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Maiasaura was a large, plant-eating, duck-billed dinosaur. Maiasaura was the first dinosaur that was found alongside its young, eggs, and nests. This suggests that Maiasaura nurtured its young. The nests were holes scooped out of the ground, about 6-7 feet in diameter (1.8-2 m), and they contained up to 25 grapefruit-sized eggs each. Maiasaura lived during the late Cretaceous period, about 80 to 65 million years ago.

A Maiasaura bone fragment and a piece of eggshell from Maiasaura flew with astronaut Loren Acton on an 8-day mission (Spacelab 2) in 1985. This was the first dinosaur in space.

Anatomy: Maiasaura was a duck-billed dinosaur with a flat skull and small crests in front of the eyes. This plant-eater had a toothless beak, cheek pouches, and many self-sharpening cheek teeth; hard enamel was found on both the outer surface of the upper teeth and the inner surface of the lower teeth. The hands each had four fingers, and the feet had hoof-like claws.

Maiasauras grew to be about 30 feet long (9 m), 6-8 feet tall (2-2.5 m), weighing roughly 3-4 tons. Newly hatched Maiasaura babies were 1 foot (30 cm) long.

Fossils and Name: Maiasaura means "Good Mother Lizard". This dinosaur was first discovered in Montana, USA. Thousands of Maiasaura fossils have been found in western Canada and the United States. Adults, hatchlings, juveniles, nests, eggs and embryos have been found. One huge bonebed in Montana (dubbed Egg Mountain) contained thousands of fossils; it was found by Marion Brandvold and her son David Trexler. Maiasaura was named by Jack R. Horner & Robert Makela in 1979.

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