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Information About Massospondylus

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Information About

Massospondylus

dinosaur
Massospondylus head fossil  

How Massospondylus may have looked

This creature existed about 205 million years ago and is the only known dinosaur to have lived in eastern Canada. Adults were between three to five meters in length, weighed about 200 kilograms and were herbivores feeding off foliages while standing on their powerful hind legs.

When these small dinosaurs roamed the Bay of Fundy area, the landscape was much different than today's. The climate was semi-arid, sand dunes covered the valleys, and the Atlantic Ocean had not yet been formed.


ANATOMY
Massospondylus was an early herbivore about 13 feet (4 m) long and 3 feet (1 m) tall. It had a long neck, very long tail, a small head, peg-like teeth, and large, five-fingered hands with a large thumb claw. Massospondylus may have been able to use its hand for grasping in addition to walking. Its back legs were only a little bit larger than its front legs. It was a very common dinosaur.

SIZE: Length - 13-18.5 feet (4-5.7 m) long
Height - 6 ft (1.8 m) tall at the hips
Weight - 1.5 tons


WHEN MASSOSPONDYLUS LIVED
Massospondylus lived about 205 to 194 million years ago, during the early Jurassic period.

DIET
Massospondylus was an herbivore, a plant eater. It swallowed pebbles and small stones to help in the digestion of the tough leaves and other plant material that it ate. These gizzard stones (gastroliths) would help grind up the food in the stomach. Gastroliths have been found in Massospondylus fossils.

LOCOMOTION
Massospondylus walked on four muscular legs and was a relatively fast runner. It may have also run on two legs. Dinosaur speeds are estimated using their morphology (characteristics like leg length and estimated body mass) and fossilized trackways.

DISCOVERY OF FOSSILS
Massospondylus was named by paleontologist Richard Owen in 1854, based on vertebrae found in South Africa. Many Massospondylus fossils have been found in Africa (in Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa) and North America (in Arizona).

INTELLIGENCE
Massospondylus was a sauropodomorpha, whose intelligence (as measured by its relative brain to body weight, or EQ) was the lowest among the dinosaurs.

CLASSIFICATION
Massospondylus was a Saurischian dinosaur, the order of lizard-hipped dinosaurs. It was a sauropodomorpha (quadrupedal herbivores) and a plateosaurid (heavy, thick-limbed herbivores that include Massospondylus, Mussaurus, and Plateosaurus).

Kingdom: Animalia (animals)
Phylum Chordata: (having a hollow nerve chord ending in a brain)
Class: Archosauria; (diapsids with socket-set teeth, etc.)
Order: Ornithischia  beaked, bird-hipped dinosaurs that were plant-eaters
Suborder: Sauropodomorpha  quadrupedal herbivores
Family: Plateosaurida heavy, thick-limbed herbivores
Genus:  Massospondylus
Species: M. carinatus (type species named by Owen, 1854)

 

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