Omnivorous Dinosaurs

Out of all the dinosaurs discovered so far, only 1-2% could consume plant and animal matter. These dinosaurs were omnivores who could consume protein from the flesh of other creatures while also breaking down and digesting the complex compounds found in vegetation.

Interestingly most of these omnivorous dinosaurs were agile, medium-sized creatures, which has led to the belief that they were opportunistic feeders. This meant they would have a greater chance of surviving harsh periods of food scarcity and didn’t need to consume too much to sustain themselves.

Some well-known dinosaurs believed to be omnivores belonged to a select few families like Ornithomimosaurs, Troodontids, and Oviraptorosaurs. Common examples include Gallimimus, Ornithomimus, and Oviraptor.

Omnivorous Dinosaurs

List of Dinosaurs That Were Omnivores

  • Avimimus portentosus
  • Avimimus nemegtensis
  • Beipiaosaurus inexpectus
  • Caudipteryx zoui
  • Caudipteryx dongi
  • Chirostenotes pergracilis
  • Citipati osmolskae
  • Coloradisaurus brevis
  • Deinocheirus mirificus
  • Dromiceiomimus brevitertius
  • Erlikosaurus andrewsi
  • Fruitadens haagarorum
  • Gallimimus bullatus
  • Garudimimus brevipes
  • Hagryphus giganteus
  • Harpymimus okladnikovi
  • Heyuannia huangi
  • Heyuannia yanshini
  • Khaan mckennai
  • Massospondylus carinatus
  • Massospondylus kaalae
  • Melanorosaurus readi
  • Nanshiungosaurus brevispinus
  • Nomingia gobiensis
  • Nothronychus mckinleyi
  • Nothronychus graffami
  • Ornithomimus velox
  • Ornithomimus edmontonicus
  • Oviraptor philoceratops
  • Rinchenia mongoliensis
  • Shuvuuia deserti
  • Struthiomimus altus
  • Thecodontosaurus antiquus
  • Yunnanosaurus huangi
  • Yunnanosaurus youngi

How Do Paleontologists Identify Omnivorous Dinosaurs?

There are a few particular characteristics that paleontologists use to determine whether or not a dinosaur was omnivorous:

  • If a dinosaur had both sharp teeth for cutting and blunt teeth for grinding, it was most likely omnivorous in nature. Also, if a beak was uncovered as part of a dinosaur skeleton, they are generally omnivores like Gallimimus and Oviraptor.
  • Sometimes the digestive system of a dinosaur gets preserved as part of the fossilization process. Further study of the intestines and stomach region indicates the type of diet the dinosaur had when it was alive.


1. Which species was the largest omnivorous dinosaur?

While most omnivorous dinosaurs were not very large, Deinocheirus mirificus was the exception. An ornithomimosaur like Gallimimus and Struthiomimus, Deinocheirus was the biggest of the bunch, reaching up to 36 feet in length and weighing over six tons. It seems to have lived close to water, most likely feeding on herbs that grew in aquatic environments and fish.

2. Which species was the smallest omnivorous dinosaur?

Fruitadens haagarorum, a heterodontosaur, is widely believed to be the smallest dinosaur to be an omnivore. It was 26 to 30 inches long and weighed between 1.1 and 1.7 lbs.

3. What did the diet of an omnivorous dinosaur consist of?

These dinosaurs probably consumed a wide variety of foodstuffs, including plant material like fruits, seeds, and vegetables, as well as animals like small mammals, fish, insects like dragonflies, crabs, and even other dinosaurs. They may have even consumed carrion after a larger predator had finished their meal, like modern-day jackals.