Thursday, 28 November 2013


Massospondylus was a prosauropod from the Early Jurassic of South Africa. It was depicted as quadrupedal but a 2007 study indicated that it was bipedal. Two species are recognized: M. carinatus and M. kaalae, both from South Africa. Prosauropods remains found in Arizona, Argentina and India have been attributed to Massospondylus but they belong to different genera.

Massospondylus carinatus
Owen, 1854
Meaning of generic name
"Longer vertebra"
Length: 4 m, Skull length:
Holotype: partial skeleton

Referred specimens: remains of some 80 individuals from juvenile to adults.
Age and Distribution
Horizon: Upper Elliot Formation, Clarence Formation; Zoutpansberg Member of the Bushveld Sandstone; Forest Sandstone. Lower Jurassic (Hettangien-Plienbaschian)

Locality: Orange Free State, Cape province, S. Africa; Transvaal, S. Africa; Leribe, Quthing, Lesotho; Matabeleland, North, Zimbabwe.
Dinosauria Saurischia Sauropodomorpha Prosauropoda Massospondylidae
Further Reading
R. Owen. 1854. Descriptive catalogue of the Fossil organic remains of Reptilia and Pisces contained in the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. London 1-184.

J. Attridge, A. W. Crompton, and F. A. Jenkins, Jr. 1985. The southern African Liassic prosauropod Massospondylus discovered in North America. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 5(2):128-132
Plateosaurus carinatus (Owen, 1854) Paul, 1988; Leptospondylus capensis Owen, 1854 (nomen dubium); Pachyspondylus orpenii Owen, 1854 (nomen dubium); Hortalotarsus skirtopodus Seeley, 1894; Gyposaurus skirtopodus (Seeley, 1894); Thecodontosaurus skirtopodus (Seeley, 1894); Massospondylus browni Seeley, 1895; Thecodontosaurus browni (Seeley, 1895); Massospondylus harriesi Broom, 1911; Aetonyx palustris Broom, 1911; Gryponyx transvaalensis Broom, 1912 (nomen dubium); Aristosaurus erectus Hoepen, 1920; Gyposaurus erectus Hoepen, 1920; Dromicosaurus gracilis Hoepen, 1920; Gryponyx taylori Haughton, 1924 (nomen dubium); Massospondylus schwarzi Haughton, 1924 (nomen dubium); Thecodontosaurus dubius Haughton, 1924; Thecodontosaurus minor Haughton, 1924 non Haughton, 1918
Images by Tobu Namura (click to enlarge)
Massospondylus carinatus:
Juvenile Massospondylus carinatus:
Massospondylus kaalae.
Barrett, 2009
Meaning of specific name
After Mrs Sheena Kaal, collections manager for the Karoo vertebrates at the Iziko South African Museum
Length: 4 m, Skull length:

[Skull length, precisely, is not given!]
Holotype (SAM-PK-K1325): incomplete skull.

[Skull is all we have!]
Age and Distribution
Horizon: Upper Elliot Formation, Lower Jurassic (Sinemurian-Plienbaschian)

Locality: Herschel District, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa.
Further Reading
Barrett, P. M. 2009. A new basal sauropodomorph dinosaur from the Upper Elliot Formation (Lower Jurassic) of South Africa. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 29 (4): 1032-1045

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