Telmatosaurus was a genus of large, flat-headed lizards belonging to the hadrosaurid family of dinosaurs. The name Telmatosaurus means “marsh lizard”, from the Greek words telma, “marsh or, pond” and sauros, “lizard”. The type species is Telmatosaurus transsylvanicus, named in 1903 by Franz Baron Nopcsa.

Key Facts

Telmatosaurus pronunciationtel-ma-toh-sore-us
What does Telmatosaurus mean?Swamp lizard
Dinosaur typeEuornithopod
On the menuHerbivorous
Length4.5 meters (15 feet)
Height2 m (7 feet)
Weight1 ton (about 2200 lbs)
Life expectancyUnknown
Legs used to get aroundBipedal/quadruped
Estimated top speedUnknown
When they livedLate Cretaceous era 84-65 million years ago
Where they have been found?France, Romania, Spain

When & Where

The first Telmatosaurus remains were discovered in 1895 in what is now Romania by a group of peasants who gifted the skull to their Lord’s daughter, Ilona Nopcsa. Nopcsa later coined the name Limnosaurus transsylvanicus for the same skull in 1899 but realized another paleontologist had already used it. Nopcsa chose a replacement name, Telmatosaurus, in 1903. Other remains attributed to this genus have been found in France and Spain.

Size & Weight

Based on current fossil evidence, Telmatosaurus was a relatively large euornithopod, measuring 4.5 meters (15 feet) long and weighing 1 ton (about 2200 lbs).

In life, they would have resembled other hadrosaurs, with a long neck and tail, small head, and a robust body supported by all four limbs.

Mobility & Weight

The Telmatosaurus was bipedal, meaning it got around on two legs but could also move on all fours if necessary. Its long tail provided balance as it walked or ran, but its top speed is unknown.

Telmatosaurus was herbivorous and fed on a diet of plants, leaves, and shrubs that had a C3 carbon fixation metabolic pathway. This meant that they ate cool-season grasses to survive, similar to what Asian and African elephants eat today.

Interesting Points

  • In 2016, Mihai Dumbrava and colleagues discovered the presence of ameloblastoma-like tumors in the lower jaw of a Telmatosaurus specimen. This is the first recorded instance of such tumors in dinosaurs and provides insight into the health conditions of this particular genus.
  • This genus underwent insular dwarfism as a way to minimize competition for resources on the islands they inhabited. This resulted in smaller body size in comparison to their mainland relatives.

Featured Image Credit: Debivort, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons