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Fabrosaurus

FAB - roh - SAW - rus

Ornithopoda/Fabrosauridae
Copyright 2007

Field Notes

Name Means: "Fabre's lizar"
Length: 3 feet 3 inches (1 m)
Diet: Herbivore (Plant-Eater)
Time: Early Jurassic
Location: Southern Africa

A contemporary of Heterodontosaurus, and sharing the same southern African environment in the early Jurassic, Fabrosaurus lived on tough plant food, such as ferns and cycads. It was one of the earliest ornithischian (bird-hipped) dinosaurs. Later ornithischians included such diverse forms as the ankylosaurs, ceratopsians, and hadrosaurs. In the much smaller Fabrosaurus, however, we can get a glimpse of the sort of animal from which these larger herbivorous dinosaurs evolved.

Fabrosaurus had small front limbs and very long hindlimbs and was therefore well adapted for standing and running on its back legs. Its long tail balanced the body in front of the hips, and the back legs were held vertically under the body and worked like those of a mammal, rather than like the sprawling limbs of most reptiles. Its small size and light body structure-it had hollow bones and hollow places in the skull-meant that Fabrosaurus would probably have been able to flee from a predator at considerable speed.

The hands of Fabrosaurus had four larger fingers and a smaller fifth finger. These digits had claws rather than hooves. This dinosaur probably did not often use its front limbs for walking; they would have served mainly for holding foliage while the animal ate.

Compared to those of its later relatives, the small, pointed teeth of Fabrosaurus were quite simple in their structure and its jaw action was strictly up and down, allowing it to slice or cut up plant matter. Fabrosaurus was not as well adapted for grinding and chewing food as was Heterodontosaurus or the later ornithischians.

In the early 1970's, Fabrosaurus became widely known as Lesothosaurus, after the country where the first fossils were found. Both names are still in use, which is a source of some confusion. However, as Fabrosaurus was the first to be used, it should have precedence.

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