Lesothosaurus: I Know Dino Podcast Episode 133
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This episode was originally published on June 14, 2017.
Episode 133 is all about Lesothosaurus, a primitive dinosaur that lived in the Jurassic in what is now Lesotho.
In this episode, we discuss:
The dinosaur of the day: Lesothosaurus
Name means “lizard from Lesotho”
Ornithischian that lived in the Jurassic in what is now southern Africa (Lesotho)
Named by Peter Galton in 1978
Only one valid species: Lesothosaurus diagnosticus
Named for the country Lesotho, where it was found
Originally considered to be an ornithopod, but Paul Sereno suggested it could be the most primitive of known ornithischians
Had some primitive anatomy, like a partially closed hole in its pelvis by a medial wall (most dinosaurs did not have this)
Lesothosaurus has been sometimes confused with Fabrosaurus (an ornithischian from the same time and place, that was named in 1964). But only a jawbone and three teeth have been described of Fabrosaurus, so it’s hard to know for sure)
Richard Butler said in 2005 that Lesothosaurus was a basal member of Neornithischia (includes pachycephalosaurs, ceratopsians, ornithopods)
Could also be an early thyreophoran (same group as stegosaurs and ankylosaurs)
Richard Butler named a new dinosaur, Stormbergia dangershoeki, in 2005, and some scientists think it was an adult version of Lesothosaurus, which would make them synonyms. (In 2017, Baron, Norman & Barrett studied the differences between the two and found they were mostly because of their growth.)
About 3-6 ft (1-2 m) long
Had a small skull that was short and flat
Had large eye sockets and large cavities for the jaw muscles
Had a short, flexible neck
Had short forelimbs compared to its hindlimbs
Had five fingers on each hand (only 4 were well developed)
Had long, slender legs, small arms (hands could not really grasp things), and a slender tail
Probably was a fast runner
Had a beaklike structure
Beak was covered in keratinous material
Had leaf-shaped teeth behind the beak, and 12 fanglike teeth in front of the upper jaws
Could not chew its food, but could slice it with its beak
Omnivorous, probably (based on studies of its tooth, which found not enough wear)
Probably ate small animals and soft plants
May have been similar to a gazelle, browsing low-vegetation and running off when predators approached
May have lived in groups
In 2015, scientists CT scanned Lesotho skulls, which gave a much more detailed description of the skull and was used to refer more specimens to the genus.
These specimens were buried together, which is why scientists think they may have lived in groups
May have grown to adult size in 4 years
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