|An artist's illustration of Majungasaurus crenatissimus|
Majungasaurus (pronounced /məˌdʒʌŋɡəˈsɔrəs/ mah-jung-gə-sor-əs "Mahajanga lizard") is a genus of abelisaurid theropod dinosaur that lived in Madagascar from 70 to 66.8 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous Period. Only one species (M. crenatissimus) has been identified. This dinosaur was first called Majungatholus, a name which is now considered a synonym name of Majungasaurus.
Like other abelisaurids, Majungasaurus was a bipedal predator with a short snout. Although the forelimbs are not completely known, they were very short, while the hindlimbs were longer and very stocky.
It can be distinguished from other abelisaurids by its wider skull, the very rough texture and thickened bone on the top of its snout, and the single rounded horn on the roof of its skull, which was originally mistaken for the dome of a pachycephalosaur. Other abelisaurids have different features: its larger cousin Carnotaurus had two large brow horns on its head, while some others, like Rugops, or Abelisaurus, lack the odd features on their skulls. It also had more teeth in both the upper and lower jaws than most abelisaurids.
Known from several well-preserved skulls and abundant skeletal material, Majungasaurus has recently become one of the best-studied theropod dinosaurs from the Southern Hemisphere. It appears to be most closely related to abelisaurids from India rather than South America or continental Africa, a fact which has important biogeographical implications. It's thought that Majungasaurus is related to Indian Rajasaurs like Rajasaurus. Majungasaurus was the apex predator in its ecosystem, mainly preying on sauropods like Rapetosaurus, and is also one of the the only dinosaurs for which direct evidence of cannibalism is known, along with Tyrannosaurus rex, although its' unknown if they actively cannibalized its own species or eat the injured and/or already dead specimen's corpses, although more studies on the ravenous feeding habits of the Majungasaurus still need to be done in order to conclude anything. When attacking Majungasaurus would bite and not let go, since its teeth curved backward and it had jaws made for gripping than slashing. Current size estimates put it around 8 metres at highest estimation. It was noted for cannibalism by BBC One documentary known as Planet Dinosaur. However, despite there's a high possiblity of cannibalism; as portrayed as active cannibals by most documentaries; it has to be stated, that it is unclear that if the fossil cases are an active cannibalisiation; akin to Modern Komodo Dragons; or Scavenging the dead/dying, similiar to most animals do today, including Humans in time of famines. The teeth and skull of the Majungasaurus reveal that it was well-suited to grappling prey, because its arms were nearly useless, it might've used its teeth and maw on its own when tackling prey.
Conception of "Majungatholus"
A braincase was found beside a fossil remains of a Majungasaurus mistaken with the dome of a Pachycephalosaur. It was considered to be its own genus until 1996 when a scientist compared it with the brow horn of Majungasaurus and after that it was crystal clear that Majungatholus remains were actually a brow horn of a Majungasaurus. Since then it is considered as the synonym name of Majungasaurus.
All the specimens of Majungasaurus have been found in the Maevarano Formation within the Mahajanga Province, in northwestern Madagascar. Most of these, including all of the most complete material, came from the Anembalemba Member, although teeth of Majungasaurus have also been found in the underlying Masorobe Member and overlying Miadana Member.
Then as now, Madagascar was an island, having been separated from the Indian subcontinent less than 20 million years earlier. It also drifting about 10–15° more southerly in latitude than today. The climate of the time was semi-arid, with noticeable seasonality in temperature and rainfall. Strong geological evidence suggests the occurrence of periodic debris flows through sandy river channels at the beginning of the wet season, burying the carcasses of organisms killed during the preceding dry season and providing for their exceptional preservation as fossils. Sea levels in the area were rising throughout the Maastrichtian, and would continue to do so later the Paleocene Epoch, so Majungasaurus may have roamed coastal environments like tidal flats too.
The other fossil taxa recovered from the Maevarano include snakes, lizards, fish, frogs, seven different species of crocodylomorphs, multiple bird species, and five to six species of mammals. the dromaeosaurid Rahonavis, the noasaurid Masiakasaurus and two titanosaurian sauropods, including Rapetosaurus. Majungasaurus would've been the largest carnivore the dominant predator on land. Although the large crocodylomorphs like Mahajangasuchus and Trematochampsa might have competed with it closer to water.
In popular culture
- Majungasaurus makes an appearance in Jurassic Fight Club under its synonym name, Majungatholus, where a male wants to mate with a female, but the female will not tolerate him because of her young. The male kills the juvenile, but gets killed himself by the female, result of the ruthless life of carnivorous dinosaurs.
- Majungasaurus also starred in Dinosaur Revolution, where a female Majungasaurus appears to almost steps on a Rahonavis and attacks a Rapetosaurus. Later, two baby Majungasaurus who are her children chase the Rahonavis up a tree, but they couldn't climb and they ended up as food for two Beelzebufo. The frog was later trampled to death with a sickening squish by a Rapetosaurus.
- Majungasaurus also appeared in Prehistoric Assassins "Claws & Jaws" Where it was hunting a Rapetosaurus.
- The dinosaur also appears in Last Killers from BBC Planet Dinosaur, where a female Majungasaurus and her young scare away a flock of Rahonavis for the carcass of a dead Rapetosaurus. A male soon appears, also wanting to feast, and scares off the female and her offspring; although later the female becomes aggressive and attacks the unsuspecting male, who ends up as food for the female and her young, which supports the cannabalistic theory.
- The dinosaur-themed rock act Majungas, from Chicago, is inspired from Majungasaurus. Their self-titled song "Majunga" off the album "Hear the Roar" is a tribute to the Majungasaurus.
- Majungasaurus is one of the first unlockable dinosaurs in Jurassic World: The Game. Unlike the real Majungasaurus, the game depicts it with two large digits instead of four small digits, a large misconception with other medium-sized carnivores in the game, like Allosaurus for instance.
- Majungasaurus makes an appearance in the second season of Dinosaur King. It’s coloring matches that of a milk snake.
- Majungasaurus appeared in Jurassic World: Alive, as a Common dinosaur, and usually spawns everywhere, at all times. It's one of the first unlocked dinosaurs.
- Majungasaurus will be one of five exclusve dinosaurs that will be added to the deluxe edition of Jurassic World: Evolution. Its' coloration is mainly grey-ish brown all over the body with dark brown stripes all over the body with white osteoderms.
- Majungasaurus makes a minor appearance in Discovery Channel's Mutant Planet aka Planet Evolution episode "Madagascar" where it sees the asteroid hits into the earth & after the blast, it was seen making one last roar before it died out along with the other Dinosaurs. Due to it's appearance, it almost looked like a Tyrannosaurus rex.
- A Genetic material of Majungasasaurus DNA was in possession of InGen by 2014 and was used in the genetic hybrid Indominus rex in the film Jurassic World.
- Majungasaurus appears in the ROBLOX game "Era of Terror: Remastered", replacing its relative Carnotaurus.