Alwalkeria: A Glimpse into the Late Triassic Era

Alwalkeria: A Glimpse into the Late Triassic Era

Imagine, if you will, a world where the continents were still huddled together in a supercontinent known as Pangea. This was the reality of the Late Triassic era, a time of great change and evolution when the first dinosaurs began to roam the Earth. Among these early pioneers of the dinosaur world was a creature known as Alwalkeria.

Alwalkeria may not be as familiar as the mighty T-Rex or the towering Brachiosaurus but it nonetheless holds a significant place in the annals of paleontology. This dinosaur, small though it may be, provides us with a unique glimpse into the world as it was over 230 million years ago.

Alwalkeria Key Facts

Alwalkeria pronunciationAl-wal-ke-re-ah
Meaning of nameIn honor of British paleontologist Alick Walker
Type SpeciesAlwalkeria maleriensis
When it Lived237.0 to 228.0 MYA
PeriodLate Triassic
Length1.6 to 4.9 ft
Height1.3 ft
Weight0.002 tons
MobilityMoved on two legs
First Discovery1974 by Sankar Chatterjee
Location of first findAndhra Pradesh, India
First Described by1994 by Sankar Chatterjee and Benjamin Creisler
HolotypeISI R 306

Alwalkeria Origins, Taxonomy and Timeline

Illustration of Alwalkeria, a small, bipedal dinosaur, featuring a slender body with distinct horizontal stripes along its back and legs. The dinosaur has a long tail and small arms, standing on two legs with a streamlined posture

The name Alwalkeria pays homage to British paleontologist Alick Walker, a man whose contributions to the field of paleontology have left an indelible mark. The name is a testament to the legacy of a man who dedicated his life to unraveling the mysteries of the past.

It belongs to the group of dinosaurs known as theropods, which includes some of the most iconic dinosaurs such as the T-Rex and Velociraptor. More specifically, Alwalkeria is part of the Herrerasauridae family–a group of early theropods that were among the first dinosaurs to evolve. The genus is represented by a single type species, Alwalkeria maleriensis.

This timeline takes us back to the Late Triassic period, specifically the Carnian epoch. This was a time when the Earth was undergoing significant changes with the continents slowly beginning to drift apart and the first dinosaurs starting to appear. 

Discovery & Fossil Evidence

This story of discovery begins in 1974 in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. It was here that renowned paleontologist Sankar Chatterjee unearthed the first fossils of this dinosaur. These fossils were later described in detail by Chatterjee and Creisler in 1994, marking the official introduction of Alwalkeria to the scientific community.

Left femur of Alwalkeria maleriensis (ISI R 306, holotype)
Frederico Lisandro Agnolín, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The first fossils, designated as the holotype ISI R 306, provide us with a unique glimpse into this dinosaur’s life. Although the fossil record is not as extensive as some other dinosaurs, the available specimens have provided valuable insights into its physical characteristics and lifestyle.

The fossil evidence is primarily restricted to the region where it was first discovered. However, the possibility of additional finds in other regions cannot be ruled out as our understanding of this dinosaur and its habitat continues to evolve.

Alwalkeria Size and Description

Like many of its contemporaries in the Late Triassic, this was not a large dinosaur. Its size and physical characteristics were more akin to those of modern-day birds than the towering giants that would come to dominate the landscape in later periods.

Short description of Alwalkeria

These fossils reveal a dinosaur with a slender body, a long tail, and a small head. Its limbs were well-developed, suggesting that it was a bipedal dinosaur that moved primarily on its two hind legs. The exact details of its skin and other soft tissues are unknown, as these rarely fossilize.

Size and Weight of Type Species

Diagram comparing the size of Alwalkeria to a human. Alwalkeria is shown as a small dinosaur beside a human figure, highlighting its small stature. The chart includes vertical bars representing various measurements in meters, with Alwalkeria positioned at the lower end of the scale.
Bmc38010, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The exact size and weight are difficult to determine due to the incomplete nature of the fossil record. However, based on the available fossils and comparisons with related species, it is believed that this was a small dinosaur. Further research and additional fossil discoveries may provide more accurate estimates in the future.

The Dinosaur in Detail

This was a dinosaur with a unique set of features that set it apart from its contemporaries. Its slender body and long tail suggest a creature that was agile and quick, capable of navigating the diverse landscapes of the Late Triassic.

