Through this article we’re taking a journey back in time, specifically to the Early Jurassic period, to explore the life and times of a fascinating creature–the Sarcosaurus. This theropod dinosaur, whose name intriguingly translates to ‘Flesh Lizard,’ offers us a unique window into a world long past–a world teeming with creatures that both boggle the mind and ignite the imagination.
Sarcosaurus Key facts
|Meaning of name||Flesh lizard|
|Type Species||Sarcosaurus woodi|
|When it Lived||201.3 to 189.6 MYA|
|Epoch||Late/Upper Hettangian to Early/Lower Sinemurian|
|Mobility||Moved on two legs|
|First Discovery||1921 by S.L. Wood|
|Location of first find||Barrow-on-Soar, England|
|First Described by||1921 by Charles William Andrews|
|Holotype||NHMUK PV R4840|
Sarcosaurus Origins, Taxonomy, and Timeline
The name ‘Sarcosaurus’ is derived from the Greek words ‘sarx,’ meaning flesh, and ‘sauros,’ meaning reptile or lizard. This ‘Flesh Lizard’ belongs to the Theropoda group, specifically the Coelophysoidea family. The type species of this genus is Sarcosaurus woodi.
This carnivore lived during the Late Hettangian to Early/Lower Sinemurian epochs. This time range places it among the earliest known Jurassic theropods, offering us invaluable insights into the evolution and diversity of dinosaurs during this era.
Discovery & Fossil Evidence
This story begins in 1921, in the Lower Lias Unit of Barrow-on-Soar, England. It was here that S.L. Wood made an intriguing discovery that would add a new chapter to our understanding of the Jurassic world. Wood uncovered a collection of fossils that would later be identified as belonging to a previously unknown dinosaur species.
The fossils were described by Charles William Andrews later in the same year. Andrews, a renowned paleontologist, recognized the significance of Wood’s find and took on the task of classifying the new dinosaur. He named it Sarcosaurus, the ‘Flesh Lizard,’ a name that hints at the dinosaur’s carnivorous diet.
The holotype, designated as NHMUK PV R4840, is a crucial piece of evidence that provides us with a glimpse into the dinosaur’s physical characteristics. The holotype consists of a partial pelvis, femur, and several vertebrae. These fossils suggest that it was a bipedal predator that moved on two legs and likely hunted smaller creatures for sustenance.
However, the fossil record of the Sarcosaurus is far from complete. The limited number of fossils found so far means that much of what we know about this dinosaur is based on educated guesses and comparisons with closely related species. As such, our understanding of this dinosaur is constantly evolving as new discoveries are made and existing evidence is reinterpreted.
Sarcosaurus Size and Description
This fascinating creature of the past has intrigued scientists and dinosaur enthusiasts alike with its unique characteristics and physical attributes. Let’s delve deeper into its physical description and size.
Short Description of Sarcosaurus
In typical theropod fashion, this was a bipedal predator that moved on two legs. Its physical characteristics, including its body shape, head, neck, vertebrae, limbs, tail, and skin, all point towards a creature designed for speed and agility, enabling it to catch small prey with ease.
Size and Weight of Type Species
This was a relatively small dinosaur, with the holotype belonging to a 3.5 m long animal whose weight was no greater than 65 lbs (0.03 tons). It’s important to note that these estimates are based on the limited fossil evidence available and may be subject to change as new discoveries are made.
The Sarcosaurus in Detail
This predator stands as a testament to the incredible diversity and adaptability of life during the Jurassic period. Its bipedal locomotion, for instance, is indicative of a highly active and agile creature that was capable of swift movements to catch its prey.
Moreover, its place within the Coelophysoidea family implies that it may have shared certain characteristics with other members of this group. These could include a slender body, long neck, and a head equipped with sharp teeth, all of which would have made it a formidable hunter.
Finally, its relatively small size may have played a crucial role in its survival strategy. Its compact build would have allowed it to navigate the dense vegetation of its habitat with ease, providing it with ample cover from larger predators and a stealthy approach towards its prey.
The Sarcosaurus in its Natural Habitat and Environment
This carnivorous dinosaur lived during a time when the Earth was undergoing significant changes. The Early Jurassic period was characterized by a warm and humid climate, with lush vegetation covering vast landscapes. This would have provided the Sarcosaurus with a rich hunting ground teeming with small animals and insects.
As a carnivore, it would have been at the top of the food chain and preyed on smaller creatures for sustenance. Its bipedal locomotion suggests that it was a highly active hunter capable of swift movements to catch its prey.
Its relatively small size may have also influenced its social behavior. While we can’t say for certain, it’s possible that this was a solitary hunter that relied on stealth and agility rather than strength in numbers to catch its prey.
Interesting Points about Sarcosaurus
- This is one of the earliest known Jurassic theropods, offering us invaluable insights into the evolution and diversity of dinosaurs during this era.
- Despite its menacing name, ‘Flesh Lizard,’ it was a relatively small dinosaur, with a length of around 3.5 m and a weight of no more than 65 lbs (0.03 tons).
- It was a bipedal predator, indicating that it moved on two legs. This suggests that it was a highly active and agile hunter.
- Its place within the Coelophysoidea family suggests that it may have shared certain characteristics with other members of this group. These may have included a slender body, long neck, and a head equipped with sharp teeth.
In the vast expanse of prehistoric time, the Sarcosaurus, a creature of notable agility, shared its existence with a captivating array of contemporaries. Among these were the Megalosaurus, Iguanodon, and Pantydraco–each contributing to the intricate dance of survival that played out in their shared environment.
The Megalosaurus had a larger and more formidable presence and might have been a potential predator to the Sarcosaurus. This dynamic could have led to thrilling chases, the Sarcosaurus relying on its nimbleness to evade the powerful jaws of the Megalosaurus. On the other hand, the herbivorous Iguanodon likely had a more peaceful coexistence with the Sarcosaurus. Their interactions might have been limited to occasional encounters at shared watering holes or feeding grounds, a testament to the diverse dietary habits that allowed such varied species to coexist.
Then there was the Pantydraco, a dinosaur considerably smaller than the Sarcosaurus. This size difference might have placed the Pantydraco lower on the food chain, possibly even making it prey for the Sarcosaurus. These dynamics paint a vivid picture of the Sarcosaurus’ world, a complex ecosystem where size, diet, and agility determined the relationships between these fascinating creatures. Through this lens, we gain a deeper understanding of the Sarcosaurus not just as an individual species, but as an integral part of a larger, interconnected prehistoric world.
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 is derived from the Greek words ‘sarx,’ meaning flesh, and ‘sauros,’ meaning reptile or lizard.
This dinosaur lived during the Early Jurassic period, specifically from 201.3 to 189.6 million years ago.
As a carnivore, it would have preyed on smaller creatures for sustenance.
It was a relatively small dinosaur with a length of around 3.5 m and a weight of no more than 65 lbs (0.03 tons).
The first discovery was made in 1921 by S.L. Wood in Barrow-on-Soar, England.
It was first described by Charles William Andrews in 1921.
Please note that the information in this article is based on various sources, drawing on scientific research, fossil evidence, and expert analysis. We aim to provide a comprehensive and accurate overview of the Sarcosaurus, but 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,06-14-2023