STL Science Center

STL Science Center

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.

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