Fun Vulcanodon Facts For Kids

Arpitha Rajendra
Oct 20, 2022 By Arpitha Rajendra
Originally Published on Sep 27, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Read more fun Vulcanodon facts here.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.4 Min

The extinct genus Vulcanodon is sauropod species of dinosaur of the family Vulcanodontidae and is from the Early Jurassic period of Southern Africa. This genus is within the Gravisauria, in Sauropoda, which is under Sauropodomorpha. Vulcanodon translates to volcano tooth. There are only one extinct species classified under this genus, Vulcanodon karibaensis. This species is the earliest known and one of the most primitive or basal sauropods. V. karibaensis was first discovered in Zimbabwe in 1969. This sauropod body plan was a long tail and neck and column-like legs like a typical sauropod species. Vulcanodon was described from the fragmented remains of their skeleton that had much of hindlimbs, pelvic girdle, tail, and forearms but lacked neck vertebrae, trunk, and skull. However, this specimen was smaller than other sauropods, with a length of 36 ft (11 m). It was believed that this genus was prosauropod and an omnivore specimens due to knife-shaped teeth that were found near their fossil. These animals were unified with the related Tazoudasaurus upon their discoveries, which is not universally accepted. It is believed that this creature lived 200 million years ago.

If you enjoy reading these facts about the Vucanodon specimen, then you may also read some fun facts about Liaoningosaurus and Preondactylus.

Vulcanodon Interesting Facts

How do you pronounce 'Vulcanodon'?

The pronunciation of Vulcanodon (Volcano tooth) is 'vul-kan-o-don.'

What type of dinosaur was a Vulcanodon?

Vulcanodon (Volcano tooth) is a sauropod dinosaur of the clade Saurischia and phylum Chordata. This plant-eater is the primitive or basal sauropod. Initially, by the fossil representation, sauropods (Dinosauria: saurischia) were believed to be aquatic creatures, found around lush peat swaps. Cooper pointed out in 1984 that this dinosaur inhabits desert habitats and this indicated that this Vulcanodon's large body size was not an evolution for adapting to an aquatic lifestyle.

In which geological period did the Vulcanodon roam the earth?

The geological period of the Vulcanodon of sauropod (Dinosauria: saurischia) clade was previously believed to be from the earliest or lowermost part of Jurrasic in the Hettangian stage or at the boundary of the Triassic-Jurassic period around 200 million years ago. Until the discovery of the Late Triassic (237-201 million years ago) Isanosaurus, this dinosaur was considered the earliest known sauropod. It was recently shown by Adam Yates that Vulcanodon was much younger, from the latest or uppermost part of Lower Jurassic in the Toarcian stage, around 175-180 million years ago.

When did the Vulcanodon become extinct?

Massive volcanism occurred in the Lower Jurassic in southern Africa, which resulted in extensive lava flows (flood basalts) covering huge parts of Antarctica and southern Africa. These basalts are called Karoo-Ferrar's large igneous province. The pieces of fossils 0f Vulcanodon come from a fossil-bearing sediment unit called 'Vulcanodon beds' within Batoka formation, which primarily has flood basalts. The skeleton of these sauropod dinosaurs was found by these flood basalts. However, this was later corrected as these dinosaurs occupied the latest geographic period, so, the exact period of extinction of these dinosaurs is unknown.

Where did the Vulcanodon live?

The habitat range of these sauropod dinosaurs might extend on the island in Lake Kariba, the world's largest artificial lake in northern Zimbabwe. This island is found in Bumi Hills called 'islands 126/127.' A partial fossil remains were found in Mashonaland north in Zimbabwe, Africa.

What was the Vulcanodon's habitat?

It was Michael Cooper who pointed out in 1984 that these dinosaurs occupied a range in the desert-like environment, which must be terrestrial regions. Previously, it was believed that this specimen was an aquatic creature.

Who did a Vulcanodon live with?

Like all other dinosaurs, these sauropod dinosaurs too lived in groups.

How long did a Vulcanodon live?

There is no data on the maximum life expectancy or age of these sauropoda dinosaurs.

How did they reproduce?

The reproduction process of this dinosaur was oviparous like the other dinosaurs. There is not a lot of data available on the reproduction of this dinosaur.

Vulcanodon Fun Facts

What did the Vulcanodon look like?

The Vulcanodon (Volcano tooth) dinosaur has a typical body plan of a sauropod, as seen in pieces of fossils found with knife-shaped teeth. This is a small dinosaur and a descendent of the basal or primitive Sauropodomorpha that were basically two-legged or bipedal. However, this dinosaur had four legs or quadrupedal, with the limb proportions in between Prosauropod ancestors and later, even more, derived sauropods. The forelimbs were much more identical to the later sauropods than to the primitive Sauropodomorphs as this dinosaur is more gracile, more straight, and had a V-shaped immediate end of the ulna. The neck or skull parts of this dinosaur have not been found. However, the head and neck might arc backward, curving at the back. The limbs of this dinosaur were column-like and sturdy, and forelimbs were proportionally long, which reaches 76% of hindlimb length. The toes, metatarsus, and lower legs were shortened compared to bipedal ancestors, which is not as short as the later sauropods. The sacrum of this dinosaur was made of four fused sacral vertebrae, which were only three sacrals in prosauropods. The tail vertebra showed developing excavation of the lateral sides, which gives them a waisted look when viewed from below. The pelvis of this dinosaur was basal and there was a fossa in the brevis shelf of the ilium, a feature absent in derived sauropods. This dinosaur had a nail-like claw. The first toe of the foot of this dinosaur had a large claw, which was laterally flattened, similar to prosauropods. The claws on the second toe and third toe are wider than deep. The relatives, Tazoudasaurus also have similar foot claws but not in other sauropods. The Vucanodon's feet were semi-plantigrade similar to later sauropods and absent in primitive sauropods like Isanosaurus. Many regions like the pelvis and hind limbs are affected due to changes in body size. For example, lesser trochanter shelf's reduction of size, elongation of ilium, and semi-plantigrade posture are some characteristics that indicate positioning and the number of leg muscles being modified.

