- For the Dacian god, see Zalmoxis.
Temporal range: Late Cretaceous, Maastrichtian
|Z. shqiperorum cast at Brussels|
Weishampel et al., 2003
Zalmoxes was a rather small bipedal herbivore, but stoutly built with a large triangular head featuring a pointed beak and a short neck. The species Z. robustus was smaller, 2 to 3 meters long (7 to 10 ft). Z. shqiperorum was 4 to 4.5 meters long (13 to 15 ft). The small size was explained by Nopcsa as an instance of insular dwarfism, however Ősi et al. (2012) brought up evidence that Zalmoxes was more or less the same as the basal condition of Rhabdodontidae; that Mochlodon experienced minor dwarfism; and that Rhabdodon experienced gigantism on the "mainland".
In 1900 Franz Nopcsa named a new species of Mochlodon, Mochlodon robustum, based on numerous fossils found in Transylvania. The specific name refers to the robust build. In 1915 he renamed it as a species of Rhabdodon, Rhabdodon robustum, emended in 1990 by George Olshevsky to Rhabdodon robustus.
In 2003 David Weishampel, Coralia-Maria Jianu, Zoltan Csiki and David Bruce Norman named a new genus for the finds: Zalmoxes, a spelling variant of Zalmoxis. The name of this deity was chosen because it retreated for three years in a crypt to be resurrected on the fourth year; likewise the animal Zalmoxes had by Nopcsa been liberated from its fossil grave to attain taxonomic immortality.
The type species Mochlodon robustus is thus recombined into Zalmoxes robustus. The holotype, BMNH R.3392, is a right dentary. Hundreds of other bones have been referred to the species, excavated from the Sânpetru Formation, which dates to the late Maastrichtian. Most of the skeleton is known with exception of the end of the tail, the hands and the feet.
The same authors in 2003 named and described a second species: Zalmoxes shqiperorum. The specific name is derived from Shqiperia, Albanian for Albania, because Baron Nopcsa had a special relationship with this country, once attempting to become its king. The holotype is BMNH R.4900, a partial skeleton.
In 2005 Sven Sachs and Jahn J. Hornung provisionally transferred Austria material of Mochlodon suessii to Zalmoxes sp., asserting a formal identity would imply that the name Mochlodon would replace Zalmoxes as it has priority.
- Ősi, A.; Prondvai, E.; Butler, R.; Weishampel, D. B. (2012). Evans, Alistair Robert, ed. "Phylogeny, Histology and Inferred Body Size Evolution in a New Rhabdodontid Dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous of Hungary". PLoS ONE 7 (9): e44318. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044318. PMC 3448614. PMID 23028518.
- F. Nopcsa, 1900, "Dinosaurierreste aus Siebenbürgen (Schädel von Limnosaurus transsylvanicus nov. gen. et spec.), Denkschriften der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Classe 68: 555-591
- Weishampel, D. B., C.-M. Jianu, Z. Csiki, and D. B. Norman. (2003). "Osteology and phylogeny of Zalmoxes (n.g.), an unusual Euornithopod dinosaur from the latest Cretaceous of Romania". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 1(2): 65–123
- Sven Sachs and Jahn J. Hornung, 2005, "Juvenile ornithopod (Dinosauria: Rhabdodontidae) remains from the Upper Cretaceous (Lower Campanian, Gosau Group) of Muthmannsdorf (Lower Austria)", Geobios, 39(3): 415-425