Fun Macrogryphosaurus Facts For Kids

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Oct 20, 2022 By Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Originally Published on Oct 04, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Find out why it was named 'large enigmatic lizard' with the Macrogryphosaurus facts.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.0 Min

The Macrogryphosaurus, which means 'big enigmatic lizard', is a genus of elasmarian Ornithischia with one species M. gondwanicus. These ornithopod dinosaurs are estimated to have lived during the Conciacian stage of the Upper Cretaceous epoch around 89-93 million years ago.

The type species specimen was found in the Sierra Barrosa Formation subdivision, initially thought to be from the Portezuelo Formation, of the Neuquén Group in Patagonia, Argentina.

The discovery of these ornithopods was made during some fieldwork carried out by the Universidad Nacional del Comahue, northwest of Neuquén, Argentina in 1999. It was an almost complete specimen and its prominent large body as well as bony thorax plates, made it stand out from the get-go.

Some unique features of these Ornithischia dinosaurs separate them from other iguanodontian dinosaurs and prove that they are a more basal genus. It is the largest South American ornithopod and has mineralized thoracic plates.

In 2007, this dinosaur was described by Jorge Calvo et al and Dr. Stephan Poropat considered its preservation 'amazing'. Recently in 2020, this ornithopod was given a complete osteology in Cretaceous Research, a study conducted by Jorge Calvo, Penélope Cruzado-Caballero, and Sebastián Rozadilla.

If you liked reading about Macrogryphosaurus then you can look up our Liaoceratops facts and Aralosaurus facts pages at our Kidadl page.

How do you pronounce 'Macrogryphosaurus'?

The word 'Macrogryphosaurus' is pronounced as 'Mac-ro-gri-fo-so-rus'.

What type of dinosaur was a Macrogryphosaurus?

The Macrogryphosaurus gondwanicus was an elasmaian ornithopod under the order of Ornithischia. They form the clade of Elasmaria along with Talenkauen and are considered basal iguanodontians compared to the others.

In which geological period did the Macrogryphosaurus roam the earth?

These ornithopods roamed the earth during the Coniacian stage of the Upper Cretaceous epoch. There is no other specimen of this species, but in 2016, the discovery of a fragment of a dorsal neural arch in the Plottier Formation was said to have similar anatomy and size as this 'big enigmatic lizard'.

However, it lived during an earlier period although the specimen was found in the same stratigraphic and geographic location.

When did the Macrogryphosaurus become extinct?

This Ornithischian genus is said to have become extinct around 89-93 million years ago during the Upper Cretaceous period only.

Where did Macrogryphosaurus live?

The Macrogryphosaurus gondwanicus was the largest Elasmarian ornithopod to have been found in South America. The discovery of this only specimen was made in the Sierra Barrosa Formation subdivision of the Neuquén Group in Patagonia, Argentina. Initially, this genus was thought to have belonged to the Portezuelo Formation subdivision of the Neuquén group.

What was Macrogryphosaurus' habitat?

Based on the discovery, the habitat preferred by the M. gondwanicus was the terrestrial environment present during the Upper Cretaceous of Patagonia South America. Since they belonged to Ornithopoda, they would have been grazers which means they would live along coastal plains or grasslands.

Who did Macrogryphosaurus live with?

The exact lifestyle patterns or behavior of this Upper Cretaceous basal iguanodontian is unknown. However, they could have lived in herds or groups of a few individuals especially because the discovery of several ornithopod species has been found in the bonebeds of several other dinosaurs.

How long did a Macrogryphosaurus live?

The lifespan of the M. gondwanicus has not been recorded by scientists.

How did they reproduce?

Not much has been analyzed about the reproductive system of this genus but they may have shared similar mating traits with other ornithopods. These dinosaurs were known to be oviparous, but some speculation suggests that they could have given birth to live young.

In addition, they were known for herding, like the moose, which means they would have nurtured their babies in the herd and until they could fend for themselves.

Macrogryphosaurus Fun Facts

What did the Macrogryphosaurus look like?

Since these were ornithopods, they had some common characteristic features that belong to this clade. This genus may have had three-toed bird-like feet, but some basal forms are speculated to have four toes.

They had a horny beak meant for eating plants with a mandibular fenestrae, which was an empty hole in the mandible. More specifically, the Macrogryphosaurus was larger than other Elasmarian ornithopods from South America.

Their body was built lightly, which would help them run fast with swift movements. They had characteristic mineralized thoracic or intercostal plates which were a set of plates on the side of the torso.

A similar feature is seen in Hypsilophodon, Thescelosaurus, and Talenkauen. They had a fused sternum like birds, broad ribs, a comparatively long neck, a short, stiff torso, and a tail identical to that of a Coelurosaur.

