Talenkauen was a genus of basal iguanodontian dinosaurs from the Campanian and Maastrichtian stages of the Late Cretaceous period. It closely resembled the Dryosaurus in appearance and size, with an elongated neck and small head. The name Talenkauen is derived from the words “Talenk” meaning small and “kauen” meaning skull in the native Aonikenk language.

Key Facts

Talenkauen pronunciationTah-len-kow-en
What does Talenkauen mean? Small skull
Dinosaur typeEuornithopod
On the menuHerbivorous
Length3.8 meters ( 12 feet 6 inches)
Height1.3 m (4 feet 4 inches )
Weight200 kg (about 440 lbs)
Life expectancyUnknown
Legs used to get aroundBipedal
Estimated top speedUnknown

When & Where

The first specimen of Talenkauen was discovered in 2000 in the Cerro Fortaleza Formation of Patagonia, Argentina. This partial skeleton of an adult individual contained the snout, pedentary, part of the left lower jaw, partial hindlimbs, the right humerus, six teeth, ribs, and a chevron. It wasn’t until 2004 that it was formally described and named by Fernando E. Novas and colleagues.

Size & Weight

Talenkauen was a medium-sized dinosaur, measuring 3.8 meters (12 feet 50 inches) long and 1.3 meters (4 feet 30 inches) tall at the hips. It probably weighed around 200 kg (441 lbs), roughly the size of a large horse.

Some of the most notable features of the Talenkauen were its long neck and a small head. It had overlapping plate-like structures on the sides of its ribcage, which may have helped in respiration or thermoregulation. The Talenkauen also had premaxillary teeth in the front of the upper jaw and a first toe – unlike most igua­nodontians – which was not opposable.

Mobility & Diet

Talenkauen was a bipedal dinosaur, meaning it got around on two legs. It is unclear how fast Talenkauen could run, but its roughly horse-sized body and long hindlimbs suggest it was a speedy runner.

Research uncovered woody trunks in the same geological formation as Talenkauen remains, which suggests that the area was once a dense forest. The plants in this forest would have been the primary source of food for Talenkauen.

Interesting Points

  • The Talenkauen lived in the Cerro Fortaleza Formation along with the giant Puertasaurus and predatory Orkoraptor dinosaurs.
  • The function of the oval plates on the sides of Talenkauen’s ribcage is still unknown. Scientists believe they may have functioned more as uncinate processes than defensive scutes.
  • The Talenkauen is closely related to the American Dryosaurus, as well as the European Hesperornis and Iguanodon.

Featured Image Credit: Ghedoghedo, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons