Barilium: Unveiling the Heavy Flank of the Early Cretaceous

Barilium: Unveiling the Heavy Flank of the Early Cretaceous

In the Mesozoic world, Barilium emerges as a fascinating subject, a remarkable creature that roamed the earth during the Early Cretaceous Period. This dino, whose name intriguingly means “Heavy Flank,” beckons us to explore a bygone era. It embodies the wonders hidden within ancient sediment layers, waiting to narrate a story millions of years old. 

Imagine wandering through the lush landscapes of the Early Cretaceous, a time of great change and diversity in the dinosaur world. Here, Barilium, an Ornithopoda, claimed its place, roaming with a robust and heavyset physique. Its discovery in the early 20th century opened a window into a world where these majestic creatures thrived, offering insights into their lives, habits, and the environment they shaped and were shaped by.

Barilium Key Facts

Meaning of nameHeavy Flank
Type SpeciesBarilium dawsoni (syn. Sellacoxa pauli, Kukufeldia tilgatensis)
When it Lived139.8 to 132.9 MYA
PeriodEarly Cretaceous
LengthApproximately 26.0 feet
HeightApproximately 8.0 feet
WeightApproximately 3.5 tons
MobilityPossibly quadrupedal
First Discovery1880s by Charles Dawson
Described by1888 by Richard Lydekker
HolotypeBMNH R798, 798a, 803-805, 806, 798b, 802, 802a, 799-801
Location of first findEast Sussex, England

Barilium Origins, Taxonomy and Timeline

This dino’s name, Barilium, derives from Greek and Latin roots – ‘barys’ meaning ‘heavy’ in Greek, and ‘ilium,’ a Latin word. It’s a fitting title for a creature known for its robust build. Barilium is classified as an ornithopod, part of the Styracosterna. Specifically, it belongs to the genus Barilium, with Barilium dawsoni being its type species. This categorization is crucial, as it helps scientists understand where this dino fits in the grand scheme of dinosaur evolution.

Illustration of Barilium, a large, quadrupedal herbivorous dinosaur from the Early Cretaceous period. Known for its robust build and plant-eating habits, Barilium thrived in forested environments, reaching impressive sizes as one of the dominant herbivores of its time

Barilium lived during a period known as the Early Cretaceous, precisely in the Valanginian. This era dates back to around 139.8 to 132.9 million years ago. Imagine a world vastly different from ours – that’s where Barilium called home. Its existence during this specific time frame gives us vital clues about the environmental conditions and biodiversity of that era.

Discovery & Fossil Evidence

The tale of Barilium’s discovery takes us back to the early 20th century. It was first unearthed in the 1880s in East Sussex, England, by a man named Charles Dawson. This discovery was not just about finding bones; it was about uncovering a new chapter in our understanding of the past. These remnants, later described in detail by Richard Lydekker in 1888, included a collection of fascinating fossils cataloged as BMNH R798, 798a, 803-805, 806, 798b, 802, 802a, and 799-801.

This dino’s fossil record is a patchwork of discoveries, each contributing a piece to the puzzle. The fossils range from parts of the spine to elements of the limbs, helping scientists piece together its physical form. They serve as a testament to the rich history buried beneath our feet, waiting to be discovered and understood.

Barilium Size and Description

Barilium was a dinosaur that commanded attention with its formidable build. Think of a robust and heavy-bodied creature, equipped with a strong, muscular structure. Its head was proportionate to its body, leading to a long neck that gracefully connected to a sturdy spine. The limbs of Barilium were powerfully built, suggesting a life of active movement, while its tail added balance and stability. The skin, though not entirely understood, was likely similar to that of other ornithopods – tough and possibly textured for protection.

Size and Weight of Type Species

Illustration of Barilium, an Early Cretaceous herbivorous dinosaur, with a size comparison to a human figure and a map showing its discovery location. The timeline at the bottom indicates Barilium lived approximately 145 million years ago during the Cretaceous period. This bipedal dinosaur is shown with a robust body and distinctive features typical of the Neoguanodontia clade
cisiopurple via Deviantart

When it comes to size, Barilium was no small player in its ecosystem. Although specific measurements remain a topic of ongoing research and debate among scientists, we can make educated estimates. It’s believed that this dino measured in at a significant length, though not as large as some of its contemporaries. The weight, too, was substantial, echoing its name ‘Heavy Flank.’ These estimations not only help us visualize Barilium but also understand its physical capabilities and constraints within its environment.

