CLOSE
Original image
Getty Images

10 Things You Might Not Know About Plateosaurus

Original image
Getty Images

The word “dinosaur” wasn’t invented until 1842, but people have been stumbling across their bones for centuries, and possibly even millennia! It’s fitting, then, that Plateosaurus—one of the planet’s earliest dinos—was also among the first to be discovered by modern science. Let’s take a closer look!

1. Plateosaurus Has A Pretty Awesome Nickname.

So many Plateosaurus remains have emerged in Germany’s Swabia region that it’s been unofficially called “the Swabian Lindworm,” after a type of serpentine dragon. (Alas, however, the reptile probably didn’t breathe fire—sorry, fantasy fans.)  

2. A Full-Size, Animatronic Plateosaurus Was Built For the Walking With Dinosaurs Live Theatrical Show. 

This impressive contraption is over 20 feet long and gives one heck of a performance!

3. Plateosaurus Could Take Some Deep Breaths.

With flexible ribs arranged in a large, barrel-shaped cage, Plateosaurus had plenty of room for some supersized lungs [PDF]. This certainly would have been useful, since Earth’s atmosphere contained significantly less oxygen when the dino roamed modern-day Europe during the late Triassic period around 214 million years ago.

4. It Didn’t Like Crawling on All Fours.

Thinkstock

Holy galloping Plateosaurus, Batman! The primitive herbivore has often been drawn lumbering about in a horse-like trot on its hands and feet. But a closer examination in 2007 revealed that Plateosaurus’ forearms were locked in a “clapping” position—with the palms facing each other—and couldn’t rotate downward. Because of this, Plateosaurus’ palms weren’t capable of pushing off against the ground, so walking with them was out of the question. Instead, Plateosaurus looks built for bipedal (two-legged) locomotion. 

5. Over 100 Plateosaurus Skeletons Have Been Found.

Most dinosaurs are known from a handful of incomplete remains, but Plateosaurus has been kind to paleontology buffs. Not only have several dozen adult skeletons been found, but a small army of juveniles have turned up as well! 

6. Plateosaurus Had a Strange Cameo in Disney’s Fantasia (1940).

Disney via Dinosaur Wikia

Accompanied by a segment from Igor Stravinski’s The Rite of Spring ballet, the history of life on earth unfolds during one of Fantasia’s most unforgettable scenes. Eventually, the camera pans to a herd of Plateosaurus digging for clams (despite the fact that the dinosaur really ate vegetation).

7. It Had a Thick, Muscular Tail.

Wikimedia Commons

Perception isn’t always reality. Because most dinosaur illustrations show them standing at profile, it’s easy to forget what they looked like three-dimensionally—so many assume that dino tails were thin and downright wavy. But, as Heinrich Mallison (a paleontologist currently working at Tübingen University) has pointed out, Plateosaurus had some generous hindquarters and a stiff, heavyweight tail which would’ve counterbalanced its beefy torso.

8. Some Plateosaurus Adults Suffered From Stunted Growth.

Fully-grown individuals ranged from 4.5 to 10 meters (14.8 to 32.8 feet) in length, meaning that some unlucky specimens stopped growing when they’d reached less than half the size of their larger siblings and neighbors. In other words, they were dwarves.

9. There’s A “Plateosaurus Graveyard” in Germany.

Wikimedia Commons

Sprechen sie Deutsch?” As mentioned earlier, Germany is Plateosaurus country. In fact, it was a German paleontologist by the name of Hermann von Meyer who originally named the beast in 1837. Furthermore, consider this: a rocky outcrop sitting just outside the town of Trossingen has—to date—yielded the remains of 55 skeletons. Why did so many dinosaurs kick the bucket there?  Many have suggested that they starved to death after being trapped in its muddy soil. 

10. Plateosaurus Gave Norway its Very First Dinosaur Fossil.

By 2006, it looked like this Scandinavian nation might never yield a dinosaur; nobody had ever found so much as a fragment of one up there. That all changed when a team of geologists struck a mysterious fossil while drilling for oil off its northern coast. It turned out to be a Plateosaurus knucklebone, which finally proved that dinosaurs did indeed roam present-day Norway.  

arrow
Art
Cephalopod Fossil Sketch in Australia Can Be Seen From Space

Australia is home to some of the most singular creatures alive today, but a new piece of outdoor art pays homage to an organism that last inhabited the continent 65 million years ago. As the Townsville Bulletin reports, an etching of a prehistoric ammonite has appeared in a barren field in Queensland.

Ammonites are the ancestors of the cephalopods that currently populate the world’s oceans. They had sharp beaks, dexterous tentacles, and spiraling shells that could grow more than 3 feet in diameter. The inland sea where the ammonites once thrived has since dried up, leaving only fossils as evidence of their existence. The newly plowed dirt mural acts as a larger-than-life reminder of the ancient animals.

To make a drawing big enough to be seen from space, mathematician David Kennedy plotted the image into a path consisting of more than 600 “way points.” Then, using a former World War II airfield as his canvas, the property’s owner Rob Ievers plowed the massive 1230-foot-by-820-foot artwork into the ground with his tractor.

The project was funded by Soil Science Australia, an organization that uses soil art to raise awareness of the importance of farming. The sketch doubles as a paleotourist attraction for the local area, which is home to Australia's "dinosaur trail" of museums and other fossil-related attractions. But to see the craftsmanship in all its glory, visitors will need to find a way to view it from above.

[h/t Townsville Bulletin]

arrow
video
Meet the Largest Dinosaur Ever Discovered

Argentinosaurus and Dreadnoughtus have got nothing on the Patagotitan mayorum. This newly named species of titanosaur is being called the world's largest dinosaur (and animal) to ever walk on land.

The long-necked herbivore, which weighed an estimated 69 tons—the equivalent of 12 African elephants—and measured 120 feet long, was discovered by an Argentinian rancher back in 2014. It made waves again last year when a model of its skeleton was added to the American Museum of Natural History, alongside its original fossilized femur.

Now, with a newly minted scientific name, the Patagotitan mayorum is on full display in National Geographic's recent video. You can take a gander at this stunningly complete specimen below:

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios