Lesothosaurus (Lesotho lizard)
Peter M. Galton - 1978
Estimated 1 meters long
L. diagnosticus (type)
South Africa - Upper Elliot Formation
Early Jurassic, 200 million years ago
Lesothosaurus is a small, bipedal dinosaur that lived during the Early Jurassic period, approximately 200 million years ago. It is named after the country of Lesotho in southern Africa, where its fossils were first discovered in 1978.
Lesothosaurus was a herbivorous dinosaur that grew to about 1 meter (3.3 feet) in length and weighed around 5 kilograms (11 pounds). It had a slender body, long neck, and long, thin legs, which indicate that it was an agile and fast runner. Its head was small and narrow, with a toothless beak and leaf-shaped teeth towards the back of its jaw, which it likely used to crop vegetation.
One of the most interesting things about Lesothosaurus is that it had a number of adaptations that suggest it was an early relative of the ornithischian dinosaurs, a group that includes later herbivores such as Triceratops and Stegosaurus. These adaptations include a pelvis that was oriented sideways, which allowed for a wider stance and greater stability, and a distinctive arrangement of ankle bones that enabled it to flex its feet and move more quickly.
Lesothosaurus lived alongside a variety of other early dinosaurs, including the predatory Coelophysis and the early sauropodomorph Massospondylus. Its fossils have been found in Lesotho as well as in neighboring South Africa, and provide important insights into the early evolution of herbivorous dinosaurs.