Probably one of only three dinosaurs most people can think of from the Triassic, Plateosaurus is exceptionally well known from media, books, toys, and so on. One of the largest animals from the entire Triassic period, Plateosaurus was up to 10 meters (33 feet) long, 4,000 kg (8,800 pounds), and about 3.6 meters (11-12 feet) tall. While it’s been discovered to be an obligate biped, meaning it could only walk on two legs, it’s actually an early member of the sauropod family called sauropodomorphs. It’s short but powerful arms, which could not pronate or bear it’s heavy weight in any quadruped position, were actually used for grasping and defense; they were tipped with robust claws and the thumb had a large shear-like spike. Plateosaurus had a small, boxy head with dozens of leaf shaped and serrated teeth made for grinding plants like high growing cycads, but interestly because of the jaw position it could also deliver a punishing bite. This may have been both for severing thick fibrous plants and for defending itself against a predator; though few were large enough to bring one down. It may have only feared Liliensternus, a large relative of Dilophosaurus. It roamed in large herds across many locations on the ancient supercontinent Pangea, and its fossils have been found in much of Europe and North America. In its day it was a desert dweller spending its time trekking from one waterhole and feeding ground to the next, browsing in whatever groves it could find.
- Plateosaurus had growth variety almost like humans. Instead of always hitting an understood size maximum like majority of other dinosaurs, adults would vary wildly in their maximum size. Some would’ve reached the full 10 meters long, others may have only gotten to 8 or maybe as low as 5.
- Plateosaurus is the fifth named dinosaur in scientific history, in 1834. It was named before dinosaurs were classified as a family, and it wasn’t understood to be a dinosaur at all for years.
- Three different sites in Germany where Plateosaurus is best known from are filled with 97% Plateosaurus remains. This is extremely unusual for a fossil bed being almost entirely one species and no young or juveniles among them. It seems to be that these fossil sites were sandpits in the desert and the weaker adults were unable to free themselves, sinking below the sand in the Triassic sun.
- It’s name means “Broad Lizard.”
Would you like to see Plateosaurus in Jurassic World: Alive?
How do you think it would be in game?
Dinosaurs we would Like #18 - Carcharodontosaurus