The Rapetosaurus lived in present-day Madagascar during the Late Cretaceous period. It was a member of the sauropod family, which includes some of the largest land animals to have ever lived. The name Rapetosaurus comes from the local Malagasy word, Rapeto, a  mythological creature said to be a part dinosaur and part crocodile.

Rapetosaurus was a herbivore, and its fossils have been found in the Maevarano Formation. This formation is known for its large number of well-preserved fossils, including those of other dinosaurs such as Majungasaurus and Rahonavis.

Key Facts

Rapetosaurus pronunciationRah-PAY-too-SOR-us
What does Rapetosaurus mean?Rapeto Lizard
Dinosaur typeSauropod
On the menuHerbivorous
Length15 meters ( 49 feet)
Height4 meters (13 feet 2 inches)
Weight10 tons (about 22.000 lbs)
Life expectancyUnknown
Legs used to get aroundQuadruped
Estimated top speedUnknown
When they livedLate Cretaceous era 67 million years ago
Where they have been found?Madagascar

When & Where

In 2001, a field team from Stony Brook University, led by David Krause, was working in the Maevarano Formation in northwestern Madagascar. They were excavating a fossil site known as Ankalambe, which had yielded the remains of several other dinosaurs, including Majungasaurus and Rahonavis.

During their excavation, the team uncovered an almost fully intact skeleton of a Rapetosaurus. This was an extraordinary find, as most dinosaur skeletons are only partial remains.

The Ankalambe fossil site has since yielded many other well-preserved fossils, including those of plants and invertebrates. This suggests that the area was once a wetland environment, which would have been ideal for preserving fossils.

Size & Weight

Rapetosaurus was a small dinosaur when compared to some other sauropods. It measured about 15 meters (49.2 feet) in length and weighed around 10 tons (about 20,000 pounds).

However, it was still large enough to be one of the largest land animals to ever live.

Mobility & Diet

Rapetosaurus was a herbivore, which means that it ate plants. It probably used its long neck and small head to reach up and browse on leaves and branches.

It likely moved around on all four legs, although it is not known how fast it could run. Due to its size, Rapetosaurus would have been relatively slow and vulnerable to predators. 

Interesting Points

  • The nostrils of the Rapetosaurus were located on top of its head, which is different from most dinosaurs.
  • Rapetosaurus is one of the few dinosaurs for which we have an almost complete skeleton to date. This was used as a baseline for other Sauropod skeletons, which are often only partial remains.
  • The Rapetosaurus has been depicted in films and television shows, including Jurassic World Evolution 2.
  • The  Rapetosaurus was named after a mythical creature from Malagasy folklore. This creature was said to be a part dinosaur and part crocodile.
  • They were most likely preyed on by the Majungasaurus, whose teeth marks have been found on some Rapetosaurus remains.

Featured Image Credit: Nobu Tamura, via Wikimedia Commons