Fun Ornithosuchus Facts For Kids

Abhishek Mishra
Oct 20, 2022 By Abhishek Mishra
Originally Published on Oct 04, 2021
Edited by Christina Harrison
Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao
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These rare Ornithosuchus facts will make you love this reptile.

Ever heard about a dinosaur-like reptile that had a crocodile-like body, but walked on its hind legs like chimpanzees? Sounds fascinating, right?

Come with us and let's explore amazing facts about this unique reptile.

An extinct genus of Pseudosuchian reptiles, the Ornithosuchus lived during the late Triassic Period that spanned from 237 to 201.3 million years ago (mya). Formerly, it was said to be the ancestor of Carnosaurian dinosaurs such as the Allosaurus, but modern studies revealed that the reptile was more closely related to modern crocodiles than to dinosaurs.

In 1877, Thomas Huxley discovered the fossil from the Lossiemouth sandstone, Scotland. Based on his studies, it can be said that this species must have lived in several parts of the United Kingdom and other neighboring countries.

Paleontologists placed the species in the Dasygnathus genus, but the name was already used for a beetle insect. Later, the type genus Ornithosuchus came into use while Ornithosuchus woodwardi became its type species. Ornithosuchus taylori can also be used as a synonym for the species name.

The average length and weight of these reptiles is estimated to have been around 7-13 ft (2-4 m) and 441 lb (200 kg), respectively. Even though they were related to crocodiles, they were able to walk on their hind legs, just like other dinosaurs.

Studies reveal that they spent most of their time on all four legs, but moved on hind legs when they had to run rapidly. The skull generally resembled those of Theropod dinosaurs. Primitive features included the presence of a double row of bony plates that went to their back.

There was the presence of five toes on each foot. They had long tails and sharp teeth, suggesting they were carnivores.

Let's read more fun facts about the Ornithosuchus, and if you find this article interesting, don't forget to check out exciting facts about different dinosaurs like the Azendohsaurus and the Pleurosaurus.

Ornithosuchus Interesting Facts

Was the Ornithosuchus a dinosaur?

The Ornithosuchus was a unique dinosaur-like creature that had a crocodile-like body but walked on hind legs. Formerly, it was said to be the ancestor of Carnosaurian dinosaurs such as the Allosaurus, but modern studies revealed that the reptile was more closely related to modern crocodiles than to dinosaurs.

It is also said that the reptile was one of the top predators of the late Triassic period.

How do you pronounce 'Ornithosuchus'?

The pronunciation of the reptile's name seems to be a bit difficult, but we are here to make it a little easier for kids.

We are going to tell you a simple trick that can be applied to the pronunciation of all the names, be it dinosaurs, animals, places, and many other things. You just have to break the whole term into several syllables like 'or-nif-oh-soo-kus' to make it less complicated.

The genus name Ornithosuchus has been derived from two Greek words: 'ornis' and 'suchus'; the meaning of these terms is 'bird' and 'crocodile', respectively.

What type of prehistoric reptile was an Ornithosuchus?

The Ornithosuchus belonged to the class of Reptilia, the family of Ornithosuchidae, and the genus of Ornithosuchus. Ornithosuchus woodwardi became its type species while Ornithosuchus taylori can also be used as a synonym for the species name. The size and structure of the skull resembled that of Theropod dinosaurs.

In which geological period did the Ornithosuchus live?

These reptiles belonged to the late Triassic period that spanned from 237 to 201.3 million years ago (mya). During this period, they roamed in different parts of the United Kingdom, and the range included a few regions of Europe.

When did the Ornithosuchus become extinct?

These reptiles became extinct in the Carnian period during the lower stage of the upper Triassic period, and the period spanned from 237 to 227 million years ago. The reason for extinction is not clear as of now, but dinosaurs became extinct due to several reasons such as climate change, volcanic eruption, asteroid impact, and drought.

Competition among dinosaurs can also be regarded as one of the major causes of extinction.

Where did the Ornithosuchus live?

In 1877, Thomas Huxley discovered the fossil from the Lossiemouth sandstone, Scotland. Based on his studies, it can be said that this species lived in several parts of the United Kingdom and other neighboring countries. Other members of the Ornithosuchidae were also found in numerous countries of South America such as Argentina and Brazil.

What was a Ornithosuchus' habitat?

Studies reveal that these reptiles lived in coastal areas like most members of the Ornithosuchidae family. The habitat must have helped them to prey and hunt easily.

Who did the Ornithosuchus live with?

Very little information regarding social behavior is available as of now, but like modern crocodiles, these reptiles might have been solitary, too. Sometimes they would have worked together while hunting. These primitive reptiles must have formed large congregations in areas with an abundance of prey. They used to appear in pairs during the breeding season.

How long did an Ornithosuchus live?

The exact life span of the bird crocodile is not known as of now. However, these reptiles and other members of the Ornithosuchidae family probably lived shorter lives as they were small. The average life span of modern crocodiles is around 50-80 years.

