The Star Tooth dinosaur

  • Name: Astrodon
  • Diet: Herbivore
  • Weight: 20 tons
  • Period: Cretaceous
  • Found In: United States

Below you will find the most complete information regarding this dinosaur the “Astrodon”. 

What does the name Astrodon means?

Astrodon is a name derived from the combination of the Greek word “Aster”, which is understood as “Star” and “odon” which is understood as a tooth. The fossil was found in what is now the eastern United States of America.

History of the Astrodon discovery

Its classification is a bit complicated, all because it was first described by Christopher Johnston in 1859, based on two teeth found in Arundel’s alignment, then in 1865, Joseph Leidy added the specific epithet to johnstoni.

Later, in 1888, Othniel Charles Marsh described some bones found in the same training at Muirkirk, such as Pleurocoelus nanus and P. altus, and in 1921 Charles Whitney Gilmore believed that the remains described by Marsh and Johnston belonged to the same species, Astrodon johnstoni.

Other remains from Texas and attributed to Pleurocoelus are probably attributable to another genus of Saurian dinosaur.

Astrodon was the first described sauropod in North America and would have been the second dinosaur ever named in North America if Johnston had established a species.

Astrodon classification

The first fossil of this specimen was found in Maryland in 1850 and another one in Texas United States and the name Astrodon was created by Johnston in 1859, but for that moment no species was assigned to it, it was then when later Leidy assigned one and classified it to johnstoni.

Astrodon is generally considered to be Brachiosauridae; however, some see it as a synonym of Pleurocoelus or as a nomen dubium (from Upchurch et al, 2004).


When and where did the Astrodon live?

It is a sauropod that lived in what is now the eastern United States during the early Cretaceous period.

These fossils were found in the Arundel Formation, and through palinomorphs it has been detected that this specimen lived about 112 million years ago. The Arundel Formation is part of the Potomac Group where other formations are also included such as those in Maryland and also in some parts of Washington DC, Virginia and Delaware.

It is estimated that the adults were over 9 meters, about 30 feet high and between 15 to 18 meters which leads to about 50 to 60 feet long.

What did the Astrodon eat?

It was an herbivorous dinosaur belonging to the Sauropods, and as it is characteristic of these they grazed and ate tall plants due to their large size, their serrated teeth lead to the fact that their main diet was based on the thick-stemmed leaves present in the tallest trees.

Astrodon characteristics

This dinosaur is known thanks to incomplete specimens, including vertebrae, teeth and leg bones.

It is known for its large number of bones, which are often isolated and cover most of the skeleton.

Most of the fossilized finds come from young dinosaurs, which is demonstrated by the fact that the bones are small, that the bones of the skull (neurocranium) did not fuse, and that the scars on the bones, which originate from the muscle attachments, were not very pronounced.

The diagnostic features are found especially in the vertebrae, e.g. the cervical vertebrae were compared with the vertebrae of the spine and the unusually large Pleurocoelus (lateral cavities) of Präsakralwirbel were also found, i.e. the vertebrae before the sacrum, so that the neck and the vertebrae are tilted backwards,

Analyzing this we can conclude that an adult specimen must have reached 15 to 18 meters long and 9 meters high and like all sauropods, the astrodon had an elongated neck and tail, while the extremities were massive and columnar, and it is likely that the bulky body has a high profile like other sauropods macronarius.