Welcome to a journey back in time, to an era when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Today, we’re focusing on a particular dinosaur, the Camptosaurus. This fascinating creature, whose name means ‘flexible lizard’, lived during the Late Jurassic period and left behind a rich fossil record that allows us to piece together its life and characteristics.
Camptosaurus Key Facts
|Meaning of name||Flexible lizard|
|Type Species||Camptosaurus dispar|
|When it Lived||155.7 to 145.0 MYA|
|Epoch||Late/Upper Kimmeridgian to Early/Lower Tithonian|
|Length||20.0 to 26.0 ft|
|Height||6.6 ft at hips|
|Weight||0.87 to 0.96 tons|
|Mobility||Moved on two legs, or all four|
|First Discovery||1879 by William Harlow Reed|
|Location of first find||Wyoming, USA|
|First Described by||1879 by Othniel Charles Marsh|
Camptosaurus Origins: Taxonomy, Timeline, and Discovery
Our journey takes us back to the Late Jurassic period, specifically from the Late Kimmeridgian to Early/Lower Tithonian epoch. Let’s start at the very beginning with the name Camptosaurus. This name, derived from the Greek words ‘kamptos’ meaning ‘bent’ and ‘sauros’ meaning ‘lizard’ aptly describes this dinosaur’s flexible nature.
It belongs to the Ornithopod group, specifically the Camptosauridae family and its type species is Camptosaurus dispar. There’s also a subspecies, Camptosaurus aphanoecetes, adding another layer to this genus’ characteristics.
The first discovery of these remains was made in 1879 in Wyoming, USA by William Harlow Reed, an American fossil collector and pioneer. The dinosaur was then described by American paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh in the same year, marking its official entry into the
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The first fossil was discovered in Wyoming, US in 1879. This discovery was significant as it marked the first time this dinosaur’s remains had been identified. The fossil was found by William Harlow Reed, a pioneer in the field of fossil collection.
Since that initial discovery, more fossils have been found in various locations across the world. These include Germany, Spain, and multiple sites across the United States, including the states of Colorado, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. The number of finds in the United States alone totals 32, indicating that this dinosaur was quite widespread during its time.
The types of fossils found vary but they all contribute to our understanding of this herbivorous dinosaur. Some fossils are better preserved than others and provide a more detailed look at the dinosaur’s physical characteristics. Notable specimens include those that reveal unique features or offer insights into the dinosaur’s behavior or environment.
Camptosaurus Size and Description
Before we delve into the specifics, let’s take a moment to visualize this dinosaur. Picture a dinosaur with a flexible, agile body, moving gracefully on two legs or on all fours. Its physical characteristics are as fascinating as its history and they give us a glimpse into its life during the Late Jurassic period.
Short Description of Camptosaurus
This was a unique dinosaur with features that set it apart from others. Its flexible nature is reflected in its name and its ability to move on two legs or all fours, and was a key survival trait. This adaptability would have allowed it to navigate its environment and access food sources with ease.
One of its most notable features is its hand. Unlike many other dinosaurs, it had a prehensile hand that could grasp vegetation. This combined with its beak-like structure for getting plant material into its mouth made it a highly effective herbivore.
It also had a distinctive “blocky” wrist, a feature it shared with other iguanodontids. This facilitated four-legged progression and added another layer to its mobility. However, despite these shared features, this was a fairly generalized iguanodontid that lacked the deep dorsal spines of many other members of this group.
Size and Weight of Type Species
This was a large dinosaur, reaching up to 6 meters (20 feet) in length. Juvenile skeletons have also been found that provide insights into the growth and development of this dinosaur. While the exact weight is not known, it’s safe to say that it was a sizable creature. Given its length and the general body structure of ornithopods, it likely weighed several tons.
Different estimates have been given for its size, reflecting the variability within the species and the challenges of determining the size of extinct creatures. However, the consensus is that this was a large dinosaur and a prominent figure in its Late Jurassic environment.
The Dinosaur in Detail
With its distinctive body shape, this dinosaur was a sight to behold. Its head was low, long, and massive and came equipped with long rows of broad leaf-shaped cheek teeth. A beak-like structure, probably covered by horny pads, was effective in getting plant material into its mouth where it was cut by the cheek teeth. Its neck was flexible and led to a robust body supported by strong limbs.
