Named after the Greek for “flat lizard”, the Plateosaurus is a prosauropod silverosaurid that lived in Europe and Greenland about 200 million years ago in the period known as Norian. Of the Plateosaurus two species are known, the engelhardti and the Longiceps, which are the most recognized although there are other species that have been thought to be Plateosaurus these two are the most recognized.

The head of the Plateosaurus was much flatter than can be found in other prosauropods, its head being considered small and narrow related to the proportions of its body. This particular head had four orifices, two for the eyes and two for the nose. It also had an opening in the back of the skull called the infra-temporal opening and another one that was right in the middle of the eyes and nose called the anthorbital opening. Its muzzle was also particular because it was long and full of small and powerful teeth, its jaws had powerful muscles, which speaks to us of a herbivorous diet. His eyes pointed to the sides, this characteristic helped him to see predators and avoid being eaten.

The Plateosaurus was discovered in 1834 and was in fact one of the first dinosaurs to receive a formal name, although it was not one of the three original dinosaurs used to define dinosaururia, this because when it was found it was not found a complete specimen and it was not possible to describe it properly even though it was described briefly a couple of years after its discovery. It was discovered by Johann Friedrich Engelhardt who based it on some vertebrae and leg bones in Nurembert, Germany. However, it was Hermann von Meyer who designated it as a new genus of dinosaur, and it was even thought of as a kind of reptile.

Later between 1910 and 1930 excavations were made at Saxony-Anhalt and about 50 remains of different dinosaurs were found, some of which were found in Plateosaurus specimens. As early as 1997, very recently, in the North Sea, workers on an oil platform found a fossil that was initially believed to be a vegetable, and it was not until 2003 that Jorn H. Hurum, a prominent paleontologist at the University of Oslo along with another group of palaeontologists at the University of Bonn, concluded that this rock was in fact tissue belonging to a Plateosaurus.

But the discoveries of Plateosaurus do not end there, in Switzerland in 2007 an amateur paleontologist found a large dinosaur bone, in the same area have been found more than 300 bones, some of them belonging to Plateosaurus, it is estimated that in that area there is approximately one dinosaur per 100 square meters.

All of the above makes the Plateosaurus one of the best known prosauropods and also one of the most common dinosaurs, and is peculiar because most of its remains have been found in Germany, France and Switzerland, especially in Greenland and minimally in Germany.

The Plateosaurus was a herbivore that walked on two legs, with a small skull and especially with long teeth that were used to pull plants, had strong arms and a claw in the thumb that he used primarily to gather food and could also use it to defend himself from different predators. Your teeth are undoubtedly the most indicative of your diet. He had about 10 teeth in the premaxillary, about 30 in the jaw and probably another 30 teeth, these teeth were shaped like saws and his teeth were more or less flat, this allowed him to chew all the plants he ate.

One of the most interesting characteristics is that the Plateosaurus had a kind of narrow pouch on its cheeks, these pouches stored food while chewing it, although at first it was theorized that it could have eaten meat, the size of its stomach indicates that it ate plants as this served to ferment them and make the most of their nutrients, which was not the case with carnivores.

What makes Plateosaurus special?

The specific anatomy of the Plateosaurus made it a very special dinosaur, first of all it is considered one of the largest dinosaurs that lived during the Triassic. It is also special because it was one of the first plant-eating dinosaurs to live in Europe and Greenland, most of which have been found in America. On the other hand, it is one of the most robust Plateosaurus, because in addition to having a weight of almost a ton of weight its complexion was wide, much more than that of the Anchisaurus, for example. His neck had 9 vertebrae, or neck bones, these vertebrae gave him strength and length, now that his tail was long it had at least 40 vertebrae and served as a counterweight to his heavy body and long neck.

It should be mentioned that although their front legs were much shorter than their hind legs and this usually limited the movement of others of the same species, the Plateosaurus had an incredible mobility, which made it a very effective quadruped, it is believed that their arms were used mainly as a kind of rake to pull leaves and for defense, while the hind legs were used for walking.

Where else can you find him?

The Plateosaurus is quite famous, appearing in Walking with Dinosaurs briefly. It is also one of the most famous dinosaurs in museums, there are many skeletons around the world. In addition, a stamp with his image was published, which is now very famous and a rare specimen for collectors.