STL Science Center

STL Science Center

29 November 2013

Big Nostril Lizard Foot

Picture by Nils Knötschke
Latin and Greek roots make for some rather fun to say dinosaur names and hierarchical categories. The macronarian sauropods of the Late Jurassic and Cretaceous were one such group of funny named animals; macronarian sauropod effectively translates to "Big nostril lizard foot". One member of the group, at the basal end of the family tree, was Europasaurus holgeri (meaning European lizard of Holger Lüdtke, who discovered the first fossil remains). This macronarian taxa is slightly more derived than the North American Camarasaurus but less so than Brachiosaurus and is therefore considered the sister to Brachiosauridae. The chief character marking Europasaurus as more derived than Camarasaurus is the resultant size of the body due to insular dwarfisim. That is correct ladies and gentlemen, we have here a "tiny" sauropod dinosaur. Weighing in at somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 pounds and ranging between 5.6 and 20.3 feet (1.7 and 6.2 meters) 11 individuals are known from the initial quarry at Langeberg near Goslar, Lower Saxony (that is in central Germany for the geographically stumped). The idea that central Germany was once comprised of many small islands with dwarf sauropods inhabiting those islands is pretty funny, unique, and very interesting.

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