Volcanodon (volcano tooth) is a ground-dwelling quadrupedal herbivore and had a typical sauropod body planning.

How many bones did a Vulcanodon have?

The total number of bones in the body of these sauropods is not known scientists were able to find only pieces of fossils.

How did they communicate?

These Sauropods might have also communicated through calls and songs like the other dinosaurs.

How big was a Vulcanodon?

Gregory S. Paul in 2010 estimated the Vulcanodon size at 36 ft (11 m) in length. Some books mention a lower length around 21 ft (6.5 m). The thigh bone of the legs was 43 in (110 cm). The Vulcanodon length range is almost half that of the length of the Spinosaurus.

How fast could a Vulcanodon move?

The exact running speed of these sauropods is unknown.

How much did a Vulcanodon weigh?

Gregory S. Paul estimated the weight of these sauropods as 7000 lb (3175.1 kg). These dinosaur specimens are almost eight times heavier than Dilophosaurus.

What were the male and female names of the species?

There are no known specific names given to the male and female V. karibaensis.

What would you call a baby Vulcanodon?

There is no specific terminology given to the baby Vulcanodon dinosaur.

What did they eat?

Vulcanodon diet was herbivorous. The diet of this dinosaur consists of plants like tree leaves and ferns.

How aggressive were they?

There is no data on the aggression of this dinosaur of the Vulcanodontidae family.

Did you know...

Vulcanodontidae consists of Early Jurassic basal sauropods, Barapasaurus, Zizhongosaurus, Vulcanodon, and Tazoudasaurus. M. R. Cooper erected this family-level name in 1984. The unique narrow sacrum is one of the key morphological characteristics in Vulcanodontidae.

The Greek Sauropodomorpha translates to 'lizard-footed forms.' This clade is either left unranked or is a suborder in Linnaean taxonomy.

Ronan Allain, a French paleontologist, and Najat Aquesbi, a Moroccan paleontologist appointed the Gravisauria clade in 2008. There are Vulcanodontidae, Tazoudasaurus, sister Eusauropoda, and also groups like Isanosaurus, Antetonitrus, and Gongxiansaurus.

Sauropods translate to 'lizard-footed.' The first pieces of sauropods come from England and their relation with other dinosaurs was recognized after the first discovery. Edward Lhuyd described the first fossil in 1699, which was later recognized as a giant prehistoric reptile.

What does 'Vulcanodon' mean?

Vucanodon consists of Latin and Greek terms, the Latin Vulcanus means 'Roman god of fire' and Greek odon means 'tooth.' The specific name of the species Karibaensis is a reference to the place of discovery that is a small island in Lake Kariba.

Who discovered the Vulcanodon?

B. A. Gibson found the first bone in July 1969 in the Kariba town, later the specimen (fossils) was collected by excavation in October, March, and May (1969-1970). In July 1972, this specimen was officially described and named by the paleontologist Michael Raath. The teeth that were found near the fossils of this specimen were classified under Sauropoda. However, teeth belonged to Theropod Clade maybe of Eodromaeus, Tawa, or any other related genus. The first person to indicate that Vulcanodon was certainly a sauropod was Arthur Cruickshank who argued that the fifth metatarsal bone was of equal length as the rest of metatarsal, this is the same condition seen in other sauropods rather than prosauropods.

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 Analong facts and Efraasia facts for kids.

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

Vulcanodon Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Plants like tree leaves and fern

what Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?


What Did They Look Like?


How Much Did They Weigh?

7000 lb (3175.1 kg)

Skin Type


How Long Were They?

20 ft (6.5 m)

How Tall Were They?










Scientific Name

Vulcanodon karibaensis

What Were Their Main Threats?

Natural disasters

What Habitat Did They Live In?

Desert habitats and maybe with lakes

Where Did They Live?

Zimbabwe and Southern Africa
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Written by Arpitha Rajendra

Bachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

Arpitha Rajendra picture

Arpitha RajendraBachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

With a background in Aeronautical Engineering and practical experience in various technical areas, Arpitha is a valuable member of the Kidadl content writing team. She did her Bachelor's degree in Engineering, specializing in Aeronautical Engineering, at Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology in 2020. Arpitha has honed her skills through her work with leading companies in Bangalore, where she contributed to several noteworthy projects, including the development of high-performance aircraft using morphing technology and the analysis of crack propagation using Abaqus XFEM.

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