STL Science Center

STL Science Center

27 January 2012

Eaters of Rapetosaurus

Abelisaurids are theropods with short snouts, short forearms, and longer stocky legs. This Madagascar theropod, known as Majungasaurus crenatissimus, had a wider skull and more teeth than many other  abelisaurids. The number of specimens and the recent surge in study in both the Southern Hemisphere and Madagascar specifically have led to a great deal of knowledge about this animal and science is beginning to understand it as a rather peculiar animal. As opposed to other large theropods the arms on Majungasaurus (once known as Majungatholus) are situated in a way that makes them appear almost as fins on a fish more than arms as they are angled backwards along the body. It had a bony head that was wide and short with one short horn situated on top of it.

By all accounts, regardless of the source, it was most likely a very ugly animal and, by some accounts, may have suffered some of these strange characteristics as a side effect of being an island dinosaur with a contained breeding pool because of the island. Madagascar is rather large, fourth largest island in the world, but animals this large would have taken up a lot of space and territory so there may be some merit to this cousins-marrying-cousins viewpoint. Whatever the viewpoint, one thing that is certainly not debated is that one way or another Majungasaurus could turn cannibal in situations that required cannibalism to survive. Tomorrow we will look at the skeleton of this animal as well as a few renditions of the head of Majungasaurus.

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