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Othnielia is a genus of hypsilophodont dinosaur, named after its original describer, Professor Othniel Charles Marsh, an American paleontologist of the 19th century. The taxon, Othnielia rex, was named by Peter Galton in 1977 from a species Marsh (1877) called Nanosaurus rex.[1][2]

Remains assigned to Othnielia have been found in Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado in rocks of the Late Jurassic age (Oxfordian-Tithonian) Morrison Formation,[3] but with Galton's 2007 revision of Morrison ornithischians, the only definite remains are YPM 1875 (the holotype femur of "Nanosaurus" 'rex') and possibly some other associated postcranial bits. He considered the femur undiagnostic and thus Othnielia to be a dubious name, and removed two partial skeletons to the new genus Othnielosaurus.[4] It remains to be seen if this will be widely accepted, but this sort of taxonomic decision has much precedent (for example, Marasuchus versus Lagosuchus).

Without the remains now included in Othnielosaurus, this animal is dubious, and can only be described in generalities based on similar animals: small (~1.5-2 meters (4.5-6 feet) long, ~10 kilograms (22 pounds) in weight), agile bipedal herbivore with proportionally small arms and long legs.[3]

The Land Before Time


  1. Marsh, O.C. (1877). Notice of new dinosaurian reptiles from the Jurassic formations. American Journal of Sciences (Series 3) 14:514-516.
  2. Galton, P.M. (1977). The ornithopod dinosaur Dryosaurus and a Laurasia-Gondwanaland connection in the Upper Jurassic. Nature 268: 230-232.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Foster, J.R. (2003). Paleoecological Analysis of the Vertebrate Fauna of the Morrison Formation (Upper Jurassic), Rocky Mountain Region, U.S.A. New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science Bulletin 23.
  4. Galton, P.M. (2007). Teeth of ornithischian dinosaurs (mostly Ornithopoda) from the Morrison Formation (Upper Jurassic) of the western United States. in: Carpenter, K. (ed.). Horns and Beaks: Ceratopsian and Ornithopod Dinosaurs. Indiana University Press: Bloomington, 17-47. ISBN 0-253-34817-X.

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