Megalosaurus was a large carnivore, dinosaur from the Middle Jurassic, about 170 million years ago. Despite Megalosaurus being the first named dinosaur, very little is still known about it. No complete specimen has ever been found, and scientists have tried to reconstruct the dinosaur’s habits from other similar large carnivore’s lives. Megalosaurus lived in a time when the Earth’s weather was mild, and vegetation was large and plentiful, as in a rainforest today. Megalosaurus stalked its prey through these dense forests; animals such as Iguanodon would have been in its diet. It has also been suggested it that Megalosaurus may have been a scavenger, eating from carcasses of animals that were already dead. Megalosaurus had a large skull, and jaws that were packed with sharp, serrated teeth, which curved backward into its mouth. They were ideal for cutting and slicing through flesh. Like other members of its family, Megalosaurus had short arms, with three fingered hands with sharp claws. It walked on two powerful legs and had a bulky body with a heavy tail. Megalosaurus was not the largest dinosaur to ever walk the earth; it measured 30 feet in length and weighed about 1 ton, yet its name, “great lizard,” marks it out as being, in some way special. As early as 1676, a bone from Megalosaurus had caused scientists in England to wonder what kind of animal it belonged to. Some believed that it belonged to giant elephant; others thought it came from a giant human. It wasn’t until 1822, when James Parkinson examined a collection of fossil bones and teeth found at a slate quarry near Oxford in England. He correctly identified the specimens belonging to a giant reptile which he named Megalosaurus. This was the first time a dinosaur had been described and named, but the world would have to wait another 20 years before the word “dinosaur” was invented.
Class Order: Saurischia
Name Meaning: Great lizard
Period: Late Jurassic 160 million years ago
Length: 30 feet (9.15meters)
Weight: 2+ Tons