The word “dinosaur” wasn’t invented until 1842, but people have been stumbling across their bones for centuries, and possibly even millennia! It’s fitting, then, that Plateosaurus—one of the planet’s earliest dinos—was also among the first to be discovered by modern science. Let’s take a closer look!
1. Plateosaurus Has A Pretty Awesome Nickname.
So many Plateosaurus remains have emerged in Germany’s Swabia region that it’s been unofficially called “the Swabian Lindworm,” after a type of serpentine dragon. (Alas, however, the reptile probably didn’t breathe fire—sorry, fantasy fans.)
2. A Full-Size, Animatronic Plateosaurus Was Built For the Walking With Dinosaurs Live Theatrical Show.
This impressive contraption is over 20 feet long and gives one heck of a performance!
3. Plateosaurus Could Take Some Deep Breaths.
With flexible ribs arranged in a large, barrel-shaped cage, Plateosaurus had plenty of room for some supersized lungs [PDF]. This certainly would have been useful, since Earth’s atmosphere contained significantly less oxygen when the dino roamed modern-day Europe during the late Triassic period around 214 million years ago.
4. It Didn’t Like Crawling on All Fours.
Holy galloping Plateosaurus, Batman! The primitive herbivore has often been drawn lumbering about in a horse-like trot on its hands and feet. But a closer examination in 2007 revealed that Plateosaurus’ forearms were locked in a “clapping” position—with the palms facing each other—and couldn’t rotate downward. Because of this, Plateosaurus’ palms weren’t capable of pushing off against the ground, so walking with them was out of the question. Instead, Plateosaurus looks built for bipedal (two-legged) locomotion.
5. Over 100 Plateosaurus Skeletons Have Been Found.
Most dinosaurs are known from a handful of incomplete remains, but Plateosaurus has been kind to paleontology buffs. Not only have several dozen adult skeletons been found, but a small army of juveniles have turned up as well!
6. Plateosaurus Had a Strange Cameo in Disney’s Fantasia (1940).
Disney via Dinosaur Wikia
Accompanied by a segment from Igor Stravinski’s The Rite of Spring ballet, the history of life on earth unfolds during one of Fantasia’s most unforgettable scenes. Eventually, the camera pans to a herd of Plateosaurus digging for clams (despite the fact that the dinosaur really ate vegetation).
7. It Had a Thick, Muscular Tail.
Perception isn’t always reality. Because most dinosaur illustrations show them standing at profile, it’s easy to forget what they looked like three-dimensionally—so many assume that dino tails were thin and downright wavy. But, as Heinrich Mallison (a paleontologist currently working at Tübingen University) has pointed out, Plateosaurus had some generous hindquarters and a stiff, heavyweight tail which would’ve counterbalanced its beefy torso.
8. Some Plateosaurus Adults Suffered From Stunted Growth.
Fully-grown individuals ranged from 4.5 to 10 meters (14.8 to 32.8 feet) in length, meaning that some unlucky specimens stopped growing when they’d reached less than half the size of their larger siblings and neighbors. In other words, they were dwarves.
9. There’s A “Plateosaurus Graveyard” in Germany.
“Sprechen sie Deutsch?” As mentioned earlier, Germany is Plateosaurus country. In fact, it was a German paleontologist by the name of Hermann von Meyer who originally named the beast in 1837. Furthermore, consider this: a rocky outcrop sitting just outside the town of Trossingen has—to date—yielded the remains of 55 skeletons. Why did so many dinosaurs kick the bucket there? Many have suggested that they starved to death after being trapped in its muddy soil.
10. Plateosaurus Gave Norway its Very First Dinosaur Fossil.
By 2006, it looked like this Scandinavian nation might never yield a dinosaur; nobody had ever found so much as a fragment of one up there. That all changed when a team of geologists struck a mysterious fossil while drilling for oil off its northern coast. It turned out to be a Plateosaurus knucklebone, which finally proved that dinosaurs did indeed roam present-day Norway.