Majungasaurus crenatissimus is the only species that has been found in the genus Majungasaurus. It is a genus of theropod dinosaur that once inhabited our land. This dinosaur is also known as Majungatholus, the first name it carried.
One of the distinctive features of Majungasaurus is the horn that protrudes from its skull. This theropod dinosaur was a carnivorous animal and would have been the top and only predator in its area. This dinosaur genus was so dominant that it even practiced cannibalism, fighting and feeding on its own species.
Basic information about the Majungasaurus
The Majungasaurus was undoubtedly a wonderful and interesting genus of dinosaur and would have been fierce looking. If for any reason we wanted to see it in its habitat, it’s practically impossible. To do that we would have to go back a few million years.
- How long is it? – Approximately seven metres in length.
- How tall is he? – About two metres high.
- What’s his weight? – He weighed about a ton.
- When did he live? – He lived on our planet about 70 million years ago.
- What’s his family? – He belongs to the family of the Abeliosaurids.
The taxonomy of the Majungsaurus
Kingdom Animalia > Filo Chordata > Sauropsida Class > Dinosaur Clade > Order Saurisquia > Sub-order Terophoda > Family Abelisauridae > Sub-family Majungasaurinae > Genus Majungasaurus
Within the genus Majungsaurus there is only one single species discovered, the M. crenatissimus. It should be noted that although there is currently only one species classified within the genus, samples of a new species in this genus could be found at any time. At any given time it is possible that some species (in this case the only one) may be declassified or reclassified in another genus. From dinosaurioss.com we will try to keep this block updated as much as possible.
The family: the abeliosaurids
Before going deeper into the history and description of this genus of dinosaurs, it is necessary to know which family of dinosaurs it comes from. This is because obviously, the genus adopts the characteristics and features of its family. Majungasaurus belongs to the abeliosaurid family and that is why we will now look into the history and general characteristics of the abeliosaurid family a little bit more.
The Family Abelisauridae is a family of dinosaurs belonging to the suborder of theropods. This family was most present during the Cretaceous period. At that time there were no continents as we know them today, but there were two large continents: Gondwana and Laurasia. The abeliosaurids were present in the great continent Gondwana, concretely in the southern area. This is equivalent to today’s Africa, South America, India and even the island of Madagascar.
The abeliosaurids were carnivorous animals (like most theropods) and were biped animals, that is, they only used two legs to walk. These two legs that they used to move around were characteristically robust and mostly muscular. With respect to their two arms (front extremities) they were very short and thin compared to the legs.
They had a peculiar skull, since they were generally quite tall and short in width. They also had a high premaxillary making their muzzle robust. Even speaking of skulls, there were some genera such as the carnotaurins which had bony protrusions in the skull from which their horns protruded.
In the case of Rajasaurus or Majungasaurus it is only a bone horn. The function of these horns would have been none other than to intimidate the other animals in their ecosystem.
The front extremities of this dinosaur family were relatively small in vestigial form. The elbow of the abeliosaurids would have been stationary and the forearm bones would have been short, and the entire leg would have been in a straight line in a stationary manner.
These legs also had four fingers, although they had no wrist, which were attached directly to the forearm. The toes also lacked bone in the case of the first and last toes, the two middle toes being the only ones that had bone. The claws of these fingers were relatively small and even in some genera they were missing.
Why were they called abeliosaurids?
Abeliosaurids are named after Joseph Bonaparte and Ferdinand Novas. These two palaeontologists described this family in 1985. The name of this family honors the discoverer of the family, Roberto Abel.
Description about the Majungasaurus
The Majungasaurus are a genus of dinosaur that belongs to the previous named family, the abeliosaurids. This genus of dinosaur adopts most of the characteristics of its group, although it has some characteristic features that distinguish it from its siblings. We will now go into more detail about the characteristics and features of the Majungasaurus.
The first thing to mention about this dinosaur is that just like its relatives, the Majungasaurus was a bipedal animal and a predator to boot. The length of this dinosaur ranges from six to seven meters, a size typical of theropod dinosaurs. The weight of this dinosaur was about 1100 kilograms approximately.
The Majungasaurus had a skull with a fairly short length compared to its height. This characteristic is adopted from the abeliosaurids, with the difference that the length of its skull was longer than most, being about sixty or seventy centimeters long.
