23 September 2011
The Broadway Lizard
Plateosaurus is often translated as broad lizard and plate lizard, but according to Wikipedia the actual translation is "broadway lizard." I tentatively disagree, not knowing any Greek personally, and I would hate to find out someone was having a good joke with the world. When originally found in Germany, Plateosaurus fossils were so common that one paleontologist nicknamed them Schwäbischer Lindwurm, the Swabian Dragon. Plateosaurus is a Late Triassic dinosaur, thus making it one of the earliest dinosaurs, like Herrerasaurus. Unlike Herrerasaurus it is not debated whether or not to call Plateosaurus a dinosaur; it is commonly accepted as a basal, or primitive, sauropodomorph, or pro-sauropod. Either name means that Plateosaurus was destined to have the largest descendants on the face of the Earth!
A middle sized herbivore that was bipedal with grasping hands, Plateosaurus was very recognizable as a dinosaur from the start as it has the classic dinosaur look to it; long S-shaped neck, long counter balancing tail, short arms with three clawed fingers designed to grasp leaves, a strong dental battery, and three toed feet. Plateosaurus is found all over Southern Germany in the same respect that hadrosaurs are found all over Montana and Canada; it was a successful and popular genus possessing two species that were in charge of their world from an herbivorous standpoint.