Datousaurus (either ‘Chieftain lizard’ or ‘Big head lizard’)
Z. Dong & Z. Tang - 1984
Estimated around 33 feet in length
D. bashanensis (type)
China - Dashanpu (Lower Shaximiao) Formation
Early Jurassic, 195 million years ago
Datousaurus, meaning “big head lizard” or “chieftain lizard,” was a herbivorous dinosaur that lived in what is now China during the Early Jurassic period, around 195 million years ago.
This dinosaur was a sauropod, a group of long-necked, quadrupedal dinosaurs known for their massive size. Datousaurus was relatively small compared to other sauropods, measuring around 33 feet in length and weighing an estimated 3 tons.
One of the most notable features of Datousaurus was its large head, which made up a significant portion of its body size. Its skull was boxy in shape and had nostrils located at the top, indicating that it may have been adapted for a semi-aquatic lifestyle.
Datousaurus was also known for its long neck, which had 13 vertebrae, and its relatively short tail. Its legs were sturdy and columnar, supporting its massive weight, and ended in broad, hoof-like feet.
Fossils of Datousaurus have been found in China, where it likely lived in forested habitats, feeding on low-growing vegetation. Its large head and strong jaws would have allowed it to consume tough plant material, such as conifer needles.
Although Datousaurus may not have been as well-known as other sauropods, it is an important part of the evolutionary history of these fascinating animals, providing clues to how they adapted to different environments and diversified over time.