Sunday, November 3, 2013

Gojirasaurus: Prehistoric Animal of the Week

November 3rd is the birthday of possibly the most influential fictional dinosaur of all time, Godzilla!  So in honor of the "King of the Monsters", we shall be looking at a real dinosaur that was named after it.  Check out Gojirasaurus quayi

Happy Birthday!

Gojirasaurus lived during the late Triassic period about 200 million years ago in what is now the New Mexico, United States.  It was a theropod, very similar to Coelophysis or Liliensternus, and would have measured about twenty feet long from snout to tail.  Gojirasaurus was most likely a meat-eater. 

Life reconstruction of...Coelophysis from a larger painting I made earlier this year.  It works for Gojirasaurus too though.

The term "Gojira" is the Japanese name for Godzilla so this dinosaur's name literally translates to "Godzilla Dinosaur".  Wait a minute though...Gojirasaurus was by far not the largest dinosaur at only twenty feet.  So why such a big name?  The reason for this is actually less complicated than you would think.  The paleontologist who discovered it during the late 1990s, Ken Carpenter, is a big Godzilla fan so he jumped at the opportunity to name a real dinosaur after his "hero".  Fair enough!  In its defense, however, Gojirasaurus was amongst the largest theropods from its time.  Some paleontologists believe that the bones belonging to Gojirasaurus were those of an animal that wasn't yet fully grown, making it an even larger kind of animal, and definitely the largest known theropod from the Triassic. 

Gojirasaurus model on display at the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum in New Mexico.  Not the prettiest guy.

Some paleontologists believe that Gojirasaurus is undeserving of its own genus and was in reality, just a large Coelophysis.  This idea is highly debatable since the skeleton of Gojirasaurus is so fragmentary and there isn't enough to make solid comparisons other than the fact that Gojirasaurus bones are bigger and more robust than those of Coelophysis.  Hopefully more of the skeleton will be unearthed in the future! 

That's all for this week!  As always feel free to comment below or on our facebook page

References

K. Carpenter, 1997, "A giant coelophysoid (Ceratosauria) theropod from the Upper Triassic of New Mexico, USA", Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie, Abhandlungen 205(2): 189-208

Nesbitt, Irmis and Parker (2007). "A critical re-evaluation of the Late Triassic dinosaur taxa of North America." Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, 5(2): 209–243.

3 comments:

  1. Since its Godzilla Month, how about Dakosaurus, The croc that some people called Godzilla

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  2. I'll add it to the list! Next two weeks I think are spoken for though.

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  3. On second thought, how about you save Dakosaurus for Godzilla's next Birthday or when he makes his big screen comeback next year.

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