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Temporal range: Early Cretaceous, 121–112 Ma
Lurdusaurus forelimb.jpg
Forelimb, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Dinosauria
Order: Ornithischia
Suborder: Ornithopoda
Clade: Styracosterna
Clade: Hadrosauriformes
Genus: Lurdusaurus
Taquet & Russell, 1999
Species: L. arenatus
Binomial name
Lurdusaurus arenatus
Taquet & Russell, 1999

Lurdusaurus ('heavy lizard') is a genus of large ornithopod dinosaur that lived in the Aptian stage of the Early Cretaceous, sometime between 121 and 112 million years ago.


The generic name is derived from the Latin lurdus, "heavy" while the specific name of the type species, arenatus means "sandy", being a reference to the Tenere desert.[1]


In 1965 Philippe Taquet discovered the remains of an ornithopod in rock layers of the Elrhaz Formation, in the Tenere desert of Niger, it consists of a partial skeleton with a fragmentary skull belonging to single individual which was given the catalogue number GDF 1700, the remains sat undescribed until 1988 when paleontologist Souad Chabli coined the name "Gravisaurus tenerensis" in her unpublished dissertation on the animal,[2] however since the name was never published it is invalid, the remains were later briefly described and formally given the name Lurdusaurus arenatus by Taquet and Dale Russell in 1999, a name with similar etymology to "Gravisaurus tenerensis".


Based on the known specimen, Lurdusaurus arenatus had an unusually heavy built compared to other iguanodonts. Their forelimbs were proportionally short and powerfully constructed as were their hands which bore an enlarged thumb claw, their hindlimbs as well were massive and proportionally short, specially the lower leg, the foot was unusually constructed in that the foot bones (metatarsals) lacked solid contact with each other suggesting the presence of a fleshy pad that supported most of the weight.[1] Their necks were relatively longer than in their relatives due to their neck vertebra being both more numerous and comparatively elongated.[1] The type specimen would have been about 2 m (6.6 ft) tall at the hips and it was estimated to have approached 9 m (30 ft) in length while weighing 5.5 t (6.1 short tons) based on the circumference of its limb bones,[1] lower weight and length estimates have been estimated, however.[3] Due to their unusual body plan, the describers Taquet and Russell suggested that they would have looked superficially like an ankylosaur.[1]


Original thumb spike of Lurdusaurus arenatus in Paris


Paleontologist Tom Holtz has speculated that, based on its bodily proportions and spreading hands, Lurdusaurus arenatus may have led an aquatic or semiaquatic lifestyle, similar to a hippopotamus.[4]


The fossils of Lurdusaurus arenatus were found in the Elrhaz Formation, dating from the late Aptian to the early Albian of the Early Cretaceous period,[5] approximately 112 million years ago.[6] The stratigraphy of the formation and its aquatic fauna suggest that it was an inland fluvial environment, entirely freshwater in nature with a humid tropical climate.[5][6][7] The named dinosaur fauna of the region apart from Lurdusaurus consisted of Ouranosaurus, the sauropod Nigersaurus, the spinosaurid Suchomimus,[5] the carcharodontosaurid Eocarcharia and the abelisaurid Kryptops.[8] The waters moreover were inhabited by the semionotid fish Pliodetes as well as the giant crocodile relative, Sarcosuchus.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e Taquet, P.; Russell, D. A. (1999). "A massively-constructed iguanodont from Gadoufaoua, Lower Cretaceous of Niger". Annales de Paléontologie. 85 (1): 85–96. doi:10.1016/s0753-3969(99)80009-3.
  2. ^ Chabli, S., 1988, Étude anatomique et systématique de Gravisaurus tenerensis n. g., n. sp. (Dinosaurien, Ornithischien) du gisement de Gadoufauoua (Aptien du Niger). Ph.D. dissertation, Université de Paris VII. UFR de Biologie et des Sciences de la nature 164 pp
  3. ^ Paul, G.S., 2010, The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs, Princeton University Press p. 288
  4. ^ Thomas R., Holtz Jr.; Rey, Luis (2007). Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages. New York: Random House. ISBN 9780375824197.
  5. ^ a b c d Sereno, Paul C.; Wilson, Jeffrey A.; Witmer, Lawrence M.; Whitlock, John A.; Maga, Abdoulaye; Ide, Oumarou; Rowe, Timothy A. (2007). "Structural Extremes in a Cretaceous Dinosaur". PLoS ONE. 2 (11). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001230. PMC 2077925. PMID 18030355.
  6. ^ a b Sereno, Paul C.; Larson, Hans C. E.; Sidor, Christian A.; Gado, Boubé (2001). "The Giant Crocodyliform Sarcosuchus from the Cretaceous of Africa". Science. 294 (5546): 1516–9. doi:10.1126/science.1066521. PMID 11679634.
  7. ^ De Broin, France; Taquet, Philippe (1966). "Découverte d'un Crocodilien nouveau dans le Crétacé inférieur du Sahara". C. R. Acad. Sci. Paris (in French). 262 (D).
  8. ^ Sereno, Paul. C.; Brusatte, Stephen L. (2008). "Basal abelisaurid and carcharodontosaurid theropods from the Lower Cretaceous Elrhaz Formation of Niger". Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. 53 (1).