Testing for a dietary shift in the Early Cretaceous ceratopsian dinosaur Psittacosaurus lujiatunensis

Damiano Landi, Logan King*, Qi Zhao, Emily J Rayfield, Michael J Benton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
112 Downloads (Pure)


Many dinosaurs may have shown ecological differentiation between hatchlings and adults, possibly because of the great size differential. The basal ceratopsian Psittacosaurus lujiatunensis is known from thousands of specimens from the Early Cretaceous of China and these include many so-called ‘juvenile clusters.’ During the early stages of ontogeny, P. lujiatunensis underwent a posture shift from quadrupedal to bipedal, and a dietary shift has also been postulated. In this study, we make a 2D mechanical analysis of the jaws of a hatchling and an adult to determine the differences between the two systems and found some differences, but only modest. The adult was better suited to feeding on tough plant material than the hatchling, based on its higher values of absolute and relative bite forces and higher values of mechanical advantage, but there were no substantial shifts in jaw shape or function.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-384
Number of pages14
Issue number3
Early online date21 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Palaeontology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of The Palaeontological Association.


  • jaw mechanics
  • lever system
  • diet
  • dietary shift
  • ceratopsian
  • cretaceous


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