Thecodontosaurus (Socket toothed lizard)

Short Info

Thecodontosaurus (Socket toothed lizard)

Phonetic : Thee-co-don-toe-sore-us

Named By : Henry Riley & Samuel Stutchbury – 1836

Diet : Herbivore / Possibly Omnivore

Size : Estimated 1.2 – 2.5 meters long

Type of Dinosaur : Sauropod

Type Species : T. antiquus (type)

Found in : United Kingdom, Southern England. France

When it Lived : Late Triassic, 227-205 million years ago

Thecodontosaurus (“socket-tooth Lizard”) is a genus belonging to herbivorous sauropodomorphs living in the latter part of the Triassic timeframe (Rhaetian time).


Thecodontosaurus antiquus skeletonJaime A. Headden (User:Qilong), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


The remains of the dinosaur are mostly known through Triassic “fissure fillings” in South England. Thecodontosaurus was a tiny bipedal creature, about 2 meters (6.5 feet) in length. It was among the first dinosaurs discovered, and is among the oldest known. Numerous species have been classified within the genus, however only the one species Thecodontosaurus antiquus is considered to be current.

In the fall of 1834 doctor Henry Riley (1797-1848) and the curator of the Bristol Institution, Samuel Stutchbury, Bristol Institution, Samuel Stutchbury began excavating “saurian remains” at the quarry at Durdham Down, at Clifton currently a part of Bristol and is a one of the Magnesian Conglomerate. In 1834 and 1835 they reported briefly on the discoveries. They first described the discovery in 1836. They named an entirely new genus: Thecodontosaurus. The name comes by Greek theke, theke “socket”, and odous theke, odous “tooth”, a reference to the fact that the teeth’s roots weren’t joined with the jaw bone as in modern lizards, but they were placed in separate sockets for the teeth. Thecodontosaurus is the 5th dinosaur named in honor of Megalosaurus, Iguanodon, Streptospondylus and Hylaeosaurus although Riley and Stutchbury weren’t aware of this, with the concept of Dinosauria first being developed in 1842. When he published his catalog of British fossils, John Morris provided a full description of the species’ name. Thecodontosaurus antiquus. The exact epithet, “antiquus”, means “ancient” in Latin.

The first type specimen or holotype Thecodontosaurus, BCM 1, one of the lower jaws, was a victim to the heaviest World War II bombings. A large portion of the dinosaur, as well as other pieces of material that were associated with the species were destroyed the November of 1940, during the Bristol Blitz. But, the majority of bones were saved: today, the fossil bones of 184 belong to the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery. Then, additional remains were discovered close to Bristol in Tytherington. There are currently 245 fragmentary remains that are available, representing a variety of individuals. The year 1985 saw Peter Galton designated another lower jaw, which was a right dentary one, as the neotype BCM 2. The remains of the tooth were found in the infills of chalkstone and breccia deposits within fissures of older rocks. The date of these deposits was previously thought to be to be as old as late Carnian however recent research suggest that they are in the Rhaetian.

Source: Wikipedia