Elaphrosaurus is an extinct genus of Ceratosaurian Theropod dinosaurs, that lived during the Late Jurassic period. It lived in the Upper Cretaceous of Africa that is now known as Tanzania. It was a lightly built, small to medium-sized dinosaur and had a slender body with a long neck. The fossil remains recovered of this dinosaur were a nearly complete skeleton, with only its skull missing. The genus name Elaphrosaurus comes from the Greek words 'elaphros' and 'sauros,' which means light to bear, or light-footed, and lizard. Thus, the whole name reads as a light-footed lizard, which is a reference made to its high running speed. The specific name honors Paul Bamberg, an industrialist as he provided financial support for the research work and other expeditions to Tendaguru. Among all known Theropods it is known for having short legs and its length. Speaking morphologically this dinosaur can be separated from other Theropod dinosaurs similar to its size in two ways- the shallow chest on its relatively long body, and its short hindlimbs. Read on to find out more information about an Elaphrosaurus' diet, habitat, as well as Elaphrosaurus' size.
The word Elaphrosaurus is pronounced as 'el-ah-froh-sor-es'. The name of the genus Elaphrosaurus is taken from the Greek words 'elaphros' which means light to bear or in light-footed. It is a reference to its presumed high running speed, and finally 'sauros' means lizard, thus, the name means light-footed lizard.
Even though the recovered fossils consisted of a nearly complete skeleton (only the skull was missing) classifying the species was a task as many researchers had different opinions about their position in the evolutionary tree. Since its body was similar to Ornithomimids, therefore it was originally thought to be the earliest ornithomimid. Phylogenetic analysis later revealed that this dinosaur is a Ceratosaur, it is also believed to be a late surviving Coelophysoid dinosaur.
These dinosaurs lived during the Late Jurassic period, approximately 150-154 million years ago
These dinosaurs went extinct during the K-T mass extinction nearly 65 million years ago.
These dinosaurs lived in the Upper Jurassic of North America and Africa.
It never settled in one place and was often in search of new hunting grounds, its habitat changed according to its survival needs.
Paleontologists speculate that they were solitary, or perhaps lived in a small-sized group.
The life span of this dinosaur from the Late Jurassic period is unknown.
They reproduced via sexual reproduction. Males would release their sperm inside females, who would later lay fertilized eggs containing developing dinosaur embryos in nests, which were built by digging burrows in the soil.
Everything known about this creature comes from the almost complete skeleton (except for the skull) discovered. Elaphrosaurus was a small Theropod dinosaur with a long, slender body, a small skull, and a long neck. It was observed that this dinosaur stood out from the other Theropods for having short legs and a tail half its body length, thin arms, three-fingered hands, three-toed feet, and a stiff tail. Even though the neck of this dinosaur was quite long, it wasn't the most flexible in comparison to other Theropods who had long thin, and flexible necks.
Fossil remains recovered of this species includes the entire skeleton of an Elaphrosaurus dinosaur (except for the Elaphrosaurus' skull) including five sacral vertebrae, two rib fragments, a pelvic girdle, a nearly complete left hindlimb, 18 presacral vertebrae, isolated metacarpals, 20 caudal vertebrae, and a humerus.
Communication among this long-necked creature that roamed the Earth during the Late Jurassic period is still a mystery but many scientists over the past decades have come up with several theories that suggest possible ways these animals communicated, some put forth the theory of vocalizations and that these ferocious beasts engaged in dialogue by producing calls, hoots, cracking sounds, body movements, and symbolic love calls during the mating season.
It was about 20 ft (6.2 m) long and 5 ft (1.5 m) tall at the hips.
This dinosaur was a fast, bipedal dinosaur.
Curious about this dinosaur's weight? Well, it weighed about 460 lb (210 kg).
The female species are called saura, whereas the males are called saurus.
A young dinosaur can be referred to as a hatchling.
Elaphrosaurus followed a carnivore diet similar to many other Theropods. Elaphrosaurus bambergi was a small dinosaur and not capable of preying on dinosaurs present in its paleoenvironment, therefore the diet of this dinosaur was primarily made up of other smaller animals.
This dinosaur from the Jurassic period was fairly aggressive but smart enough to not pick fights with bigger carnivorous dinosaurs.
The remains of this dinosaur are safely housed at the Natural History Museum of Berlin, in Germany.
Fossils from the Kimmeridgian stage of the Jurassic period belonging to an individual member of this species were found in the Tendaguru Formation, Tanzania, in East Africa, in 1910 the type specimen of Elaphrosaurus bambergi was also discovered from the Middle Dinosaur Member of the same formation by Werner Janensch, I. Salim, H. Reck, and Parkinson . Elaphrosaurus was described by Werner Janensch in 1920. Fossil remains and skeletons belonging to other theropod species were also found near the same site.
Elaphrosaurus was originally described as a Coelurosaurian by Janensch because Coelurosauria at that time was the 'go-to' taxon for small-size theropods. Later in 1928, the species was placed under the Ornithomimidae family by Franz Nopcsa, but Janensch pointed out that convergent evolution cannot be used to place this dinosaur in the right taxon. By the end of the 20th century, it was formally referred to as a member of the Coeluridae family, however, in 1972 Dale Alan Russell reviewed Nopcsa's hypothesis again and the theory was confirmed in 1982 by Peter Malcolm Galton. But then, a closer examination of its limbs conducted by Gregory S. Paul in 1988 indicated that it may be a member of the Coelophysidae family, but this dinosaur was still considered as an Ornithomimid. Recent studies of the known fossil material conducted by Carrano and Sampson classified the species to the Ceratosauria group. Some believe that Elaphrosaurus was a late surviving Coelophysoid and an early member of the Noasauridae.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other creatures from our Sinraptor fun facts, or Bruhathkayosaurus facts for kids.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Elaphrosaurus coloring pages.
Main image by Michael B. H.
Second image by Georg.Frch at German Wikipedia.