Majungasaurus (“Mahajanga lizard”) is a genus of abelisaurid theropod dinosaur that lived in Madagascar from 70 to 66 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous Period, making it one of the last known non-avian dinosaurs that went extinct during the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. The genus contains a single species, Majungasaurus crenatissimus and this dinosaur was briefly called Majungatholus, a name which is now considered a junior synonym of Majungasaurus.
Majungasaurus was a medium-sized theropod that typically measured 6–7 meters (19.7–23.0 ft) in length, including its tail. Fragmentary remains of larger individuals indicate that some adults reached lengths of more than 8 meters (26.2 ft). An allometric study in 2016 found it to be 5.6 meters (18.4 ft) long. Sampson and Witmer estimated an average weight for an adult Majungasaurus of 1,100 kilograms (2,400 lb). The specimen they based it on (FMNH PR 2100) was not the largest one discovered. Larger specimens of Majungasaurus crenatissimus could have been similar in size to its relative Carnotaurus, which has been estimated to weigh 1,500 kilograms (3,300 lb).
Quick Majungasaurus Facts
- May have indulged in cannibalism
- Was 2 car lengths long
- Weighed as much as a Rhinoceros
- Ran on two legs
- Was one of the last dinosaurs to have lived
Majungasaurus is a dinosaur which lived approximately 70 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period. It was first discovered in 1896 by a French army officer along the Betsiboka River in Madagascar. It was then named Majungasaurus, a name which means “Majungha Lizard.”
This dinosaur was approximately 20 feet long and weighed around a ton. It was a bipedal predator that had small hands and a short snout with thickened bone on it. It also had a single small horn on top of its skull. It is known that this dinosaur was a carnivore and may have hunted many different types of dinosaurs at the same. It may have even hunted its own kind as has been shown by the fossil record. Fossils of this dinosaur have been found bearing the teeth of other Majungasaurus dinosaurs. This is the only direct evidence of cannibalism that has ever been attributed with direct evidence to a dinosaur species. Although to be fair, it may just have scavenged the already dead remains of other Majungasaurus.
An interesting fact about this dinosaur is that due to the pro ponderous of skeletal material, this dinosaur is currently one of the most studied dinosaurs of all time. It is believed to have been the apex predator of its ecosystem.
The skull of Majungasaurus is exceptionally well-known compared to most theropods and generally similar to that of other abelisaurids. Like other abelisaurid skulls, its length was proportionally short for its height, although not as short as in Carnotaurus. The skulls of large individuals measured 60–70 centimeters (24–28 in) long. The tall premaxilla (frontmost upper jaw bone), which made the tip of the snout very blunt, was also typical of the family. However, the skull of Majungasaurus was markedly wider than in other abelisaurids. All abelisaurids had a rough, sculptured texture on the outside faces of the skull bones, and Majungasaurus was no exception. This was carried to an extreme on the nasal bones of Majungasaurus, which were extremely thick and fused together, with a low central ridge running along the half of the bone closest to the nostrils. A distinctive dome-like horn protruded from the fused frontal bones on top of the skull as well. In life, these structures would have been covered with some sort of integument, possibly made of keratin. Computed tomography (CT scanning) of the skull shows that both the nasal structure and the frontal horn contained hollow sinus cavities, perhaps to reduce weight. The teeth were typical of abelisaurids in having short crowns, although Majungasaurus bore seventeen teeth in both the maxilla of the upper jaw and the dentary of the lower jaw, more than in any other abelisaurid except Rugops.
Majungasaurus was one of the last dinosaurs to walk earth, replaced its teeth as fast as sharks.
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