Fun Arizonasaurus Facts For Kids

Nidhi Sahai
Jan 20, 2023 By Nidhi Sahai
Originally Published on Oct 01, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
The fossils of Arizonasaurus babbitti were found in the rock strata
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.7 Min

Arizonasaurus is a reptile of the archosaurian category which existed in the Mesozoic era. They are an extinct species of the family Ctenosauriscidae. Going more specific, they are ctenosauriscid archosaur that lived in the Middle Triassic period. They were very closely related to crocodiles and could be called the mixture of crocodiles and dinosaurs.

They were initially found in the Middle Triassic upper Moenkopi Formation of northern Arizona. The paleontologist Samuel Paul Welles named this type of species Arizonasaurus babbitti the year 1947.

Arizonasaurus babbitti holotype had a single bone in the left jaw available and that was quite different from other known archosaurs.

A more complete skeleton was found in the year 2002 by Sterling Nesbitt, including some parts of the spinal column, skull, and the basin. A large sail back can be seen in this taxon, which are elongated neural spines of vertebrae.

For more facts, keep reading. Here are some more interesting facts about other dinosaurs like the Pleurosaurus and Azendohsaurus.

Arizonasaurus Interesting Facts

Was the Arizonasaurus a dinosaur?

Arizonasaurus genus was certainly not a genus that belongs to the dinosaurs category, but they were the genus that grouped some Rausiquian archosaurs specimens. Arizonasaurus was a ctenosauriscid archosaur. You can say that the specimens of this dinosaur are related to the reptiles category which came previous to the dinosaurs of the Middle Triassic period.

How do you pronounce 'Arizonasaurus'?

The pronunciation of this small reptile is 'ah-ree-zo-nah-sore-us'. These dinosaurs were more close to the modern-day crocodiles than to the modern bird's groups.

They are very far from the dinosaurs when we see them on the archosaur family tree. The fossils of Arizonasaurus babbitti were found in the rock strata of the Moenkopi Formation of Arizona. The close relative species of this dinosaur can be found in the countries of East Asia, Africa, and Europe.

What type of prehistoric reptile was an Arizonasaurus?

This little flesh-eating dinosaur belonged to the Ctenosauriscids (a group of enigmatic reptiles). They are considered strange creatures which were very distantly related to the Fasolasuchus. This adaptable small reptile has a very good capability of surviving in different varieties of habitats because of its sail.

In which geological period did the Arizonasaurus live?

The fossils of Arizonasaurus babbitti were found in the Middle Triassic geological period, which was about 243 million years ago, they came before dinosaurs as per the fossil studies. The Middle Triassic period was the intermediate epoch amongst all the three epochs of the Middle Triassic period.

It has its timespan from 247-235 million years ago. This Triassic period is grouped into two stages which are- Anisian and Ladinian.

When did the Arizonasaurus become extinct?

The information on the time they went extinct is not known for an exact number, but they might have gone extinct 200-230 million years ago. This dinosaur Arizonasaurus babbitti was a small reptile of the Anisian stage of the Middle Triassic period.

Anisian stage is the earliest of the two stages of the Middle Triassic period. Many small dinosaurs like Arizonasaurus appeared during this time on earth.

Where did an Arizonasaurus live?

The place where the fossil of this small dinosaur-like reptile was found, the Moenkopi Formation, stretches across many countries of the United States of America like New Mexico, Eastern Utah, California, and western Colorado. The Moenkopi Foundation has very rich skeleton remains, mostly in two members which are the Holbrook and the Wupatki from Northern Arizona.

What was an Arizonasaurus' habitat?

It is believed that the Arizonasaurus babbitti was a terrestrial animal. The areas of flat landforms, scrublands, grasslands, shrublands, semi-arid regions, woodlands, forests might be its habitat. The name of this species was given by Paul Welles.

Who did an Arizonasaurus live with?

There is no information available on the social behavior of this dinosaur, but being a small animal, with minimum defense system, like other small creatures, they also might have lived in small-small groups in their territory and might have traveled to other resourceful areas in groups of many.

Small animals often make groups to increase their defense mechanism from the big predators.

How long did an Arizonasaurus live?

The lifespan of Arizonasaurus is not known yet after the study of the fossil. This reptile Arizonasaurus babbitti had a lot of popularity after the discovery of a nearly complete specimen in the year 2002.

Before 2002, this dinosaur did not have any complete dinosaur remains and scientists just knew that they are rauisuchian, the dominant reptiles in the middle Triassic period.

How did they reproduce?

These archosaurs of Arizona might be oviparous like many reptiles and dinosaurs. The name of this species was given by Paul Welles. The discovery and features of this dinosaur have helped in understanding the classification of other archosaurs. A complete skeleton was found in the year 2002 by Sterling Nesbitt.

Arizonasaurus Fun Facts

What did an Arizonasaurus look like?

Arizonasaurus babbitti was a quadrupedal animal, which means they used to walk on four legs. The sail which the Arizonasuaurs had on its back in the center was used for thermoregulation.

