Mesozoic Era Early Jurassic Period Dinosaurs Megapnosaurus


Quick Facts
Name Meaning:Big Dead Lizard
Distribution:Africa and Southwestern U.S.
Time Period:Early Jurassic, 199-188 Ma
Length:10 ft (3 m)
Height:32 in (80 cm)
Weight:66 lbs (30 kg)
Linnaean Classification
Cladistic Classification
  • Dinosauria
    • Saurischia
      • Theropoda
        • Ceratosauria
          • Coelophysoidea
            • Coelophysidae
              • Megapnosaurus
Grallator Dinosaur Track
Grallator dinosaur track made by a Megapnosaurus type dinosaur. This particular speciman is from the Johnson farm dinosaur track site.


The Megapnosaurus was originally named Syntarsus by Raath in 1969. It was later renamed Megapnosaurus by Michael Ivie, Adam Slipinski, and Piotr Wegrzynowicz, because Syntarsus was already taken by the colydiine beetle. A bonebed was discovered in Zimbabwe containing approximately 30 specimens of Megapnosaurus. Recently studies have been made suggesting that the Megapnosaurus is in fact synonymous with the Coelophysis.


The Megapnosaurus belonged to the same family as the Coelophysis and the two are almost identical. The Megapnosaurus was smaller, weighing approximately 70 pounds. It was skinny, had long legs, a long tail, and small crests on a long, narrow head. It had a long neck and weak joints in the jaw, creating a hooked jaw similar to the Dilophosaurus also of the same family. This probably meant that the Megapnosaurus was a scavenger as the hook weakened its jaw and taking down live prey would have been difficult. It was a swift bipedal runner and may have hunted in packs. The dinosaur did not live very long, approximately seven years.

ScienceViews Writer: Jason Hamilton.

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