Ouranosaurus (Brave lizard)
Philippe Taquet - 1976
Estimated 7 meters long
O. nigeriensis (type)
Africa, Niger - Echkar Formation. Specimens also known from other locations in Africa
Early Cretaceous, 125 million years ago
Ouranosaurus was a herbivorous dinosaur that lived during the Early Cretaceous period, about 125 million years ago. Its name means “brave lizard”, reflecting its impressive size and the fact that it lived in a time when large predators such as Spinosaurus and Carcharodontosaurus roamed the land.
Ouranosaurus was a member of a group of dinosaurs called ornithopods, which were characterized by a bird-like beak, long hind legs, and bipedal stance. However, Ouranosaurus was unique among ornithopods in that it had a tall, sail-like structure on its back. This sail was made up of elongated spines that extended from the vertebrae and were supported by bony struts.
The purpose of the sail is still a matter of debate among paleontologists. Some scientists think that it may have been used for thermoregulation, allowing Ouranosaurus to control its body temperature by absorbing or reflecting sunlight. Others have suggested that the sail may have played a role in courtship displays or communication with other members of the same species.
Ouranosaurus was also known for its specialized dental adaptations, including a broad, flat beak for cropping vegetation, and cheek teeth with ridges for grinding tough plant material. These adaptations suggest that Ouranosaurus was a highly specialized herbivore that fed on tough, fibrous vegetation such as ferns and conifers.
Based on its size and skeletal structure, scientists estimate that Ouranosaurus grew up to 7 meters (23 feet) in length and weighed up to 3 tons. It likely moved on two legs most of the time, but may have occasionally walked on all fours. Its powerful hind legs suggest that it was a fast runner and a good jumper.
In conclusion, Ouranosaurus was a herbivorous dinosaur that lived during the Early Cretaceous period. It was unique among ornithopods in that it had a tall, sail-like structure on its back, the purpose of which is still a matter of debate. Ouranosaurus was also known for its specialized dental adaptations, which suggest that it was a highly specialized herbivore that fed on tough, fibrous vegetation. Based on its size and skeletal structure, it likely moved on two legs most of the time, and was a fast runner and a good jumper. Ouranosaurus is an important dinosaur for scientists to study because it provides valuable information about the diversity and ecology of herbivorous dinosaurs during the Early Cretaceous period.