Sail also helped in increasing or decreasing the air turbulence. This dinosaur had tall neural spines on the dorsal vertebrae but the function of this significant feature is still not known.

The tall neural spines might have supported the hump or sail on the back of the creatures. After the fossil studies of the braincase of Arizonasaurus, it was revealed that they possessed ancestral features for Crurotarsans.

The length of this dinosaur was estimated to be around 9.84 ft (3 m) and but the height was lesser than a meter, half the human being.

The weight of this dinosaur was roughly around 500 lb (226.79 kg). The name of this species was given by Paul Welles.

The features of neural spines specimens made them very important for the understanding and classification of other sister species of dinosaurs.

How many bones did an Arizonasaurus have?

The bone count of the Arizonasaurus skeleton is not known yet. The closely related species Rauisiquios gave Arizonasaurus the feature of an upright posture, which some dinosaurs had, and some didn't. This dinosaur had tall neural spines on the dorsal vertebrae.

How did they communicate?

There is no information available on the archosaurs of Arizona. The discovery and features of this dinosaur have helped in understanding the features of other archosaurs.

How big was an Arizonasaurus?

Arizonasaurus was 9.84 ft (3 m) in length. They were one-third in height as compared to humans.

How fast could an Arizonasaurus move?

The speed of running of Arizonasaurus is not known yet. They were very small animals and so they might be good runners. A good complete skeleton was found in the year 2002 by Sterling Nesbitt.

How much did an Arizonasaurus weigh?

These dinosaurs like reptiles of the Middle Triassic period Arizonasaurus size or weight was almost 500 lb (226.79 kg). They are not many popular species but because of the study of this reptile and its sister species, scientists were able to get more information on Arcosaurus.

What were the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for the male and the female of this archosaurs species of North America Arizonasaurus (Arizonasaurus babbitti).

What would you call a baby Arizonasaurus?

The baby of this meat-eating reptile species Arizonasaurus (Arizonasaurus babbitti) does not have any particular name to get called by. They were called baby Arizonasaurus.

What did they eat?

These small archosaurs were carnivorous animals. The time during which they lived was the time they were the top predators.

They belonged to the order Rauiskians, which means the diet of this dinosaur was very much similar to the other species of the same order. They fed mostly on the creatures of the aquatic class and small size animals.

Arizonasaurus diet also had small terrestrial animals like Rincosaurs. As there were no such powerful species available on the earth at that time, so the danger to this species was probably the members of its own group.

How aggressive were they?

Their aggressive behavior is still not known but it is believed that their sail might have played some part in this. The actual accurate function of the sail is not known until now, but the sail was kind of used to show dominance sometimes. A good complete skeleton was found in the year 2002 by Sterling Nesbitt.

Did you know...

Earlier the holotype of Arizonasaurus was considered a dinosaur, a proterosuchian, a stagonolepid, an erythrosuchid, a trilophosaurid, and a rauisuchian. But in the year 2002, when Nesbitt discovered more, it suggested that this animal was a poposaurid.

The recent archosaur phylogeny placed the Ari in Poposauroidea which when combined with the close taxon Rauisuchoidea, makes the Rauisuchia.

But in the Poposauroidea, the resolution decreases which causes the polytomy between Poposaurus, Lotosaurus, Shuvosauridae Arizonasaurus, Bromsgroveia, and Sillosuchus. After the removal of the ankle characteristic, the Bromsgroveis and Ari were put into a single taxon.

Why is it called 'Arizonasaurus'?

It is called Arizonasaurus because the specimens of his archosaurs were found in Arizona, and that's how it got this name. This dinosaur-reptile-like animal was a dominant predator of the Moenkopi fauna, which represented a transition to the modern fauna of mammals, crocodiles, dinosaurs, turtles, lizards, and some birds.

Arizonasaurus was like a link between the primitive fauna of the Lower Triassic period and the more modern fauna of the Upper Triassic period.

Where was Arizonasaurus discovered?

Arizonasaurus archosaurs were discovered at the upper Moenkopi Formation of Northern Arizona. A good complete skeleton was found in the year 2002 by Sterling Nesbitt. The discovery and features of this dinosaur have helped in understanding the historical biology of other archosaurs.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other dinosaurs from our Protosuchus facts and Cymbospondylus facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Arizonasaurus coloring pages.


Second image by Ghedoghedo.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Nidhi Sahai

Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication

Nidhi Sahai picture

Nidhi SahaiBachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication

Dedicated and experienced, Nidhi is a professional content writer with a strong reputation for delivering high-quality work. She has contributed her expertise to esteemed organizations, including Network 18 Media and Investment Ltd. Driven by her insatiable curiosity and love for journalism and mass communication, Nidhi pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, graduating with distinction in 2021. During her college years, she discovered her passion for Video Journalism, showcasing her skills as a videographer for her institution. Nidhi's commitment to making a positive impact extends beyond her professional pursuits. Actively engaging in volunteer work, she has contributed to various events and initiatives throughout her academic career.

Read full bio >