Saturday, March 23, 2013

Liliensternus: Prehistoric Animal of the Week

Liliensternus liliensterni was a meat eating dinosaur that lived during the late Triassic Period, about 205 million years ago, in what is now Germany.  It was the largest predatory dinosaur of its time, measuring almost twenty feet long from nose to tail.  Liliensternus would have shared its habitat with and may have even preyed upon the bulky plant eating dinosaur, Plateosaurus.

Liliensternus liliensterni life reconstruction by Christopher DiPiazza.
Liliensternus is known from only two individual skeletons, both of which are fragmentary, but it can be determined that it is closely related to the much better known Coelophysis and Dilophosaurus.  Even though only parts of Liliensternus' skull have actually been unearthed, it is often depicted in paleo-art as having crests.  These crests, however, are just speculation and are inspired by actual crests present on the skulls of other related dinosaurs like Dilophosaurus.  It was a lightly built animal and most of its length is thanks to its neck and tail.

Skeletal mount of Liliensternus at the Museum of Natural Science in Stuttgart, Germany.  A lot of these bones were made based on guesswork. 

Liliensternus is one of the dinosaurs featured in the live play, Walking with Dinosaurs: The Live Experience, based on the hit 1999 BBC series, Walking With Dinosaurs.  It never actually was featured in the original television show, however.

Liliensternus costume featured in the Walking With Dinosaurs live show. 

This week's dinosaur was reviewed thanks to request again!  Like always feel free to request another ancient creature in the comments below or on our facebook page!


Ezcurra, M.D, and Cuny, G. (2007). "The coelophysoid Lophostropheus airelensis, gen. nov.: a review of the systematics of "Liliensternus" airelensis from the Triassic-Jurassic boundary outcrops of Normandy (France)." Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 27(1): 73-86.

F. v. Huene, 1934, "Ein neuer Coelurosaurier in der th├╝ringischen Trias", Pal├Ąontologische Zeitschrift 16(3/4): 145-170


  1. Do you think that its possible that this Dinosaur possessed one Paper Thin Crest instead of Two? The CollectA model is made like that, and I was thinking about giveing it to my Animasaurus model (You still don't mind me using your Paintings as inspiration do you?)

    1. It's not impossible but since we know its relatives had double crests, or at least ridges going down the snout and skull, I would stick with that to be safe.

  2. I love that Liliensternus is sort of a "transition" dinosaur between Coelophysis and the larger Dilophosaurus. I know that statement isn't exactly accurate; it's like saying that a chimpanzee is a transition between a human and a monkey.

    But I like the idea that Liliensternus shares traits of both the other groups. It suggests there's a much greater diversity of coelophysids/dilophosaurids that haven't been discovered yet.