Sunday, February 24, 2013

Prehistoric Animal of the Week: Saurophaganax

This week's animal was requested by a follower on facebook!  Say hello to SaurophaganaxSaurophaganax has a pretty cool sounding name.  Say it out right? It sounds like it should be the name of a World of Warcraft character really.  Its translation is pretty cool too: "Lizard Eating Master" (by "lizard" they really mean other dinosaurs).  It was a meat eater that lived in what is now Oklahoma, USA, about 150 million years ago during the late Jurassic Period.

Life reconstruction of Saurophaganax maximus snacking on a young Apatosaurus by Christopher Dipiazza. 

Saurophaganax is very similar in appearance to another, more famous meat eating dinosaur, Allosaurus except for a few important differences.  Most obvious, Saurophaganax was much bigger, measuring over forty feet long.  Some scientists thought that Saurophaganax should actually be lumped into the Allosaurus genus which would change its full name from Saurophaganax maxius to Allosaurus maximus.  However, Allosaurus and Saurophaganax each have differently shaped vertebrae.  This proves as a steep enough difference between the two to keep them separate according to most scientists. 

Skeleton mount of Saurophaganax at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum on Natural History in Oklahoma, USA. 

Saurophaganax is one of the biggest meat eating dinosaurs of all time and is the official state fossil of Oklahoma.  When it was alive it may have hunted the sauropod, Apatosaurus, for food since remains of both of these dinosaurs have been discovered from the same area in Oklahoma.

That's it for this week!  As always if you have a prehistoric creature in mind that you would like to see illustrated and reviewed on this site leave a comment below or on our facebook page! 


Chure, Daniel J. (1995). "A reassessment of the gigantic theropod Saurophagus maximus from the Morrison Formation (Upper Jurassic) of Oklahoma, USA". In A. Sun and Y. Wang (eds.). Sixth Symposium on Mesozoic Terrestrial Ecosystems and Biota, Short Papers. Beijing: China Ocean Press. pp. 103–106.

Turner, C.E. and Peterson, F., (1999). "Biostratigraphy of dinosaurs in the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation of the Western Interior, U.S.A." Pp. 77–114 in Gillette, D.D. (ed.), Vertebrate Paleontology in Utah. Utah Geological Survey Miscellaneous Publication 99-1.

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