Fun Masiakasaurus Facts For Kids

Oluniyi Akande
Nov 28, 2022 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Sep 28, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Amazing Masiakasaurus facts that you won't believe.

The Masiakasaurus was a tiny, bipedal dinosaur that lived in the Late Cretaceous period. It was first described by three paleontologists Scott D. Sampson, Matthew Carrano, and Catherine A. Forster. They named the dinosaur species after Mark Knopfler, a musician and singer from the rock band Dire Straits.

The paleontologists were listening to the music of this singer when they discovered the remains of this theropod. Masiakasaurus name meaning is 'vicious lizard'. Classification of this species is as follow: Dinosauria, Saurischia, Theropoda, Neotheropoda, Neoceratosauria, Abelisauroidea, and Abelisauria.

The paleobiology suggests that there were two forms of Masiakasaurus, the robust for and the gracile form. The limb skeleton was relatively flexible and possessed numerous abelisauroid synapomorphies.

The unique traits of these dinosaurs were their jaws and forward projected teeth. It also had an unusually long neck, which was absent in most theropod dinosaurs. Apart from these, it possessed a rounded skull.

If you enjoyed this article, learn more about other dinosaur species with these Puertasaurus and Incisivosaurus.

Masiakasaurus Interesting Facts

How do you pronounce 'Masiakasaurus'?

The Masiakasaurus pronunciation is 'mah-SHEE-ah-kah-SAWR-us'.

What type of dinosaur was a Masiakasaurus?

Masiakasaurus was a genus of theropod Abelisaurids that lived in the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar. The name is derived from the Malagasy word 'masiaka' which means 'vicious', and the genus name is derived from 'saurus', which means 'lizard'.

Therefore, the full name means 'vicious lizard'. However, the type species, Masiakasaurus knopfleri, was named by Scott D. Sampson, Matthew Carrano, and Catherine A. Forster in 2001.

They named the genus after the musician Mark Knopfler, whose music was listened to by these people during the discovery of the remains of this dinosaur. It had a long slender neck, which was unique among theropods.

In which geological period did the Masiakasaurus roam the earth?

The Masiakasaurus existed in the Late Cretaceous Period, which is 72.1-66 million years ago.

When did the Masiakasaurus become extinct?

The dinosaur Masiakasaurus became extinct about 70 million years ago.

Where did a Masiakasaurus live?

Masiakasaurus is a genus of tiny predatory dinosaurs that existed in the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar. This is an island near the southeastern shore of Africa.

It was a member of the family Noasauridae, consisting of short predatory ceratosaurs discovered first in South America. The remains of the M. knopfleri have been discovered in the Late Cretaceous Formation, mainly in northwestern Madagascar by Dr. Scott D. Sampson, from the University of Utah.

It was first described in the 'Nature' journal, 2001. Fragments of bones constituting about 40% of the Masiakasaurus skeleton were found near the Berivotra.

Various segments of the Masiakasaurus skull, including its unusual teeth, were discovered in the Maevarano Formation. Other bones, such as the pubis, humerus, hind limbs, and various vertebrae, were also discovered.

Some additional specimens were described in 2011. For the first time, facial bones, pectoral girdle, ribcage, braincase, some portions of hands, dorsal vertebral column, and cervical area were described by scientists.

Some parts of the Masiakasaurus jaw (upper jaw and lower jaw) have been found. With the latest skeleton material, around 65% of the skeleton is presently known.

What was a Masiakasaurus's habitat?

A few characteristics of the Masiakasaurus were similar to some known predatory dinosaurs in India and Argentina, indicating that radiation from small-bodied theropod dinosaurs occurred in the Late Cretaceous in the Southern Hemisphere, as it did in the Northern Hemisphere.

Furthermore, the wide geographic distribution of these tiny dinosaurs and their bigger-bodied relatives, Abelisaurids, might have supported the newly proposed geophysical theory. This model believes that the land that once created the enormous supercontinent Gondwana may have maintained contact for longer than previously thought.

'If so', commented Sampson, 'dinosaurs and other terrestrial animals may have traveled long distances between South America and Madagascar, India'.

Who did a Masiakasaurus live with?

The Masiakasaurus belonged to the Noasauridae group. Noasaurid were actually tiny theropods that thrived in the Southern Hemisphere in the Cretaceous period. They are a division of the wider group of theropods known as ceratosaurs, which also involves the bigger known Carnotaurus and Ceratosaurus.

Masiakasaurus became extinct about 70 million years ago. They used to live with animals like the Rapetosaurus, Majungasaurus, and Rahonavis. The environment in which they lived had many small animals, including mammals, frogs, birdlike dinosaurs, and small crocodiles.

How long did a Masiakasaurus live?

The total lifespan of a Masiakasaurus dinosaur has not been identified yet.

How did they reproduce?

Masiakasaurus dinosaurs were egg-laying dinosaurs with the ability to lay between 5-20 eggs per clutch. Their reproduction process and mating behavior have not been identified yet.

Masiakasaurus Fun Facts

What did a Masiakasaurus look like?

Unlike other theropods, the Masiakasaurus had front teeth that extended forward instead of straight down. This unique characteristic of the Masiakasaurus suggests that it had an unusual diet, including fish and various other small prey.

