Drinker (for Edward Drinker Cope) was a genus of hypsilophodont dinosaur from the late Jurassic period of North America. Although based on good remains, the lack of post-naming publications, combined with what Robert Bakker (one of its describers) has said and written about it, have led to some mystery surrounding this animal.


A relatively small dinosaur, Drinker was approximately 2 meters (6 feet) long and may have weighed up to 10 kilograms (22 pounds). It was a biped with short arms, a small head, and long, strong legs.


Drinker has sometimes been regarded informally as a possible synonym of contemporaneous Othnielia (now Othnielosaurus), but the latest reviews have kept it separate. It has usually been regarded as a "hypsilophodont" of uncertain but basal affinities; Phyllodon from the Late Jurassic of Portugal may have been related.

Discovery and history

In 1990, Bakker, Peter Galton, James Siegwarth, and James Filla described the partial remains of Drinker nisti. The name is somewhat ironic; Drinker, named for renowned palaeontologist Edward Drinker Cope whose infamous "bone wars" with rival Othniel Charles Marsh produced many dinosaur fossils which are world-famous today, was described as a probable close relative of Othnielia, named for Marsh. The species name refers to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Discovered by Siegwarth and Filla in upper Morrison Formation beds at Como Bluff, Wyoming, Drinker was based on a partial subadult skeleton (CPS 106) including partial jaws, vertebrae, and partial limbs. Numerous additional specimens from the age spectrum found in the same area were assigned to it, mostly consisting of vertebral and hindlimb remains, and teeth. The authors considered it to be too archaic to be a true "hypsilophodont", particularly in teeth lacking a strong central vertical ridge, and placed it with Othnielia (Othnielosaurus) in a separate unnamed group. Since 1990, little has been published on this genus.


Bakker (1990) described its environment as swampy (lungfish teeth and marsh vegetation were found in the area), and interpreted its broad feet with spreading toes as being well-suited to such an environment, especially compared to the narrow-footed stegosaurs and sauropods found elsewhere in the Morrison. He later claimed, in a 1993 television show and other venues, that the animal had been found in burrows, although this has not been addressed in print. If Drinker was indeed a burrower, it would be among the first known for dinosaurs; the only well-supported published case of a fossorial nonavian dinosaur is the more recently discovered, distantly related Oryctodromeus. Otherwise, it appears to have been like other basal ornithopods: a small bipedal herbivore. It lived alongside turtles, lungfish, and early mammals (Zofiabaatar, Foxraptor).


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