One of the most studied of the Dinosaurs, Maiasaura was discovered by accident. In 1978, John Horner, a well-known paleontologist, was given a group of small fossils by the Brandvolds, a family of amateur rock collectors. After examining the bones, he realized that these fossils were baby Dinosaurs. The place where the Brandvolds showed him they had found the fossils, Horner named “Egg Mountain” (which is located in Montana, U.S.A.). The Brandvolds and Horner had uncovered a site of hundreds of dinosaur eggs and nests. Furthermore, they discovered amongst the small bones larger ones of adult Dinosaurs. Using the female form, instead of the usual male one for dinosaur names, Horner called the adult Dinosaur, Maiasaura, which means “Good Mother Lizard.”
The huge colony site of “Egg Mountain” demonstrated how diligently Maiasaura cared for her young. She filled her spiral nests with her eggs, and then covered them with vegetation for incubation. Like a Mother Crocodile, Maiasaura guarded her nest from egg thieves, and from being stomped on by other Dinosaurs. Also, She fed her babies until they were about two years old. Maiasaura was a good mother who bonded with her young, and She probably experienced a rich family life.
After extensively studying her life, paleontologists realized that many Dinosaurs had a family life much like Maiasaura’s, instead of simply abandoning their young. They also realized that Maiasaura proved that some Dinosaurs were warm-blood, since her young matured so quickly. Thus the discovery of Maiasaura changed many people’s ideas about Dinosaurs.
Maiasaura asks us to understand that Dinosaurs could be good mothers. Living in a huge herd, Maiasaura helped her young to grow into adulthood. She fed them while they were small and helpless. Simply because She was a large plant eater does not mean that Maiasaura could not be a good nurturer as well. She wants us to expand our horizons, and move beyond accepted theories. This Hadrosaur, who lived 80 million years ago, has much more to teach modern people. In 1987, She became the first “Dinosaur in Space” on a mission to Spacelab 2 in 1987. Follow Maiasaura to new places, and make new discoveries.