One of the most striking features of Alwalkeria is its teeth. Unlike many theropods, which were primarily carnivorous, it had a mix of sharp, pointed teeth and flat, grinding teeth. This suggests that this dinosaur was an omnivore that was capable of eating both meat and plant matter.

The fossil record, while limited, has provided us with a fascinating glimpse into this dinosaur’s life. Each fossil discovery adds a new piece to the puzzle and helps us to understand this early dinosaur and its place in the history of life on Earth.

The Alwalkeria in its Natural Habitat and Environment

The world of the Late Triassic, the time when this omnivorous dinosaur roamed the Earth, was a vastly different place than the world we know today. The continents were still joined together in the supercontinent of Pangea and the climate was generally warm and dry.

As an omnivore, it would have had a diverse diet. It likely fed on small animals and insects as well as plant matter. Its agility and speed would have made it a capable hunter while its sharp teeth would have allowed it to tear meat and grind plant matter.

Its social behavior is largely unknown, as is its lifespan. However, based on its physical characteristics and the behavior of related species, it is possible that Alwalkeria was a solitary dinosaur that lived and hunted alone.

Interesting Points about Alwalkeria

  1. It is named after British paleontologist Alick Walker, a testament to his contributions to the field of paleontology.
  2. Despite being a theropod–a group known for its carnivorous members–Alwalkeria was an omnivore. This is evident from its mix of sharp, pointed teeth and flat, grinding teeth, suggesting a diet of both meat and plant matter.
  3. This dinosaur lived during the Late Triassic period, a time when the first dinosaurs began to appear. This makes it one of the early pioneers of the dinosaur world.
  4. The discovery in India adds to the diversity of dinosaur fossils found in this region, providing valuable insights into the dinosaur fauna of the Late Triassic in this part of the world.
  5. The exact size and weight are still unknown due to the incomplete nature of the fossil record. This leaves room for further discoveries and research, adding an element of mystery to this dinosaur.

Contemporary Dinosaurs

The Early Triassic was a time for the emergence of dinosaurs, with new species appearing left and right. There is still much to learn about the dinosaurs of this time. As new fossil evidence is discovered, more complete ecosystems may be described. The Alwalkeria mostly shared its landscape with other creatures, such as phytosaurs or rhynchosaurs, though dinosaurs such as the Nambalia and the Jaklapallisaurus may have made appearances as well.

The Nambalia was a basal sauropodomorph that would have towered over the much smaller Alwalkeria. It is easy to imagine the Alwalkeria darting between the feet of this large herbivore, using its agility to avoid being trampled. 

While the Jaklapallisaurus was smaller than the Nambalia, it was still much larger than the Alwalkeria as well. It likely posed less of a threat to the Alwalkeria, though the smaller creature would still have to be wary of these relative giants.

The interactions of these dinosaurs demonstrate the possibilities of life in the Triassic. Through observing these dinosaurs we learn more about their origins and adaptations that lead to the lifeforms we known today.

List Of All Dinosaurs

We have created a list of all dinosaurs we have covered here, sorted across the seven main groups of dinosaurs. We also include information about their type of diet, (omnivore, herbivore or carnivore) and the time they lived.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the name mean?

The name is in honor of British paleontologist Alick Walker.

What kind of dinosaur was this?

It was a theropod dinosaur, part of the Herrerasauridae family.

When did this dinosaur live?

It lived during the Late Triassic period, specifically the Carnian epoch, around 237.0 to 228.0 million years ago.

What did it eat?

This was an omnivore, meaning it ate both meat and plant matter.

Where was it discovered?

The first fossils were discovered in Andhra Pradesh, India, in 1974.

Who discovered this dinosaur?

It was discovered by Sankar Chatterjee and later described by Chatterjee and Creisler in 1994.


The information in this article is based on various sources, drawing on scientific research, fossil evidence, and expert analysis. The aim is to provide a comprehensive and accurate overview of Alwalkeria. However, be aware that our understanding of dinosaurs and their world is constantly evolving as new discoveries are made.

Article last fact-checked: Joey Arboleda, 07-25-2023

Featured Image Credit: No machine-readable author provided. Karkemish assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons