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The Megalosaurus dinosaur was a Theropod. It lived during the late Middle Jurassic time period, in the Bathonian stage, close to 176-161 million years ago. Megalosaurus fossil remains were discovered in England and Africa, mainly in England's southern region of Oxfordshire. The species name Megalosaurus bucklandii was described a long time ago in 1827, making this Middle Jurassic dinosaur one of the first and oldest known dinosaurs in natural history. The Megalosaurus, when it was first described by Richard Owen, piqued people's interest in dinosaurs. Another significant thing about the Megalosaurus is that its description was considered the benchmark in science for carnivorous Theropods and was the 'wastebasket taxon' for unspecified dinosaurs. Megalosaurus dinosaurs lived in terrestrial habitats near lush vegetation that would enable them to search for and attack prey like Sauropods, Stegosaurs, and early mammals. The Megalosaurus was a top bipedal predator with a thick neck; strong limbs with talons; sharp, conical teeth; a powerful jaw; a big tail; and a big head. This Theropod dinosaur was also capable of regrowing teeth it may have lost.
Megalosaurus is pronounced as 'Meg-ah-lo-sore-us'.
The Megalosaurus ('great lizard') was a Theropod.
Megalosaurus dinosaurs lived during the Bathonian age of the late Middle Jurassic period, between 176-161 million years ago.
Megalosaurus dinosaurs went extinct about 161 million years ago.
Megalosaurus fossil remains have been discovered in Africa and England.
These Megalosaurus dinosaurs lived mainly in what is today England or southern England, and fossil remains have mostly been discovered in Oxfordshire.
The Middle Jurassic-era Megalosaurus lived in terrestrial habitats that were tropical and lush. In these areas, tall trees would have flourished, like giant sequoias and pines. Small trees would also have grown, like tree ferns, palm trees, ginkgoes, and horsetails. Megalosaurus dinosaurs inhabited such places to prey upon herbivorous animals, using the cover provided by trees for stealth.
Being a carnivorous Theropod, the Megalosaurus may have lived and hunted alone.
The Megalosaurus most probably lived at the lower end of the 30-80 year age range.
Megalosaurus dinosaurs multiplied by mating and laying eggs. The amount of parental care imparted by Megalosaurus parents on their kids is not known.
The Megalosaurus was one big Theropod that was bipedal, meaning it walked on its two hind legs. A closely related dinosaur is the Allosaurus, also a Theropod. The Megalosaurus had a thick, strong neck and a big head. Jaws of this carnivore were strong and had curved, sharp, and dagger-like teeth. Similar to sharks of today, the Megalosaurus was capable of replacing its broken or lost teeth. Front legs or arms of the Megalosaurus were short but rather strong. Digits on the front legs were clawed and grasping and functioned like hands. Back legs or hind limbs were muscular and long and had claws on three toes of both feet. The horizontal tail of the Megalosaurus was thick and long and the horizontal inclination of the torso was balanced by this tail. The fossilized Megalosaurus skeleton is very ossified, which indicates that the animal was muscular and robust, with lower limbs slightly less strong than those of the Torvosaurus, a closely related dinosaur. The overall body was bulky and bones were heavy.
The exact number of bones that a Megalosaurus had is unknown, but it can be assumed to be around 200.
These Megalosaurus dinosaurs communicated through sounds and visual displays. Sounds uttered would have included hoots and bellows as well as grunts. Visual displays would have come in handy for fights over mating rights and territorial disputes.
The Megalosaurus was around 20 ft (6 m) long and 10 ft (3 m) tall, which makes it two to three times smaller than the Ampelosaurus.
Being a carnivorous, bipedal Theropod, the Megalosaurus could have moved at very high speeds, close to 27 mph (43.4 kph).
The Megalosaurus weight was around 1,543.2-2,079 lb (700-943 kg).
Males and females of the Megalosaurus genus and species of dinosaurs do not have specific names. The suffix 'saura' can be added when referring to females, and 'saurus' is more appropriate for males.
A baby Megalosaurus would be called a nestling or a hatchling.
The Megalosaurus was a vicious predator and a carnivore who ate other dinosaurs like Sauropods and Stegosaurs, insects, lizards, and early mammals.
Being carnivorous Theropods who were apex predators in their habitat, Megalosaurus dinosaurs were very aggressive. They preyed on other animals and probably had fights for mating rights and territorial defenses as well.
The Megalosaurus was just half the size of the Tyrannosaurus rex. The Tyrannosaurus rex was 40-42 ft (12.2-12.8 m) long compared to the 20 ft (6 m) length of the Megalosaurus. The T. rex also weighed 17,637 lb (8,800 kg) compared to the Megalosaurus's 1,543.2-2,079 lb (700-943 kg), so four times heavier at least.
The most significant thing about the Megalosaurus is that it was the first dinosaur described in scientific and paleontological article literature that was not avian. The earliest fossil of the Megalosaurus genus was a lower femur, from the Taynton Limestone formation.
The maxilla of the Megalosaurus had 13 teeth which were fairly large. The length of the crown was about 2.8 in (7 cm). The total number of teeth that the Megalosaurus had was around 30-32.
After the discovery of bones, they were acquired by a professor at Oxford University, William Buckland. William Buckland was also a dean of Christ Church.
After utilizing the Megalosaurus as a wastebasket taxon group for non-avian dinosaurs, the genus contained the most similarities of any dinosaur genera. Most of these had dubious characteristics. The scientists gradually stopped using this practice but had to take it up again in a way, since Theropods that were classified wrongly in old literature had to be reclassified using the generic name of the Megalosaurus before a proper renaming.
The Megalosaurus was named for its characteristics.
The name Megalosaurus is made up of two Greek elements: 'megas' and 'sauros'. 'Megas' translates to 'big', 'great', or 'tall', and 'sauros' means 'lizard'. So, Megalosaurus means 'great lizard'.
The type species of the Megalosaurus (of the Theropoda clade) was described a long time ago, in 1827, as the species Megalosaurus bucklandii. It was among three different genera included by Richard Owen in his article on Dinosauria. Owen had the first science model made for Crystal Palace Dinosaurs in 1842 and this increased public interest in dinosaurs and their prehistoric life immensely.
Many decades later, the Megalosaurus was seen by scientists and researchers as the quintessential description of a big, carnivorous dinosaur. The Megalosaurus animal has since served in natural history as the 'wastebasket taxon group', meaning carnivorous dinosaurs of Europe, be they small or big, were assigned to the Megalosaurus genus.
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 Vespersaurus interesting facts and Dahalokely fun facts for kids pages.
You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Megalosaurus coloring pages.
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