STL Science Center

STL Science Center

17 February 2012

Brave Monitor Lizard

©Nobu Tamura
Ouranosaurus makes it a fact; African dinosaurs toward the end of the Mesozoic loved having ostentatious ornamentations. This is mostly true of the entire globe though with the exception of a few dinosaurs here and there. However, this makes them even more intriguing to humans these millions of years later with their giant horns, frills, skull shapes, interesting mouths, toes, and arms, and even large vertebral spines which could only have made a sail like apparatus on their backs.

Ouranosaurus, meaning Brave Monitor Lizard (which is a pretty neat name anyhow), was one such sailed dinosaur. Discovered in Niger in the 1960's and 70's, it was described in 1976 by the French paleontologist Phillipe Taquet, who, as we know from previous discoveries, was very fond of Niger and its dinosaurs. The name comes from Taureg and Arabic words which are related to one another. In Taureg "ourane" means monitor lizard while in Arabic the related "waran" means brave. The dinosaur is a basal hadrosaur dinosaur placed in the Iguanodontid branch of the ornithischian family.

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