.7 meters (8.9 feet)
Length8.2 meters (26.9 feet) long
Weight2.5-3 metric tons (2.75-3.3 short tons)
LocationAlberta, Canada; Montana and Utah, United States

Also known as the hooked-nosed lizard, the Gryposaurus is yet another duck-billed hadrosaurid.

Like others on our list, it inhabited what we now call North America, ranging from Alberta in Canada to Montana, Utah, and possibly Texas in the United States.

The species named G. notabilis, G. latidens, and G. monumentensis are currently thought to have existed 80-75 million years ago.

However, if the fossils recovered in Texas are confirmed to belong to any of them, this would extend their temporal range to 66 million years ago.

Besides having a beak that sets it apart from other creatures inhabiting its ecosystem, the Gryposaurus had a scaled body featuring different structures on its flank, tail, neck, sides of the body, and back.

Since the recovered fossils included an almost complete skeleton, the Gryposaurus is now a significant species in the family of duck-billed dinosaurs, as it carries essential information that can be used as a point of reference for other species.

5. Kritosaurus

Kritosaurus pencil drawing
Kritosaurus pencil drawing / Nobu Tamura License
Name MeaningSeparated lizard; noble lizard
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Ornithopoda
Height3 meters (9.8 feet)
Length9 meters (29.5 feet)
Weight4 metric tons (4.4 short tons)
LocationNorth America

It goes without saying that the Kritosaurus is compelling proof of how diverse prehistoric wildlife was.

It lived 74.5-66 million years ago on the territory we now call North America.

At first look (or thought, since you can’t actually see a real Kritosaurus!), you might not notice anything that makes the species stand out among other dinosaurs.

However, we’ll tell you that its crest was unique, rising from the nasals between and above the eyes, then folding back under itself!

The Kritosaurus possessed a beak adapted to its herbivore lifestyle. More precisely, it helped this prehistoric creature crop the plant material that was then processed through a chewing-like grinding motion.

4. Maiasaura

Maiasaura dinosaur
Maiasaura 3D Render / leonello via Istock
Name MeaningGood mother lizard
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Ornithopoda
Height2.3 meters (7.5 feet)
Length9 meters (29.5 feet)
Weight4 metric tons (4.4 short tons)
LocationNorth America

The Maiasaura translates as the good mother lizard, a referral to the Greek goddess Maia, the mother of Hermes.

Specialists came up with this generic name after Marion Brandvold discovered a nest with eggshell remains and 15 skeletons belonging to young dinosaurs measuring one meter (3.2 feet) long.

The area where these were found is now known as Egg Mountain and is the first proof that dinosaurs as large as the Maiasaurs cared for their babies.

But there’s one more interesting thing about this genus – can you believe this creature is known from over 200 specimens!

These discoveries revealed that the good mother lizard possessed a hadrosaurid-typical beak, a thick nose, a small, spiky crest in front of its eyes, a robust build, a muscular tail, and strong legs.

The juveniles likely moved on two legs, switching to walking mostly on four legs as they matured. 

3. Tsintaosaurus

A life restoration of the hadrosaur dinosaur Tsintaosaurus spinorhinus
Tsintaosaurus spinorhinus / Steveoc 86 – License
Name MeaningQingdao lizard
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Ornithopoda
Height2.7 meters (8.8 feet)
Length8.3 meters (27.2 feet)
Weight2.5 tonnes (2.75 short tons)

The holotype for the only species in the genus, Tsintaosaurus spinorhinus, was discovered in the Jingangkou Formation of the Wangshi Group.

Over the years, other fossils were recovered from the same area.

Paleontologists initially thought that the Tsintaosaurus had a unicorn-like crest, but other specialists rushed to disapprove of this theory, suggesting the discovered specimen didn’t have a crest but rather a broken nasal bone.

Further paleontological expeditions recovered new fossils that confirmed the presence of the crest.

So, in short, it’s proof that the prehistoric world did host unicorn-like creatures! Besides the crest, the Tsintaosaurus possessed a beak, which was quite different from other lambeosaurine beaks.

More precisely, it was relatively broad compared to the narrow beaks of other species in the Lambeosaurinae subfamily.

Furthermore, while other lambeosaurines had a sharply angled beak corner, the corner of the Tsintaosaurus bill was broadly rounded.

2. Tlatolophus

Tlatolophus galorum

Tlatolophus galorum / Joaquin Eng Ponce License
Name MeaningWord crest
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Ornithopoda
Height2.9 meters (9.5 feet)
Length8 meters (26.2 feet)
Weight3.6 tons (7, 937 lb)
LocationCoahuila, Mexico

You might’ve seen the Tlatolophus depicted as having a striped body resembling a zebra.

This is indeed an interesting depiction, and the creature would have definitely been unique among others in its ecosystem.

Unfortunately, it’s unknown for a fact that this is true.

What scientists are sure of, though, is that the creature was a large hadrosaurid that featured a relatively tall skull, a comma-shaped crest, a slightly curved neck, a robust build, and a long, tipped tail.

Like other hadrosaurids, the Tlatolophus had a beak that helped crop plant material.

1. Iguanodon

Iguanodon dinosaur isolated on white background with dropped shadow.
Iguanodon 3D Render / leonello via Istock
Name MeaningIguana-tooth
EraMesozoic – Late Cretaceous
ClassificationDinosauria, Ornithischia, Ornithopoda
Height3.2 meters (10.4 feet)
Length9-11 meters (29.5-36 feet
Weight3.8-4.5 metric tons (4.1-4.9 short tons)

You’re probably wondering why Iguanodon is on our list of duck-billed dinosaurs, right?

After all, it’s not a hadrosaurid; it’s part of the Iguanodontidae family!

Well, as we’ve mentioned, not only hadrosaurids possessed beaks, some species outside their group were duck-billed, too!

What’s more important though is that iguanodontians were the ancestors of hadrosaurids!

As such, the Iguanodon had a keratin-covered beak that helped the giant herbivore bite offshoots and twigs.

Mary Ann Mantell discovered the first fossils belonging to this large reptile in Sussex.

Supposedly, she and her husband, an amateur paleontologist, and a doctor, were visiting a patient when she noticed something strange by the side of the road.

They later discovered several large teeth, which, after further investigations and discoveries, were attributed to the Iguanodon.


Whew! What a journey we’ve had with all these fascinating dinosaurs!

Are you now fully convinced of the richness of our world’s prehistoric wildlife?

We definitely are!

These duck-billed dinosaurs undoubtedly deserve to be renowned as some of the most interesting reptiles, thanks to their beaks and compelling crests (but not only)!

We’re eager to discover what’s your favorite dinosaur, so share it in the comments section!

Is it among the ones we listed above?

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