The Dinosaur in Detail

One of the standout features of Barilium is its robust structure. This was not a dino built for speed; rather, its physique suggests a creature designed for endurance and strength. The heavy build of its body, particularly in the flank area, could have been an evolutionary adaptation for defense or foraging for food.

The limbs of Barilium also tell a story of adaptation. Its strong, sturdy legs hint at a life spent mostly on the move, browsing for vegetation. The way these dinosaurs moved, likely at a steady but deliberate pace, reflects a lifestyle adapted to a herbivorous diet in a diverse ecosystem.

Interestingly, the study of Barilium’s fossils has contributed significantly to our understanding of the Iguanodontian family. Each bone, each fossilized trace, adds to the narrative of this species, helping paleontologists piece together the lifestyle, habitat, and evolutionary path of these remarkable creatures.

Barilium in its Natural Habitat

This dino’s environment was as dynamic and varied as its own physicality. Barilium thrived in an era when the Earth’s geography and climate were markedly different from today. The Early Cretaceous Period, particularly the Valanginian Epoch, was characterized by a warm climate with lush vegetation. Forests, ferns, and early flowering plants created a rich, green landscape, ideal for a herbivore like Barilium.

As a plant-eater, Barilium played a crucial role in its ecosystem. Its diet likely consisted of a variety of vegetation, which it could easily reach with its long neck. This diet influenced its size and physical capabilities, reflecting an adaptation to the resources available in its environment.

The social behavior of Barilium is a subject of fascination. While it’s challenging to ascertain specific patterns, evidence suggests that, like many other dinosaurs, it could have exhibited some form of social structure. This might have included herd behavior or territoriality, aspects that played a significant role in how it interacted with other species and the landscape itself.

Understanding Barilium’s habitat and lifestyle offers a window into the past, shedding light on the complex interactions between dinosaurs and their environment. It’s a story of adaptation, survival, and the intricate web of life that existed millions of years ago.

Contemporary Dinosaurs

In the verdant, untamed world of the Early Cretaceous, Barilium was not alone in its journey. The era was a tapestry of diverse life forms, each playing a distinct role in the complex ecosystem. Among these contemporaries were the likes of Valdoraptor, Becklespinax, and Hypselospinus, each contributing to the dynamic interplay of survival, competition, and existence.

Valdoraptor is a small yet agile predator moved through the same realms as Barilium. Compared to the robust stature of Barilium, Valdoraptor was significantly smaller. While not a direct competitor for food, given its carnivorous diet, it nonetheless shared the landscape, contributing to the balance of the ecosystem. Their coexistence perhaps was marked more by an indifferent neighborliness rather than direct interaction. Another predator luring in the shadow was Becklespinax. Of a similar size than Barilium it might have pose a threat to it.

Furthermore, Hypselospinus, an intriguing creature, was a fellow ornithopod. It was probably in competition with Barilium for food access, though their interactions were probably rare. The presence of such varied life forms in the same environment speaks volumes about the richness and complexity of the ecosystem Barilium called home.

In the dance of survival and existence, Barilium, with its heavy frame and herbivorous nature, formed a vital link in the chain of life, interacting in subtle yet significant ways with its contemporaries. The ancient landscapes they inhabited were not just arenas of survival, but theaters of life’s endless diversity and adaptability.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the name ‘Barilium’ mean?

Barilium means ‘Heavy Flank,’ a nod to its robust body structure.

When did Barilium exist?

This dinosaur lived during the Early Cretaceous Period, approximately 139.8 to 132.9 million years ago.

What type of dinosaur is Barilium?

It belongs to the Ornithopoda, specifically the Styracosterna.

Where was Barilium first discovered?

The first Barilium fossils were unearthed in the 1880s in East Sussex, England.

What did Barilium eat?

As a herbivore, it primarily fed on the lush vegetation of its era.

How did Barilium move?

Though exact details are still studied, it’s believed Barilium was adapted for steady, possibly quadrupedal movement.


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 Barilium. However, please be aware that our understanding of dinosaurs and their world is constantly evolving as new discoveries are made.

This article was last fact checked: Joey Arboleda, 03-08-2024

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