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Muttaburrasaurus

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Muttaburrasaurus was a plant-eating dinosaur that lived during the middle Cretaceous period, about 113-97.5 million years ago. The name means "Muttaburra (in Queensland, Australia) lizard". Muttaburrasaurus was about 24 feet long weighed about 3.1 short tons and had a fat bump on its nose. They may have lived in herds.

Description

Muttaburrasaurus was about 26 ft and weighed around 3.1 short tons.[1]

Muttaburrasaurus could move on both 2 legs and 4 legs. The three middle digits of the front limbs were joined and formed a hoof-like pad to walk. Molnar first rebuilt Muttaburrasaurus with a thumb spike, but later doubted it had one.[2] The foot was long and broad, with four toes.

The skull of Muttaburrasaurus was flat, with a triangular cross-section seen from the top, the back of the head was broad but the snout pointed. The snout had the form of a large, hollow, upward-cruved snout that might have been used to make calls or for display. But, as no fossilised nasal tissue has been found, this is still conjectural. This so-called bulla nasalis was shorter with the older Muttaburrasaurus sp., as is shown by the Dunluce Skull. The top part of the bulla of the holotype has not been preserved, but at least the second skull has a round form.[2]

History

The species was first described from a partial skeleton found by Doug Langdon in 1963 at Rosebery Downs Station next to Thomson River near Muttaburra, Queensland, Australia, hence the creature's name. The remains were found by paleontologist Dr Alan Bartholomai and entomologist Edward Dahms. After a long preparation of the fossils, it was named in 1981 by Bartholomai and Ralph Molnar, who honoured its discoverer with its specific name langdoni.[3]

The holotype, specimen QM F6140, was found in the Mackunda Formation. It's made up of a partial skeleton with skull and lower jaws. The bottom of the skull and the back of the jawbone, lots of vertebrae, parts of the pelvis, and parts of the front and hind limbs have been preserved.

Some teeth have been found further north, near Hughenden,[2] and south at Lightning Ridge,[2] in northwestern New South Wales. At Lightning Ridge there have been found teeth and a shoulder blade that may be from a Muttaburrasaurus. A skull, known as the "Dunluce Skull", specimen QM F14921, was found by John Stewart-Moore and 14 year old Robert Walker on Dunluce Station, between Hughenden and Richmond in 1987. It comes was thought by Molnar to be a separate, yet unnamed species, a Muttaburrasaurus sp.[2] The same place had two incomplete skeletons in 1989. There have also been isolated teeth and bones found at Iona Station southeast of Hughenden.

Paleobiology

Muttaburrasaurus had strong jaws with sharp teeth. Unlike most dinosaurs, Muttaburrasaurus replaced it's teeth all at once. It lacked a first ridge on the teeth sides, showing eleven lower ridges. In 1981 Molnar thought that these traits might mean Muttaburrasaurus was an omnivore, at times eating carcasses. In 1995 he changed his view, comparing them to the ceratopsian shearing teeth system. They would have been used to eat tough plants such as cycads.[4]

Classification

Molnar first assigned Muttaburrasaurus to the Iguanodontidae, but in 2010, a study by Andrew McDonald placed it in the Rhabdodontidae.

Muttaburrasaurus in The Land Before Time

Muttaburasaurus is a type of dinosaur that Mutt and his father are. His father appears very briefly during the 3rd movie and Mutt himself during the same movie and the TV episode the Great Egg Adventure as one of the main characters. It is not known what they are called by Land Before Time characters.Considering they are related to Iguanodon,they are perhaps called spikethumbs.

Gallery

References

  1. Paul, G.S. (2010). The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs, Princeton University Press, p. 286.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Molnar, R.E. (1996). "Observations on the Australian ornithopod dinosaur, Muttaburrasaurus".". Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 39 (3): 639–652. 
  3. Bartholomai, A; Molnar, R.E. (1981). "Muttaburrasaurus: a new Iguanodontid (Ornithischia:Ornithopoda) dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of Queensland". Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 20 (2): 319–349. 
  4. Molnar, R.E., 1995, "Possible convergence in the jaw mechanisms of ceratopians and Muttaburrasaurus". In: A.Sun and Y.Wang (eds) Sixth Symposium on Mesozoic Terrestrial Ecosystems and Biota, short papers. China Ocean Press, Beijing. pp.115-117


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