The snake dinosaur

  • Name: Kakuru
  • Diet: Carnivore
  • Weight: 8 kg
  • Period: Lower Cretaceous
  • Found In: Australia

A very unique dinosaur, of which there is little fossil evidence.

However, this was not an obstacle for the skillful palaeontologists, in their fervent desire to know more about the life of these giants of old, did not discover who was the Kakuru.

Read on to learn more about this dinosaur.

What does the name Kakuru mean?

This name comes from Australian Aboriginal languages, and refers to or means “serpent of light“.

It should be noted that the remains of this dinosaur were found in Australia and there is its name.

History of the discovery

The fossil remains found of this dinosaur consist of a fossilized tibia, which in fact was fossilized in an unusual process, in this method the bones are converted to opal as a result of hydration, the fossils of this dinosaur were found in the opal fields of Andamooka located in South Australia.

The tibia that was opalized was preserved for sale in a gem shop in 1973, and then bought by a private collector advised by the paleontologist Neville Pledge.

The owner of the opalized tibia gave permission to take photos and also to take plaster samples, but after some time this specimen was bought by a random buyer at an auction.

It was thought to be beyond the reach of science and no further research would be possible.

However, later in 2004 it was purchased by the South Australian Museum.

It was later described and named by Pledge and Ralph Molnar in 1980.

When did the Kakuru live and what did he eat?

This animal lived in what was known as the Lower Cretaceous, about 116 million years ago.

Given its little fossil evidence it is difficult to determine what its diet was, but it is believed that it was primarily carnivorous.


Characteristics of this dinosaur

How can a dinosaur be reconstructed from a single incomplete bone? The distal (lower) end of the tibia is very common in most theropods.

The Kakuru’s tibia, although unique, is very similar to that of Avimimus portentosus.

It is also similar to that of the celurosaurs and to that of modern long-legged and slender-legged birds. As you can see it resembles Avimus and Ingenia, with proportions similar to Microvenator.

Given these similarities, it was a little easier for paleontologists to determine its physical appearance.

To do this, we took the reconstructions of Avimus and Microvenator (an oviraptorosaurus of approximately the same age as Kakuru) and used software to generate a theoretical skeletal reconstruction to a hybrid between the two dinosaurs with which it shared characteristics.

The result is an interesting reconstruction of a small long-legged theropod, perhaps a carnivore, about 1.5 to 2 meters long and approximately 1.7 meters high, with a short tail similar to that of Avemus.

The structure of the tibia suggests that it belongs to a completely new family of theropod dinosaurs, unknown from anywhere else in the world.

Though of course based on a single bone its accuracy may vary.

In general terms the tibia is similar to that of the Microvenator celer and Ornitholestes hermanni.

Re-evaluation of the material may suggest a similarity between Kakuru’s tibia and that of the Oviraptorosaurus Ingenia yanshi, perhaps indicating that Kakuru may belong to the order of Oviraptorosauria.

It is also said that an undescribed tibia and an astragalus from Africa closely resemble the Kakuru material.