Moreover, other skeleton bones show that this dinosaur was bipedal, with much smaller forelimbs than hindlimbs. This abelisauroid could have reached a body length of about 6.5 ft (2 m) and weight around 100-200 lb (45.36-90.72 kg).

The Masiakasaurus had a long tail and were assumed to be green in coloration.

How many bones did a Masiakasaurus have?

According to the paleobiology of the Masiakasaurus, the exact number of bones is unknown. Although, with the latest skeleton material founded, around 65% of the skeleton is known.

In 2002, Carrano et al. differentiated two forms of Masiakasaurus, the first one was a robust form and the second one was a gracile form.

The former one included specimens with denser bones and more pronounced ridges for the connection of ligaments and muscles. The latter form included specimens that were thinner and had less pronounced muscle connections. In addition, the gracile form had unfused tibiae, whereas the robust form had fused tibiae.

These two types of specimens probably indicated the sexual dimorphism in the dinosaur, but they may have also represented two different types of populations. One of the descriptions of the specimen had a right scapular proboscis, with holes that may be leak marks caused by predation or decay.

Majungasaurus was a large Abelisaurus from the Maevarano Formation that probably hunted Masiakasaurus. These holes could also be the outcome of an infection.

About 40% of the skeleton-related description is known, including parts of jaws (the upper jaw and lower jaw), forelimb, hindlimb, axial column, and pelvic girdle. The most outstanding characteristics of the Masiakasaurus are the jaws and teeth.

The jaws are described as notably derived with a heterodont procumbent dentition which is not present in any other known Noasaurus. Unlike in most theropods, the teeth are not perpendicular to the jaw.

Instead, the teeth of Masiakasaurus were slightly forward. Having front teeth pointing forward would have made it arduous for the Noasaurus to have caused destruction to any creature close to its body size.

The limb skeleton is relatively agile and possesses various abelisauroid synapomorphies, including a rounded skull, rounded femoral medial epicondyle, double-grooved pedal unguals, and peg and socket iliac-pubic articulation.

More special characteristics between Masiakasaurus, the Indian Laevisuchus, and the Argentine Noasaurus indicate that these taxa make a clade known as Noasauridae within Abelisauroidea. The unusual jaws and teeth features of Masiakasaurus show divergence from the typical theropod diet.

Another prominent feature is the long and not very flexible neck. The distribution range of noasaurid establishes a shared biographic history between Madagascar, India, and South America into the Late Cretaceous.

How did they communicate?

The means of communication among Masiakasaurus dinosaurs is still unknown.

How big was a Masiakasaurus?

The total Masiakasaurus size was about 6.5 ft (2 m), which is around four times the length of an hourglass dolphin.

How fast could a Masiakasaurus move?

Masiakasaurus speed of movement has been estimated to be similar to a wolf.

How much did a Masiakasaurus weigh?

They weighed around 100-200 lb (45.36-90.72 kg), which is five times heavier and bigger than a spinner dolphins.

What were the male and female names of the species?

No specific names have been used to describe the male and female Masiakasaurus species.

What would you call a baby Masiakasaurus?

A Masiakasaurus baby is known as a young or hatchling.

What did they eat?

Their back teeth were almost similar to other theropods, but the front teeth of the Masiakasaurus were probably an adaptation for grasping small prey. The carinae were restricted to the teeth base in front of the jaws and would have been utilized to tear prey.

However, the back teeth worked the same as other Abelisaurids.

Numerous feeding behaviors have been suggested based on the unusual dentition. As the front teeth would have been used for grasping, the Masiakasaurus may have consumed small invertebrates, vertebrates (fish, snakes, lizards, mammals), and even fruits.

How aggressive were they?

These dinosaurs have been assumed to be aggressive and territorial.

Did you know...

The Masiakasaurus was smaller than a human. It used to take 8-10 years to develop to the size of a small dog.

What dinosaur had buck teeth?

The Incisivosaurus, a dinosaur whose specimen was found in China, had unique buck teeth.

Who discovered the Masiakasaurus?

The Masiakasaurus was a small noasaurus theropod that lived in the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar. It was a meat-eating animal that had unusual jaws (upper jaw and lower jaw) and teeth, and a long neck.

The dinosaur was discovered by three paleontologists Scott D. Sampson, Matthew Carrano, and Catherine A. Forster in 2001.

However, the species name M. knopfleri was named after Mark Knopfler, an artist in the rock band Dire Straits. When the paleontologists discovered the dinosaur, they were listening to the music of this singer, which inspired them.

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 Harpactognathus facts and Ludodactylus facts pages.

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

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Written by Oluniyi Akande

Doctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

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Oluniyi AkandeDoctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

With an accomplished background as a Veterinarian, SEO content writer, and public speaker, Oluniyi brings a wealth of skills and experience to his work. Holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan, he provides exceptional consulting services to pet owners, animal farms, and agricultural establishments. Oluniyi's impressive writing career spans over five years, during which he has produced over 5000 high-quality short- and long-form pieces of content. His versatility shines through as he tackles a diverse array of topics, including pets, real estate, sports, games, technology, landscaping, healthcare, cosmetics, personal loans, debt management, construction, and agriculture.

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