Attack of the Megalosaurus | Science | Smithsonian
Current Issue
November 2014 magazine cover
Subscribe

Save 81% off the newsstand price!

Attack of the Megalosaurus

It is difficult to look at the skeleton of a dinosaur and not imagine what it might have been like when it was alive. What color was it? What sounds did it make? How did it eat? The last question, in particular, is of perpetual interest when it comes to meat-eating dinosaurs, and many writers have ...

smithsonian.com
Megalosaurus, as depicted in Extinct Monsters.


It is difficult to look at the skeleton of a dinosaur and not imagine what it might have been like when it was alive. What color was it? What sounds did it make? How did it eat? The last question, in particular, is of perpetual interest when it comes to meat-eating dinosaurs, and many writers have tried to interpret the hunting habits of "predaceous" dinosaurs, sometimes dramatically. One attempt, made over a century ago, was undertaken by the Reverend H.N. Hutchinson in his 1894 book Extinct Monsters, in which he imagined a Megalosaurus pouncing on some unsuspecting prey:
It is not very difficult to imagine a Megalosaur lying in wait for his prey (perhaps a slender, harmless little mammal of the ant-eater type) with his hind limbs bent under his body, so as to bring the heels to the ground, and then with one terrific bound from those long legs springing on to the prey, and holding the mammal tight in its clawed fore limbs, as a cat might hold a mouse. Then the sabre-like teeth would be brought into action by the powerful jaws, and soon the flesh and bones of the victim would be gone !
Just what such a large dinosaur would hide behind is left to our imagination.

It should be noted, though, that we still do not have a very good idea of what Megalosaurus looked like. Even though it was one of the first dinosaurs to be scientifically described, no one has found a complete skeleton of it. In fact, last summer paleontologists determined that most of the fossils said to belong to Megalosaurus really represented other dinosaurs. The only "true" Megalosaurus fossil we know of is the portion of lower jaw first used to describe the genus.
Tags
About Brian Switek
Brian Switek

Brian Switek is a freelance science writer specializing in evolution, paleontology, and natural history. He writes regularly for National Geographic's Phenomena blog as Laelaps.

Read more from this author |

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus