Dashing through what’s now North America 76 million years ago, Troodon sniffs out dinner. Moving lightly on its two hind feet, the dinosaur follows its nose until it’s close enough to spot a mousey mammal. Using its strong eyesight, Troodon sneaks up on its prey, using its long arms and fingerlike claws to nab the critter.
Not a picky eater
Troodon is named for the Greek words meaning “wound tooth” because some of its teeth were razor-sharp. However, this dino had several different shapes of teeth, which probably allowed it to eat different types of food. That included small mammals and lizards, and perhaps young duck-billed dinosaurs like Amurosaurus. It’s possible that Troodon was even omnivorous—meaning it ate both animals and plants—like humans are.
This sharped-tooth animal was a good parent. Paleontologists think Troodon produced a pair of eggs at a time, then buried them partway in mud. The dinosaur would come back and sit on the eggs to keep them warm.
It’s impossible for scientists to know for sure which dinosaurs was the smartest, but Troodon has the biggest brain-to-body ratio of any dino so far, which is one way scientists guess an animal’s intelligence. Troodon was about as large as a fifth grader, and its brain was about the size of a golf ball. (A real fifth grader’s brain is bigger than a baseball.)
Troodon’s big brain gave it good eyesight, keen hearing, and a strong sense of smell, which all helped the predator outwit its prey. And some experts think it might’ve sometimes hunted in packs to take down large prey—now that’s smart.