Azendohsaurus (Azendoh lizard)
Azendohsaurus (Azendoh lizard)
Named By : J. M. Dutuit - 1972
Diet : Herbivore
Size : Estimated 2-3 meters long
Type of Dinosaur : Large Theropod
Type Species : A. laaroussi (type), A. madagaskarensis
Found in : Morocco
When it Lived : Late Triassic, 237-201 million years ago
Azendohsaurus is an extinct species of herbivores, an archosauromorph reptiles that were found in to the end of the Middle to the early Late Triassic Period of Morocco and Madagascar. The species that is the type, Azendohsaurus laaroussii, was identified as Azendohsaurus laaroussii by Jean-Michel Dutuit in 1972 based on fragments of jaws that were partially preserved and some teeth found in Morocco. A different species of Madagascar, A. madagaskarensis was first discovered at the end of 2010 in 2010 by John J. Flynn and colleagues using a myriad of specimens that constituted nearly all of the skeleton. The term “Azendoh lizard” is for the village of Azendoh which is a village in the local area close to the spot where it was found within the Atlas Mountains. It was a large quadruped , which unlike earlier archosauromorphs had an extremely small tail, and robust legs that were held in a bizarre mixture of sprawled hind limbs and elevated forelimbs. It had a neck that was long and a proportionally smaller head that was remarkably sauropod like jaws as well as teeth.
Azendohsaurus was once classified as a dinosaur that ate herbivores at first as an ornithischian, but later frequently being referred to as it was a “prosauropod” sauropodomorph. The reason for this was only based on the jaws and teeth which shared characteristics typical of herbivore dinosaurs. The entire skeleton from Madagascar however, showed additional features that were ancestral to Archosauromorpha and also that Azendohsaurus wasn’t any kind of dinosaur at all. In fact, Azendohsaurus was actually a archosauromorph more primitive that had evolved convergently several jaw features and skeleton, which were shared with earlier giant sauropod dinosaurs. It was discovered to be part of a group that was recently recognized of herbivores that are specialized, mostly archosauromorphs dubbed the Allokotosauria. It is also the name and the typifier of its own allokotosaurs family, the Azendohsauridae. At first, the only one in the family has since expanded to include other allokotosaurs, including the larger with horned Azendohsaurid Shringasaurus that is from India.
Many other archosauromorphs have also evolved to herbivores during the Triassic often with dinosaur-like teeth, which also led to confusion when they classified. Azendohsaurus is unique in that it is having with a body similar to sauropodomorphs as well as its teeth and jaws. Azendohsaurus and sauropodomorphs may have independently evolved to fill an ecological niche by being long-necked and herbivores with a high rate of browsing in their habitats. Yet, Azendohsaurus predates the large Late Triassic sauropodomorphs it resembles by several million years and it did not develop similar body designs under the same environment. It might have been among the first herbivores that could have filled the role of a high-browser that sauropodomorphs of the larger size were believed to have occupied in the Triassic and further expanding the biodiversity of herbivore archosauromorphs, excluding dinosaurs, in the Triassic Period. Azendohsaurus is also important because it could be among the first archosauromorphs with an endothermic metabolism. This suggests that a warm-blooded metabolic process was the ancestral mode of the archosaurs that followed as well as the dinosaurs.
Azendohsaurus was a hefty, mid-sized reptile that was estimated to be around 2-3 meters (6.6-9.8 feet) long. It was small with a box-shaped head that had a short snout and a neck that was elevated above the shoulders. The body was large with an elongated chest and shoulders higher than the hips, and an unusually short tail. The posture was semi-sprawled with a sloping hind limb and forelimbs that were slightly elevated. The limbs are compact and strong and have the digits being shorter and more robust than other archosauromorphs from the beginning, and each sporting particularly large, curving claws across each of the four feet. The appearance of the animal is similar to sauropodomorph dinosaurs as well as the various features of its skeleton. It is believed that Azendohsaurus shared similar characteristics to lead a comparatively high-browed herbivore lifestyle. A. laaroussii has been poorly recognized in comparison A. madagaskarensis. A. madagaskarensis, and both species are recognized to differ in minor aspects of the jaw teeth and bones. Additional skeletal material from A. laaroussii was discovered from the type site of the skull fragments that were originally found but they are yet to be officially described in 2015.