The M. gondwanicus had a large body with a tail similar to that of the coelurosaur dinosaur.
*We've been unable to source an image of Macrogryphosaurus and have used an image of Muttaburrasaurus instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of Macrogryphosaurus, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at

How many bones did a Macrogryphosaurus have?

The exact number of bones in the body of the Macrogryphosaurus dinosaur has not been identified even though the discovery showed an almost complete fossilized skeleton. The holotype contains the entire vertebrae set consisting of six sacral, eight cervical, 16 caudal, and 14 thoracic vertebrae.

Four thoracic plates were also found in the discovery and they were mineralized, which is a unique feature for an ornithopod. In addition, a sternum, some ribs, the pectoral girdle of both sides, the pelvic bone, and breastplates were also found.

How did they communicate?

There is not much evidence about the communication or interaction patterns of the Upper cretaceous M. gondwanicus dinosaur. However, concerning the general behavior of ornithopod dinosaurs, it has been stated that they may have had complex social adaptations. It is speculated that they would have interacted based on visual and vocal displays, herding, sexual dimorphism, and species recognition structures.

How big were the Macrogryphosaurus?

The M. gondwanicus of Argentina was the largest Elasmarian ornithopod with a total length of 19.6 ft (6 m), which is approximately the same as the basking shark. Based on the fossil references, their height is approximately 5.5 ft (1.7 m), which is slightly bigger than an elk.

How fast could a Macrogryphosaurus move?

The exact speed at which these dinosaurs could walk or run is unknown. However, since they belong to the clade of Ornithopoda, they would have been quick runners. In addition, skeletal references suggest that these dinosaurs had a light, graceful build compared to other iguanodontian ornithopods, which would assist them greatly to run swiftly.

How much did a Macrogryphosaurus weigh?

Based on the Upper Cretaceous references, it is known that the Macrogryphosaurus size was among the large ornithopods and they weighed around 881 lb (400 kg), which is four times lesser than a manta ray.

What were the male and female names of the species?

The male and female do not have separate names, and instead, share a common name, Macrogryphosaurus.

What would you call a baby Macrogryphosaurus?

Scientists have not given the young ones of this genus a specific term, which means they are to be referred to as juveniles.

What did they eat?

These dinosaurs from the Upper Cretaceous Patagonia region of Argentina were herbivores, although the exact components of their diet are unknown.

How aggressive were they?

Considering these were plant-eaters, they would not have been highly aggressive. They may have had display defense mechanisms or shown aggression in case of territorial disputes, mating competition, or threats of predation.

Did you know...

This genus is a new morphotype of the Ornithopoda clade because of its distinctive mineralized thoracic plates, short thorax, and long neck.

How did the Macrogryphosaurus get its name?

The Upper Cretaceous Macrogryphosaaurus of Argentina was named and described by Jorge Calvo et al. in a study published in 2007.

The Greek word 'macro' means 'large', while 'grypho' means enigmatic, and 'saurus' means 'lizard'. This genus is known as the 'big enigmatic lizard' because it is the largest known Elasmarian ornithopod, and according to Dr. Stephen F. Poropat, the preservation of the fossils of this dinosaur was 'amazing'.

Who discovered Macrogryphosaurus?

The Universidad Nacional del Comahue had conducted fieldwork in May 1999 at the Lake Mari Menuco in Argentina, around 37.2 mi (60 km) northwest of Neuquén. That was when a brilliantly preserved, almost complete dinosaur skeleton was discovered.

A young boy named Rafael Moyano was the one who found it and reported his find to the paleontologists on board. Initially, these fossils were speculated to have belonged to the Portezuelo Formation subdivision of the Neuquén group. However, it was later concluded to be from the Sierra Barrosa Formation.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly dinosaur facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Staurikosaurus facts and Bahariasaurus facts for kids.

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

Image one by NobuTamura.

Image two by Gary Houston.

*We've been unable to source an image of Macrogryphosaurus and have used an image of Muttaburrasaurus instead. If you are able to provide us with a royalty-free image of Macrogryphosaurus, we would be happy to credit you. Please contact us at

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 Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason

Bachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason picture

Adekunle Olanrewaju JasonBachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

With over 3+ years of professional experience, Olanrewaju is a certified SEO Specialist and Content Writer. He holds a BSc in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos. Throughout his dynamic career, Olanrewaju has successfully taken on various roles with startups and established organizations. He has served as a Technical Writer, Blogger, SEO Specialist, Social Media Manager, and Digital Marketing Manager. Known for his hardworking nature and insightful approach, Olanrewaju is dedicated to continuous learning and improvement.
Read full bio >