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Anchisaurus

an - Kee - SAW - rus

Sauropodomorpha/Anchisauridae
Copyright 2007

Field Notes

Name Means: "Near lizard"
Length: 8 feet (2.4 m)
Diet: Carnivore (Meat-Eater)
Time: Early Jurassic
Location: Connecticut, Massachusetts, USA

Anchisaurus was the first dinosaur to be discovered in America. In 1818, a small skeleton of Anchisaurus was found in Connecticut sandstone that was being quarried as a building material. At first it was thought to be the remains of a human and it was not until 1885 that it was recognized as a dinosaur.It is one of the many dinosaurs first described by the American paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh.

Anchisaurus had a particularly small head and, by prosauropod standards, was very small-it was hardly bigger than a present-day sheep. Its body, however, was longer, in terms of its overall size, than those of other prosauropods. Its relatively long neck and tail, strong back leg and weaker front legs, and the defensive banana-shaped claw on its thumb were, however, typical prosauropod features. And, like most of its relatives, Anchisaurus could rear up on its back legs when necessary, although it would have spent most of its time walking around on all four legs. It had rounded teeth that were well suited to grinding up the plants that it ate.

Anchisaurus lived in New England at a time when the Atlantic Ocean was just beginning to form. This area was a rift valley, similar to the Great Rift Valley in Africa today. The warm, wet climate was favorable to the growth of huge fern forests. These forests would have afforded Anchisaurus protection from predators and provided the dinosaur with an abundant supply of food. Other small prosauropods that were closely related to Anchisaurus have been found in Europe and Africa, while fragments from Australia and Asia may also belong to very close relatives.

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