Prehistoric Animals


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Despite its familiar name and association with early scientific work on dinosaurs, we know little about Megalosaurus. The first official description of a non-flying dinosaur was made by William Buckland in the early 1820s from a collection of fossils including fragments of the leg, shoulder, hip and jaw which did not allow to specify the true appearance of this animal. As a result, the remains of large theropods including Tyrannosaurus and Allosaurus were mistakenly identified as Megalosaurus, and all errors were not corrected. The available elements, mostly fossils of the jaw, teeth and iliac bones, suggest that the Megalosaurus was enormous. On the other hand, it is much more difficult to estimate its length and weight. It was about 9 meters long, 3 meters high and weighed about a ton. Like other theropods, it was a bipedal predator with grasping hands garnished by three fingers. Nevertheless, this is pure conjecture because no remains of forelimbs has yet been found. Large footprints, oriented inward and found on a track in southern England, were traditionally attributed to the Megalosaurus and shows that this large animal moved slowly and clumsily on both legs. Its powerful articulated jaw and curved sharp teeth indicate that this formidable predator had to feed on large varieties of animals, such as large sauropods. The evolution of Megalosaurus is still a mystery for paleontologists. The few studies carried out prove that it is not part of allosaurids or coelurosaurs, but that it is closer to the family of spinosaurids (such as Spinosaurus) and those of baryonychids (Baryonyx). This link is not yet quite clear.