Massospondylus carinatus

  • Pronounced:  Mass-o-spon-Die-luss

  • Diet:  Herbivore (Plant-Eater)

  • Name Means:  "Bulky Vertebra"

  • Length:  13 feet (4 m)

  • Height:  5 feet (1.6 m)

  • Weight:  500 pounds (230 kilos)

  • Time:  Early Jurassic - 195 MYA

Fossil remains for this Dinosaur have been found in Africa, North America

Massospondylus was an early member of the huge plant eating, sauropod (long-neck) dinosaur family. It was sort of a smaller version of the better known Plateosaurus  , and it had back legs that were much longer than its front legs and probably could have stood on two legs quite easily.

Massospondylus is an interesting dinosaur for a number of reasons. It illustrates how, in the early stages of dinosaur evolution, there were only a few genera spread throughout the Earth's single land mass - Pangaea. It is easy to see, when looking at a skeletal reconstruction of this creature, how it evolved from smaller, bipedal dinosaurs. And its neck and tail foretell the characteristics of its giant descendants.

One of the most interesting discoveries related to Massospondylus was a nest find in Southern Africa. The eggs in the nest contained the remains of fetal dinosaurs, the earliest ever discovered. Additionally, the eggs themselves seem to indicate that the shells were not hard like later dinosaur eggs, but soft and leathery like modern reptile eggs. This would indicate the possibility that earlier dinosaurs, not so far removed from early reptiles, laid soft eggs.

The Massospondylus type specimen remains were destroyed during a Nazi bombing raid on England in WWII. The original specimen was named in 1854 by Sir Richard Owen.

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