Plateosaurus is a genus of plateosaurid dinosaur that lived during the LateTriassic period, around 214 to 204 million years ago, in what is now Central and Northern Europe.

The skull of Plateosaurus is small and narrow, rectangular in side view, and nearly three times as long as it is high. There is an almost rectangular lateraltemporal foramen at the back. The large, round orbit (eye socket), the sub-triangular antorbital fenestra and the oval naris (nostril) are of almost equal size. The jaws carried many small, leaf-shaped, socketed teeth: 5 to 6 per premaxilla, 24 to 30 per maxilla, and 21 to 28 per dentary (lower jaw). The thick, leaf-shaped, bluntly serrated tooth crowns were suitable for crushing plant material. The low position of the jaw joint gave the chewing muscles great leverage, so that Plateosaurus could deliver a powerful bite. These features suggest that it fed primarily to exclusively on plants. Its eyes were directed to the sides, rather than the front, providing all-round vision to watch for predators. Some fossil skeletons have preserved sclerotic rings (rings of bone plates that protect the eye).

More Information

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Fact file

  • Pronounced: plat-ee-oh-sore-us
  • Meaning of name: flat lizard
  • Length: 7m
  • Weight: 4000kg
  • Teeth: grinding teeth with a horny beak at the front
  • Diet: herbivorous
  • Food: plant material
  • How it moved: on 2 or 4 legs
  • When it lived: Late Triassic
    (210  million years ago)
  • Found in: Germany, France, Switzerland

Taxonomic details

  • Taxonomy: Dinosauria, Saurischia, Sauropodomorpha, Prosauropoda, Plateosauria, Plateosauridae, Plateosaurus
  • Named by: Meyer (1837)
  • Type species: engelhardti