Acrylics and Inks on cardboard. Cover for Dino Press (Japan).
Charonosaurus, a newly described Chinese lambeosaurine hadrosaur is named after Charon, the ferryman of the River Styx in Greco-Roman mythology, who carried the souls of the dead across the river to their destiny in Hades.
Exactly why the authors of the paper choose this name is not made clear; probably it is because the type skull was found in a bone bed on the southern bank of the river Heilongjiang, China.
It was a very large lambeosaurid; at least one femur 135 cm long is known, suggesting a snout-to-tail length of 13 meters or more: longer than a large individual of Tyrannosaurus rex and at least half the size bigger than Parasaurolophus, its closest relative from North America on the other side of the world. The only other lambeosaurid at least that large is Lambeosaurus laticaudus from Baja California, Mexico, and the only larger hadrosaurian is China's Shantungosaurus giganteus, a hadrosaurid that may have attained a length of 15 meters. A large adult Charonosaurus would have weighed 7 or more metric tons. The long, strong forelimbs imply that it was a powerful animal and it was habitually quadruped, but like other lambeosaurids it probably could walk and run on just its much more more powerful hind limbs when necessary. The fact that it has been found in bone beds comprising individuals of several sizes indicates that these lambeosaurids lived and died in extended family groups or herds, behaviour already well documented among North American hadrosaurians. Although little is known of the cranial crest, the shapes of the skull bones show the crest looked much like the known crests of the North American lambeosaurid Parasaurolophus, the bones of whose snout formed a hollow tube that extended backward well above and beyond the back of the skull. Perhaps the crest was even longer and broader than in Parasaurolophus, which would have given Charonosaurus the most fantastic looks and allow it a deeper, more powerful trumpeting bellow that would have travelled for miles, keeping communication with members of the herd and attracting mates! With special thanks to George Olshevsky.


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