How did they reproduce?

These reptiles probably reproduced like other members of the Ornithosuchidae group. Like modern-day reptiles and birds, dinosaurs also used to reproduce by laying eggs. They also performed several courtship displays to attract potential partners and males must have fought over females.

The clutch size is not known but the fossil suggests that the nesting site was in the vicinity of a lake. Adult reptiles must have taken care of young ones. Studies revealed that young reptiles were dependent on adults for a shorter period of time, while female reptiles must have provided food for a few days of life.

Modern crocodiles follow the polygyny mode of reproduction in which males mate with multiple female crocodiles. It is not known whether such a mode was used by these primitive reptiles or not.

Ornithosuchus Fun Facts

What did a Ornithosuchus look like?

If the Ornithosuchus were alive today, it would have been one of the unique and dangerous animals of the world. It had unusual features. No one would have ever imagined an animal that had a crocodile-like body but walked like chimpanzees. Strong hind legs provided the strength to run while sharp teeth helped in attacking and killing other animals.

These are interesting Ornithosuchus facts for kids.

How many bones did a Ornithosuchus have?

The exact number of bones is not known as of now, but several body parts were discovered during the excavation of the Ornithosuchus skeleton. The fossil consisted of five towed feet, the skull, ankle joints, and a portion of the spine to the hips.

Long hind legs suggested that attaining a bipedal stance must have been quite easy for the reptile. The presence of a double row of bony plates that went to its back was also seen. It also possessed sharp teeth.

How did they communicate?

The Ornithosuchus must have used similar methods as other dinosaurs of the Triassic period. Like modern-day birds, the species used visual, tactile, and auditory cues that were used to communicate with each other. They must have possessed alarm calls to warn other members of the group. They also used several courtship displays to attract potential partners.

How big was the Ornithosuchus?

While talking about the Ornithosuchus size, the average length was around 7-13 ft (2-4 m). The length of the skull ranged from 1.96-17.7 in (50-450 mm).

The average weight is estimated to have been around 441 lb (200 kg). It was one of the dangerous reptiles of the Triassic period. It must have been quite bigger than the Dilong and the Aquilops.

How fast could an Ornithosuchus move?

The exact speed of the reptile is not known, but strong and long hind legs helped in running at a high speed. Running on two legs probably helped in chasing and hunting prey.

How much did the Ornithosuchus weigh?

The average weight of the reptile was around 441 lb (200 kg).

What were the male and female names of the species?

No specific names are used to refer to males and females; people generally use the term Ornithosuchus quite commonly.

What would you call a baby Ornithosuchus?

Like modern-day reptiles, babies of these reptiles are known as hatchlings.

What did they eat?

Sharp teeth of these reptiles suggest that they were carnivores and they preyed on small mammals, fish, and invertebrates. Their bipedal stance helped them to hunt easily.

How aggressive were they?

No information regarding the aggressive or violent nature of the reptile is available as of now. They were solitary but may have attacked intruders while avoiding predation.

Did you know...

The Prosauropoda is regarded as the only Carnosaur dinosaur that belonged to the Triassic period.

Why is it called the Ornithosuchus?

The genus name Ornithosuchus has been derived from two Greek words, 'ornis' and 'suchus'. The meaning of these terms is 'bird' and 'crocodile', respectively.

Is the Ornithosuchus more similar to crocodiles or dinosaurs?

Formerly, it was said to be the ancestor of Carnosaurian dinosaurs such as the Allosaurus, but modern studies revealed that the dinosaur-like creature was more closely related to modern crocodiles than to dinosaurs.

Even though they were related to crocodiles, they were able to walk on their hind legs, just like other dinosaurs. Studies reveal that they spent most of their time on all four legs, but moved on hind legs when they had to run rapidly.

Evolution took place and a change in the skull structure can be seen in modern crocodiles.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly prehistoric animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other creatures from our Sarcosuchus interesting facts, or Nothosaurs facts for kids.

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

 

Main image: Nobu Tamura (http://spinops.blogspot.com)

Second image: Dmitry Bogdanov

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Written by Abhishek Mishra

Bachelor of Arts specializing in History

Abhishek Mishra picture

Abhishek MishraBachelor of Arts specializing in History

As a content writer, Abhishek's passion for writing extends beyond professional content creation. With a Bachelor's degree in History from Ram Lal Anand College in Delhi, Abhishek is a skilled writer in both English and Hindi, bringing a creative flair to his work. He enjoys crafting satires and poetry and is dedicated to producing engaging and informative content.

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Fact-checked by Pradhanya Rao

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

Pradhanya Rao picture

Pradhanya RaoBachelor of Commerce specializing in Marketing and HR

With a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Christ University, Bangalore, Pradhanya's passion for the English language and literature led her to explore the field of content writing, where she has gained extensive experience in writing, reviewing, editing, and fact-checking. She has also earned certifications in Google Ads Search, Google Ads Display, and Social Media Marketing, showcasing her proficiency in digital marketing.

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