In addition, a horn protruded from their skull and was probably covered with keratin (the material from which the nails are made). The teeth he had were common to those of his relatives, having short crown-shaped teeth.
The only difference between his teeth and those of his relatives is that the Majungasaurus has the most teeth (seventeen in the upper and seventeen in the lower), except for the Rugops. The neck and its vertebrae had several cavities to lighten the weight of its skeleton. Even so, the neck it had was quite muscular and above all robust.
Its size and the fact that it had to support all its weight using only two legs prevented it from keeping its balance. To achieve this, it was equipped with a very long tail that allowed it to shift the center of gravity in the hips, due to the weight and wingspan of the tail.
The front legs they had were relatively short with four very short toes. These toes had no claws at all and were even joined together so that they formed a “single toe”.
That is, their fingers were joined together and they could not move them freely, they had the hand immobile. But their hind legs were quite sturdy, though just as short in comparison to their body. The fact is that the entire weight of their body fell on these hind legs, which is no small thing. Unlike the front legs, the hind legs did not have four toes but only three.
The most distinctive feature of the Majungasaurus was probably its skull ornamentation. The Majungasaurus had rather swollen nostrils that were fully integrated with the front horn. This horn would have served to intimidate enemies, although according to its structure it would have done little else.
The horn was hollowed out on the inside and in a confrontation it would not have been able to use it as a weapon given its fragility. The most curious thing is that among the different specimens the ornamentation varies, although at present it cannot be said that this is due to sexual dimorphism in the gender.
How was the discovery of the Majungasaurus?
The first person to describe the first theropod in history was the paleontologist Charles Depéret in 1986. At that time all the teeth that were found and similar to each other accumulated and added to the genus Megalosaurus.
This genus contained all those remains of theropods that at that time were directly attributed to it. One of the remains assigned and classified within the Megalosaurus was the Majungasaurus crenatissimus.
During the years after 1986 a lot of incomplete remains have been collected and are now included in this genus. The remains belonging to Majungasaurus have mainly been found in the province of Mahajanga which belongs to the country Madagascar.
Most of them were discovered by French people who were depositing these incomplete remains in the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.
The prototype MNhN MAJ 1 would be the origin of the Majungasaurus designation. In 1955, the paleontologist René Lavocat was investigating about this prototype found in the Maeverano Formation and he realized that although it was very similar to the Megalosaurus, this new prototype had a more curved jaw than usual. This gave rise to Lavocat to describe a new genus called Majungasaurus.
When and where did Majungasaurus live?
Now that we know more about this spectacular dinosaur that once inhabited the Earth, let’s talk more about when and where it lived. This specimen would have inhabited our planet about 70 million years ago until it became extinct with the great extinction of all dinosaurs about 66 million years ago. This period of time coincides with the end of the Cretaceous period, which ends with the extinction of the dinosaurs.
The area in which it would have inhabited would be, among others: India, South America and continental Africa. These three areas are where the fossil remains of the abeliosaurids are mainly found. Remains of them have mainly been found in the Maevarano Formation (Mahanja, Madagascar).
The areas where it would have lived that we have already mentioned would be the probable ones where this genus would have lived because abeliosaurids have been found in these three areas. Even so, if we talk strictly about Majungasaurus, the only thing certain is that it would have inhabited the area of Madagascar, which is the only place where fossil remains of Majungasaurus have been found.
What would Majungasaurus have fed on?
As we have already indicated: Majungasaurus was a predator. The feeding this dinosaur would have followed would have been similar to that of today’s cats. The short and wide snout it had forced it to bite only once and hold on until it immobilized the prey.
It would have been able to maintain its bite thanks to the powerful muscles that this genus has both in its legs and in its neck, keeping its head completely firm.
The Majungasaurus was the largest predator of its ecosystem, its prey most likely being large sauropods such as the rapetosaurus. This corresponds to the way the genus acted, since maintaining the bite and neck would have been totally viable having the sauropods as prey.
The possibility that it was a cannibalistic animal is not ruled out either. The fact is that it could have fed on those of the same genus, since evidence has been found of Majungasaurus bones with bites corresponding to those of another. Even so, it is not possible to know if they would have fed on each other or if these are specific cases.
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