The dinosaur’s hind limbs were particularly strong, while its forelimbs were smaller yet sturdy enough to support the animal if it chose to progress on all fours. It might have done this while feeding. It had the distinctive “blocky” wrist of iguanodontids that facilitated four-legged progression. Nevertheless, the hand was also prehensile and could have grasped vegetation as it was feeding. The thumb was a small spur rather than the cone-like spike developed in Iguanodon.
Its tail, long and flexible, balanced its body as it moved. The skin is not entirely known but was likely similar to that of other dinosaurs of its time, possibly featuring scales or other dermal structures.
The Camptosaurus in its Natural Habitat
This herbivore lived during the Late Jurassic period, a time when the Earth was a very different place than it is today. The climate was warm and the geography was dominated by a single supercontinent known as Pangaea. This environment was home to a diverse range of vegetation that provided a plethora of food sources for herbivores like this one.
As an herbivore, it would have fed on the abundant plant life of its time. Its prehensile hand and beak-like structure would have allowed it to grasp and consume vegetation effectively. While it’s not known for certain, it’s possible that it had a particular preference for certain types of plants.
It was capable of moving on two legs or all fours—a trait that would have been beneficial in its environment. This flexibility in locomotion would have allowed it to navigate its environment effectively, whether it was browsing for food or evading predators. It’s not known for certain but it’s possible that the Camptosaurus lived in herds for protection.
With its size and feeding habits, this herbivore would have had a significant impact on its environment. By consuming vegetation, it would have played a role in shaping the landscape and influencing the distribution of plant life. Furthermore, as a larger herbivore, it would have been a key part of the food chain that served as prey for larger predators.
Interesting Points about Camptosaurus
- This was a highly adaptable dinosaur, capable of moving on two legs or all fours. This flexibility, reflected in its name, was a key survival trait.
- Unlike many other dinosaurs, it had a prehensile hand that could grasp vegetation. This made it a highly effective herbivore.
- It had a distinctive “blocky” wrist, a feature it shared with other iguanodontids. This facilitated four-legged progression, adding another layer to its mobility.
- Despite these shared features with other iguanodontids, it was a fairly generalized member of this group that lacked the deep dorsal spines of many other members.
- It was a large dinosaur that could reach up to 6 meters (20 feet) in length. Its size would have made it a prominent figure in its Late Jurassic environment.
In the vast and diverse landscape of the Late Jurassic period, the Camptosaurus was an herbivorous dinosaur of notable size that shared Pangaea with a fascinating group of contemporaries. Among these Pangaean dinosaurs were the Allosaurus, Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus, and Diplodocus, each contributing to the intricate dynamics of this prehistoric ecosystem.
The presence of the Allosaurus, a formidable predator, introduces an element of danger and suspense to this narrative. Being significantly larger and equipped with sharp teeth and claws, this predator might have seen the Camptosaurus as potential prey, adding a layer of complexity to their relationship.
On the other hand, our dinosaur shared its environment with more than just predators. The Stegosaurus, with its iconic plates and spikes, was a fellow herbivore. Despite being considerably larger, it likely posed little direct competition to the Camptosaurus. Their coexistence paints a picture of a lush environment, abundant in vegetation, capable of sustaining herbivores of various sizes.
Further, the Apatosaurus and Diplodocus were both gigantic sauropods that existed on a different scale entirely. Their immense size and long necks allowed them to reach vegetation inaccessible to the Camptosaurus, reducing competition for food resources. However, their presence would have undoubtedly shaped the environment, possibly influencing the behavior and movement patterns of the Camptosaurus.
In this intricate dance of survival, our dinosaur navigated a world filled with diverse contemporaries that each played a part in molding its existence. From the towering sauropods to the menacing Allosaurus, these relationships offer a glimpse into the complex and dynamic world of the Late Jurassic period, with the Camptosaurus at its heart.
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
The name means ‘flexible lizard’, derived from the Greek words ‘kamptos’ meaning ‘bent’ and ‘sauros’ meaning ‘lizard’.
It lived during the Late Jurassic period, specifically the Late Kimmeridgian to Early/Lower Tithonian epoch. This places its age range at around 155.7-145.0 million years ago.
This was an herbivore, meaning it ate plants. Its prehensile hand and beak-like structure would have allowed it to grasp and consume vegetation effectively.
This adaptable dinosaur was capable of moving on two legs or all fours. This flexibility in locomotion would have allowed it to navigate its environment effectively.
The first fossils were found in Wyoming, USA in 1879. Since then, more fossils have been found in various locations around the world that include Germany, Spain, and multiple sites across the United States.
This article was last fact checked:Joey Arboleda, 06-11-2023