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Massospondylus Fact SheetToday's featured page: Fish Printouts

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Massospondylus Fact Sheet
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Dinosaur/Paleontology Dictionary
NAME: Meaning - Massospondylus means "massive vertebra"
Pronounced - mas-o-SPON-di-lus
Named By - Richard Owen
When Named - 1854
DIET: Herbivore (plant-eater). Massospondylus swallowed pebbles and small stones to help in the digestion of the tough leaves and other plant material that it ate. These gizzard stones (gastroliths) would help grind up the food in the stomach.
SIZE: Length - 13-18.5 feet (4-5.7 m) long
Height - 6 ft (1.8 m) tall at the hips
Weight - 1.5 tons
WHEN IT LIVED: Early Jurassic period, about 205-194 million years ago
WHERE IT LIVED: Fossils have been found in Africa (in Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa) and North America (in Arizona).
FOSSILS: Massospondylus was originally described from some vertebrae found in Africa. Over 80 partial Massospondylus skeletons have since been found. A nest of six small eggs found in Africa may belong to Massospondylus.
  • Kingdom Animalia (animals)
  • Phylum Chordata (having a hollow nerve chord ending in a brain)
  • Class Archosauria (diapsids with socket-set teeth, etc.)
  • Order Ornithischia - beaked, bird-hipped dinosaurs that were plant-eaters
  • Suborder Sauropodomorpha - quadrupedal herbivores
  • Family Plateosaurida - heavy, thick-limbed herbivores
  • Genus Massospondylus
  • Species M. carinatus (type species named by Owen, 1854)
Massospondylus was an early plant-eating dinosaur that had a long neck, very long tail, a small head, peg-like teeth, and large, five-fingered hands with a large thumb claw. Massospondylus may have been able to use its hand for grasping in addition to walking. Its back legs were only a little bit larger than its front legs. It was a very common dinosaur..

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