Lusitanosaurus ("Portugese reptile") is a genus of scelidosaurid ankylosaur dinosaur from the Early Jurassic of Portugal, about 190 million years ago. It was originally assigned to the Stegosauria by de Lapparent. It is probably the oldest known dinosaur from Portugal. Lusitanosaurus was first named in 1957.

Article by Brian Tinnon 2/22/12


The fossil consists of a single partial left maxilla, an upper jaw bone, with seven teeth. The jaw measured 10.5 cm, with an estimated skull of 38.7 cm for the living animal. The teeth possess similarities with that of Scelidosaurus, which approaches it narrowly by the presence of important anterior and posterior basilar points on each tooth. The maxilla was clearly bigger, being the double of the size than the maxilla of Scelidosaurus. Lapparent & Zbyszewski vinculated it originally with Scelidosaurus and assigned the two to Stegosauria, he described that the teeth present were different to Scelidosaurus. Ginsburg cited the specimen and note a bigger size than the holotype of Scelidosaurus.[3] Lusitanosaurus was probably a semibipedal to quadrupedal herbivore, with a dense armour on most parts of the body.

History of discovery[]

The genus was first described by Albert-Félix de Lapparent and Georges Zbyszewski in 1957.[4] The type species is Lusitanosaurus liasicus. The generic name is derived from Lusitania, the ancient Latin name for the region. The specific name refers to the Lias. The holotype was part of the collection of the Museu de História Natural da Universidade de Lisboa. The exact location of the find and the date of collection are unknown, which makes a correct geological dating difficult, but it can be inferred from the matrix rock that it has been discovered near São Pedro de Moel, in strata from the Late Sinemurian (Early Jurassic).[5] This would make it the oldest known dinosaur from Portugal.


It was originally assigned to the Stegosauria by de Lapparent, Lusitanosaurus is today considered a basal member of the Thyreophora, perhaps belonging to the Scelidosauridae, but this is tentative, as this family is considered paraphyletic. The fragmentary condition of the specimen does not help to identify it well, as it can be from different grades inside basal Thyreophora, such as a relative of Emausaurus. Some authors consider it a nomen dubium.[6][7]


The São Pedro de Moel rocks consists on calcareous strata, mostly from Marginal Marine environments.[8][9] Outside Lusitanosaurus, fishes have been found on this rock, such as members of the genus Proleptolepis.[10] Ammonites are also common, such as Oxynoticeras, Bifericeras, Cheltonia and Plesechioceras.[11] Finally, this section is known for its calcareous nannofossils that expose the Sinemurian/Pliensbachian transition more detailed than in any part of Portugal.[12]